As the World Animates – Friday, April 21, 2017


  Greetings all from pollen suffused Fairfax, Virginia! Coughing, sneezing, and hacking our way through the week, we nevertheless made a lot of progress this week on several fronts, including, if you can’t tell from the title, animations. There has been a lot of pantomiming and faux weapon swinging in the office lately as we continue to make progress in our new animation system and assets. Fortunately, no CSE team member was hurt in the process and, as a result, the game’s animation system and animations continue to improve!

Animation discussions are only one of many things that liven up the office. Off to my right, at this moment, Christina, Ben, Mark, and Rob are talking about crafting and setting up resource nodes on the terrain. Two days ago, Ben had to endure my frantic scribbling on the white board as we tackled better ways to assemble islands, using our procedural terrain generation system. And, today, Mark was swinging around a war hammer with Scott as they discussed tweaks to combat locomotion, coming full circle back to animation.

We’re all working hard, and intelligently, to get us into Beta 1 without rushing it, so we can give you, our Backers, the old school Beta 1 experience you deserve. Earlier today I (Tyler) streamed our Friday update by my lonesome, where I covered our top-tenish. If you’d like see the more colorful version of the text below, you can catch that HERE.

For the week, here’s the highlights in top tenish form:

Top Tenish:

1. WIP – Tech – Siege engines: As planned, Matt has applied the work and lessons learned from our previous archery aiming tests in efforts of developing the underlying tech for siege engines. This is partially an update to previous efforts, but using our new ability system as well. We have some early tech that allows the siege engine to sync up with the players aiming. We’ve begun discussing pairing characters to the siege engine’s movement, but for now, we are focused on pull item out of inventory, place, load, fire, and put away.

2. WIP – Improved Animation System: As we improve not only the animation system but also the animations themselves, we also find ways to reduce the number of animation permutations we have to create. Late last night, Andrew committed the first pass of the tech necessary to take different parts of an animation clip and “Frankenstein” them together into a new clip. For example, Scott can take the upper body 2-handed spear idle, and pair that with the 2-handed axe stationary jump. In this use case, Scott does not have to create stationary jumps for every equipped weapon animations. This will then use the previous tech of upper and lower body blending, to blend the animations together at the torso.

3. WIP – Tech – Improved editor controls: Following integration of the OIT renderer for particles to improve performance, Bull has begun working on relevant quality of life items to our editor. The goal is improving iteration time for artists to churn through their work faster. His current focus is ease in placing and attaching assets, such as particles on models, in the particle and model editors.

4. WIP – Tech – Seamless zone transitions: As stated last week, we’re making progress on this rather large task, with many sub-tasks to complete. Colin has the loading screens removed and is working on triggers players can interact with, such as our temporary portal stones, to transition to different zones.

5. Tech – Particle and Rendering Updates: Continuing on the updates to our particle system, we’ve had some cool things this week:
a. Particle pivot points: Cross has more flexibility now to set the position of the pivot on                           particles. That pivot also respects rotation and scale.
b. Particle alignment updates: particles can update to all three axis of the local emitter, and                       we’re able to toggle camera facing on and off.
c. We updated the fog density, making it easier to see far off islands.
d. Tyler is building a VFX test map to show off new VFX as they are made, using the new                         functionality, as well as test performance.

To quote Mike, our resident VFX artist, “The particle editor is 500% better!”

6. Tech – Building permissions: We now send Order (groups) & Warband (guilds) IDs to the client. These are represented in your player ID bar above your head. Rob has integrated this into building plot permissions. We’ll be testing this in a future build.

7. Art – Update Weapon Scaling: Jon updated the scaling on all the current weapons. While these may not be the final scaling, we like the look and feel of them at this point. They retain a realistic scale, while still being visible at distance on the character, as a visual understanding of your opponent’s gear is one of our priorities.

8. WIP – Art – Updated Animations: Work continues on improving existing animations, as well as creating new assets for testing. You can see a quick animated gif HERE testing out lit particles. (Scroll down to the bottom to check it out.)
a. Second pass running and standing, unarmed jumps.
b. Completed setup and testing of a multi-clip animation for spear combat movement.
c. Polearm animation: Sandra is wrapping up the improvements, including longer prep and                         recover animations, as well as full body animations.
d. Additional combat locomotion set to improve visual quality at different speeds (i.e. status                    effect, walking up and down slopes, etc.).
e. Quick pass rigging Arthurian scorpion siege engine for handoff to Matt.
f. First pass female combat locomotion using updated animations.

9. WIP – Art – Viking Scorpion Siege Engine: Jon finished the high poly modeling pass this week. You can catch his earlier stream HERE. He’s begun work on the materials, which will be finished up early next week.

10. WIP – Art – Beta 1 Realm variations: Dionne is working through some of our pre-existing assets and adding in the missing realm texture variations where needed, with Michelle’s oversight. She completed a first pass of the deciduous 01 trees, as well as ground textures for the willow trees (ground textures with scattered petals), and is currently working on realm variations for the non-autumn version of the “Autumn biome.” We’ll then take those realm variations, and use them for testing that same seasonal, “autumn look.”

11. WIP – UI – Styling: Last week we included images of some of the work Michelle, James, and JB have been working on together to create a first pass styling design for our Beta 1 UI. We’ve started a second pass from Michelle’s rough ideas, this week, with a focus on the Orders UI and player/target health bar.

12. WIP – Sound on Abilities: With added functionality, comes great responsibility! Gabe continues to work with Andrew and dB adding in more triggers for sounds on abilities. Lots of abilities now have an upon trigger SFX. Arrows have an on hit SFX, which will be carried over to melee. This has created a lot of work on dB’s end to hook up and tweak our first pass sounds. These will, of course, continue to be iterated upon to make sure the feedback in combat is easy to understand. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some silly, but obvious, sounds as we add and test new sound triggers.

13. WIP – Seattle Office Space: We’ve signed a lease and sent it out for Monday morning delivery. Despite all the back and forth, we may soon have an actual real live physical space for the Seattle team to work in. Let’s just hope that the building doesn’t burn down before Monday! Given how long, slow and painful this process has been, we might interpret that as way too much RNG on a cosmic dice roll and ask for it to be nerfed! 🙂

For those of you who didn’t catch the live stream…How about that last one?! We’re making progress on what has been an interesting, and longer than expected journey. Hopefully next week we’ll know if we have an office! Moving on, let’s take a look at our bi-weekly User Stories update. For those of you new to Camelot Unchained®, our User Stories are the more detailed, specific task tracking we do on different subjects of the project. If you’re interested in any particular part of Camelot Unchained® you can check out this section on the website, and search for whatever keyword you’re interested in. (If you want to skip the details, scroll down till you see pretty pictures.)

User Stories:
25 old cards with 72 completes

As a Backer, I’d like to be able to be able to play an Archer.
Drive projectile physics off of state – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have the tools and knowledge necessary to create terrain Biomes that change with Realm territory control.
Update tech to support attached sounds on models placed in world. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 04
Optimization pass fantasy fern assets. – Complete
Falling leaf VFX – various colors – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to increase physics performance, as well as make changes easier to integrate.
Fix sending down state changes of entities persisted after their physics goes away – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
Add dynamic entity to physics scene. – Complete

As a Developer, I would like easily searchable server logs that are the front line of finding problems.
Add context to AWS proxy log messages – Complete
LogContext for UserConnections – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to see improvements in visual performance, particularly frame rate and memory usage.
Setting local player flag for character lod purposes – Complete
Add some PerfHUD counts for characters and dropped items based on their max LOD – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improvements in lighting and rendering.
Fix particle time scale to allow zero. – Complete
Functionality for checking parentage for spawns and particles – Complete
Split targetting icons into their own shader – Complete
Hook up functionality for checking parentage for spawns and particles – Complete
Move out projectile targetting from the particle shader  – Complete
Added IsLooping to ParticleRenderable to only stop looping particle effects – Complete
Set render draw distance to 4K – Complete
Update particle pivot points to take into account for rotation and scale – Complete
Adjust cloud and scene fog, make water plane larger for farther clip plane – Complete

As a Backer I’d like a patcher to not only update my game, but also give me the most important news and updates, get support, chat with the community and look awesome while doing it!
Implement CU bot for Discord to communicate server status – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to see improvements in the editor to facilitate my work.
Allow restoration of default layout without closing workspace or editor. – Complete
Add ability to copy and paste spawn and particle tree fragments, including in multiple editors – Complete
Update Material and Image Set editors to use shared controls – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to have a sampling of TDD light, medium, and heavy armor to wear in game.
Red, green, and blue, generic cloak materials for testing. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play as a Crafter with basic gathering and crafting mechanics for testing.
Alphabetize inventory displayed in UI – Complete
Items built from an alloy keep track of the important aspects of said alloy  – Complete
Alloys use alloy sheet and multiply values by the quality of the alloy – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to pick an item up off the ground, put it in my inventory, and if applicable, equip it.
Creating a new item archive for deleted items and clear out item log and archive when wiping items. – Complete
Updating player loading to load in equipment safer – Complete
Vials use their static data to know their resource type – Complete
Make loader/s to load items in from the GameplayDefs content – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improvements in the movement animations of the player.
Walk (male) Combat Locomotion:
Rough pass for testing:

R Weapon Empty L – Complete
R Weapon L Shield – Complete
R Weapon L Focus – Complete
R Weapon L Weapon – Complete
R Spear Empty L – Complete
R Spear L Shield – Complete
R Spear L Focus – Complete
R Spear L Weapon – Complete
RL Polearm – Complete
RL Spear – Complete
RL Staff – Complete
RL Longsword – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to prototype various combat animations to support future system improvements during Beta.
Fast combat locomotion set to pair with slower movement set. – Complete
First Pass: Modify updated travel locomotion set for female characters. – Complete
Polearm animations:
Polearm: Alternative recover and prep phases for longer ability duration. – Complete
Polearm: Animate full body high, med, and low, attacks. – Complete
Audits and improvements to pre-existing assets:
Second pass empty-handed combat idle. – Complete
Jump Improvements:
First pass unarmed running jump, prep, hang, and recover phase. – Complete
Second pass unarmed running jump, prep, hang, and recover phase. – Complete
Second pass unarmed stationary jump, prep, hang, and recover phase. – Complete
Set up and test multi part animation clip tech. – Complete

As a Backer, I want to seamlessly move between islands and zones without being aware that I’m moving between different game servers.
Client can sync from more than one proxy and/or more than one zone on a proxy:

Fix zone loading when zoneIndex is not 0; making it easier to test multiple local servers – Complete
Use Presence server to get a list of relevant game servers:
Send all servers in the shard to presence server rather than filtering by distance – Complete
Improve debugging by adding WebAPI routes and more info to log messages – Complete

As a Designer of Camelot Unchained, I’d like to have the tools necessary to create abilities using the re-abilitated ability system code.
Added /skilldetail command to get effects / tag info for a given skill – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like be able to place and modify Spawn Areas, Zone Portals, Building Plots, etc. from the World Editor.
World Editor Usability:

Update both world pos and terrain pos whenever dragging a placeable. – Complete
Check Channel, ZoneID before commiting a change from a CogChangedMessage – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a clear visual design for the UI of Camelot Unchained.
Beta 1 version:

First pass UI styling concept. – Complete
Second pass UI styling concept. – Complete
First pass health bar styling. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to further personalize my character through the use of the Banes and Boons system.
Second pass Tech:

Add B&B to character creation backend. – Complete
Add B&B to character creation frontend. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like the set of animations the player uses to be controlled by the player’s stance, equipment, and other such gameplay factors.
Select the correct animation set when changing a stance. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to hear ambient Realm-based music during loading island transitions.
Sound event hooks added for zone transitions. – Complete
Post log-in music created and added. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to pull the physics server out to its own process for improved network performance.
Push it out to its own process so we can scale horizontally. – Complete

As a Backer, I want an animation system that blends multiple animations together, and allows for immersive and fun combat.
Add blend in/blend out clip segment tags. – Complete
Copy one clip in the spreadsheet to another on the same skeleton – Complete
Overlay any bodyregion(s) of one clip to another on the same skeleton – Complete
Improve compression so that child bones is correct for compression arttifacts on parent bones – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to use a siege weapon.
Model, materials, rig, siege weapon – Arthurian – Complete

This is actually a more “robust” (wink wink) list than usual. Plenty of items were knocked off over the last two weeks. I’m, personally, very proud to work with this team.

Let’s move into art for this week. Starting off, we’ve got a few thumbnails of the work Sandra has been working on with polearm animations. Once we have these more polished, we’ll get a vid hooked up to see them in action.

Similar to last week, we have some work in progress video of the two handed, great axe, combat locomotions, (Say that ten times real fast!) up on our youtube channel. We’ve already figured out some additional tweaks to make. When we say WIP, we really mean it 😉 . Check it out!

Next up, we have a shot of the WIP Viking version of the scorpion siege engine. This will accompany the Arthurian version completed last week.

As mentioned in the top tenish above, Dionne has been working under Michelle’s guidance to fill in the realm variation work on our deciduous 02 forest, which developed into our “Autumn biome,” some of you may have seen. Below, we have Michelle’s “quick pass” on what this area could look like when a realm owns it.

We provide Michelle with the textures used on the map, and she creates a quick paintover to guide the artists in the changes to be made. Once assembled into a cohesive terrain mod, we then continue molding the look until we not only have something that looks good, but also sells the realm’s ownership. At that point, we then take some of those developed pieces and drop them into a library of smaller mods, making future, work go faster.

Jumping to a different subject, we’ve got some of Michelle’s concepts for the character health bar. Just a quick peek into the process.

That wraps up another productive week here at CSE. Lots of items knocked off, and all those big system features are becoming a game. Have a great weekend all!

– t