Beautiful Creations – Friday, June 2nd, 2017


When I sat down for today’s livestream, our weekly wrap-up, the first thing I mentioned was not that it was a busy week, but that it was a very busy week. As it was a short week for us, having celebrated Memorial Day, we hit the ground running on Tuesday. Not only do we need to push ourselves to maintain a good pace, but we also need to maintain the process of adding new features while testing old, or in-progress ones, as well. We’ve had a lot of tests this week, both in-office and impromptu tests. They’ve covered covered crafting UI, buildings, aiming, teleporting, seamless zone transitions, VFX performance, and animations. And I’m sure I’ve left something out! All told, we continue to push ourselves, continue to work hard, and continue to improve our processes as a studio and as a team. In terms of weekend testing, we expect to have a test with ITs and Alphas over the weekend (unless something goes very wrong), so keep an eye on emails and forum posts for more information.

All that said, let’s get to the week’s highlights, below.

Top Tenish:

  1. WIP – Tech – Siege firing and ammunition updates: Matt is working toward a very basic first version of siege engines with ammunition, where you can drop a siege engine in the game, aim, and fire an arrow. The current version uses tech we’ve built for archery, so siege engines won’t feel very different in this first pass, and certain things like loading ammo use slash commands (but will eventually have UI). The next step will be differentiating them further from the archery mechanics, and making them feel more like siege engines, which will happen over the coming weeks.

  2. WIP – Tech – Particle performance updates: The massive Bull/George/Dave change is about to go in, with an addition from Andrew. It’s a fairly large change, hence the updates over the last two weeks. This should have a minimum of a 30% gain in particle rendering performance, depending on hardware configuration, and is a good step toward the performance we’ll need in big battles.

  3. WIP – Tech – Temp crafting UI: One of our Mod Squad Backers, Mehuge, has been working on a temporary Beta 1 UI for crafting. This will replace our current slash commands. The first pass was great, illustrating how lucky we are to have Backers working with us on the game. We’re working out some bugs and adding in recent crafting features from Christina. Look for a testing update on this in the coming weeks.

  4. WIP – Tech – Seamless zone transitions: We’ve got two issues we’re tackling around seamless zone transitions: A bit of “snap back” (where your position snaps back a few feet when you first transition between zones) and load screens. This week, we discovered the local server times could become out of sync over time on AWS instances. Our work over the past week focused on:

    1. When run over a long time, our servers would get out of sync. This was a major cause in our loading screen still appearing briefly.

      1. Colin better synced up the timing of the servers to limit this.

    2. Updating how quickly the player loads on the destination server.

    3. In the coming weeks, we’ll work on removing the snap backs that players see when they cross the boundary, and continuing to make sure things are generally smoother.

  5. WIP – Tech – Building metrics: After Rob’s building refactor, he began adding metrics to buildings to track performance and find issues. Both of these prep us for the next phase of building performance needs, especially siege with destruction.

  6. Art  – Animation System: Our new animation system is awesome. To illustrate that, several days this week were spent setting up and testing the “Frankenstein” tech that allows us to cobble together different animations for each body part. Scott added all the improved lower-body combat and travel runs, walks, and jumps to all the pre-existing animations sets. Our goal is still the improvement of our test animations to illustrate where we want to go with the look and feel of animations for CU. Our tech allows us to take that output and apply it to certain other weapon sets far quicker, and in more ways, than before. It is still a WIP, but the core tech is rapidly getting to the point where the animators can actually create the animations we need to get into Beta 1. Of course, most of these animations will also be WIPs, and will improve throughout the course of Beta 1 as work continues on the animation system.

  7. Art – Polearm Animations: We’ve talked about polearms a bit recently, and that’s because we purposefully picked this weapon to start animation work with, as it’s harder to animate in general. This week has been especially informative for how we balance realistic combat techniques with more “flair” to better convey what characters are doing. Players should be able to tell who’s aiming for heads, and who’s aiming for legs. To that end, we’re continuing work on these animations to add more exaggeration to the poses, and a bit of flair to one of the previously finished “basic” attack swings to see how it feels in game. We’ll have a WIP video next week.

  8. Art – Armor: Jon finished his first pass of the Viking and TDD helmets this week. This gives us a total of eight different helmets per Realm, for a total of 24, with one extra Jon wanted to do ‘cause Jon is just fast.

  9. Art – Environment Art: Dionne finished up a performance pass on our pine tree assets, giving us a good frame rate boost when in a dense forest. This includes all Realm versions plus the neutral assets. She also knocked out a quick pass on some old fern assets, reducing geometry by over half in some cases, while still maintaining quality.

  10. WIP – Art – Environment Art: Tyler began the process of breaking out assets into their own sub-mods for use in the world editor. The goal here is to improve the cohesive look in art direction, to improve the speed of creating biomes, and to allow more permutations of assets.

  11. Art – Concept Art: Michelle created several sketches of siege engine VFX, particularly for  testing particle performance. In this case, we’re working with              three very different looks, to distinguish projectiles fired by Realm. The different ideas will allow Mike to find the easiest path forward as he works through          all the new particle tools.

Some good highlights this week, among many disciplines. No one said making an MMO was simple! Thankfully, we’ve got a talented team here to make our collective dream a reality. That was on display in today’s epic livestream with Ben and myself (Tyler), plus Mark toward the end for additional Q&A. Our weekly live streams are a great way to get more details on our Top Tenish, as well as to ask questions of your own at the end. This one was almost two hours long!

Okay, let’s move on to some art for the week. To start off, let’s go to the end–of helmets! More specifically, Jon wrapped up the Viking and TDD helmets he’s been working on. As mentioned above, this gives us eight options per Realm. We’ll do a quick audit next week on materials, and then, time allowing around animation work, import these into the game. If you’d like to watch Jon’s livestream from this week, you can find that HERE. The following shots cover the high poly (grey) models without materials, and the low poly models with materials applied. Aren’t they beautiful?

Over the past weeks, we’ve had a series of animation videos up to see some of the work-in-progress from Scott. We’ve skipped that this week, so Scott could focus on adding all those runs, jumps, and walks to all the other character animation sets. However, we do have another talented and hard-working animator here: Sandra! Sandra has been working through not one, but two versions of animations for the polearm.

As we made discoveries around the greataxe animations, we had to update how we animate polearms. The polearm is a particularly hard-to-animate weapon, so Sandra, thank you for sticking with it! For those of you with access, we do have some first-pass polearm animations in the game at this time. However, we have made and continue to make iterations to them. Next week, we’ll have a video of those WIP polearm animations. For now, we’ll give you a sneak peek behind the scenes…

Ben is doing his best hairy Viking impersonation here! And now, here’s a nice shot of an Arthurian wielding a polearm (capable of crushing or slashing or piercing damage), against a Viking Valkyrie with a greataxe!
For Beta 1, we’ll need some temporary models for nodes from which players can gather resources. Here’s a WIP shot of a mine Dionne is currently working on.

Finishing up this week’s update, we’ve got some sketches from Michelle of possible siege engine VFX for Mike to build. The goal with these is to not only test the new VFX tools Mike has, but to also test performance when lots of siege engines are firing, with lots of VFX going off!

Well, that wraps up another productive (and very busy) week here at CSE. We hope you enjoyed the week’s update, and we look forward to hearing from you on the Forums.

Oh, and speaking of productive, we had a late addition to the team today! Charles welcomed a new family member today! Please join us in welcoming Tristan, Charles’ new “level 1 mob with empathy +100!” Grats to Charles and family from all of us at CSE!

– t