Corpses and Rams and Scorpions, Oh My! – Friday, May 31st, 2019


It’s pretty easy to say that I (Tyler) don’t get tired of repeating myself when it comes to things like this: “It’s been a busy week here at CSE, and we’ve gotten a lot done, as can be seen in our long (actually, longer than usual) Top Tenish list below!” This will be the third week in a row where the team here at CSE has cranked out an above-average amount of work, which is all the more impressive when you consider this was only a four-day week for us!

Things continue apace then, as we iterate upon some of our larger items, like working doors, new and moving siege engines, systems improvements, abilities and support classes, and much more! For the interactive version of our weekly updates, you can almost always watch our end-of-the-week stream with Mark or other developers, such as myself, on Fridays. These are usually followed by a sometimes-lengthy Q&A, where we’re always willing to engage with our Backers as honestly as we can. If you missed today’s update with Mark, our fearless leader, you can find that HERE.

Part of the work completed this week was a hefty update to our code base to support a move to Visual Studio 2019 (Top Tenish item #1). Because of this, and the subsequent code submissions that occurred along with this update, testing has been limited this week. We are not planning on having a test this weekend. Next week, however, we’ll be pushing for a new solid build so keep an eye on our tentative testing schedule.

This month’s newsletter is also going out today, chock full of even more info, including a fun interview with one of our talented engineers. Keep an eye on your email for that!

Without further ado, let’s jump on over to the aforementioned (and lengthy) week’s highlights!

Top Tenish:

  1. Tech – Visual Studio 2019: We migrated the entire engineering team (and our build system) onto Visual Studio 2019. We’d skipped Visual Studio 2017 entirely to avoid any downtime, so we were all still running with tools from 2015. That meant a big upgrade, with a lot of accumulated maintenance and dependencies that we’d put off, but we’d reached a point where the benefits outweighed that cost. The main benefit is that we can move the gameplay server to the new .NET Core 3 platform, which greatly improves performance. It also gets us a lot closer to moving many of our servers to Linux, which is much cheaper for cloud hosting.

  2. WIP – Tech – Particles and spell effects: Andrew has been streamlining and improving the tools for scripting and attaching FX to abilities and statuses. There’s a huge combination of possible abilities coming out of the ability builder, more than we can possibly hand-craft individual effects for. Our path to success, to support all these combinations, is a system that can efficiently script, combine, and mix-and-match various effects from a palette of components.

  3. WIP – Tech – Entity Movement: Colin is continuing his work on entity movement. When finished, this will let BPOs (Building Placed objects) such as torches and other items behave like rubble with the rest of the building pieces.

  4. WIP – Tech – Scenario Scripting: Caleb has finished porting our old scenario entities to the new scripting format in the ability system. Improvements to the ability system allowed us to author abilities using simple event/response definitions. That system was designed with reuse in mind. That forward planning is paying off, as now the entities that run scenarios will use the same system, allowing us to do more complex scripting within scenarios!

  5. WIP – Tech – Ability prediction: Rob is finishing up work on ability prediction, and once he squishes a few lingering bugs, accurate numbers will be produced for abilities that are sent to the client so they can preemptively run them. This should lead to smoother ability running, and serve as the future means for describing abilities to the ability builder UI.

  6. WIP – Tech – NavMesh: Now that Lee has polygons being created in the NavMesh, he’s hooking up the actual navmesh library, and creating the navmesh with the data provided by the mesh analysis. This is vital to getting navmesh and pathfinding working, which will make our NPCs a lot less dumb about choosing how to get from point A to point B.

  7. WIP – Tech – Doors: Mike D. is wrapping up bugs on the first-functional pass of  server/client animated collision for a single actor case. Yes, that means an animated door with working animated collision! We’ll be able to use this work for drawbridges and portcullises, as well. One of the next steps will be to get double doors working (double collision actors), We’re pretty sure the ever-awesome Mike D. is up to the task!

  8. WIP – Tech – Collision-based effects: Logan is continuing work on collision-based effects.  This week, he made it so that different block destruction particles/sound effects will play, depending on the type of block being destroyed.

  9. WIP – Tech – Siege Engines: Spidey continued his work on multiple interaction points for siege engines, using battering rams as the initial test case. Our first battering ram has six attachment points for players to attach to and move the siege engine. Depending on which spot you occupy, the physics will behave differently, like veering to the left if you are pushing from the front right position. The next phase will allow multiple players to interact with the battering ram, averaging their movement inputs to determine direction of input.

  10. WIP – Tech – Abilities: Anthony has code in review that adds necessary functionality, allowing us to sort potential targets based on a metric. For example, we could use this to create an ability that heals five nearby people that have the lowest health. Anthony also tightened up melee hitboxes for both slashes and stabs, so you don’t hit the guy off to your far left, and improved prioritization, so you hit the guy you’re targeting and not the guy standing next to your target.

  11. WIP – Tech – Support classes: Anthony also wrapped up 80% of Minstrel components (which includes shared components for all supports) this week.  He will be transitioning to the Dark Fool once he wraps up work on the Minstrel.

  12. Art – Siege Engines – Corpse Chuckers: Dionne finished the last of the three models, and has cleaned them up and handed them off to Joe for rigging and animations. So, this means that Joe will have a day where he says, “Honey, today I rigged and animated a dead cow we’re gonna throw with a siege engine!” Fun stuff!

  13. WIP – Art – Battering Rams: With concept art approved, Dionne has begun working on the Arthurian version, and is already making quick progress of the model. The goal is to knock this one out quickly, so we can get it rigged for continued testing of the tech ASAP.

  14. Art – SFX – Wave Weaver: dB has completed all of the Wave Weaver ability sounds. The Wave Weaver was the last, but not least, of the mage classes to get their sounds.

  15. Art – Animations: The animations for many of our one-handed weapons have been updated to the 2.0 format. This has allowed us to reintroduce a plethora of previously created one-handed weapons for players to craft and use. Over 40 in total! As a reminder, these are first-pass animations that don’t yet have the supporting tech of the variable timing system. Once that is complete, we’ll further address the look and feel of these new animations.

  16. WIP – Art – Various Animations: Sandra completed the retarget of her one-handed mace animations to the Luchorpán and is next moving to finish the bow animation sets. Scott completed several weapon permutations supporting a single equipped one-handed weapon, with the other hand empty.

  17. WIP – Mage Outfits: Tyler completed the last outfit’s LODs, audited all the others, and began the setup process for use in-game. Joe is wrapping up first pass rigging and weighting, hopefully by end of day today, so we can get these in for testing early next week.

  18. WIP – The Sneaking Scorpion: Jon, quick as ever, is almost done sculpting this nightmarish creature, previously shown in concept form, for initial use as a model in The Depths board game. Perhaps you might encounter this monstrosity within CU at a later date?

  19. WIP – Art – VFX – Ability Component Combinations: Mike spent much of this week making sure abilities created through the ability builder had something reasonable for their VFX. He will next work on the new magic mortar and corpse chucker’s abilities.

  20. WIP – Concept – Doors: Our first use case for doors will be large-scale doors in the Cherry Keep walls. Not only will these be beautiful additions to the scenario, they’ll also let us begin testing the supporting tech. Check out the update for the initial concepts! Later, we’ll begin making various doors, matching each Realm’s visuals, for players to use in their buildings.

Like I said, a lot was accomplished this week! Next week should prove interesting, as a lot of this work will begin landing.

For art this week, we start off with the final concept art of the battering rams we’ve begun modeling. As of this writing, Dionne has actually already finished about 90% of the Arthurian version in just a day! Go Dionne!

Next up, we have a work-in-progress shot of the Arthurian version of the Corpse Chuckers. You can see the previously-shown Viking and Tuatha versions HERE and HERE.

Next, we have the “Sneaking Scorpion” model Jon has been focused on this week. This is still a WIP, and is focused on modeling, not posing, at this point. Also, Jon is playing with Zbrush’s new rendering options here, so that’s why it’s not the default grey you’re used to seeing.

How many mouths do you think this thing needs? If you said “at least three,” you’d be correct!

For our first functioning doors that are part of a building, we’re going with two fairly huge ones for the Cherry Keep scenario we’ve been testing. Here’s a few concepts. Note the scale!

Doors in CU will include a framing element of some sort to fit within the half-meter building block sizes. This will allow Art the freedom to come up with all sorts of shapes and designs, while still fitting within our building system.

The guys over in UI land have been busy with these still very much work-in-progress images of the styling changes to the death and respawn UI (All the text is filler, and is not indicative of anything, particularly the second image’s location names).

And that’s it for another very productive week here at CSE. As mentioned above, we’ll be trying to solidify a new testing candidate next week, so keep an eye on the tentative testing schedule and your email for updates. With that said, have a great weekend everyone, and thank you, as always, for your patience and enthusiasm.

CU next week,