Ending the Year on a Fast Note – Thursday, December 23rd, 2021


Happy Two Days Before Christmas, everybody! I hope this update finds you well. Everything at CSE is going great, and before we go off for our usual end of the year vacation/recharge/eat too much food shenanigans, we wanted to get you the latest word on what we have going on with Camelot Unchained.

And for those who missed it, you can check out this information and the usual Q&A in the December livestream here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1241709165

December 2021 End of Month CU Update (12/23/2021)

  1. WIP – Design/Tech – New Character Stats
    1. We’ve been hard at work expanding on our set of character stats (which you can read about in more detail in last month’s newsletter, Unchained #84).
    2. The scripting hooks for all the new stats have been created.
    3. The way that encumbrance works for armor is changing. We’ll soon be using the new InventoryMass and WornMass stats, which are already being calculated properly.
    4. Design is working on balancing the new stats, so we’ll be able to start turning them on shortly.
      1. The first stage of this stat balance is focused on Agility, primarily the Movement Speed Bonuses. So, as your character moves from Walk to Canter to Sprint, our goal is to make sure the base numbers for these are balanced for future progression and any additional alterations.
      2. In the next stages, we hope to focus on the other factors to this system, such as Endurance (Stamina) and other related stats.
  2. WIP – Design – Resource Nodes
    1. This month we’ve also made progress on Resource Node design in support of our crafting, harvesting, and progression systems.
    2. Using a ‘Threshold Design,’ individuals are rewarded based on their own contribution towards the Resource Node’s health, regardless of whether a node is mined alone or with a group.
    3. The inclusion of the Threshold Design supports multiple yield tracks that offer the player options of specializing in a specific material or category of material. This lays the groundwork for tools and skills, which allows a player character to focus on a desired yield type(s) as they progress. See the newsletter for more information on this concept.
  3. WIP – Tech/Design – Animation/Combat
    1. MikeD continues his work on the Heavy Fighter, implementing technical improvements for animation scaling and support for full body animations. Mike recently landed a fix for an issue where full-body animations inadvertently cause locomotion (movement) to not correctly play during attacks. He is now working on a method for blending upper and lower body animations that will significantly improve the appearance of characters who are moving and attacking simultaneously. This will remove the unnatural “pivoting” of the upper body, and cause it to blend more seamlessly with the lower body in these situations. The neat bit about this is that this bug was a real PITA to track down, even though it’s been a problem for a long time. Congratulations to Mike for finally (we hope) ending its existence.
    2. Scott is working towards creating the new series of animations, or updating old combat animations, in tandem with MikeD’s animation system upgrades. The next step is for SFX and VFX to help support Scott’s animations…
    3. …which Ken is currently working on by cleaning up the raw melee audio from last month’s field recordings. These real-world sounds will be polished and, in certain cases, made more cinematic before being applied to the new Heavy Fighter abilities.
    4. Meanwhile, Kara and Anthony are planning out details for Archery as we move into 2022.
  4. WIP – Tech – Parll (Parallel) Queue Rework
    1. George has been doing a lot of work on parll (parallel) queues. Essentially, this is reworking how we process queues of concurrent tasks to prevent stalls (which can lead to stutters). It involved a lot of steps along the way.
    2. First, George had to get the new method to run without breaking anything. After he got everything through initial collision tests, he had to find and close any loopholes (Andrew had some helpful suggestions here and elsewhere).
    3. After those checks passed, George went through to make sure we weren’t getting memory leaks, cleaning up the logic. Now the new parll queues are working well in general, and we’re getting down to the last couple of context and terrain errors. Soon, we’ll be moving into real-world testing. Bottom line is that the new queues run 1000x as fast as the old ones.
    4. Turns out that using most of the CPU power, more often – even if it won’t increase your frame rate by 1000 times – will still make for a sizable performance boost regardless of your hardware configuration. That’s something we can all look forward to when it finally lands in the game. We’re shooting for late January/early February, but we’ll keep you posted as to real-world progress.
  5. Done – Tech – Various Fixes to Existing Traits
    1. Armed and Dangerous: Was not working due to a configuration issue
    2. Aldr/Vreidr: Fell through a gap, where their configuration didn’t allow them to catch the necessary event hooks
    3. A Lifetime of War: Was trying to use an incorrect data source for getting the necessary status data
  6. Done – Tech – Fall-off Settings Now Function for Ranged Attacks
    1. Weapons have had damage fall-off stats (mainly for bows) for a while – their purpose being to affect the amount of damage that a player does with certain ranged attacks, based on the distance the projectile travels before hitting its target. For example, when an archer on top of a tower somehow manages to tab-target somebody 400 meters away, and fires unerringly from out of sight.
    2. The weapon stats falloffMinDistance, falloffMaxDistance, and falloffReduction are now hooked up for archery, meaning said archer on top of the tower will now be doing significantly less damage with the arrow-impact portion of their damage.
    3. Explosion/AoE damages (including those attached to arrows) and Magic projectiles still do not have any fall-off of their own at this time.
  7. Done – Tech – Combine ResourceNodes and Items: Previously in code, resource nodes were their own special thing. We’ve now combined them with the item system. This is nice for a number of reasons, including that we’ve cut down on code which must be maintained. Resources nodes also gain a number of features such as running custom scripting and are now able to have statuses applied to them.
  8. Done – Tech – Influence Maps: Lee has landed the first version of the new influence maps tech, which will augment the navigation mesh by allowing considerations such as “nearby threats” and “crowdedness” to factor into movement and combat decisions for NPCs. With the core system in place, the focus now shifts to building out behaviors and related capabilities to make use of it.
  9. Done – Tech – Movement Behavior Overhaul: Lee also completed an effort to unify and clean up all movement behaviors used by CU NPCs. This effort eliminates old, poorly working movement behaviors and brings all NPCs “up to date” with the latest navmesh capabilities. It also prepares them for use with the new influence map feature as it starts coming online.
  10. WIP – Tech – Static Data Upgrades
    1. Overmind scripting IDs are now generated automatically by code. This improves readability of our scripts when design compares between versions of data.
    2. Documentation and helper tooling has been added for Client Effect sets and the ability system to speed up the creation of new data.
  11. WIP – Tech – Bug Fixes
    1. Dropping certain items into a zone was generating physics errors behind the scenes
    2. Frozen Nightshade and Hel Mask now work correctly together to convert Hel Mask’s self-healing into blood gains
    3. A slew of adjustments were made to armor penetration data management to allow abilities with more flexible damage types (specialty melee, archery) to continue functioning without spewing errors for unused types. The whole arrangement is cleaner now.
    4. Fixed a bug in which ocean SFX emitters were not playing the proper audio
  12. WIP – Tech – Service Discovery Improvements: A while back, we implemented a proper service discovery system to allow our servers to find each other in a dynamic way. We had another system doing a lot of similar work for different reasons on different technologies. The other system had some stability and scalability issues, so we’re migrating the older/other system to use the new hotness. This reduces code complexity, while improving stability and scalability. The code is currently in review and will start trickling out to the various builds and shards in the coming weeks.
  13. WIP – Tech – Terrain
    1. Work continues on terrain upgrades in CU, building on improvements to both terrain construction in the editor and appearance in the client. This month Wylie has made significant progress on scaling up the terrain detail, adding a terrain detail setting, and improving terrain LOD distance calculation. All of these changes are ultimately in service of higher detail terrain that stays on screen longer, reducing LOD popping and making for more dynamic environments.
    2. Cheyne’s terrain threading improvements this month also contribute to this upgrade, making terrain manipulation in the editor faster, more accurate, and more reliable as a creative tool. This will allow artists to create higher detail work in a fraction of the time.
  14. WIP – Design – Home Islands: The design team is in the process of evaluating overall plans for the Home Islands (Briton, Eriu and Midgard), generating some new goals going into 2022 to polish them up for a future launch. This is a big project involving everything from new biomes, to crafting systems, to CUBE. Stay tuned for more information on these redesigns as we hit the ground running next month.
  15. WIP – Art – Realm Artifacts: Concept progress continues on the Realm Artifact kits for the TDD and Viking realms. This month we’ve moved towards finalizing the TDD set of objects, including the usual set of signs, bridges, statues, and other realm-specific in-world props.
  16. WIP – Art – Races
    1. The Great Armor Fitting proceeds, as Joe works down the list of armor sets in line for proper rigging and weighting for our new CU races. This is part of an ongoing effort to make sure all character rigs are able to use all armor sets as intended, adjusting the original human proportions for characters with non-human features (ie. wings and tails).
    2. Jon has picked up the new Viking heavy armor design finished this past month and brought it into the 3D space for sculpting. The material pass and high poly renders for this new armor set can be seen in this month’s update emails.
    3. Meanwhile, Thor is tackling the initial sculpts of the Cait Sith race, bringing our earlier concepts from 2D to 3D.
  17. WIP – Art – Environment – Viking Home Island
    1. This month we finish out our last home island in line to be upgraded, the Viking-affiliated Midgard! As with the past two home islands, Midgard v2 has undergone changes to its landmass and terrain generation, prop placement, set dressing, and application of the Frozen Tundra biome. The island is now also a fair bit larger and utilizes the same improved snow-capped mountain background scenes as the recent Frozen Tundra zone.
    2. Additionally, Tom has added some small areas of interest on the island comparable to parts of Eriu and Briton, utilizing existing Viking props that may not have cropped up on the original home island. Be sure to explore all of the updated zone to catch the small fishing village on the lake, or hit the trails for a snowy hike overlooking the main landing area. Ken has done an audio pass on the zone as well, combining Frozen Tundra-specific sounds plus the usual island shoreline ambience.
    3. Players with existing Viking characters will be able to check out the new island using all the usual portals to and from other zones, or by making a new Viking character.

And onward to art!

First up, we’ve got the final pass on TDD realm artifacts before the color and breakdown stages! Below you can see the options for TDD-themed signs, lampposts, braziers, bridges, and statues to make up the realm’s full kit.

Moving from TDD to the Vikings, Dave is working on some exploratory key art for the Vikings. Here you can see some of the different approaches he’s been trying. Now that he’s knocked out the initial thumbnails and rough sketches, he’ll be working on a polished version of the combat scene below.

Meanwhile in the world of 3D, Jon’s taking Dave’s concepts for a Viking Heavy Armor set and sculpting it out, beginning with the high poly:

Keeping on in Viking territory, December is the month of the new Midgard home island! The Viking landing zone is now bigger, better, and definitely frostier, as befits the wintry holiday season.

We’ve added some areas outside the main dock area this month as well, including some farmsteads and fishing villages scattered around the countryside.

The biggest difference you may notice is the application of the Frozen Tundra biome to the zone. This update means all three realm home islands now have their primary biome represented on their home island. For the Vikings in particular, it also means Midgard is much more mountainous, boasting craggy hills and valleys, clusters of pine trees, and the snow-capped mountain views present in the original biome concept zone.

This island overhaul marks a major visual upgrade to the zone, all built around the major portals you’re already accustomed to using – that is, the Viking home island, now with more Viking mood! Use any existing Viking-affiliated portal in zones other than Midgard, or create a new Viking character and load in normally, to check out the new home island for yourself.

As the year comes to an end, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and most importantly, a safe, happy, and successful 2022. I’m sure it won’t be easy, because nothing these days ever is, but I hope it is as easy as possible for you, your family, and friends. May 2022 bring you joy, happiness, and a renewed sense of hope for the world as we hopefully exit the pandemic this coming year – for that is the most important thing we can do as a species and a world.

Nothing but the best wishes from my family to you and your family and friends. And as always, speaking on behalf of everybody at CSE, we thank you for your patience and support.