It’s Always Sunny in Briton – Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Hello all,

Art producer and clicker-of-livestream-captions Charlotte here, wishing everyone a very happy end of June and filling in for MJ on this month’s CU Top Tenish while he’s under the weather. While this means our normal end of month livestream will be a bit delayed, we certainly have plenty of updates to deliver in the meantime – from first implementation of features we’ve already mentioned, like flying NPCs, to the continued beautification of CU’s environments and weather, to shiny new gameplay scenarios coming down the pike, starting with bandit camps. Also new this month, the updated Arthurian home island will be available live in-game starting with the next playtest. You can check out screenshots of those beautification changes, plus progress on new CU races and biomes, down below.

It’s been a busy month across the board, and we hope you’re as excited to check out these new features as we are to share them. As always, you can read up on these updates in more detail in our newsletter, check out the new environment in-game soon, and, once MJ’s feeling better, chat with us in the next livestream.

June 2021 End of Month CU Update (7/2/2021)

  1. WIP – Design – Bandits – Lowland Marauders: Kara has mapped out some content for an NPC faction we’re calling the Lowland Marauders. This group utilizes assets from the Shipwreck Cove Point of Interest. Kara passed this off to Chris, who will be using these NPC archetypes and the inventory chest design that was briefly mentioned in May’s Newsletter for integration with the Veilshards (RvR3) map design. For more information on this, checkout this month’s Newsletter in Dose of Design.
  2. WIP – Design – Heavy Fighter Design Work: Kara and Chris have been hard at work planning updates to the heavy fighter tree. This brings us closer to the goal of allowing all characters to be able to use melee weapons, while still having the heavy fighter classes retain all the cool features that make them special.
  3. WIP – Tech – Animation Sequences: Mike D. is nearing completion of an enhancement to our animation system that allows for “animation sequences.” This entails a series of animations automatically playing in sequence for a given entity. The first example of this new tech will be with a new spawn animation capability (see below). In the future, Art will be able to exploit this feature to create elaborate sequences of motion for any animated thing in the game.
  4. WIP – Tech – Spawn Animations: Along with the new animation sequences feature, Mike D. is busy adding support for spawn animations for all animated entities. This will allow any entity (character, creature, items) to enter the world with a cool animation before automatically transitioning to idle.
  5. Done – Tech – Knockback Immunity: Anthony recently added this feature to the game. It’s fully supported end-to-end along with client prediction and is a part of the Control Immunity status.
  6. Done – Tech – NPC Fixes: Lee has completed a host of improvements to NPC targeting, including fixes to enemy target detection, aggro, ranged attack positioning, and target tracking. This continues a dedicated effort to upgrade our NPC system, to allow support of more sophisticated behaviors coming in the near future.
  7. Done – Tech – Flying NPCs: Rob has been focusing heavily on gameplay improvements, and has landed support for flying NPCs! This first version allows designers to spawn specific entities either on ground or in the air, and then have those entities follow aerial paths. These NPCs can be scripted to fly indefinitely, fly to specific destinations and then land, or drop from the air to the ground if attacked. This new feature is currently undergoing testing by Design, with promising results. In fact, the Dragon has been fully converted to an NPC using the new flying behavior. Look for other aerial NPCs in the not-too-distant future.
  8. Done – Tech – Bug Fixes
    1. Karl fixed a bug which was preventing items from deploying correctly.
    2. Andrew fixed a crash that could sometimes happen when loading zones.
  9. WIP – Tech – Game Data Storage Changes
    1. Christina has been working on moving a bunch of our gameplay definition data into a new home in data sheets. Though there’s still more work to do, this should greatly improve designer iteration time to both create and update content.
    2. This change has updated the identification used by some of this data, so expect some upcoming resets of character data as these changes make their way onto our various servers.
  10. WIP – Tech – Infrastructure as Code: Work continues on Infrastructure as Code. We’ve captured and categorized the vast majority of our current stack. Procedures for reviewing, committing, and applying changes to infrastructure have been defined. We’ve run our first few commits, which resulted in modifications to our stack via IAC tooling.
  11. Done – Tech – Build Pipeline Improvements: The framework upgrades we’ve been working on for our stack (from Visual Studio, to .NET, to gcc, to others) have landed. This is a significant improvement – both in terms of the tools available to our developers, as well as the pipeline that compiles code and makes builds.
  12. WIP – Tech – Patcher + VC Redist: Cheyne made some changes to the patcher so that we could install redistributable updates to third party libraries. When we updated to the latest version of Visual Studio, this came along with a version change to the redistributable libraries. Bottom line: we will no longer send out an email to ask people to install them by hand. The patcher will do it automatically.
  13. WIP – Tech – Weather: Jed is working on adding wind and smoother transitions between weather states. When implemented with rain and snow, this will help make the world to feel more dynamic and atmospheric.
  14. WIP – Fog Improvements: Wylie and George have made some improvements to the various methods whereby fog is added to scenes, how it is edited, and how it blends with other elements in the scene. These changes are subtle, but should result in more control for artists and less visual artifacts in the future. In particular, water with fog on it simply looks much better 🙂
  15. WIP – Tech – Terrain Normalization: Wylie is adding some automation to the terrain editor that will tweak the low LOD terrain meshes to better match the high LOD terrain. This should reduce the workload on artists editing the terrain and help to eliminate cases where terrain LODs diverge irreparably. Specifically, this should address the problem where the terrain changes height as you get closer or farther away, and things on the terrain sometimes float, or are buried.
  16. Done – Art – Bug Fixes
    1. Adjustments for basic locomotion in CU continues, as we update our existing animations to account for the new 7 meters-per-second default speed.
    2. In line with the work design has been doing to update CU movement systems and, now, combat systems, the animation team has also been creating prototypes for more dynamic, more universal attack animations. These test cases are the first step in helping us better align our class design, animation mechanics, tagging process, and game visuals as development progresses.
  17. WIP – Art & Tech – St’rm: With the St’rm models done and rigging just about completed, the animation and tech teams are close to hooking up the St’rm in-game. Armor fitting and animation polish continue in parallel to these efforts, as we work with the unique wing and tail segments on this rig.
  18. WIP – Art – Hamadryad: Tina continues her concept work marching through the myriad list of CU races, this time showcasing the TDD Hamadryad. Now that she’s completed the female reference sheet – which you can see more about in this month’s newsletter – she’s moved on to Hamadryad males.
  19. Done – Art – Points of Interest – Glade of the Failed Heroes: Sierra has completed modeling the assets comprising the Glade of the Failed Heroes’ Points of Interest. This dying tree, belonging to the Questing Beast, is now properly decked out with 3D-rendered banners, armor, weapons, and bones of unsuccessful adventurers.
  20. WIP – Art – Environment – Coastal Lowlands
    1. Work continues on the next new CU biome, the Coastal Lowlands. This month we moved from a broad concept to test map prototyping and asset production: we are on track to open up a new biome test zone at the end of next month.
    2. Joseph and Scout have been moving quickly through the asset list for this biome, beginning with the many varieties of rocky cliffs that will break up the zone. Scout has also sculpted variants of low-lying coral shelves and mangrove trees, while Joseph has created multipurpose rock and coral textures. Thanks to these variant models and textures, we can now iterate and produce a diverse set of assets quickly, and transition to map population.
  21. Done – Art – Environment – Arthurian Home Island
    1. This month, the CU zone getting a new look is Briton, the Arthurian home island. Just as we updated the TDD home island with their new realm biome and quality of life updates earlier this year, Briton has been reworked to include assets from the Golden Plains along with a long list of general improvements.
    2. Michelle has completed a quality of life pass on the island from the ground up, literally, starting with the environment. The previous biome has been replaced with the new Golden Plains assets, and players will now be able to experience a home island that matches their realm foothold on the upcoming RvR3 map.
    3. In addition, Michelle has also expanded the landmass and improved shorelines, added a new pond area, cleaned up pathways, and updated set dress (including the portal location for RvR2) across the island. Check out this month’s newsletter for a detailed list of changes, before-and-after comparisons, and a diagram for the updated battleground portal placement.

And onward to art!

First up, concept brings to the field expanded development for the Hamadryad race. Here you can see some of the art from the develoment process. Be sure to check out this month’s newsletter for expanded images and content on this naturally unique race.

Switching up the mood below, we showcase finalized assets to be found in the gloomy Glade of Failed Heroes point of interest area.

Over in the Arthurian home isle of Briton, upgrades are in! A far more bright and noble vibe abound thanks to newly-applied Golden Plains generation, as well as various terrain improvements and set dress additions.

From a bird’s eye view we can see portal locations have stayed similar. The Portal to the Isle of Discordia has been moved down the road and biome concept realm portals, while their main location hasn’t changed, have been spaced out further to avoid reported teleport conflicts.

And of course, we won’t leave our Arthurian friends in the dark as night falls. Emitting lights have been added to lamp props including wall lamps, braziers and hanging lamps.

Among the various fixes in CU, Viking plot lamps will no longer give off a once quite intense flicker light show.

The Str’m race is getting closer to being fully hooked up. The animation and rigging team has added a nice touch to Str’m movement with tucking and unfolding of wings if in motion.

Progress continues on the weather system from the lords of tempests in engineering. Cooling off the heat of summer and wrapping up this month’s Top Tenish art drop, here a few shots from the progress.

That does it for this month’s Top Tenish updates. Thank you as always for your support, your patience, and your enthusiasm for the world of CU. Stay safe, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!