Layers are not just for onions and ogres!


Another great week here at CSE. Work continues apace on the game and our push to Beta 1. And as you folks can see from today’s User Stories, more gameplay features are going into the game on a weekly basis than in a very long time. OTOH, we are also continuing to focus on our engine’s performance and capabilities. As usual, let’s start with the Top Tenish™ list.

Top Ten-ish

  1. Tech – Items: We finished up our item update for Beta 1. The recent work allows us to check off “First pass working armor, shields, and weapons in game” from our Primary Beta 1 list. This update adds:
    1. Armor items are now broken up to include more slots, per current design.
    2. Under and outer layers are supported. Put on a shirt, then put armor on top of it.
    3. Equipment is no longer split up by gender or race, and can be swapped between players while retaining the expected visuals. For Beta 1, we plan to have cross-Realm restrictions for armor (not yet implemented). Beta 1 restrictions will be different from launch restrictions.
    4. Design now has the ability to set starting inventory as well as equipped gear. This is partially moved from our editor, and is now easier to execute.
    5. Finished Design stat pass to support this update. Values are, of course, going to change.
  2. WIP – Design/Tech – Crafting – What a difference having some additional programmers makes! With Christina coming up to speed quickly on the code, both items and crafting have gotten much-needed programming support. Mark, Ben, and Christina have been pushing the crafting system’s vision for Beta 1 into a more evolved and richer version for the opening of Beta 1. While it will still be heavy on data and light on the “bright shinies”, the system will have a lot of stuff for our Backers to chew over during Beta 1.
  3. WIP – Tech – Improved VFX rendering system: We spoke about this last week, and did more investigation to determine if this was the correct path forward. After Andrew and George found bugs in the white paper they were working from, George spent the end of the week actually making things work. He dropped in part 1 of this code this week, covering a pile of fixes outside of the Order Independent Transparency update:
    1. Fixed broken specular at certain view angles.
    2. Improve the problem where dark forests were overly lit from outside, or under lit from inside. Rolled back previous changes to “fix” this.
    3. Fixed environment lighting contribution radius parameter. Handy for testing.
    4. Several fixes for device suspended bugs causing bad driver states. These were causing flashes or performance “hitches.”
    5. General speed-up of main lighting shader (about a 40% reduction in fill cost).
  4. Tech/Art – Audio: dB has continued to add in more work for subtle ambient tracks, and has been working with Gabe to fix a bunch of issues this week. Ambient tracks now play at the correct time of day, and the sound system’s camera is now properly oriented. It’s pretty important to know which direction that battlecry or death rattle is coming from!
  5. Tech – Guild and Social UI: JB streamed this week showing off the new social UI, which will be used for both Warbands (groups) and Orders (guilds). Check out the stream here. JB also showed off a bit of the work on ranks, and editing them with permissions.
  6. WIP – Tech – First pass manual aiming: Matt re-enabled our old aiming code that Andrew previously worked on during pre-re-abilitation. This is still very much a work-in-progress, but gets us moving towards testing a rough pass of these mechanics. This includes a targeting camera with a predictive arc visual.
  7. Tech – Experimental Patcher is dead! From the end of last week to the end of this one, we’ve been running tests on the updated patcher. We’ll continue getting more users on it over this weekend, and if all proves successful, we’ll do away with the experimental version that addressed some issues a small number of Backers encountered. Thanks to all of you who helped us test these changes.
  8. WIP – Tech – Separate physics server: Colin committed this code this week. Our next step is to spin up the actual server and see what happens! If all goes to plan, lots of players will be constructing or destroying buildings, combined with any other updates running in physics code, without any hit to networking performance.
  9. Art – WIP – Place of Power: We updated all the statues, as seen in some out-of-game shots last week, updated the large dragon tooth hovering over the scene, and began importing all the pieces into the game, creating LOD’s, and starting on polish, VFX, and lights. We’re also creating a PoP test zone with some surrounding terrain, to make a barren and rocky terrain mod re-using some of the work on the PoP.
  10. Art – Environment: Jon knocked out an additional human-shaped root structure for a unique forest asset, in the next forest. Screenshots in today’s update.
  11. Art – Characters: We finished culling through the changes needed for our items/armor update, including some fixes to visual bugs. We have more improvements and minor bug fixes for characters planned, time allowing.
  12. WIP – Art – TDD and Viking unique polearms: Michelle finished the concept art for our chosen TDD weapons, which you can see from her stream HERE. Jon began the sculpting phase, which was also streamed this week. We’ll finish these up next week and add them to player inventories, along with the Viking polearms. Check out the images later in the update.
  13. WIP – Art – Animation: Toward the end of the week here, Scott was able to get back to updating the hand geometry on our characters, as well as updating some of the idle animations to support the changes. After completing a preliminary pass on polearm animations, Sandra has gone back to work on the secondary animations, like skirts and cloaks. Very important to look sassy while swinging your polearm!

As you can see, more and more, our engine is beginning to resemble a game. As part of this evolution, we are checking off item from Primary Beta 1 list: “First pass working armor, shields, and weapons in game.”

In terms of our User Stories, they are even clearer in terms of the transition to more gamplay-focused development:
20 Old cards with 52 completes.

As a Backer, I’d like to be able to be able to play an Archer.
Manual aiming revisit post re-ab:
Toggle Aiming mode. – Complete
Configure archery skills to use manual phase advancement. – Complete
Switching to the targeting camera on client. – Complete
Start drawing trajectory arc as soon as prep begins. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 06 – deeper darker forest.
Unique tree root model. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
AssetCache works via MD5 instead of CogID to prevent asset conflicts. – Complete
Fast Entity Reader implemented to improve server performance. – Complete

As a Backer, I want to be able to own a plot of land and build within it. – First Pass
Each Grid/Morph has a location in the world, giving us a direct relationship between world space and grid space. – Complete
Start building mode with a selected block. – Complete
Set Shift+Tab to cycle selected blocks. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see graphical and networking performance improvements, when building and destroying structures.
Serialization: update how buildlings are saved out to disk and the database. – Complete
Improve how we send out deltas/building changes over the network.   – Complete
Caching building bounds on the server. – Complete
Threading update: Break segment building on the client out into 4 contexts. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer, I’d like a system to set sounds to play during specific events.
Offset sun angle RTPC by 90°, so midnight coincides with 0°/360°. – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improvements in lighting and rendering.
Investigate OIT (Order Independent Transparency) as a solution for rendering improvements. – Complete
First pass testing and fixes. – Complete
Improve lighting between dark and bright areas. – 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!
Chat: Reconfigure log4net logger. – Complete
Deploy new patch server in preparation for combining default and experimental patchers. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to see improvements in the editor to facilitate my work.
Add dropdown box to select the bone on the model to attach the effect. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play as a Crafter with basic gathering and crafting mechanics for testing.
Resource Nodes:
RNs Save to the DB when updated, so they will correctly startup after a server reboot. – Complete
Resource nodes can take damage and track health. – Complete
Add slash commands for quickly testing node functionality. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Arthurians
Polearm v1 – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – TDD
First Pass Concept Art: TDD polearms. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Viking
Polearm – v3. – Complete
One-handed “epic valentine’s” axe concept. – 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.
Update UI to reflect recent gearslot changes. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to interact with the first pass of a Place of Power in Camelot Unchained.
Second pass repeating rock materials. – Complete
Second pass statue materials. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to prototype various combat animations to support future system improvements during Beta.
Polearm animations:
Offensive stance flinch. – Complete
Offensive stance death. – Complete
Defensive attack 01 – Slash mid. – Complete
Defensive attack 02 – Crush mid. – Complete
Defensive attack 03 – Pierce mid. – Complete
Defensive stance flinch. – Complete
Defensive stance death. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer, I’d like to see increased visual fidelity and improved performance in the dense test forest.
Adjust specular to prevent dark forests from looking overlit from outside or underlit inside. – 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.
Metadata and testability improvements:
Traits endpoint in web api server to enable character creation UI. – Complete
B&B Icons:
Races. – Complete
Classes. – Complete
Standard. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to pull the physics server out to its own process for improved network performance.
Set Jenkins to build PhysicsServer code solution. – Complete

As a Backer, I want an animation system that blends multiple animations together, allowing for immersive and fun combat.
Abilities can play the correct animations for damage types (crushing, piercing, slashing) and high, mid, or low attacks.  – Complete
Add ClipTags for melee, bow, cast, projectile, summon, and instant. – Complete
Include segment information inside clipdata. – Complete
Flinch animations synced to skill hit timings between server and client. – Complete
Skill hit timings are synced with server skill (aka flinch looks good). – Complete
Split synchronous code to replace bone list from the async code to extract the bone list from an FBX. – Complete
Make sure we render static models with more than one bone. – Complete
Cleanup/update ModelDataCollection. – Complete

Another great two-week update from us, more updates like that one are coming, that I promise you.
In terms of this week’s “purty stuff” from Artland, sometimes art discussion require a bit of really quick sketching to convey an idea. Take this lovely “sketch” (and calling this a sketch is like calling what I did on today’s stream, singing), Tyler gave Jon when trying to convey what he needed for a unique tree asset. Not much I know. I’m told there was some awkward miming involved as well.

With that loose “sketch,” and the power of talent, Jon created this awesome piece! The plan here is to append this to a unique tree in the next forest as a root structure coming off the side.

Last week we showed you the quick TDD polearm sketches Michelle completed. This week, we chose two to create, which got an extra concept pass before going to the modeling and materials phase.

Not to be outdone, we resurrected our old Viking polearms with updated materials. Now all realms will have unique assets, vs. previously sharing the Arthurian polearm.

Earlier this month Michelle streamed some of her concept work, and noting it was on Valentine’s Day, she knocked out some quick concept for a themed weapon. Here’s some WIP shots of the high poly model.

One of those longer gestating art projects due to it’s scale, the first Place of Power, was recently uploaded into an empty zone so we could see how our first pass on the materials look, get Mike working on vfx and lighting, and begin polishing. The great thing is it’s really coming along nicely! Now we start getting nit-picky, clean things up, figure out how to make everything better, before moving onto new art

That wraps it up from Artland folks!

In terms of a weekend test, we are going to open up the current build to all of our Alpha, Beta 1, and IT folks. Please check your email later today for details about the test. And please read the email, it’s a little thick but there are some really important things to keep in mind *before* you go into the game. Among these are:

  1. The animation system is a WIP. This is not how we expect animations/combat to work in a few weeks, let alone a few months. This is simply a first pass that involves laying the technical groundwork for the next pass.
  2. Physicians are broken right now as their vials aren’t working. This is already fixed in the Hatchery build, but we didn’t want to push this to what is an overall stable build.
  3. Remember #1. 🙂

In terms of other news, I, along with the Lady J and Michael, are heading over to the West Coast at the end of the next week. I can’t guarantee that we will have a get-together with Backers as we usually do, but if you are in Portland or Seattle and want to get together, here’s the thread you can post in to tell me (

That’s it for today’s update. Once again, it was a great week capped by a weekend test of an overall stable build. Have a great weekend all and I’ll see some of you in the game!