Progress is Snowballing – Friday, October 18th, 2019


I hope this update finds you all well as winter slowly encroaches upon us here at CSE. The weather in Virginia is starting to actually feel like fall, with the temperature dropping over the last week. It’s appropriate then that one of this week’s art images is a procedurally-created snow texture. (No, I didn’t plan that!)

Things continue apace here as both studios continue to churn through tasks. Of particular interest below in the Top Tenish, we get ever closer on our–as expected–long burn on NPC pathfinding. Several key engineers also get us ever closer to the “Linuxification” goal on the servers, allowing us to reduce our server costs, something particularly important when running the live game!

We are not planning on a test this weekend. Stay tuned to the tentative testing schedule for updates next week!

If you missed today’s Live Stream with Ben and myself (Tyler), you can check it out HERE.

Here’s this week’s highlights!

Top Tenish:

  1. WIP – Tech – Navmesh: Navmesh is nearly ready! Lee spent the week testing various path plan archetypes and fixing any bugs that he found. Really, this is the final step in a very long process. All the code that’s been put in over the last couple of months is finally getting tested and exercised (and in some cases exorcised)! Bugs are getting found and worked out, from stupid-simple typos to glaring logic errors that cause complete rewrites of sections of code.  While this sounds like a lot of work (it is), it’s also the final step before checking in code. Soon, my pretties, you shall have full 3D path planning with a dynamically built navmesh.

  2. Tech – Windows 7: Tim and Mark Chae tracked down an issue that was plaguing Windows 7 users. We have found a way to address the issue, and it can be found below. Also, as a reminder to those of you still using Windows 7, it is our position that all users running Windows 7 should upgrade to a newer version of Windows as soon as possible. Microsoft will be ending its official support for Windows 7 as of January 14th, 2020. Once Microsoft drops support for Windows 7, so too will CSE. We won’t do anything to intentionally break builds on Windows 7, but we will no longer be officially supporting it. If you are on Windows 7, please follow the steps in this doc to address the issues you are having

  3. WIP – Tech – Tools: Bull continued his work on our changelist/versioning system for content data. Once this has landed, we will be able to hotfix content instead of having to take down the servers to apply the changes. This will hopefully help us iterate a bit faster, and work toward our live game’s stability and sustainability.

  4. WIP -Tech – Tools: Bull and Andrew also tested and deployed a fix for our animation data builder. The data builder is what allows us to version control the animation data. This has been a long-needed addition to our animation tools pipeline.

  5. WIP – Tech – Knockback: Matt continued his work predicting knockback on the client. This is mostly done with deep support work on the server and networking the predictions. The client is starting to predict the knockbacks themselves, and we will be evaluating them on the client before the changes go live.

  6. WIP – Tech – World Editor Tools: Rob started work on making placeable objects terrain relative in the editor. This means that when objects are placed upon the terrain, they stick to the terrain, allowing artists to drag objects across the ground quickly, without having to continually move them up and down as they work.

  7. WIP – Tech – Linuxification: This week, Wylie was performing “hardening” for low-level code on Linux. This involves a lot of testing on a Linux virtual machine in order to isolate OS specific bugs. The Linuxification effort is being done to help reduce server costs.

  8. Tech – UI – Bug fix: AJ fixed a bug with the scenario join button. The scenario join button will no longer get stuck on Joining when attempting to join a scenario.

  9. WIP – Music: This week, dB focused on new sample instruments for new music tracks. Setting up new sample instruments expands our library as well, allowing dB to not only create new music but also improve pre-existing tracks if applicable.

  10. Tech – Gameplay: Anthony fixed a nasty bug with Skill Stability. Under some conditions, a player’s stability could be set to 0, ensuring that all their abilities would be interrupted from any attack. Once this reaches the servers, we ask that you please report any oddities with stability.

  11. WIP – Art – Props: Tyler did some experimenting with animations and FX on props. This work should inform our ability to do animations on things like the Stonehealer’s stones.

  12. Art – Props: Sandra created a few simple animations loops, such as a floating rock, as a test asset for Tyler’s investigations.

  13. Art – Weapons – Spears: We completed two new spear models this week for the TDD.

  14. Art – Terrain Textures: We’ve previously talked about using Substance Designer for new materials. This week, we worked on new snow and rock textures for new areas of the world.

For art this week, we have first, the high poly sculpt, and material renders of the two mentioned TDD spears.

I can think of a particular Luchorpán Fianna who would love a new spear!

Next up, we’ve got a few images of materials created in Substance Designer. These probably need a little bit more context, if you’re going to understand what’s happening here. First off, these materials are all created procedurally, and are not done the old-school way from photo reference, nor are they hand-painted. Additionally, these aren’t built from photogrammetry refrences, which use real-world visual data, which has also been previously used in CU. Instead, everything is a series of instructions put together in a node-based editor, like this:

That “break out” on the lower half of the image shows the “base shape” part of this. As you can see, it’s quite complex, but once you get used to what you’re doing, it can go rather quickly. Thankfully, one of our newest artists is already very skilled with this program!

These nodes represent noise functions, like color, blur, alpha maps, etc! The great thing here is, once this is set up, adjusting values in these nodes takes minutes, giving you a huge range of results, making variation, color changes, etc, very fast! The above layout is this rock texture:

Additionally, here’s that aforementioned snow texture, built in the same program:

If you look closely on the larger image, you can even see the specular highlights on it! So far, it’s been a wonderful program to use, and I’m really looking forward to it speeding up our ability to make textures in CU! Oh, and we’re not using it for just repeating terrain textures, as we can use it on items, characters, armor, anything… anything that has textures on it!

And that’s a wrap for us at CSE. Thank you, Backers, for your interest in our work, and we hope to see you in future tests and on the streams, or even in the forums!

– Tyler