Shedding New Light on CU UI – Thursday, January 25th, 2024

Hi Folks!

As we begin the new year, we wanted to take the time to share what we’ve been working on, some big visual updates and improvements to our workflow chief among them. New year, new you right? Our major updates this time around involve a new UI and a series of lighting updates to current zones and materials. See the list below for more details on how these changes will impact CU!

Top Tenish for the New Year

  1. Done – Engineering – CU UI Phoenix is LIVE! – The new CU UI is now live! Our UI Phoenix project addresses a lot of pre-existing issues (such as being able to close menus with the Esc key) and should overall be a vastly improved experience over the previous version. This rework also vitally gives us a much faster path to future UI updates, so stay tuned for future developments!
  2. WIP – Engineering – Ongoing UI Improvements – With the release of the new CU UI Phoenix, we’re continuing to work on a variety of fixes and additional features to support the release. This includes adding support for some minor features that the new UI is currently missing.
  3. Done – Art – Style Pack and Lighting Improvements – Michelle has completed a major pass on our lighting effects across many of our major zones. From Eriu to the Frozen Tundra, visibility during the night should be massively improved and overall lighting quality has been taken to new heights!
  4. Done – Engineering – UI Performance Increases – An aspect we strove to improve during our UI Phoenix was general performance in a lot of menus. In particular, any places you can hover over for a tooltip (like the Inventory) should see much better performance.
  5. Done – Engineering – UI Error Handling – Another UI feature we’ve upgraded is our general error handling. Before, our UI would crash whole sections if an error was encountered, but under the new system there should be much more graceful handling where affected menus are disabled rather than simply remaining broken and can then be reopened.
  6. Done – Art – Night Lighting Fix – Michelle has done a lot of work to improve lighting during nighttime conditions. Before, there were a lot of visibility concerns with how dark the dark was, and Michelle has done a lot of work to address these by brightening certain areas and cleaning up the world light timeline.
  7. Done – Engineering/Art – Ambient Lighting – We recently added a new feature for ambient lighting, which helps brighten unusually dark areas and generally makes lighting more consistent. Michelle has also gone in and customized these per-zone to add to the overall feel each zone has.
  8. Done – Engineering – Ability UI Improvements – A noticeable impact of the UI improvements we’ve been making centers around the Ability Book and Ability Bar. The Ability Book will update menus faster, and should no longer bring users back to previous pages unexpectedly. The Ability Bar should update much faster as well, allowing players to build and swap abilities much faster.
  9. WIP – Engineering – UI Build Update Improvements – While not particularly user facing, we’ve been working on various ways to improve our UI build update system to allow faster and more efficient development. This includes consistent UI behaviors, a standardized architecture, and increasing threading support.
  10. WIP – Engineering – Launcher UI Improvements – Karl has been working on a rework of the CSE Launcher to perform better and in general be more responsive. This is still early in development right now, but there’s more to come in the future!
  11. Done – Engineering – Platform & WebAPI Improvements – We’ve made several improvements to our WebAPI stack, which impacts both the shard specific WebAPI (which serves content like group and inventory data) and our PlatformAPI (which handles authentication and shard lists).  Additionally we’ve been stress testing the PlatformAPI and have made several improvements there.  In general this should result in faster and more stable connections and requests to a wide variety of services and systems.
  12. Done – Design – Ammo Health Bug Fix – Fixed a bug with stacked items that are created via sub items (such as arrows) so that their health is calculated correctly.
  13. WIP – Engineering – Removal of the Gender, Race, and Archetype Enums
    1. Enums are a data type where you can have your own named values, so for example the Race Enum had values like “St’rm, Luchorpan, Human, Jottnar”. While handy in certain use cases, they have some inherent inefficiencies with portability (ie, do other places in code know what a “St’rm” value is) that have led us to remove these usages.
    2. Removing these enums makes it a lot easier to add new content into the game, as we don’t need to keep track of where these Enums are defined by using more generic data types.
    3. There’s still a bit of work to do in the editor and the LauncherUI to make them fully data driven, but this is a big step towards that goal!
  14. WIP – Engineering – Lighting Calculation Improvements – Our lighting team has been working on simplifying the math and occlusion checking for positional lights. This should be a moderate improvement to frame rate on lower end graphics cards when it lands.
  15. Done – Engineering – GUI-O-Matic – James has been cooking up a nifty new tool that will help our devs test faster and more efficiently. With this new tool, devs can cook up a simple GUI (graphical user interface) on the fly for running server commands one at a time or in a sequence. This makes testing more repeatable and efficient, being able to simply click a button for testing as opposed to pasting in a chain of server commands.
  16. WIP – Engineering – Hierarchical Tag Matching – Rob is working on a system for better organization and grouping of concepts in scripting logic. This should allow Design to change abilities much more efficiently, making any future ability reworks faster.

Let’s move down below to see some of these in action!

The style pack and lighting improvements Michelle has been working on have been applied to a number of high-use zones, resulting in beautiful sunrises, better material reflections, and a night cycle you can actually see! In the image below, we have an example using our MJ-favorite god rays.

We also have some major improvements in the form of our new user interface, dubbed ‘Phoenix’ – you’ll notice better performance across the board when navigating the UI, as well as some more radical improvements in specific use cases (such as the inventory and ability building menus). While the majority of the changes to the new UI occur under the hood, they provide a framework for us to more easily and quickly make changes to CU’s UI in the future. Simply put, we’ve rebuilt the underlying mechanics and code to ensure that we can readily iterate upon our UI at any point in time going forward.

Well there’s a good look at the newest batch of changes to CU! As always, there’s more to come in the future as we continue to refine the UI Phoenix and zone lighting improvements. We hope to see you testing these features in-game.

We appreciate and thank you for your continued support of CU and CSE!

– Jane