The Month Ends When We Say It Does Update! – Friday, July 23rd, 2021


Hey, an early End of Month livestream for us, who knew? Given the fact that I missed the last one, I wanted to make sure to get one out this week and with the help of the team, we have done so. Obviously we still have a week to go with our work so consider the Top Tenish below as a WIP. 🙂 I also did a 2 1/2 hour livestream which can be found here – There were plenty of great questions asked by Backers/visitors, so there is a lot of information there as well.

July 2021 End of Month CU Update (7/23/2021)

  1. Hiring Update – MJ will talk a lot more about this in the update but the last two months have been very kind to us in terms of team expansion. One fun tidbit, we have a Senior UI Engineer for the first time in many years.
  2. Done – Tech – Navmesh Layers: Lee has completed a substantial upgrade to our navmesh system with the addition of multi-layer support. We are now able to provide a dedicated layer of navmesh to entities of different sizes, which, for example, allows large creatures to avoid tight spaces that are navigable by smaller creatures. Each layer of the navmesh updates dynamically as the world changes, so creatures of all sizes are able to react intelligently to the presence of new material in the world, destruction, or other changes that impact movement and pathfinding.
  3. Done – Tech – Improved Navmesh Obstacle Avoidance: Lee has also delivered an improvement to our pathfinding, in which placed obstacles can be considered navigable at the discretion of the NPCs near them. Previously, all placed obstacles were considered permanent blockades to movement, which could cause long paths to be generated around them. With this upgrade, obstacles that can be destroyed can be considered as temporary obstacles instead – causing the NPCs to generate paths through or over them, while potentially stopping to destroy them before continuing to their destination.
  4. Done – Tech – Flying Entities Improvements: Rob has improved our flying entity capability with the addition of a new behavior, that allows an NPC to intelligently land on the ground (or other surface) and seamlessly transition to a surface-based hunter behavior.
  5. Done – Tech – Ragdoll improvements: Mike D added a new feature to the ragdoll system in which ragdolls can be forced immediately to a final resting state. This is useful for spawning entities in an already-dead pose, which is necessary for late-joining clients. This will also allow for some additional randomization to improve the aesthetics of corpse-filled battlefields. Additionally, Mike added a mechanism to turn off ragdoll completely once the entity is at its final pose, which results in a significant performance savings per ragdolled entity.
  6. Done – Tech – Animation Debugging Improvements: The animation tech team worked together to improve our ability to debug animation problems in service of both technical and artistic concerns. Among the improvements are the ability to view the underlying skeletons of entities limited by range, and developer displays of the details of the run-time state of animation for selected entities. Both improvements have already helped us track down the root cause of some long-standing animation bugs, the fixes for which are coming soon.
  7. Done – Tech – Bug Fixes
    1. Rob and Bull fixed several crash or usability bugs in our tools, allowing our Designers and Artists to work more efficiently and with fewer headaches.
    2. Rob fixed a bug in which visual effects stemming from status changes applied to other entities could sometimes disappear prematurely.
    3. Rob fixed a bug so that physics entities that are supposed to snap to the terrain, actually snap to the terrain.
    4. Mike D fixed an issue in which corpses would stand motionless on any client that connected after the entity died.
  8. WIP – Tech – Build Pipeline Improvements: We’re working on a set of tools that will smooth out how we get releasable packages into our deployment pipeline, and ultimately in front of users. This involves cleaning up the codebase for existing internal tools, improving visibility on matching up server packages to client packages, and reducing the number of manual steps that need to be taken to ultimately get updates in front of players.
  9. WIP – Tech – Overmind Updates: The overmind has been updated in a whole bunch of ways, including: new action for dealing damage, controlling death settings, querying more information about the state of the game world, resetting scenario specific information when leaving a scenario, optimizing code related to joining a scenario, and additional admin tools.
  10. WIP – Tech – Ability Updates: Anthony has reworked the scripting around the Barrier and Radiant Reflection shapes so that they behave as design intended. They now react to incoming damage for some duration, without instantly killing people who attack the warded player (surely someone remembers the playtest or two where Mjolnirs could do that).
  11. WIP – Design – Archer Class Abilities: Kara has been hard at work planning updates to the Archer class ability tree, and both Chris and Kara are finishing out some final detailing. This design brings us closer to the goal of having cool features that make the Archers distinct from anyone just picking up a bow, while also bringing them more in line with the original class concepts.
  12. WIP – Tech – Weather Improvements: Jed added a fix for rain that was the wrong color, and George did some tuning on the fog blending that makes the effect work correctly at all times of day.
  13. WIP – Tech – Terrain Normalization: Wylie has been working away at some improvements to the terrain and terrain editing system. These improvements will make it easier to design zones and remove some artifacts of moving through the world, such as: some items moving into or out of the ground as the player approaches, or hills dramatically changing shape as you get closer to them.
  14. WIP – Art – Environment – Coastal Lowlands
    1. Joseph and Scout are finishing up creation and import of the Coastal Lowlands foliage, including rock and coral cliffs, seaweed, kelp, and other assorted aquatic flora. With the individual pieces completed, we’re now combining them in different iterations, allowing us more flexibility and variety when it comes to set dressing.
    2. Michelle is populating the test zone with these new assets, completing our first pass on the Lowlands biome and prepping it for release to backers.
  15. Done – Art – Environment – Portal Signs: Sierra has created new signs for the portal locations on each home island. Michelle has swapped out the old versions for these new models on the new Arthurian island, soon to be followed by the other two realms.
  16. Done – Art – Fixes
    1. Michelle adjusted HDR in-world to correct Black Knight armor showing as hyper-reflective.
    2. Michelle also made fixes to reported stuck areas in the Arthurian home island.
    3. Sierra fixed missing collision on the lion statue on the new Arthurian home island.
    4. Sierra fixed some missing materials on the ship docked at the Briton harbor.
  17. WIP – Art – Valkyrie: Joe and Jon are working in tandem to set up the new Valkyrie race, finishing the rigging, LODs, and equipment setup. With these steps complete, the Valkyrie will join the St’rm for armor fitting, as we account for the wings and tails on these new races.
  18. WIP – Art – Hamadryad
    1. Tina continues work on the male Hamadryad concepts, defining the look for the race and finishing out a first pass for review.
    2. Meanwhile, Jon continues to model out the female Hamadryad, having completed the silhouette and now finishing up more detailed features like the wings, tail, and hair.
  19. WIP – Art – Animation – Combat Prototyping: Animation is following closely in design’s footsteps, as we readdress the way combat animations work in CU. Right now, this means iterating on dynamic combat animations for humans with the greatsword, polearm, and sword and shield, to test with current work-in-progress abilities. This work is an important step towards upgrading our basic combat animations in CU, which will lead into more exciting special attack and ability animations as design (and testing) progresses.

And onward to art!

The environment team is continuing its hard work bring the world of CU to life: literally! The next biome entering the mix is the Coastal Lowlands, full of towering rock cliffs, monstrous coral shelves, and a bit of the ocean floor right on the shoreline. Check out the progress shots below to find your sea legs ahead of next week’s first pass release:

And to help you find this zone, plus all the biome zones already open to Backers, Sierra made some new signs for use on each realm’s home island. We’ll be phasing these in over the next few weeks, starting with the Arthurian:

Inclement weather in these zones is on its way to an upgrade as well. The color of the raindrops themselves, and the way rainy day fog blends with the surrounding environment, have both been improved for all times of day.

Meanwhile in the land of CU races, the male Hamadryad is taking shape, as we narrow their design based on the solidified female concept.

Last but not least, Scott’s been leading the animation charge as part of design’s broader combat rework. Below you can see the first tests to bring dynamic combat animations into CU, starting with the greatsword:

Then the polearm:

And finally, the sword and shield, all of which will be tested and tweaked as we give our class ability system a bit more love.

Not too bad for a three-week month right? And with the most important item being the 1st (though I quite like the 19th as well), that alone would have made a great update for us. I talk about #1 a lot in the video so if you want the tl;dr, watch the first few minutes of the Top Tenish and you’ll be fully up to speed. And again, the Backers/visitors to the livestream asked lots of great questions.

Have a great weekend everybody! We’ll be releasing the newsletter next week and there’s lots of additional information to be found there as usual. Please stay safe and uninfected during these difficult times. And as always, we thank you for your patience and support.