The Root of it all! – Friday, July 21st, 2017


Well, if you didn’t see today’s livestream update, you missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch me do a live update almost entirely without speaking! We save all our videos and you can see it here ( This quite memorable event came about thanks to a root canal (what fun, right?) that my dentist finished just in time to get me back to the studio to do the update (before the local anesthetic had worn off) with Ben. 🙂

The title of today’s update is a reference to that root canal, but also a reference to the problem we’ve been chasing down for the last two weeks. Call it scene-locking, call it broken, call it a PITA, but the good news is that Andrew and George made major changes to the system so that the engine is a lot more stable than it was three weeks ago. Now, is it ready for a real Alpha test? Unfortunately, no. Lots of progress?  Yes, but not enough for a test this weekend.

Fortunately, there are a few silver linings, in addition to the Top Tenish. The biggest are that those changes to the system helped expose some other bugs that, frankly, were being masked by the older code. At the same time, they improved the client’s overall stability and allowed us to get the Bots back up and running! We’ve been eradicating the bugs as quickly as we can, but we simply ran out of time to get a solid test up this weekend. OTOH, we expect to return to Impromptu Tests next week, and will prep for a weekend Alpha test!

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the Top Tenish list:

Top Tenish

  1. WIP – Tech – Client Stability: Andrew joined the West Coast Team this week for a regular visit. Conveniently, this trip allowed him to work much closer together with George on the stability issues we’ve been tracking down. The first round of major fixes went in, and now we’re better able to track down issues that were previously hiding. These changes will make our internal editor much more stable as well, improving the speed and efficiency at which our team works. Big thanks to all the engineers who jumped in to help when needed!
  2. Tech – Inventory UI: AJ, with JB’s help, landed the new player inventory UI this week. This replaces the very simple, purely functional inventory list we previously had. Items in your inventory are now represented visually, with mouse-over stats and filtering. Double-clicking an item will now swap it with the currently-equipped item in the corresponding slot. The new UI is a huge leap forward, with plenty more functionality to come!
  3. WIP – Tech – Seamless Zone Transitions: Moving seamlessly across zones requires hooking up a lot of different gameplay info. Colin has begun making it possible to transition details when crossing a boundary. This is so you won’t lose ownership, nor its details, like build queue, settings, and so on.
  4. WIP – Tech – Bots: With so many changes over the last few months in all parts of the code, Marc has been spending his time making sure Bots are updated to fully stress-test changes to players, items, armor, and the ability system. As of earlier this week, we’re back up to running 1500 Bots, as we were before the new year, but now they are pushing our systems harder than ever. Bots are putting a new entity (objects such as arrows) into the world every 10 seconds or so. That’s 150 items generated a second–which is not bad, not bad at all!
  5. WIP – Tech – Designer Support for Adding Block Types: Following work on improving building performance, Rob is now focusing on making the design process as easy as possible for adding new block materials. One of our goals for Beta 1 is to make the designers as self-sufficient as they can be, allowing them to make adjustments quickly, without the need of programmer intervention.
  6. WIP – Tech – Item Effect Tag Support: As part of the subitem work Christina has been doing, she’s adding tag functionality to the existing item sheet, which will support sounds later on. After some future work, probably from Gabe, this will give us appropriate sounds when swapping gear, so the sound effects can match the materials of your gear.
  7. WIP – Art – TDD Portal Marker: We’ve approved the second-pass concept from Michelle this week. She’s now working with some feedback, and then will create the variations for Realm ownership. This will be then handed off to Jon for sculpting and material creation.
  8. WIP – Art – Mines: Dionne continues to add more segments to the mine, building out the first test area for players to provide feedback. Tyler has added this to a small island for future testing. Jon is working on some creature fossils for the mine, as well as a sculpt of a Depths-influenced shrine, which we’ll hide in the first mine.
  9. WIP – Art – Scorpion Siege Engines: Jon and Ben have worked on an update to the scorpion siege weapon model to make the mechanics more accurate. This will be followed by a second pass on rigging, animation, and setup for destruction, as well as pairing with the player character. If all that works, we’ll update all the Realm variations.
  10. WIP – Art – Character Status Effects: Mike has moved on to preparing a library of new assets to display VFX on different bones. These will be used to show effects acting on the characters, such as buffs and debuffs. Once Gabe has finished the work to show effects upon your target, these changes should begin showing up there as well.
  11. WIP – Art – One-handed Sword: Sandra and Scott continue to double-team the one-handed simultaneous weapon animations. After completing the right-hand sword assets, Sandra is now wrapping up left-hand sword slash, pierce, and deflect. Scott, working from the opposite direction, completed a first-pass of the movement animations like run, walk, jump, etc. This work has built upon solved issues, and presents new issues to be addressed as we move to import and testing.
  12. WIP – Healer SFX/VFX: One of the first things we do with the classes is to break down the SFX and VFX needs with descriptions from Design of what abilities are expected to look and sound like. This week, Ben finished the breakdown of the healer archetype components with “phases,” which start with shared and generic asset needs and go to specific and detailed permutations. The goal here is to get audio and visual feedback sooner, before making the more time-consuming assets.
  13. WIP – Art – Ability Bar and Beta 1 Documentation Styling: Late last week, James began work on the styling for updates to the ability bar. As there is a lot we’d like to do here, we’ll be breaking this down into “needs for Beta 1” and “needs for post-launch of Beta 1.” Additionally, he knocked out the first-pass styling of our documentation for Beta 1. This will create a cohesive look for our FAQs, instructions, updates, etc, related to Beta 1 testing and feedback.

For art this week, we’ve got a video link to some new animations of the second pass on single-hand weapon combination work. Using two different weapons, with an ability system as….robust…as ours is, provides a pile of new challenges to solve. We’re on our way. Click the image below!

Following up last week’s modeling work, Jon finished up the cave assets with a rough pass on materials. We’ll drop these in and continue to audit as we get farther along with the look of the mines. These were inspired by Tyler’s own personal trip with the family to Luray Caverns near us in VA.

Jon has been clamoring to do some Depths-related work, so we figured a small Easter egg would be fun for people to come across in the lower levels of the mines. You can catch the livestream of this work HERE.

Michelle has been hard at work on the now-approved second pass of the TDD portal marker. You can catch her stream from last week HERE.

Not to be outdone with ONLY in-game asset concepts, Michelle has also completed some UI styling concepts for the recently added first-pass inventory UI.

Again, another great week here, checking items off the list to Beta 1. I think the only other thing I could reasonably ask for is a break in the heat wave over here in Virginia. Until next time, have a great weekend all, and we’ll CU next week for more streaming, more updates, more progress, and hopefully, more testing! We’re planning to run a test early next week, when we can be in the office to monitor it.


P.S. Just before I wrote this, I went into the latest build with about 400 of our little autonomous AWS clients. I was running around and getting shot and killed by Bots (no respect, I tell you I get no respect!) while I was shooting back at them and at some of the buildings in the game. My FPS was great, especially considering these facts: We just got the Bots working again, I was in the middle of a fight, and we have a test mine floating above the battlefield. 🙂