The Hills are Alive with Spiky Death – Friday, April 20, 2018


This week has been fairly quiet, as everyone has been focused, working through our tasks to finish out the week strong. Toward the end of the week, things got a bit more hectic, with lots of conversations blooming into existence as we planned for the following week(s). The latter part of the week is honestly my (Tyler’s) favorite, as it’s the most rewarding.

Making games is complex. Thankfully, I work in an office with a bunch of talented folks who are really good at problem-solving. That problem-solving process is like a bunch of small hills we conquer daily, bringing together the brains, talent, and various ways of approaching a problem.  We turn it into a plan, which is what production is all about. We figure out how to climb that hill together!

Speaking of the hills we overcame this week, let’s check out the week’s highlights in our Top Tenish for the week!

Top Tenish:

  • Testing: This week, we ran several tests on Wyrmling. No weekend Backer test has been planned for this weekend. But don’t fret, we have many more incoming changes that will need testing by our stalwart Backers this week! We’re also looking at some of the feedback from the last couple of testing sessions to see if we can get some quick fixes in next week for the current build of Wyrmling.

  • Tech – Item De-cluttering: With all of the work on crafting and item placement, soon you’ll be able to fill the world with…stuff! So, to manage performance and memory, we implemented some rules to keep the world a little less cluttered, such as restricting the number of assets that can be placed on a building, or how close items can be deployed to one another.

  • WIP – Tech – Buildings: What, BUILDINGS!?! Over the past several weeks, Andrew was heads-down working to update and optimize our building code. Earlier this week, that work was handed off to Matt for integration on the client.

  • WIP – Tech – UI Subsystem refactor: Part of the core system that renders our UI has been undergoing a significant refactor to provide additional features and functionality. This significant update will provide extended web UI support in the near future.

  • WIP – Art – Animations: Work continues nicely on the new class-specific idles and updated animations.

    • Sandra finished up the movement animations for the Winter’s Shadow, and has begun work on the other two archer classes.

    • Scott finished the Black Knight shield attack, sword pierce, walk and run movement, and is now working on the jumps.

  • WIP – Art – Updated Character Creation Renders: You may have noticed our new animator Joe was not mentioned in our usual animation section. This week, Joe began work weighting the updated meshes and posing them so Jon and Michelle will be able to create new renders, which will match the updated character creation styling, and also replace our old concept art. These renders will more accurately represent the characters you will use during the start of Beta 1.

  • WIP – Art – Chat UI: James is neck-deep in a styling update to our chat UI. This improves readability, configurability, and matches the styling update that parts of our UI have previously received.

  • WIP – Vox – Visibility and Location: Christina now has Vox visibility in a testable state. We want to avoid a field of Voxen, in case players log out without requiring their Vox. This has been an issue in previous testing, as over time, it can generate a performance hit in the area. Her change will only show the Vox in the zone if the player is logged in. Additionally, the Vox can now be found on the map, allowing players to easily find any misplaced Voxen! But in order to do so, you have to recite the magical spell, “Oh where oh where has my little Vox gone?”

  • WIP – Design – Banes and Boons (Traits): Ben and Rob continue to fix, add, and test traits for Beta 1. Rob updated his traits tool, allowing Ben to target other players and give or take away traits to speed up testing.

  • WIP – Tech – Player trading: Christina and AJ have been working on implementing secure trading. We have the first pass functionally working, which is now awaiting a UI update from AJ.

  • WIP – Art – Environment Art: Tyler and Dionne have been working on getting the island environments updated for the Point Capture Map. This week:

    • Lots and lots of LODing of assets and adding much-needed collision as we go.

    • Updating existing assets for better performance.

    • Adding in the crystal, receptacle, and pedestal assets for future Capture the Flag mechanics.

    • More placement of assets to fill out the map.

    • Specifically sized rock outcroppings for Ben to hand place to help dictate gameplay from a design perspective.

    • New statue piece from Jon we may work into the Dragon Fang map to differentiate one of the control points.

  • WIP – Audio – Performance fixes: Dave has been working hard learning the ins and outs of the audio system, and making some much-needed performance improvements to our audio engine.

    1. WIP – Art – VFX Concepting: This week, Michelle completed a pass on the Blackguard and Forest Stalker’s special abilities, and is starting work on the Black Knight’s Void Slash ability. She’s also completed a pass on the smaller NPC spawn points in the Dragon Fang map.


  • WIP – VFX – Updated Realm Variations: Working off Michelle’s concepts for abilities, Mike updated the Mjölnir VFX, and will move onto the Arthurian Black Knight special ability next. He also began work roughing in some VFX for the new capture the flag related assets in the Dragon Fang scenario map.


For art this week, let’s start off with the first pass of the Winter’s Shadow new ability animation. In this ability, the Winter’s Shadow archer raises his arrow to the sky, generating a cold, wintery VFX, before firing it off to deliver a freezing, snowy AoE attack.

Next, we have this new statue from Jon for use in the environment.

Next, some concept art from Michelle, to assist Mike in creating new VFX. First, the Blackguard. Remember, the visuals of the VFX will change and grow as we test and refine the look of the abilities. Additionally, new VFX tools and functionality will change these as we continue up to launch.

Next, the Forest Stalker’s Overgrowth Shot.

And finally for concept art, the matching NPC spawn dais to accompany the control point dais, which is referenced in the upper right.

To finish off art for the week, we end with a couple of in-game shots of the work going on in the new Dragon Fang scenario, with the updated Black Knight idle in the foreground.

The hill we are currently climbing in the assembly of this map, is the creation and placement of these large, SPIKY, rock walls, growing outward from the Place of Power which resides in the center of the map. All these rocks also need to be very performant so we can have hundreds of players fighting it out in this zone. Next week we’ll try and finish up placing the majority of these assets to show off more of the map in the update!

That’s it for this week’s update. We completed a lot of work and I’m genuinly looking forward to making lots of progress next week, and sharing it with you folks!

Have a great weekend and we hope to see you in our next tests!