As the World Animates – Friday, April 21, 2017 –


  Greetings all from pollen suffused Fairfax, Virginia! Coughing, sneezing, and hacking our way through the week, we nevertheless made a lot of progress this week on several fronts, including, if you can’t tell from the title, animations. There has been a lot of pantomiming and faux weapon swinging in the office lately as we continue to make progress in our new animation system and assets. Fortunately, no CSE team member was hurt in the process and, as a result, the game’s animation system and animations continue to improve!

Animation discussions are only one of many things that liven up the office. Off to my right, at this moment, Christina, Ben, Mark, and Rob are talking about crafting and setting up resource nodes on the terrain. Two days ago, Ben had to endure my frantic scribbling on the white board as we tackled better ways to assemble islands, using our procedural terrain generation system. And, today, Mark was swinging around a war hammer with Scott as they discussed tweaks to combat locomotion, coming full circle back to animation.

We’re all working hard, and intelligently, to get us into Beta 1 without rushing it, so we can give you, our Backers, the old school Beta 1 experience you deserve. Earlier today I (Tyler) streamed our Friday update by my lonesome, where I covered our top-tenish. If you’d like see the more colorful version of the text below, you can catch that HERE.

For the week, here’s the highlights in top tenish form:

Top Tenish:

1. WIP – Tech – Siege engines: As planned, Matt has applied the work and lessons learned from our previous archery aiming tests in efforts of developing the underlying tech for siege engines. This is partially an update to previous efforts, but using our new ability system as well. We have some early tech that allows the siege engine to sync up with the players aiming. We’ve begun discussing pairing characters to the siege engine’s movement, but for now, we are focused on pull item out of inventory, place, load, fire, and put away.

2. WIP – Improved Animation System: As we improve not only the animation system but also the animations themselves, we also find ways to reduce the number of animation permutations we have to create. Late last night, Andrew committed the first pass of the tech necessary to take different parts of an animation clip and “Frankenstein” them together into a new clip. For example, Scott can take the upper body 2-handed spear idle, and pair that with the 2-handed axe stationary jump. In this use case, Scott does not have to create stationary jumps for every equipped weapon animations. This will then use the previous tech of upper and lower body blending, to blend the animations together at the torso.

3. WIP – Tech – Improved editor controls: Following integration of the OIT renderer for particles to improve performance, Bull has begun working on relevant quality of life items to our editor. The goal is improving iteration time for artists to churn through their work faster. His current focus is ease in placing and attaching assets, such as particles on models, in the particle and model editors.

4. WIP – Tech – Seamless zone transitions: As stated last week, we’re making progress on this rather large task, with many sub-tasks to complete. Colin has the loading screens removed and is working on triggers players can interact with, such as our temporary portal stones, to transition to different zones.

5. Tech – Particle and Rendering Updates: Continuing on the updates to our particle system, we’ve had some cool things this week:
a. Particle pivot points: Cross has more flexibility now to set the position of the pivot on                           particles. That pivot also respects rotation and scale.
b. Particle alignment updates: particles can update to all three axis of the local emitter, and                       we’re able to toggle camera facing on and off.
c. We updated the fog density, making it easier to see far off islands.
d. Tyler is building a VFX test map to show off new VFX as they are made, using the new                         functionality, as well as test performance.

To quote Mike, our resident VFX artist, “The particle editor is 500% better!”

6. Tech – Building permissions: We now send Order (groups) & Warband (guilds) IDs to the client. These are represented in your player ID bar above your head. Rob has integrated this into building plot permissions. We’ll be testing this in a future build.

7. Art – Update Weapon Scaling: Jon updated the scaling on all the current weapons. While these may not be the final scaling, we like the look and feel of them at this point. They retain a realistic scale, while still being visible at distance on the character, as a visual understanding of your opponent’s gear is one of our priorities.

8. WIP – Art – Updated Animations: Work continues on improving existing animations, as well as creating new assets for testing. You can see a quick animated gif HERE testing out lit particles. (Scroll down to the bottom to check it out.)
a. Second pass running and standing, unarmed jumps.
b. Completed setup and testing of a multi-clip animation for spear combat movement.
c. Polearm animation: Sandra is wrapping up the improvements, including longer prep and                         recover animations, as well as full body animations.
d. Additional combat locomotion set to improve visual quality at different speeds (i.e. status                    effect, walking up and down slopes, etc.).
e. Quick pass rigging Arthurian scorpion siege engine for handoff to Matt.
f. First pass female combat locomotion using updated animations.

9. WIP – Art – Viking Scorpion Siege Engine: Jon finished the high poly modeling pass this week. You can catch his earlier stream HERE. He’s begun work on the materials, which will be finished up early next week.

10. WIP – Art – Beta 1 Realm variations: Dionne is working through some of our pre-existing assets and adding in the missing realm texture variations where needed, with Michelle’s oversight. She completed a first pass of the deciduous 01 trees, as well as ground textures for the willow trees (ground textures with scattered petals), and is currently working on realm variations for the non-autumn version of the “Autumn biome.” We’ll then take those realm variations, and use them for testing that same seasonal, “autumn look.”

11. WIP – UI – Styling: Last week we included images of some of the work Michelle, James, and JB have been working on together to create a first pass styling design for our Beta 1 UI. We’ve started a second pass from Michelle’s rough ideas, this week, with a focus on the Orders UI and player/target health bar.

12. WIP – Sound on Abilities: With added functionality, comes great responsibility! Gabe continues to work with Andrew and dB adding in more triggers for sounds on abilities. Lots of abilities now have an upon trigger SFX. Arrows have an on hit SFX, which will be carried over to melee. This has created a lot of work on dB’s end to hook up and tweak our first pass sounds. These will, of course, continue to be iterated upon to make sure the feedback in combat is easy to understand. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some silly, but obvious, sounds as we add and test new sound triggers.

13. WIP – Seattle Office Space: We’ve signed a lease and sent it out for Monday morning delivery. Despite all the back and forth, we may soon have an actual real live physical space for the Seattle team to work in. Let’s just hope that the building doesn’t burn down before Monday! Given how long, slow and painful this process has been, we might interpret that as way too much RNG on a cosmic dice roll and ask for it to be nerfed!

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