Monthly Archives: April 2017

4/22 Progress: VR Special

Today’s update centered primarily around layout work and VR improvements as we try to maximize frame rates and get gameplay where we want it to be for launch.

  • You can now use the Gamepad Y (top) button in VR mode to rotate to face the nearest target. This is to make it easier on players who are vulnerable to VR sickness as turning to rotate can cause nausea.
  • Updated the Hierarchical LOD on pre-existing layouts to improve performance by adding limiting LOD maximum ranges, and also made the transitions smoother in some cases.
  • Due to the Gust attack using a lunging motion to activate in motion controller mode we have adjusted the aiming position when using motion controllers so that you can simply slide it forward and it will aim from the top of the staff. This makes it easier to land attacks with it.
  • Conjuration Staves are now held in a more similar fashion to other staves which doesn’t have much of a gameplay function but it looks better when cycling between weapons.
  • The left hand VR motion controller hold position for Conjuration staves has also been rotated slightly to make it easier to aim.
  • Added a new fortress based dungeon.
  • It’s now easier to land the Necro Staff fear spell.
  • Reduced the strength of the Gust knockback component as it was a bit much.

4/21 Progress: Beta Begins, Refinement Continues

We invited a small group of external testers to begin testing the game last night. This brings us a step closer to early access. Expect a lot of tweaks and refinements based on this feedback in the days to come.

  • You can use the side grip buttons on gamepads to cycle between four different movement modes. The first is standard teleport. Next is similar to teleport except that instead of warping there you will walk. The third and fourth allow you to move using the directional pads but one is oriented to the HMD and the other to the controller. This can be toggled individually for each controller. For example if you wanted to teleport with the left hand and manually move with the right hand this is possible. You can also of course use a gamepad if you desire. A text banner will be displayed when you switch to notify you of which mode you are using.
  • You can now tap the left gamepad button to bash with shields in the off hand in VR gamepad mode. Holding the left gamepad button will block.
  • Added three new caster oriented animations. We still need a lot of animation work for magic weapons but this is a first step. Not all spells have animations but some do now, where none did before.
  • We went through all of the particles in the game and looked for opportunities to optimize. Many particles are now better optimized.
  • Improved performance which was degraded due to a lighting issue on one of the fortress maps.
  • Light Staves now deal additional damage to Undead when a Holy Symbol is in the off hand in all cases.
  • Improved VR shield holding placement in gamepad mode.
  • Removed the directional arrow from teleportation since it was not used.
  • Fixed a bug causing the Staff of Light blinding attack to deal damage in VR mode.
  • Blocking is now replicated properly on server for multiplayer sessions. Previously the animation was played but it wasn’t giving blocking bonus when initiated by clients.
  • Fixed a bug which allowed the Nullification ability to consume an action round even if it was on cooldown.
  • Fixed a bug which summoned more than one phoenix at a time due to a bug in the Conjuration staves.
  • Fixed an issue which was causing some projectiles to make contact with the staff on launch.
  • You can no longer quickly tap the block button to permanently block.

4/20 Progress: Readying For Beta Testing

Today’s focus was on squaring away a number of polish and VR oriented features in preparation for beta testing this weekend.

  • You no longer automatically release on death. Instead it will delay for a few seconds before allowing you to click a mouse button, gamepad button, or motion controller trigger to return to the tavern. This is primarily a move for multiplayer sessions. It allows players to hang around until the end of the adventure if they choose. Players will be told how to exit in a text banner and on the quest objectives panel.
  • After a stint using Forward Rendering we have moved back to Deferred Rendering. This was a worthwhile experiment but in the end we felt that MSAA was not worth the performance cost in VR.
  • Re-recorded the hand gestures used to trigger abilities with motion controllers to make them easier to use. Also lightened up on the restrictions so if you are a little off in your motions it will give you more leeway.
  • The fortress set now supports Scouting missions. That brings the total scenarios available to 20 quests, 5 for each set.
  • Added a new Sewer based layout.
  • The Fire Strike ability from Fire Staves and the Lightning Strike ability from Lightning Staves are now activated using a Rising motion rather than a Spiral motion in VR. This makes it easier to aim. Additionally we have reduced the cooldown on this ability by a second when using a motion controller to compensate for the need to aim.
  • Improved Earth, Arcane, and Wind Staves and Focus Stones orientation in VR when you are using a gamepad.
  • Increased projectile radius making some magical attacks easier to land.
  • Increased the damage of the Wind Staff Gust ability.
  • Improved the holding position of Paladin’s Blades and Holy Swords in non-VR mode.
  • Focus Stones once again display particles when equipped.
  • The left hand particles when firing with an Earth Staff now fire from the correct orientation in non-VR mode.
  • Fixed a bug with weapon particles not emitting.
  • Corrected a bug in the Earthen Roots code when using motion controllers which was causing particle effects to fail.
  • Wind Staves are now able to use the Gust ability if using a VR gamepad.
  • Fixed a problem with the particles on several special abilities when in VR mode. They were previously spawning underground and out of sight due to a difference between the modes.
  • The Staff of the Storm can now properly activate Lightning Strike and Fire Storm abilities, which were erroneously unhooked.
  • Staves of Conjuration were erroneously doing less damage than non-VR attacks with basic triggered attacks. This has been fixed.

4/19 Progress: Balance and Performance

We gave a balance pass to various systems today and did a VR performance and control pass among other things.

– Balanced the NPC hit point curve so that lower level NPCs now take slightly longer to kill, where higher end NPCs remain unchanged.
– Gave a balance pass to the NPC damage curve. Low level NPCs will deal significantly more damage, but higher end NPCs remain similar to what it was before.
– Modified the experience bonus of many tough, mini-boss and boss mobs to make it more rewarding to defeat these bosses.
– NPC bosses are more challenging than was previously the case.
– Doors will now open from a further distance than was previously the case. This is to make it easier for those using dpad leaps in VR with gamepads.
– The Giant Spider web attack can now be launched from long range. You can see the incoming web to and have a chance to dodge out of the way. Their AI has been adjusted to try to land this attack from ranged and then move in to finish players off while they are inside of the web.
– VR settings have undergone another performance pass.
– Added new blood splatter effects. The new effects look better and perform better in VR.
– Melee weapons will no longer make contact with dead NPCs.
– Increased spider movement speed.
– Improved projectile performance.
– Changed the glass material we had been using to something more VR friendly.
– Melee weapon trails have been disabled in VR mode.
– Added new a new Crypt layout.
– Giant Spider feet are now properly grounded.
– Fixed an issue where projectile landing sound effects weren’t playing on contact in some cases.

4/18 Progress: Traps and Loot

As we prepare for closed beta testing this weekend, the focus is on polish and layouts. But we also added a new trap type and introduced some loot changes.

  • Introduced a new trap type which will drop spikes down from the ceiling onto players. While these are not difficult to avoid they deal heavy damage.
  • Ground or table spawn coins now scale the amount of coin collected based on the dungeon difficulty level.
  • Added new Sewer and Cave based layouts. These layouts are larger than the previous ones, we plan on having a mix of various sizes.
  • Treasure Chests no longer always give an item if you are missing one. It is now percentage based. If an item is not selected you will instead receive coin.
  • Tweaked a couple of meshes in the Sewer Set’s LOD levels to eliminate LOD pop in cases when you had long hallways.
  • Heartbeat sounds now respect Master Volume settings.
  • Bats are now easier to hit with melee weapons.
  • NPC footstep sounds now adjust for Master Volume settings.
  • Tweaked a post-processing setting on the second detail level which has improved performance. That setting now doesn’t activate until detail level 3 (High) or 4 (Extreme).
  • Fixed some flickering Z-fighting issues in one of the sewer maps due to overlapping meshes.
  • Fixed a bug in one of the cave pieces which was preventing NPCs from spawning from it.
  • Fixed some issues in the cave set where you could fall through the floor.
  • Improved how VR players weapon swing on and off code works to correct an issue where players could move forward with a gamepad or motion controller movement and it would activate the weapon is moving code and allow you to chain damage.
  • Fixed a bug in VR gamepad mode which wasn’t turning off swing collision in between attacks.
  • Fixed a bug which allowed players to walk into an NPC corpse and receive damage if the NPC died while in the midst of an attack.

4/17 Progress: Layout Work

All pre-existing maps have now been upgraded for LOD and had their lighting upgraded to production level lighting. This process began a couple of days ago and today completed with the fortress and sewer maps being brought fully up to date, as well. The generators for each set has also been upgraded to support the improved features so they will be automatically integrated into any newly generated layout.

  • Added new pieces to the Cave generated set.
  • Added new cave dungeons.
  • Added a new bar room set to the Fortress generator.
  • The Tavern has been rebuilt with production level lighting and some of it’s models have received an LOD pass.
  • Added mini-boss support to Cave dungeons which did not support them previously.
  • Went through pre-existing Cave dungeon layouts and tweaked their lighting, lightmaps, and LOD.
  • The Sewer set now fully supports hierarchical LOD.
  • Optimized and improved the visual impact of lighting in the Sewer sets.
  • Added LOD to traps.
  • Slightly boosted the height that characters can step up onto.
  • NPC foot step sounds are now properly networked.
  • Fixed a bug which allowed players to walk on water in some parts of sewer maps.
  • Covered up some seams in Cave dungeons.
  • Fixed a bug on the material of Sewer Pipes which was causing them to not properly reflect lighting.

4/16 Progress Report: Performance Edition

This large Sunday progress report sees a slew of LOD and performance enhancements, to go alongside map and gameplay tweaks.

  • Added Level of Detail optimizations to many weapons, NPC armor pieces, and NPCs which previously did not have any LOD. This increases performance, particularly in scenes which feature a larger number of NPCs.
  • Map work has continues. We are cranking out levels currently and plan to begin beta testing next week.
  • Adjusted the spawn trigger radius of most spawners to be shorter than was previously the case, but still outside of player range. This results in less monsters being spawned as you explore the world, which aids in keeping performance high.
  • Improved the Crypt Generator to remove an extra manual post-build step that ate up a bit of time when creating each dungeon. This will speed up dungeon creation further.
  • Added a new magical glow effect which is used in some new dungeons.
  • Ratling Warlords are now larger in size, have more health, and weild longer weapons.
  • Giant Crabs are about 33% larger in size than was previously the case and have 30% more hit points. The movement reducing claw attack that they do is also now impossible to resist.
  • Increased the size and damage of Granite and Stone Burrower Queens.
  • Orc Warlords now give 25% more experience when killed.
  • Ratling Warlords are now larger in size, have more health, and wield longer weapons.
  • Giant Crabs are about 33% larger in size than was previously the case and have 30% more hit points. The movement reducing claw attack that they do is also now impossible to resist.
  • Giant Scorpions are now about 20% larger than previously was the case, and have additional hit points to boot.
  • Increased the size and damage of Granite and Stone Burrower Queens.
  • Increased the difficulty of Orc Warlords.
  • Orc Warlords now give 25% more experience when killed.
  • Readjusted the LOD levels on many static LODs to smooth out transitions between LODs and to take advantage of heirarchal LOD in Unreal Engine.
  • Improved the Drak running animations for Drak which are carrying weapons. There was a hitch in the old animation.
  • Improved particle effects in one of the previously built Crypt layouts.
  • Optimized Flaming Sword particles.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause an invalid function error in non-VR mode if you held the switch weapon key down. This was a holdover from the VR mode functionality.

4/15 Progress: Maps and Tweaks

Layout creation continues to be our primary focus, but other areas are progressing as well. We take a look at the most recent changes in this progress report:

  • Improved the Crypt generator. It now generates more lighting and prop types automatically, and includes more hook points.
  • Giant Spider bosses are now significantly larger than the standard spiders. They also had their hit points and damage increased.
  • Giant Bats are now significantly larger and have a wider attack radius than standard bats. They also had their hit points and damage increased, and their attacks can now cause bleeding.
  • Added new crypt and fortress oriented props.
  • Added new dungeon layouts in both the Fortress and Crypt sets.
  • Optimized AI performance.
  • Tweaked network update rates on many things to help optimize network performance.
  • Corrected animation blending issues with the Tavern Keeper and Zombies.
  • Fixed an AI related performance bug.

4/13 Progress: Cranking Out Maps

Yesterday was our first day without a progress report in some time. This is due to our focus shifting more towards cranking out dungeon layouts as opposed to new features or improvements. We wound up only having three build notes as a result so the decision was made to hold it off for another day to ensure you had a bit more to read about. This may happen periodically over the next week or two depending on how much there is to post.

  • Created new alternative theme generators and room decorators for the fortress theme.
  • Added multiple new fortress based map layouts.
  • Altered the Effects quality features to improve performance in medium settings.
  • Improved Camera lag on the third person camera.
  • Added new casting sounds to the Lightning Strike ability.
  • Added new crates as decorations in dungeons.
  • Improved the hold position of swords when using gamepads in VR.
  • Optimized torch particles by removing a flare collision which was barely noticeable.
  • Increased range of Bladed Maces slightly.
  • Fixed an issue with the summoned pets with the Staff of the Necromancer not summoning.
  • Fixed alignment issues with Affliction Staves.
  • Fixed an AI error which occurred when mobs were first spawned due to trying to obtain values before they had been initialized, causing a minor performance drop.

4/11 Progress: More Fun with VR Gamepads

Work continues on gamepads in VR, and we have begun to focus on getting the release dungeon layouts built.
  • When using a gamepad in VR mode the DPAD will do a dive/dash in the direction that you press it. This is similar to a non-VR mode dive or a standard VR teleport except that it will teleport you at a preset distance. This is for players who get motion sick easily but want to use a gamepad in VR. Rather than smoothly moving forward (using the left stick) this will teleport you by 5 meters instantly. It should be noted that your forward direction is determined by the direction you are facing which allows you to have finer control by adjusting your gaze.
  • The arms no longer swing when moving in VR gamepad mode. They now hold in a relatively stationary idle similar in a more familiar mode to most first person games.
  • The Start and Select gamepad buttons now properly activate the gamepad if it was previously inactive.
  • Reoriented bare hands placement in Gamepad VR mode.
  • Upgraded the dungeon generators and we are now in the process of mass creating the dungeon layouts for launch.
  • Continued the work of aligning and setting up gamepad VR positioning and abilities.