Hey there folks. I know you all have been waiting patiently, and we are pleased to have a new update for you today!
The team is almost fully complete now; Igor has just arrived in Belfast and Thomek will be returning from working on his film to join us again soon, hopefully in January.
We will be breaking up for the Christmas period and so we wanted to give you all a brief overview of what each team member has been working on for the past few weeks, before our next update which you can expect in the new year as we start to focus more intensely on implementing features for Early Access.
Alongside overviewing everything in the project and working with the coding team to fix bugs, Chadz has been working with the team to revamp the combat system for the game.
Previously we had been using a prototype that didn’t have the depth for combat which could be enjoyable from both a casual and a hardcore player’s point of view, and we needed to rework some of the mechanics whilst also making sure the combat was good quality and visually flowed well.
The system has now moved towards using different stances to influence the type of attacks that can be made, for example the vertical stances use more thrusting attacks and horizontal stances swing the weapon. At present we have 4 stances, up down left and right, but currently intend on implementing many more based on historical techniques. Attacks are still based on direction of the mouse as before, but the stances add a bit more complexity, giving players the ability to make tactical choices without confusing newcomers.
We are still very much in the process of testing this system and refining it to make sure it is enjoyable yet challenging for players. Our team all have different opinions and come from different gaming backgrounds, some even have HEMA experience, but they are all working together to influence what we hope to be a never before seen combat system that is true to our name.
cmp has been making really nice-looking shaders with PBR values for the maps and in-game assets, and has also been improving and fixing up lots and lots of bugs for both the general engine and the tools he has built for importing assets into the game.
…he doesn’t want to talk about it much.
Serr and Igor have been working together on implementing many features into the game and making sure they work correctly.
They have been working on creating the Family bot system, assigning them to perform tasks such as harvesting trees, planting crops, and crafting items. At the moment everything works, though as in every game development there are still many bugs that need to be ironed out.
The crafting system has been improved and is working much better than before; players can gather the appropriate resources and construct different structures and materials. Animations have been implemented so that the player can visually see corresponding actions such as chopping wood, and show what stage of production the character is in when crafting.
They have also added a system to allow the dropping of items and connecting the appropriate models, for example if a 2-handed sword is dropped then visually a sword prop will be dropped by the character onto the ground.
A couple of weeks ago they also implemented the basis for the growing of forests in-game. If a player chops down a tree, a sapling will eventually re-grow into a small and then a large tree, and the forest will slowly spread over time. In doing this, and ensuring these rules for resources all work together, we will build a completely persistent world.
Jacko has been busy as of late with the incredibly small, humble task of creating blockouts of…well, every single prop in the game we can think of so far.
Fortunately for him, these are low-detail models that he can mock up very quickly to act as placeholders in-game. That’s not to say they are simple, not at all. Each item and building still needs to look historically accurate and have the correct shape and features. The aim of creating all of these is so we can have a base for everything we want to implement that can then be iterated upon and reworked in the future. For now though, we can bring them into the engine and see how they look, and most importantly be used in coding to test if actions such as crafting are working as intended.
For creating assets we have been using a modular workflow, building a simple base mesh such as a basic stone wall, that is then varied and iterated on to create many different pieces that can be put together to build a model, such as a complete stone castle. Its almost a bit like using Lego, only you need to create the blocks too before you can build something!
Some of the buildings that have been created include a cobb/dirt material house which is quite simple and would be one of the most basic houses that can be built; timberframe houses which are the classic medieval style, very easy to find references for with some even existing in some form today; and also different stone material buildings.
We now have many of the crafting stations we want in game and the idea is that every one is designed around the same base building. The player chooses what sort of building they need, whether its a blacksmith, a carpenter’s workshop, or a butcher’s carvery, and then upgrades from there, starting from small to large. The quality of the crafting station will also change depending on size, smaller buildings may only allow one character to craft inside at a time, or it may be related to the amount of production that is possible. There will always be a tradeoff between quality vs quantity. Alongside these stations, relatively simple animations will be created to show the player what stage in production the character is in.
He’s also been doing some of what he calls ‘admin stuff’; overseeing the assets created by the art team, working closely with our coding team to fix visuals and materials for Epic, and also reimporting and reworking some of our legacy assets as a lot has changed internally since early development.
Fin is composing away as usual, creating the best possible musical score we can have. The music will dynamically adjust to what the player is doing, which is achieved by dividing the whole Suite into separate parts, tagging them to their corresponding in-game situations. Tags are for example decided by surroundings, nature, nearby buildings, actions, and the status of the player. We will restrict the blending between 2 parts to certain chords or harmonics, making the transitions as seamless as possible. That means every player will have his or her very unique game soundtrack. This system, however, is not expected to be implemented in Early Access, because sound effects are on a higher priority at this time.
That’s why he has also been working on creating a dynamic sound system for the game, drafting a large overview of all possible sounds and their corresponding locations. The aim is to have all sound effects based upon the player’s game, for example if a player is in a forest on muddy ground, fighting in heavy armor, the soundFX will depict that to each detail.
We are aiming for as realistic an approach as possible in the sound design, and so audio will not only be based on distance, so that things that are further away are mixed more quietly, but also, as stated above, on equipment and weather…can you hear those raindrops dripping on your helmet?
Additionally, we aim for the sound to provide fully responsive audio feedback, such as if a player aims with their bow and pulls the string, the sounds of all surrounding objects will sound much more mellow in the right ear, since the hand is blocking parts of it, while string sounds and cloth movement will sound stronger and closer. Taking that just as an example of the many plans we have, we’re striving to have an audio system that is capable of adding to gameplay as well as to immersion.
For the past couple weeks Rachel has began learning how to use World Machine to help the team with working on the game’s maps for instant battles and also the Epic world. She has been working on a 1.2×1.2km map that can be used in-game for testing combat, styled as a sort of basin type of map that dips in the middle and has high ridges around the edges.
Rather than hand-sculpting the landscape, perlin noise is used to break up the terrain and generate features such as hills and mountains. RGB maps are created that dictate where certain textures will be applied such as grass, rock, dirt, and sand; and individual alpha masks are used for where props will be placed such as trees and flora.
Eventually we would like to get to a point with the map system in-game where we can define a set of parameters for procedural generation of landscapes and implement logic for where vegetation and flora can be placed, to very easily and quickly create changes in the world.
On the side, Rachel has also been working on some of the character customization features such as different body types that the character can morph between, and also some in-progress hairstyle and facial hair options.
For the past few weeks, Zimke has been creating a multitude of different materials and textures for the clothing that can be worn in the game. The current function for the outfits are to be worn either as cosmetic civilian wear for walking around in Epic and showing off your wealth, or to be worn as a base outfit underneath any armor that is equipped.
There is a basic initial set that the player can wear and now there are many variations in materials for each item that can be worn. Currently, this includes a shirt, tunic, hosen and shoes, with additional headgear and pouches for players who wish to use them!
The current hats include a straw hat that was commonly worn throughout Europe and Russia, and also a linen coif which is a typical Catholic hat that could also be worn underneath another headpiece.
The range of materials of the different clothing articles will represent different qualities of fabric, from cheaper textiles such as linen and wool of different thickness, to patterned silk, all appropriate to the historical period. We have many resources available to us for referencing, with what remains from manuscripts and museums, and with Zimke as our historical expert we can create good looking, accurate materials.
The visual quality of accessories also change to match the outfit. From the plainest wool outfit, the belt and garters are un-dyed, but in the silk variation these use a better quality, red-dyed material to show off wealth.
Zimke has additionally been creating different levels of dirt variation textures for each of the materials which may also be linked to the quality of the material to show that an item is very poor and damaged.
In his workflow, Zimke creates the clean material and then when satisfied with how it looks, he fits it to the UV layout of the mesh and adds appropriate detail layers. When it comes to adding levels of dirt, some of it is hand-painted and some is created procedurally.
The base clothing is coloured neutrally so that color variations can be added to the game for character customization. For Early Access there will be a limited amount of colours that can be picked from, but we would like to implement a tool in the future that will allow players to pick their own colours, giving full personalisation to our most detail-orientated players.
As for Autobus, he’s been modelling and texturing some modular weapon sets, made up of various different parts. Each of these parts can be swapped out for another piece with a different shape or material to give players full control of customizing their own weapon. For example, a spear consists of 3 main parts: the head, shaft, and buttcap.
These weapon parts are modelled to be visually distinguishable from one another, and some time is spent researching and blocking out base shapes before creating the high poly versions. Though we could create hundreds of variations that are subtly different from one another, weapon crafting would be less interesting and more tedious. With these distinct sets, players on the battlefield will quickly be able to see exactly what type of weapon has been used and the customizations that the owner has made.
These weapon parts will also vary in quality, as with armour and clothing, with poorer quality sets textured to show the weathering of the material, or dirt and rust that has formed. On the other hand, good quality parts will have a polished and clean appearance.
Autobus has also played around with designing some texture variations for the tunic, such as creating an elegant patterned silk, with golden threaded cuffs that would indicate that the owner was very wealthy and could afford such finery.
So, that’s most of what we can share so far with you guys. We have big plans ahead of us and we’re working hard to make sure we can deliver the best game we can!
See you all again in the new year!