This week we were working on the animations and logic of the Ancestor undead soldier, making him alive but also balance his attacks with the others small soldiers is something that needs some extra work. This is a slow enemy, but careful with the range of the mace!
We also re-worked the logic behind the dodge when in combat, if you have stamina you can dodge immediately after an attack ( before, we waited for the complete end of the attack animation ). This was a feature much asked 🙂
Regarding the small lakes, we are finalizing the final details, like dynamic and static ripples. There’s a sneak peak below. When it’s ready, we will show it in a dedicated devblog post the workflow used.
Things are coming together nicely in the art department, specially concerning the environments of Chapter 2. Since the terrain meshes and textures have finally been completed using our new workflow, the team was able to focus on polishing each area to make them feel unique. On that topic, here is a sneak peek of one of the core locations of this part of the game. For this interior we are having fun experimenting with water pools and other cool details to enhance its mysterious mood.
The boiler inside the water temple.
This week we continued working on polishing the combat system, this time on the feeling of the combo attacks. We tweaked once again the window between the consecutive attacks that could form a small combo. We also added a slope detection so the player cannot climb to places that he/she is not meant to. In this case, the character will decelerate when the player tries to climb something with a slope greater that 45 degrees.
One thing that was asked of us at PAX East was an option to auto hide the HUD, so the player could have a more immersive experience. This was easily added, although, every time the player gets hit, changes weapon/potion, has low stamina or the current weapon durability is changed it appears again for a few seconds.
Beyond that, it has been quite a grind to populate and wrap up the environments. Getting the mood of each location just right is a big challenge. Here are some shots of the game that showcase what we are going for in a couple of areas, but keep in mind all of this is still very much work in progress.
Cabin in the woods.
Very WIP water temple.
One of the dynamics of the area we are currently developing is the constant surprise of combat. While walking among the corpses of soldiers who have fallen on this battlefield, the player will never know which might turn out to be a threat. This mechanic has a threshold, so hopefully the player will never feel overwhelmed by the amount of enemies at any given time.
Careful where you step.
This week we have captured some gameplay footage to pinpoint some collision problems, add additional particles and polish some combat behaviors. We tested this approach so that the gameplay wouldn’t be filtered by the usual editing workflow, allowing us to really observe how things are coming together. We also added new stylized particles, but this is an ongoing process and it’s still not ready to be shown.
Art-wise, the creation of the new boss character we’ve mentioned before is progressing nicely. The concept phase is basically over and production has already started. We want the design to remain a surprise for now, but we decided to show a small teaser – the concept of the boss’ weapon. The team is committed to making this battle a pretty epic moment, so the weapon just had to be somewhat over the top!
Boss’ weapon concept.
We’re also doing some water tests like we said some time ago. There’ll be no ocean in this game, but small lakes or big puddles. Paulo (working on Amplify Shader Editor) has been lending the DoL team a hand by doing some ripple effect experiments. These will be used in some specific zones throughout the game.
This week we have finished the AI behavior of the Undead Soldier with the new animations, and started testing the group control with various enemies of this type, as well as with the big Ancestor Soldiers. The game model for the latter is already completed, as you can see in the GIF below. While exploring the battlefield area, if the player isn’t aware of the surroundings, several enemies can be triggered to attack. Mind the bodies lying around!
As always, various small bug fixes and small details were added to the code; a feature that was planned a long time ago was finally implemented – the dual weapon logic for the enemies. To put it simply, the enemies equipped with bows will now draw their swords for close combat situations, for example. Lastly, we’ve also added the Ancestor Soldier’s Mace and helmet to the game as wearable player items.
The Ancestor Soldier.
For the larger terrains we’re currently working on, the team has been trying out quick ways to achieve good results. The image below shows our simple pipeline to produce that kind of content, static environment parts. We first come up with a basic blockout of the scene, then we take it to Zbrush and refine the shapes and silhouettes, while keeping the model rough (since most details will be lost in the following step). Afterwards, the resulting mesh gets decimated, using Decimation Master. A little cleanup is often required, but after the UV’s are ready we bring the whole thing into Unity and start giving it life with Vertex Painting.
The artists have been fully focusing on character design and production these past few days. The Ancestor warrior we’ve shown before is pretty much done and will be game-ready as soon as the finishing touches on the textures are complete. Meanwhile, the final boss of this chapter is currently in the concepting phase, and we are confident this character will turn out to be a very fun and challenging obstacle for the player, due to the unusual weaponry that will be used during the fight.
A simple (yet important) prop has also been added to the game – elevators of Ancestor origin. These will be linked to a puzzle that links some areas of this chapter, and will allow the player to access otherwise unreachable places.
Testing the ancestor lift.
Gameplay-wise, the combat polishing is almost on point. We are really committed to making the “undead soldier” enemy feel like a threatening and convincing foe. He’s got some cool moves like the one shown below. The logic behind the “surprise spawn system” is ready to go, so it’s only a matter of time before we show you guys a humongous battlefield filled with bodies and a couple of unexpected encounters.
If you are too close, beware the smashing shields!
This week we worked on getting the new undead soldier ready for in-game logic and AI behaviors. Our animator is giving life to this undead soldier (no pun intended) and we can already show off a simple idle animation and the dynamic armor system in the gif below.
Undead Soldier turntable.
With this new enemy comes a new armor set and weapons. The player can farm this armor set by killing only these type of enemies, or by finding hidden chests with core armor pieces and weapons. With each full armor set the player has a small bonus in defense, so keep looking!
Lock-On Camera behavior and improved hit detection is something that we can now say is much better than in the PAX build. Sword/shield logic has been improved, much less bug prone, it’s really starting to feel on point.
Parry all the way.
We also added some audio details, for example if Ada has a full helmet armor, her voice is muffled. We love this type of small details, when possible/fast to implement, we add them right away.
In order to make it possible for us to develop interesting environmental puzzles more freely, a simple new feature was added to the Elk. Basically, the player can now command the Elk to stay in a precise location, which will be useful to overcome certain obstacles. After telling the Elk to stay put, it will start following the Girl again if she gets too far.
GET OVER HERE!!!
Meanwhile, another Ancestor Ruin has been placed in the game. This Gate marks the entrance to a very special area in this chapter, but going through it won’t be as straightforward as it might appear.
The high poly model for the Ancestor Warrior is ready, and we’re sure these guys will prove to be quite a challenge. His weapon of choice is very menacing, and we’ll most likely show it in the next update.
High poly Undead Ancestor warrior.
We’ve also added specific idle and running animations that play whenever the Girl is adventuring with lowered stats, something that happens if she gets killed repeatedly. It was our intention to visually convey that the Girl is actually hurt and having more trouble fighting than when she is rested, and we thought a simple message prompt wouldn’t be clear enough. This is meant to work as a reminder of our “stats penalization” mechanic, so players understand why they are taking more damage from enemies and, in turn, dealing less damage to them.
Low stats run behavior.
During this week, we’ve done some tests with stylized water and interactions, like splash particles and spume. Once it is more eye-catching we will show it off. The inspirations for it are Windwaker and the upcoming Rime. In this area and the next area, there will be some small lake zones so a proper, simple and fast water shader is in the works.
We also prepared a “fake interior” for the house we’ve shown in a previous update. In the “central village hub” there will be more similar houses and as the player progresses in the game, people who used to live there will return to their abandoned homes. By then, the player will be able to knock on the doors and talk with the people inside, adding another layer to the story lore.
Always knock on the house doors.
In the new area we are working on, the player can find a great Ancestor ruin, a Water Temple, that shows signs of having been repurposed… Now it functions as a steam powerhouse, but who is harnessing all this energy?
The water temple concept.
This week we continued the work of replacing old animations with the new ones which add a lot more personality to the game. Walking on quicksand and the visual feedback of that action, for example, was something we needed to improve, in terms of animation and also in shader work. We’re currently working on that, but it isn’t finished yet. In the meantime, we are also doing some experiments with stylized water shaders to use in small lakes or shallow streams, for example.
On a different note, the cutscene system was fine tuned, and now there is an option to skip forward those events.
Knock,Knock, who’s there?
The new areas are developing smoothly, and although there are many assets to create, concepts like the one below help us to establish the mood we’re trying to achieve in advance. In this case, the image depicts the stage of a bloody battle.
Previously, we’ve shown the concept for an armor used by a new kind of enemy the player will be facing. The “game ready” model of this equipment is already finished:
In-game soldier with full armorset.
The new environments for Chapter 2 are evolving smoothly, and the art team has been hard at work producing all the required content to really develop unique locations for the players to explore. One of the current challenges has been to come up with a different kind of architecture to contrast with the stern Ancestor-built ruins of the previous areas. This time we went for a more “rural look”, loosely based on the Portuguese Traditional/Popular construction.
Using the Amplify Shader Editor and Vertex Painting, we’re able to quickly put together houses like the one shown below, while making them feel different from each other by making texture variations.
House in the woods.
Meanwhile, our master puppeteer has improved upon the existing running animation by tweaking the position of the arms and spine of the Girl while she is equipped with any type of weapon available. This way, the particular weights of both short and long swords, as well as maces, hammers or bows, really come through as the animation contextually adapts.
Upper torso bow base animation – blended with walking and running animations in real-time.
Run cycle variation.