News

Dev Blog #54

June 6th, 2017

Dev Blog #54

Before we get into the development details this week, I want to take a moment to introduce our newest team member, Louis “Animlouis” Demers. Those of you who frequent the forums have already met him in our Introduction forum. Animlouis joins us as an animator and is the artist responsible for the new tormilin animations. We think he’s very talented and will be a massive help with the backlog of animations that Cloquirk has been tackling alone since he joined the team.

So, animations! Our fluffy little tormilin now has a total of 14 animations, including several combat themed ones, such as dying, stunned, biting, and impact (as in receiving damage). That is addition to the survival themed ones for eating, sleeping, and alerting, which I will explain later.

Humans received a much needed update to their two-handed sword actions. The old ones were tied to the previous model and looked really poor when applied to our new human model. In addition, several bugs for animations were fixed this sprint, significantly improving the visual immersion of the humans.

While animation made a huge leap forward this sprint, the other artists are still making solid progress. The two-tone color selection that was previously completed for the dragon hatchling model is now also complete for the young model. Concepts for rawhide armor, the “easiest” armor to craft, were finished and initial models were sculpted.

I’m very excited to talk to you about the progress that was made on AI. Before I go too far, I want to explain something; there is no stealth in ToA: Exile, in the classic “mmorpg-rogue-invisibility” sense. If you want to be sneaky and come up behind someone without them noticing in the real world, you will need to stay behind them, choose colors that help you blend in your surroundings, stay crouched to lower your profile, use the landscape to hide yourself, and hope they don’t move away before you can get close.

The requirements to sneak up on AI is somewhat similar. Even though we don’t have a stealth ability, we do use it as a variable that player choices can influence. Every player and mob race has a natural stealth variable, and this is determined by their size, natural camouflage, and other factors. Stealth is countered by a critter’s perception, but since perception doesn’t change often, I’m going to focus on how players can influence their stealth. For example, wearing clothing or light armor for a human will have only a small impact on their stealth, but choosing heavier armors such as chainmail or plate will significantly lower it.

Character movement impacts both perception and stealth. Crouching will improve both, while moving or emoting will lower them. Running lowers them even more, while fighting nearly eliminates a character’s ability to detect or avoid detection. Remaining still will improve your perception, but it will not aid in stealth. Other variables can influence stealth, but I’ll save those as a surprise for you to discover in game.

Mobs can go into a special state we are calling “alert”. While in the alert state, they gain a significant increase to their perception. Hungry predators become alert while they’re hunting, while prey animals will alert if they detect a threat, giving their hunters a chance to back off before they flee. In addition, viewing angle will come into play, with creatures and players to the front of the creature being easier to detect than those to the sides or behind.I think It is a fascinating dynamic that adds depth to a task that is vital to the survival of the player characters. With the exception of evolved raknar and adult dragons, players won’t be able to run down their prey and beat them into submission. Instead they will need to move methodically and hope they notice danger or opportunity before it sees them.

Much of this is still very much a work in progress and will require thorough testing, but the foundation has been laid and we will continue to build on it until AI is where we want it.

Share your thoughts and welcome Animlouis to our team over at http://www.trialsofascension.com/forum/threads/dev-blog-54.6635/.