Dev Blog #59

Dev Blog #59

Hey Everyone!

Brax here. Elyssia took this blog cycle off so I’m sitting in. Let’s see if I remember how to do this…

Loads and loads of things happening!

First, we dedicated some time to knocking down the growing list of bugs we’ve documented. We certainly made a dent in the list and even found a few more while trying to squish the current ones. Some might not see that as exciting but the better we can make the experience of Exile the better it is for everyone and nothing hurts that experience like bugs.

The juvenile dragon has been modeled and textured and it is looking like a beeeeeeeast! ..... ahem .... no pun intended. Seriously, it looks amazing. Put it like this; when it was being shown off to the team, I had to be the bad guy and remind everyone to stay on task because they wanted it weighted, rigged and animated right NOW! I’ve experienced our flying mechanics using a placeholder model and I’ve now seen the juvenile dragon. Putting these two together will mean some serious awesomeness for you dragon players!

Speaking of the dragon, to keep expectations in line I want to let you know that we will not have adolescent, adult or ancient aged dragons at the launch of early access. We simply can’t fit them in to the time line. However, we’ve revamped the ages at which dragons get their different abilities and I’m happy to report that flying is in for the juveniles. Oh and they will also have a breath weapon. Neither of these abilities can compare to their older counterparts, but you’ll get to experience life as a flying, fire-breathing dragon none-the-less! And of course completing the dragon ages will be at the top of the post early access launch.

The humans now have two sets of armor; rawhide and leather, and a single set of clothes that is seeing the final touches of texturing now. The armor is currently being skinned to the human male. That is to say, the armor is being “attached” to the model so it moves around with him while keeping stretching and clipping to a minimum.

Another decision we had to make is postponing the female human until after early access launch. The model itself is built and textured but if we want to give her any justice, we’d need to adjust a lot of the animations being created for the human male, modify nearly every armor set, create new clothing sets, hair styles and more and, again, we just don’t have the resources. You can expect to see her shortly after early access launch, probably before the remaining dragon ages.

Moving on, animations for archery are nearing completion. That might not sound like a big deal but the amount of work that goes into such things is not trivial. Archery animation count is currently floating around forty.

IK work continues on along side the animations. IK, or inverse kinematics, is how we achieve things like letting you swing where you are aiming (instead of always in the exact same spot), moving the head around while you’re looking at things and having the legs bend and flex to match uneven terrain you’re traversing. It’s not an easy job and the first attempts were something we still chuckle about but each iteration shows significant improvement to the look and feel of the animations. The bottom line is I’ve asked our teeny tiny team to do very big things with animations and they are really delivering.

Icons, icons, icons. Some days it seems like Exile is nothing but a game of icons. Icons for skills, icons for items, icons for processes, icons for user alerts, icons, icons, ICONS!!! The icons in the current sprint involve crafting processes. If you don’t already know, you don’t only determine what you craft but how you craft it via processes. Things like how much you should use the bellow to thread tautness are processes you can determine and each of those bad boys need an icon. I believe it will take another two full sprints of work to complete the process and result icons.

Next up are walls and gates. The blueprint and structure construction systems are pretty much done save some polish, some data entry to expand its breadth, and a few confirmed bugs that need squishing. Walls and gates fall under the construction system but they are being handled differently than structures. We are currently right in the midst of all the engineering for that and, as happens, we change course from time to time to accommodate our schedule, designs and more. Being as such, I’m not wanting to reveal too much detail yet but know that walls and gates will be able to take damage (unlike structures during the early days of early access) and will be more of a free-form type of construction system instead of blueprinting them first. More details certainly to come.

We are starting the very beginnings of our character customization. Since our target is early access, we are keeping the customization options to something we feel confident we can accomplish given our packed schedule. Since our first step into customization was eye color options, I’ll go ahead and list all the options slated for them at this time. You’ll be able to select skin tone, eye color (done), hair style (done) and color and facial hair style and color. The other races will also have customization options as well but we’ll detail those at another time.

Work on island permissions is well underway. The basics are this: when creating an island, you will be able to set an admin password that gives you a few extra commands to deal with troublesome players and such. You’ll simply type in the chat window “/admin [password]” to unlock the admin abilities. Island owners that want to allow others to administer their island simply needs to share their admin password.

Finally, a quick list of other miscellaneous tasks that have been or are being knocked down:
- Some polish work done on interact menu.
- Some polish work done on character sheet.
- Changed look of user messaging system to better align with other GUI assets.
- Streamlined some clunky keymapping for certain commands.
- The first island’s mesh has been finalized and being painted.
- Item count for structures is in with a few identified bugs.
- Some weapon drawing/stowing animations are in.
- Difficulty bar in drafting system now responds to pieces placed.
- Each station now has a default asset when the station is placed.
- Camera effects duplicated using Unity’s post-processing stack.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and feedback.

Until next time!