Camelot Unchained – New Animations, New Website Coming, Development Update on Crafting/Grouping

Afternoon Update – Friday, January 22nd, 2016 – The Snowniño cometh!


We’re here at ground zero for this season’s first major snowstorm. Whether you call it Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggdon, or my new personal favorite, Snowniño, this storm looks like a whopper…and not what used to be the tasty grilled burger from my youth. Instead, this looks like a storm that will shut down the Washington, D.C. Metro area for days. So, with that storm bearing down on us, I wanted to get this update out before we all head for home. Unfortunately, because of the storm and the expected power outages, we’re not going to run a Friday Night Fights this weekend. Too many things could go wrong, and frankly, it wouldn’t be a smart thing to do for us given the uncertain state of our power grid (my area will probably be without power the whole weekend, if things proceed as usual). However, that’s the only bad news in this update, so let’s get to all the really good news.

First, our new website is in its final state of testing. If it wasn’t for the storm, we’d put the site up today, but just like our game, it just doesn’t make sense to do that when many of the people who would need to fix problems could be without power. We’ve been getting tons of feedback on it, first from our IT folks, but now from anyone who heads over to our Forums (hint hint hint). Assuming that the studio reopens on Monday, we’ll open the website for everybody then.

Secondly, and much more importantly than our website, our new animation system is now in the game. Now, before everyone gets too excited, this is just the underlying system, so far. As always, we want to make sure that the tech is solid before we turn Scott and Sandra loose in creating all the new animations for the system. Our goal remains to have animations that look like those in the video that we showed off, and we don’t foresee any major roadblocks in getting there. Over the next few weeks, we will be slowly adding new animations to the system and seeing how things go. We have a huge list of animations that we will need for the game, and not just for combat, but also for fun things such as emotes. Now, I could talk about this system for paragraph after paragraph, but I prefer to turn this over to Scott, our lead animator:

“Today, I am thrilled to tell you that our engineering team, and in particular James Brown, landed the code and editor interface to allow me and the team to implement our new animations and weapons into the game! Back in August of 2015, I posted a video updatehere regarding the state of animation within Camelot Unchained. This video illustrated our vast collection of weapons and prototype combat animations smoothly blending between the character’s upper and lower body. At that time, we didn’t have a system in place to support the visuals depicted in that video, and were waiting for tech to support art. Now we do have that support, and let me tell you why we are all excited about this new animation system.

We can finally import combat animations in a way that will allow the player’s character to behave correctly, based on directional movement and equipped weapons. We can now have characters wielding shields, right and left handed weapons, switch between combat speed and a full sprint, and more. In addition, this new combat animation system allows us to dynamically influence the length of combat preparation and recovery times by the character’s stats and abilities. This system also gives us the flexibility to support new weapon types, such as a bow that requires a different sequence of animated procedures (i.e. draw and un-draw a nocked arrow).

The engineering team also took this R&D time to optimize how animation is applied to characters en masse. They incorporated smart ways to apply levels of detail (LOD) to skeletal bones and animation at distance, ultimately improving memory performance and stability.

Now that we have this system in place, we can migrate our new combat animations and weapons for testing – and testing is where the fun really begins!”

He sounds pretty excited, no? Well, we’re all pretty excited too! As I’ve said in other updates, having a great animation system for our game has always been important to us, and now our goal is in sight. As always, building an engine from scratch is a pretty daunting task, but just as we delivered on building an engine that can already handle larger-scale battles than most MMORPG engines, we’re closing in on delivering on our animation system as well. As always, we thank our Backers for their patience, and depending on how things go next week, the next time our Backers are in a Friday Night Fights it will be with the new animation system.

As always, we have a heaping helping of updates to our User Stories. Lots and lots of good stuff in there: 18 old cards with 69 completes and an additional 10 new cards with 47 completes!

Old Cards:

As a Backer, I’d like to test the updated female Valkyrie model.
Create textures. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to test the male Valkyrie model.
Create textures. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 01
Concept pass biome #1 – Pine forest Realm ownership variations. – Complete
Second concept pass biome #1 – Pine forest Realm ownership variations. – Complete
Concept Pass – Rocks and rock clusters that retain general shape but change with Realm ownership. – Complete
Biome 1 Neutral – Additional bushes, rocks, rock clusters, and dead tree variations. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 02
Concept pass biome #2 – Coastline and beaches. – Complete
Concept pass biome #2 – Coastline and beaches Realm variations. – Complete
Concept pass VFX 1 – “Neutral” and “Owned” by each Realm. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see the world begin to be propped out with generic fantasy items. – Set #6.
TDD – Storage chests. – Complete
TDD – basket thingie. – Complete
TDD – Egg shaped storage container – Complete
TDD – assortment of boxes. – Complete
TDD – different sizes of barrels. – Complete
Additional various “scraggly” bushes. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
Give bots a new move mode: Scatter upon login, then occasionally all move to random region. – Complete
Bots cast less when far away from targets. – Complete
Bots pick new random location to move to when they’re trying to move and can’t. – Complete
Add collision to control game spawns. – Complete
Add Visual Studio 2015 to api/account page. – Complete
Restructure database in code so servers and tools opt-in to only connect to databases that they use — resulting in faster startups. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like a UI that is easy to develop mods and themes for.
Refactor announcements ui module. – Complete
Update events system in UI library. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to experience positionally-based audio and music within the world of Camelot Unchained.
Create additional ornamental sounds for combat music – percussion, horns, strings, lute, etc. – Complete
Translate existing large ensemble music to small ensemble orchestration. – Complete
Realm voice track variations:
Viking voice phrases and sustains. – Complete
TDD voice phrases and sustains. – Complete

As a German Backer, I’d like to visit the German version of the Camelot Unchained website.
Class Reveals translated. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see improvements in server stability, speed, and robustness.
Tone down spamming logging for large tests. – Complete
Improve network priorities to support even more players. – Complete
Reduced potential for “very laggy” conditions. – Complete
Flatten/simplify networking on server side. – Complete
Add configurable timeouts for proxies. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like the Camelot Unchained website to convey its main features in a more concise and visually impressive manner.
Complete Realm pages. – Complete
Complete Arthurian Race pages. – Complete
Complete TDD Race pages. – Complete
Complete Viking Race pages. – Complete
Edit primary gameplay video for homepage background. – Complete
Animate Arthurian character background. – Complete
Animate TDD character background. – Complete
Paint over pass of pre-existing, old models to bring them closer to final goal, which is not yet implemented. – Complete
Provide new imagery of existing races that have been rebuilt – Giants, Luchorpán, etc. – Complete
Concept pass: Mobile view all pages. – Complete
Make site responsive to different screen sizes, mobile. – Complete
Alpha and IT Backer feedback addressed. – Complete
Second pass tertiary artwork on site updated with new models. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like a more efficient and optimized animation system that provides more focused support for the specific needs of Camelot Unchained.
Bug Hunting: Fix all the Math – First Pass – Complete
Animation Performance: Use minimal bones/bone counts. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to have a sampling of generic clothing to wear in game.
Teach additional artist armor weighting pipeline – Upper body equipment. – Complete
Generic greaves – nude and underlayer versions. – Complete
Generic shirt – vest, short sleeves, long sleeves, with variations to accommodate different hand and forearm equipment. Additional long shirt variation that overlaps pelvis. – Complete
Bots now randomize the gear selection they are wearing. – Complete
Update editor with correct slot list based on design. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play as a Crafter with basic gathering and crafting mechanics for testing.
Second pass concept: Vox Magus UI – Complete
Additional Vox interface/tool art concepting. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to be able to be able to play an Archer.
First Pass Sound: Arrow Flybys with multiple variations. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see the world begin to be propped out with generic fantasy items. – Set #5.
Additional generic bushes. – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improvements in memory usage and threading.
Rewrite delayed destruction to run on ParLL – Complete

As a Backer I’d like a patcher to not only update my game, but also give me the most important news and updates, get support, chat with the community and look awesome while doing it!
Tech: Create a generic quick-select component. – Complete
Tech: Channel and server select. – Complete
Tech: Character select. – Complete
News & Patch notes: Build news and patch notes layout according to design. – Complete
News & Patch notes: Patch notes and news filtering based on date and access level. – Complete
Pass one support: Simple form to email CSE Support. – Complete
Twitch: Icon displayed when CSE is livestreaming on Twitch. – Complete
Twitch: Embedded Twitch player to watch Twitch stream directly on the patcher when CSE is streaming! – Complete
Alerts: Alerts added to patcher to display important information to users, such as the start or end of a test. – Complete
Alerts: Update old alert system to allow for more flexibility in alert messages. – Complete
Alerts: Update alert messages in real-time on the patcher; previous system required a patcher restart to get an alert, this one will not. – Complete

New Cards:

As a Backer, I’d like to find unique environment props, or unique locations, that add flavor to the environment while I’m exploring the Biomes.
Create unique environment prop – 001 – Complete
Create unique environment prop – 002 – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to increase physics performance, as well as make changes easier to integrate.

Entity Merge:
Merge server/client idea of PhysicsEntity – Complete
Merge FilterShader – Complete

Player Movement Merge – Pass 1:
Merge server/client core character movement. – Complete
Break player movement into states. – Complete
Create a “TargetLocation” for player update. – Complete

Entity class merge:
Merge projectiles/dynamic triggers/forcefields into DynamicEntity. – Complete
Merge DynamicEntity behaviors. – Complete
ColliderTypeFlags split into ColliderTypeFlags and ColliderPropertyFlags, because flexibility. – Complete
Redo filter shader/collision callback. – Complete
Remove old code and clean up. – Complete
SystemTrigger/SystemStatic – Complete
Expose a better interface to Managed – Complete
Merge entities on client – Complete
Clean client – Complete
Do the netcode – Complete
Clean netcode – Complete
Test server – Complete

Properly synchronize server and client jump. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer, I’d like a system to set sounds to play during specific events.
Unchained editor Audio support – Editor can import and parse wwise.bnk files. – Complete
Audio Support: Create data structures for importing WWise info. – Complete
Audio Support: Create prototype event hooks on client. – Complete
Audio Support: Client reads and assigns projectile sound effects, removes defaults. – Complete
Audio Support: Create SoundEvent Cog data structures. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to create balanced abilities by managing power and cost.
Design ability value system – Complete
Total power passed to ability when executed. – Complete
Calculate power of an AbilityEffect and its child effects. – Complete
Power is stored and can be adjusted in PhysicsColliders (objects in the world) – Complete
Power is stored and can be adjusted in ActiveEffects (effects on characters, including Wounds) – Complete
Add Ability Effects to modify the power of some effects of a component, including: flat changes, changes based on distance from the center of an AoE, and remaining health, stamina, or blood. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to see improvements in visual performance, particularly frame rate and memory usage.
Adapt geometry reduction algorithm from buildings to characters. – Complete
Ensure proper bone LODing. – Complete
Reduce memory usage of characters by keeping around the minimum set of needed assets. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to have a sampling of Arthurian light, medium, and heavy armor to wear in game.
Select armor to create from sampling of previous concept art. – Complete
Collate selections into spec sheet for artists to work from. – Complete
Light Armor:
Light Armor – High and low poly sculpt complete. – Complete
Light Armor – Weight and integrate assets into editor. – Complete
Light Armor – Material references provided. – Complete
Medium Armor:
Medium Armor – Material references provided. – Complete
Heavy Armor:
Heavy Armor – Material references provided. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to have a sampling of Viking light, medium, and heavy armor to wear in game.
Select armor to create from sampling of previous concept art. – Complete
Collate selections into spec sheet for artists to work from. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to have a sampling of TDD light, medium, and heavy armor to wear in game.
Select armor to create from sampling of previous concept art. – Complete
Collate selections into spec sheet for artists to work from. – Complete

As a Developer in Beta 1, I’d like to see improvements in the ability system’s stability and robustness, as well as make it easier for developers to work with.
Replace the old text templates with a new Roslyn based one. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play in a Group, Guild, and Party
First pass Vision and Design doc. – Complete

Like I said, lots of good stuff in there, right? As always, we want to overshare our development process. :)

On a personal note, I’ve been diligently working on the next version of the crafting and grouping systems for the game over the past couple of weeks. As to the former, we’ve got a fairly robust Microsoft Excel version of much of the crafting system working already. I can build any combination of the 25 materials I’ve modeled so far and use a blueprint to create an updated item.

As we have said for many months, we aren’t planning on having a full crafting system ready for the launch of Beta 1. That would be, of course, putting the cart before the giant goat-like thing, and that would be a big mistake; big goat-like things are hungry. Crafting systems are complicated beasts, and trying to build out the entire crafting system before we know exactly what items are going to be needed for the classes would be foolhardy. Once the classes and combat abilities have solidified, then we can really flesh out the crafting system in a bigger way.

In the meantime, players will be able to play around with most of the major aspects of the crafting system. A simplified system to be sure, but what’s important is getting players in and testing ASAP. The bells and whistles can come later, but the balancing of the core item-making pipeline needs to be tested as soon as possible. The tl;dr version is that at the opening of Beta 1, players will be able to craft a limited set of items out of a limited set of materials that will have a limited amount of effects on the item. BTW, it is quite satisfying for me personally, because this will be the system I always wanted to create, starting from my MUDs, Aradath and Dragon’s Gate. So, it’s nice to see it coming together as I always knew it could.

As to the grouping systems, once they are finished and put into the schedule, we’ll have a presentation of them for our Backers. So far there’s not a lot of BSC stuff there, just a good solid foundation with a couple of interesting bits. I can’t imagine that most people will be surprised or disappointed with the path we are going down. These systems are not rocket science, but they have to be robust, and I think we can create what I’ve laid out so far. Please don’t expect a “Living Guild” system like WAR, but you can expect systems that will meet the majority of our Backers’ needs and wants, and are designed for the game we are making and the audience we are making it for.

As always, we have some new artwork to show you. First up are some new armor layouts.


Next, here’s Jon working on taking those layouts and making them come alive.


Next, a few other concept art pieces.


The final piece is one of my new favorites from Michelle. It’s a Valkyrie who is lying in wait for an enemy.


Well, wish us in the Washington area good luck with Snowniño. It’s going to be an interesting weekend here, that’s for sure!