5 May

Adventure Intro: Readying the World

By Caspian

Yesterday you got a chance to see how release 0.2.5 turned out in Vye's adventure wrap-up blog post "Adventure Completion: Sense of Identity." If you haven't checked that out yet I highly recommend it.

With 0.2.5 done it's time to move on to 0.3.0, and this past Monday the team and I got together to review and plan for the upcoming sprint. With 0.3.0 being the last release before Chronicles of Elyria is released to the Alpha 1 backers (in the form of the VoxElyria client), a lot of the focus of 0.3.0 is on performance, stabilization, scalability, and prep work for the impending invasion of the players onto the Elyrian servers.

Even still, the design and content teams are hard at work on the creation of new systems and new assets as a follow-up to the work we did in 0.2.5 on Equipment, and the work we'll be doing in 0.4.0 on crafting. But with that summary out of the way, let's take a deeper look into what we'll be doing in 0.3.0.

The Quest for Conversation

A MEOW (Multiplayer Evolving Online World) isn't a MEOW without a heavy emphasis on proximity chat. With the release of the VoxElyria client it's also imperative that our players be able to interact with one another in some way or form inside of VoxElyria. To that end, our newest engineer, Brizanda, has been given the task in 0.3.0 to get our proximity chat system up and running. If you'd like more information about how our chat system is intended to work, make sure to check out Vye's recent Design Journal: Communication.

Chat concept Wire frames for describing the chat functionality.

A couple early prototypes of the chat dialog showing proximity fading and message types.

And speaking of Brizanda. As she just joined the studio, it's customary to do a brief introduction. So, here's Brizanda in her own words:

I've wanted to make games since the first game I ever played which was Space Invaders on my aunt's old Atari 2600. Instead of a direct route I jumped into business software development and created games as a hobby. That hobby turned into my first job in game development about 10 years ago. Since then I have worked on Club Penguin, Deer Hunter 2014 and 2016, Amazing Battle Creatures, and several other mobile titles. Most recently I worked on the platform running Wargaming's "World of" games and other titles they are developing.

When I am not making games, I am playing one of the 450+ games I have in my Steam library, PS4, Xbox One, or PC. I take breaks from games with a good book, usually fantasy and occasionally sci-fi. I also have been known to dabble in art and coloring books as a way to relax, but take long breaks where I don't make anything at all. I have a 3d printer that also takes up my time by mostly printing things for my kids to play with.

The Quest for the New World

There are two key elements of this quest: generating the maps and letting you vote on them. Let's discuss the last one first!

Map Voting

As you know, Brizanda isn't the only new engineer we picked up recently. Our newest web programmer, Orlando, has been ramping up quickly with almost continuous on-line classes, in-office lessons, tests, and coaching from myself and Death. When I asked Orlando to describe himself, he had this to say:

I enjoy playing Roguelike games, to the point that I wanted to make one someday. I was inspired by sites like Touch Arcade but thought I wasn't capable enough to make it as a game developer. After playing the game "Human Resource Machine", I decided to start learning on my own. I started studying JavaScript and trying to learn from my sloppy coding mistakes. There were a lot of times that I didn't get to watch the show I wanted, play the PS4 game that was out, or go out for drinks with friends. In the meantime, someone I considered my mentor recommended me for my first freelance web assignment. My first paid project! I worked on this project during my off the clock time at the office. Coworkers saw me spending lunches hunched over a Microsoft Surface, typing away. I got asked to teach some fellow employees the basics of JavaScript and then to review someone's code. I started writing code to automate some of my responsibilities, which lead to me doing it for the rest of my team. This turned into a real project where I was getting paid to do so.

The next part of this story is where my hard work didn't pay off. I just got lucky! Through a friend of a friend sort of thing, Caspian heard I was looking to learn more about programming and web development and reached out to me with an internship and a great opportunity. Of course, I had to take a bunch of programming tests and make a bunch of test websites, but I didn't care. I love learning and coding, whether it's making a game or a web page. I am still in shock and this experience has been surreal. Loving every minute of this so far.

And Orlando has been doing great work so far. In release 0.3.0 he's been tasked with laying the foundation of the Map Voting we'll be doing in the not-too-distant future, by developing the landing page for that. It'll be similar in style to our Surname Reservation page but will, obviously, focus on map voting rather than surname reservation. While it's still subject to change as we do internal testing on the implementation, here you can see a screenshot of the wire frames that were created for the map voting page. Note: I already know there's some iteration happening on the map voting UI to make it easier to filter which of the maps you're most interested in, as well as compare two maps efficiently. Even still, here's what the wire frame currently looks like:

Map Voting Reservation

All the little dots you see on the screenshot are bullet points we use internally that correspond with notes in a functional spec. Each one references some part of the page, along with some details about what's expected to be there and how it's expected to behave. Look past them if you can. It's all part of the process.

World Generation

And speaking of Map Voting, while it's been de-prioritized slightly due to the other work I'm doing for the pre-alpha release (discussed below), I continue my work on world generation in 0.3.0. Previously, Raevantiel was making procedurally generated maps using external tools which, while capable of creating the look and feel we want for the various biomes, weren't capable of creating the size of the world we ultimately need, nor creating a single cohesive world made up of each of the various biomes.

So, in 0.2.5 I began work on creating a tool that would allow us to procedurally build our entire world. In 0.2.5 I got the continental silhouettes working, complete with coastal erosion, and in 0.3.0 I will continue with topology and weather, allowing us to fully define which regions of every continent of the world are of which biome. You can see a few sample continents below, which illustrate what you might expect the starting continents to look like for the different servers (the archipelago for Oceanus). Note that you can clearly see the continental drift, as it's obvious that they used be a single land mass.

Chat Proto-1 Chat Proto-1 Chat Proto-1 Chat Proto-1

While I continue my engineering work, Raevantiel and Souzou continue their design work. In particular, Souzou and Raevantiel are working throughout 0.3.0 to define the finer details of the terrain topology for all the remaining biomes, as well as information such as soil composition. The information they're defining and the work they're doing will provide valuable information to the world generation system when determining where the interesting landforms will be - things such as rivers, gullies, ravines, cliffs, caverns, and aquifers.

The Quest for Pre-Alpha

Also known as the Quest Where VoxElyria Enters its Alpha 1 Phase. There are a couple matters to attend to here, as well.

Client Side Prediction Revision

When running an online game with physics, it's important that the client and server share some of the load. For example, if I'm playing and I have my character up against a fence or wall and I press "forward," there's no way my character will be able to go anywhere. I can save on server load by letting the client make that determination and then never even sending the request to move to the server.

At the same time, if I'm receiving input from the server about what other characters are doing, I can make a local determination about whether characters are going to collide before waiting for the server to tell me it's going to happen.

This process of pre-calculating events on the client is called "client-side prediction" and requires the client have a mini-physics server running inside the client to help make those determinations. When we first implemented client-side prediction we made the server a little too authoritative, sometimes over-writing what the client believes is the "truth" of the state of the world. This leads to some jittering and part of release 0.3.0 will be our engineer Sekmu revisiting our client-side prediction system to make locomotion and animation run smoother. This is ultimately being done to improve the accuracy of collision detection for the purpose of crafting and combat, but the changes he's going to make will also make current physics tasks feel more responsive and smooth.

Server Optimizations & Metrics

Speaking of responsiveness and running as smooth as butter, with the impending Pre-Alpha release, Chronicles of Elyria will finally be growing up. We're going to be transitioning from having dozens of players able to be in the world at once ... to thousands!

To ensure that we're able to scale effectively, I will be working more on our scalability, load balancing, and other platform solutions to make sure we're ready to go. I'm also incorporating telemetry and metrics so that we can see how the systems are performing on the production servers.

Another thing I'll be working on in 0.3.0 around performance is improved terrain streaming. Currently terrain is streamed to the client in a single layer, which while functional, can result in some slow loading times on poorer connections.

In 0.3.0 I'll be refactoring the terrain system to load and render data in layers, which not only results in less data having to be sent to the client at a given time, but also results in less visual artifacts and less popping. Ultimately, this allows us to load and display a low-detail version of the world even at ranges of greater than 8km!

The Quest for Elyrian Lifestyles

So far, I've mostly been focusing on the Engineering Guild. But make no mistake, the artists and animators are hard at work making the world more real. On the heels of 0.2.5, the content team now have equipment slots they can play with and will be adding a slew of new clothing and armor to the world, as well as weapons and a few other surprises in 0.3.0. It's seems somewhat taboo to be describing the work that the artist will be doing in 0.3.0 when I can just show you some of the awesome stuff they've started on. See these images below for a taste, and then make sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for the progress report and conclusions



A concept of Hrothi clothing and light armor.



A concept of Brudvir clothing and light armor. More tribal equipment being created in 0.3.0 as well.



Some weapons and shield sets for the Brudvir and Hrothi. Again, more sets than this will be worked on throughout 0.3.0

And last but certainly not least, Vye and Snipehunter are spending 0.3.0 preparing for additional crafting work we'll be doing in 0.4.0. In this release, they're working hard together to define a broad set of new techniques, codices, and recipe books for each of the crafting professions. These codices are collections of techniques that can be learned by people wanting to get started learning skills for various professions, and the recipe books are the collections of patterns needed to learn to create items as well as their individual components.

The broad work they're doing will lay the groundwork of ensuring our crafting system has the same core principles, is consistent in the mechanics from profession to profession, but each profession ultimately has the time they need to be thoroughly designed and bake tested before being put into full production.

Of course, since we're going to be continuing to work on crafting in more and more depth going forward, they've asked to have the content team create some initial assets for them to use in prototypes they're doing of their own designs. You can see a couple of those here.




Wrap-Up!

That's it for this introduction folks. We're just now about a week into this release but already a ton of progress is being made. This is a heavy sprint for us, with a lot to do in a short period of time, but the team is pumped, excited to see more content showing up in the world, and of course - getting the world ready for our soon-to-be guests.

Discuss

Log in to post
Dayne - 3 months ago

Love the work

Plume - 4 months ago

A MEOW (Multiplayer Evolving Online World) isn't a MEOW without a heavy emphasis on proximity chat.

When you know that a chat is a cat in French, that sentence takes an other dimension. Was that aimed ?

Kastivi - 5 months ago

Aren't there too many polygons in the weapons model? I know it is going to look better and all, but so many details could make the game unnecessarily heavy to render/process, especially with a lot of players running around with them.

Anomandarist - 4 months ago
@Kastivi:

It is most likely the high poly model that will get baked into the texture maps. So they can make a lower resolution model but retain the details using diffuse, gloss, specular, and normal maps.

Pieoflords - 5 months ago
@Kastivi:

i imagine that would be the high resolution version you would see when you're right next to the weapon. most games make the model resolution go down the farther away you go

zimmah - 4 months ago
@Pieoflords:

on top of that, when designing, you usually design with high polygon count, and then try to optimize and lower it if necessary. If you do it the other way around it will just look horrible.

Salvador - 5 months ago

It has very good appearance, much encouragement!

Lady ShyHeart - 5 months ago

The collision thing sounds like a wet dream for exploit seekers

Kitlandria - 5 months ago

Fuzzy animals... Chat features! So many amazing things! Keep up the incredible work, SbS!

Rezlom51 - 5 months ago

I think the armor will look great once it is polished for game use. The plate armor from the video tour of a city looked amazing. If I'm not mistaken these are just concept drawings and coding.

Cheezer - 5 months ago

All I can say is, looks amazing, keep it up y'all. If I was a billionaire I would be throwing millions at you guys. Can't wait for more updates, good luck fellas!

Azzerhoden Razeri - 5 months ago

Anything client side can and will be hacked. I hope you are building in some verification between the client and the server.

Barlin - 5 months ago

I have to say, I am disappointed seeing the armor concepts. They don t make sense (for example why is the metal protecting the less important body parts ? As far as I understand Hrothi are supposed to be dwarf-like creatures living in caves/under the earth - and yet they run around with 90% leather armor), the shape and colours are boring. It looks like some artist without the experience or the interest in this area made a quick concept, not even researching the topic or using references. Background-story is completely ignored. Hrothi like the earth and stuff underneath it ? Then use it in your design... For example- give them a root-shaped belt and metal armor... They are highly educated ? Give them fancy armor with some pearls of wisdom written at the armors border...

I really like character concept art and saw probably hundreds or thousands of concepts. I also know several concept artist personally. I just looked up the portfolio of the concept-artist Evgeniya Egorova. She made realistic, good looking armor concepts. Compared to those these concepts look like childrens doodlings :(

SolaceOfShadow - 5 months ago

Chat bubbles instead of a window? Would that work? Work well I mean.

Kastivi - 5 months ago
@SolaceOfShadow:

Some games have done it before, though I cant remember which one (I think it was those old MMOs like Perfect World), I remember to think how it was a bad feature lol. The bubbles tend to make the game feel cartoonized and not so realistic.

Aemon_Blackfyre - 5 months ago

I think the weapons and shields excite me the most

Nakhum - 5 months ago

I have to say your Armor Design is spot-on. This is the sort of creative fantasy that is heavily bound by realism that I missed in modern MMORPG's up until now. I can even see myself building and comfortably wearing the Hrothi or Brudvir armor.

However I'd like to say that the Hrothi Armor would look just the tad bit better if the lamellars would actually overlap instead of just hang side by side, but thats just a minor critique I'd have to offer - I guess you do have something better to do :D

Also: Chatbubbles please?

SkepticalViking - 5 months ago

That Brudvir gear... <3

Oracle - 5 months ago

Just one minor query - can you make the red a bit brighter on chat? The dim ones not so easy to read. Might just be on phone but see what you think.

Awesome though :)

Kastivi - 5 months ago
@Oracle:

It looks dim on purpose, it is supposed to be a whisper, something difficult to hear/understand.

Polite - 5 months ago
@Oracle:

Posted By Oracle at 02:21 AM - Sun May 06 2018

Just one minor query - can you make the red a bit brighter on chat? The dim ones not so easy to read. Might just be on phone but see what you think.

Awesome though :)

Maybe have an RGB or Hex color picker for colors for various things like shouts, whispers, etc. in the settings in the eventual freedom. Leave it up to players on what works for them? Though I could see some thinking that might be used as an advantage mechanic? Eh.

Amberic - 5 months ago

Mmmmm, tasty! - it just gets better and better!

Gwyn - 5 months ago

I have to say, as someone who's just a student right now and having some UI/UX focus with my major, it is really interesting to be able to watch things progress from the very start, and see things like the wireframes and other mock-ups. I LOVE that those things are shown, and I know there's probably hesitation sometimes to show them because they aren't final designs or anything, but it's such a treat to see that design process and the iterations of those designs.

Also, yesssss map voting.

Androlus - 5 months ago

The information is overwhelming and the pictures are amazingly beautiful. With every article I am more and more excited about the game.

Varhukan - 5 months ago

I love it all, I have had my day made better.

Tonchek - 5 months ago

Awesome. Cant wait to read next blog.

Sleep - 5 months ago

i love seeing all this stuff. even the technical/programming info is very interesting to a non-programmer like me; you've explained those parts well enough that i think i have some understanding of what is being done.

edit: what is "bake tested?"

Conklin - 5 months ago

Woah! This is going to be a legendary dev team, if they are not already. Be cool if they put their activities public - like a JIRA type board? Maybe that already exists somewhere?

Oracle - 5 months ago

Loving Hrothi fashion. Can't wait for map selection. Not sold on light armour but some nice solid heavy stuff will be cool :)

Abigor - 5 months ago

amazing 🤤

Digby - 5 months ago

Great Work everyone. I love where your going. I know that when we really appreciate all that your doing. I look forward to testing this game for you.

Zakarus - 5 months ago

love love love! the Hrothi stuff srsly....ok ok anuff of me nerding over it cough female Hrothi cute cough

Not bad very nice read for sure with the added picture's like the house design simple but sound. Goats lol i know someone who will go insane with that goat, goats cheese, milk mmmm. I like the full body shield to so you can just imagine a line of Hrothi warriors in a line marching forward voicing out there battle cry. For those who dream about the stars that gear really looks nice.

Salvador - 5 months ago

this is interesting! very excited!

Lady Grace - 5 months ago

Love the Female Hrothi clothing concept. Yes please!!!

Great work all. )))

markof - 5 months ago

A quick question, when we see designs and arts that do not mention a specific tribe, should we assume it's Neran style ? like for the house, this pre-alpha design is for a Near's house?

And i love the Hrothi style and this quests sounds awesome.

PS: axes might not have been the best first Hrothi weapon to show to stop the dwarf comparison :)

Poldano - 5 months ago

That's a pretty hefty-looking goat!

HerbLord - 5 months ago

I don't know if this is related to DJ but can a hrothi create a hrothi style armor for someone of a larger race? that armor looks so cool.

Augustus_Aquila - 5 months ago

It is an honour to see this magnificent project growing day by day. And I love to be part of it like the rest of Us. I am sure we will smash all Mmos out there. And we will convince all those sceptic people that at the end of the day Chronicles of Elyria is simply the best.

Grizzly1 - 5 months ago

As a "wanna be" Brudvir loving the Brudvir armour and weapons. I know it's a long way to go, but this stuff makes it all seem more "real", can't wait to jump in

Zelcovian - 5 months ago

Ooo Pretty Brudvir

Sharielane - 5 months ago

Awesome update. Things are certainly moving along now.

Nerissa - 5 months ago

The goat is the BEST part of this post. <3 Hail Satan :3

Lady_Tzayelle - 5 months ago

Keep up all the hard work! <3

Esoba - 5 months ago

Wow everything looks absolutely great. Love the goat.

NiHZ - 5 months ago

Sexy.

Gorawyn - 5 months ago

So excited for this sprint! Keep up the great work!

Silence Will Fall - 5 months ago

Great stuff ! Good luck guys. Question : will all the goats (animals in general) have the same patterns of colors or will it be possible to differentiate them ? (to some extent of course)

Nerissa - 5 months ago
@Silence Will Fall:

Yes! <3 I am such a nerd for different colorings, patterns, etc. ^_^

RayneZ - 5 months ago

The Hrothi armor looks wicked

West - 5 months ago

Cool! Looking forward to seeing the rewards for this adventure!

promise - 5 months ago

Omg I'm so excited for MAP VOTING! I LOVE the Brudvir armor, and that goat! So perfect.

Matriarch - 5 months ago

Stupendous!