📰 Isle DevBlog #45

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Filipe - Lead Programmer
It's mostly been a continuation of last month's work, with the exception of several changes and bug fixes for the latest patch.

In regards to what I've been working on;

- More Burrow internal tests and prototypes, there are several concerns about the scalability and performance of this system, so we are experimenting. Not much to say about this one yet.

- Continued working on Rex Crush ability, which is a variation of Deino´s Lunge. Gameplay wise they are very different, but the code part is mostly shared. We have a functional system already and the work now is mostly making all animations to look as desired, besides balancing it.

- Several design meetings and more to come to make final decisions of several systems and future developments, including Migration, that still needs it´s second half (when no Mass Migration) is active. Currently the system is only half done, which is the "Mass Migration" happening one after the other.

- Besides that there was a lot of work on bug fixes, system improvements and Engine Update.
That is all for now.


Ariel - Programmer
This month I had two bigger tasks to work on. First of all, a new attack for the stegosaurus. It is a different kind of tail swing attack that deals more damage, but requires more consideration to use. The attack has to be prepared by holding the right mouse button, which visually lifts up the dinosaur's tail, also serving as a warning to other players. Then players can use the left mouse button to perform the attack, which is slightly different if someone is looking up, down or horizontally. This allows for hitting specific areas of others, but also means that one needs to be more careful with it to avoid swinging above smaller targets for example. There is a second version of the swing that can be performed while sprinting, this one hits in a wide arc in front of the dinosaur that really opens up new possibilities in combat. I also added support for attacks hitting obstacles like trees or rocks and being canceled. This is currently only in use for this attack, but could potentially be extended to others later.

I also worked on the new camera system that some of you might have seen already as a concept. The plan is to bring the player's perspective closer to that of the dinosaur and provide a better sense of scale. I experimented with different setups to have all the functionality we need while keeping it easy to configure and smooth to use. In the end I got the general system working, but it still needs to be set up for each dinosaur and some of their unique mechanics as well.

Other than that I made some smaller visual improvements to the herrerasaurus. There is now some variation in its bite attack animation in certain directions, as well as a slightly different idle posture when standing on branches. I also set up the sliding down audio loop on the programming side.


amar0k - Programmer
The past month has been mostly about the latest update for me with lots of performance and reliability testing and fixes.

I made some improvements to the queueing system and re-added the server list character display along with fixing all of the server list filters and setting up a new pagination system for how servers are searched and displayed.

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Worked on a bunch of back-end server related analytics and management tools like automated server restarts with RCON announcements, Easy Anti Cheat updates and our build deployment pipelines.

Various on-going changes to AI spawning and behavior, How AI spawn is still something we are working on and will be refining over time. I guess I could say the same about AI in general; it has been through a few iterations of designs from both a technical and gameplay standpoint. Performance being a priority and having the AI function how we want has been a long road and I think we have finally found a workflow that will allow us to get things moving.

I have also been working on scavenger AI being presented by niagara particle systems as there are some interesting things we can do with this along with the performance improvements and client side visual benefits.

I also finished off a developer tool we use to map player activity on Gateway. Here is a picture of around 2 hours of gameplay data for all classes on NA1 and EU1.

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This has many use cases for mappers and helping with gameplay design decisions.

Started working on the Psittacosaurus as a new AI dino to be introduced soon.

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Finally, backlog bug fixing and an engine update.


Wedge - Sound Designer
Beginning of February I finished any outstanding work needed to complete Diabloceratops' vocal sounds, mostly on the remaining juvenile vocalizations. I also did more work improving and finalizing Herrera's climbing sounds, trying to get them to feel as they should with minor tweaks to the sounds. Once these tasks were considered complete enough to move on, I took the opportunity to replace some of the placeholder vocal sounds on Dryosaurus directional attacks as well as add in Psittacosaurus' legacy sounds until a time comes where they can be revisited. This includes its calls, attack, pain and death sounds; enough sounds for the necessary functionality as an AI creature at a rudimentary level.

My next task was to design new breath sounds to replace the ones heard currently when sniffing and panting. I opted for a more natural and generic quality to these sounds to cover all animals of their respective size group without coloring them too much. Subsequently they can be used as modularly as they are currently and still work for most contexts. They can then be supplemented by idle and filler vocal sound, blending the breaths into the individual creatures' bespoke sound pallets.

Finally I've been working on completing our suite of horn foley sounds, designing the same sounds for small and large size categories as were already made for medium sized. I also have created a gore sound for situations where a creature is impaled by a horn to finish off the set of sounds necessary for ceratopsian combat.


VisualTech48 - Environmental Artist
The Crane month as I'd like to call it. This month is all about the 2 new cranes, a lot of behind the scenes stuff for the shaders for our future buildings™.

You'll soon be able to see completed and vast docks, with the new addition to our ****nal with 2 new cranes, which are as large as a location, and fully traversable. I've made a lot of changes to our walkway kit that benefit from the Cranes as well. These are massive objects in the world, as you will soon see.

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And the small crane, with a few variations, to wrap up the Docks.

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Bryan - Dinosaur Supervisor
Been a busy month as usual and hot out of the cloning tanks are… some rats? Who wrote this?
Anyway, yeah a species of rat, a lizard, some insects and a crab. I'll have to ask about getting some lemon trees to go with the crab.

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Also got some new trot animations coming in for the Pachycephalosaurus and Gallimimus.


hypno - QA Lead
For the majority of February, QA has been focused solely on bug testing. This is because not only have we upgraded the engine to 5.3.2 but also because we merged all of the balance changes/bug fixes from the latest evrima version into a "master branch" that also introduces all of the content that was being developed alongside our latest patches, including the Diabloceratops, Mutations, Ceratosaurus Manual Vomit and other various tweaks and bug fixes.

Mutations
QA have access to a large pool of mutations that are available for testing. We have already identified issues with the current selection, the majority being that the mutations in question were too weak to justify selecting them (given that the player can only select 4 in one life presently). Due to the nature of the mutation system locking them permanently once selected, we want to ensure that all of the choices are just as valuable as the other and to incentivize players to choose more than damage oriented boosts. With that in mind, most of the damage boosting mutations are relatively weak compared to the others, such as those that increase survivability (whether it be healing/stamina regen boosts or slowing down hunger drain).

Whatever the outcome, we're going to try to make all of the mutations feel like good choices, on their own or when combined and create a way to define your characters/playstyle better. Perhaps one of your group members is an expert nocturnal hunter that takes the lead during night ambushes? Maybe your character is a natural herd leader and can allow for increased group sizes? You can even become a cannibal and avoid suffering the usual consequences of eating your own species. I know I'll personally be very interested to see what types of characters and combinations players can create with this system.

Ceratosaurus Manual Vomit
This one is a relatively new ability for QA to start testing – it only just had new sounds made for it! From our initial tests, the ceratosaurus' ability to purposely vomit on a corpse to decompose it faster has really brought out the identity that it was missing. Not only is it now able to bully other species off a corpse but it can now also "steal" them, forcing them to move on and look for a different meal. We do need to test this further to get a better feel for the mechanic and tweak various things with it, but so far so good. As well as this, we're currently toying with the idea of increasing the buff that ceratosaurus receives around corpses even further if it is rotting, which I think would synergise quite well with its new ability.

Miscellaneous
Dilophosaurus players rejoice! Your hallucinations will now work on AI characters instead of just other players.

We're reintroducing the up/down attacks for omniraptor and troodon after fixing some issues with them
Dawn/dusk times are being adjusted so that the sun rises a lot sooner and sets a lot later in the day. This will result in slightly longer days and shorter nights as they were intended, without artificially speeding up time.

While this bug is unintentional and caused by work that was being done on the Tyrannosaurus crush ability, this type of "gore while still alive" is something we want to look at doing in the future:

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Lastly, I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to our volunteer QA team for finding over 200 unique issues since the beginning of this month. 😊


KissenKitten - Producer
Let's see. This month has been so busy it feels like a blur. The team has covered most of what you can expect to see coming. Now that we have largely got things relatively stable, we can focus on preparing all the stuff we've been working on in the background. Like random events out in the world, diabloceratops, sparring, additional/omitted playable features etc.

The jump to UE5 blew our kneecaps out in regards to Gateway so we can finally mend those wounds and get more playable and interesting areas back onto the map that you never got to experience. Such are the risks. Anyway, places like the dockyard for instance. I bet I can guess which species I'll find there. There will be new gametrails coming so even in the darkest deepest jungle, you can find a path that will lead you out. This allows us to create pockets of jungle that may get exceptionally more dense but will always be navigable, reducing the chances of you ever getting lost without a way out. Pro tip: The denser the jungle, the larger the animals that can hide there.

There's been some promising developments on the new camera work. We can bring the perspective in even more than initially anticipated so we can really slip you into the skin of your animal. Your feet are going to be touching the ground now which should create a much more immersive experience. Ambushes can be set up more reliably and encounters get the heart pumping since you'll practically feel the creatures barreling down on you. The Isle is going to start delving deeper into horror elements now that many of our core foundations have been set for the animals. Expect more screams and more blood. And you thought getting a drink couldn't get any scarier?


On the animations side (which is always my favorite) the team has been motoring. There's a variety of different AI types we'll be working on to assist in fleshing out the ecosystem. The boar got a tiny spot of love, the chickens did too. They should be easier to spot and chase now. We're bringing back some golden oldies like the psittacosaurus but we're also adding rats, varying crab types, insects, clams etc which you'll be able to find out in the world and fill a niche that's been needed for smaller animals. Do keep in mind that some may only be detectable based on your species/size. An adult rex won't see the insects the same way a hatchling will, if they see them at all. This should open the door to our juvenile carnivores finding more than possible players in sanctuaries, around human structures, in open fields etc as well as allow for more foraging opportunities for omnivores and semi-aquatics.

The rex, trike and maia are also coming along nicely. Here are some examples. These animations may or may not be indicative of their final iterations.

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We've got some new animations for the gallimimus to smooth out its aim-offsets during different states of motion. Gallimimus is also the first long necked animal being tested with the newest camera changes. This will help guide future camera work of other animals such as sauropods, which are right down the street from us now.

The stegosaurus has a new swing to make it more dangerous and combat capable against the incoming large carnivores while also having a new grappled state that kicks the door open to them being vulnerable to pack animals like omniraptor.

Ceratosaurus is going to be projectile vomiting to corrupt the meals of other predators and ensuring they live up to their purpose as garbage disposals. This keeps ceratosaurus relevant to other carnivores regardless of size or strength. You may be the first ceratosaurus group to steal a corpse from an adult rex, but good luck getting away with it.

There's also some new animations for various species across the roster as a whole. Maybe you'll be able to spot them all. There's more but I don't want this to be a novel. See ya next time. Be good to each other.

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