20 August

Thought for food...

By Caspian

Hey All!

Welcome to the weekly Chronicles of Elyria update for the week of August 15th! A lot of work is happening right now, but no pithy parables or monologues for this week. Just more great content to show. So let's jump right into the roll call.


The focus of production continues to be hiring. We've got amazing candidates across all the different disciplines. I had the fortunate opportunity to interview not 5, not 10, not even 20... but 25 different candidates this week. We continue to move through the hiring process with some of them and will be reaching out to some others for the first time next week.

As we hire new team members, we'll make our usual announcements.

Web Team

Web development continues. Work is being done on the front-end of the store and mail system, and soon the back-end will receive some love. It's not too much longer now. Store arrival is imminent. In the meantime, a lot of work has been done this week on reducing load times and we're working to get off of the remote font server, as that seems to be one of the major culprits.

Design & Concept

The design and concept teams have been working together much more closely lately. It's great to see, and the results coming out are spectacular. This week we've got two new concepts to show you, both from the Tundra. As the subject of this update suggests, you've heard of 'food for thought,' but we're much more 'thought for food' at this point. Sorry, that's a world-building pun. In any case, our designers are building a complete food chain for our Tundra and Taiga biomes and have been working on primary and secondary consumers.

First, the Cup-Flower Porcupine is a Primary Consumer that eats fungi, lichen, moss, and other small plants in the Tundra. The cute little rodent resembles porcupines in our world but with one important adaptation. Plants in the Tundra, such as the Arctic Poppy, tend to grow and flower fast, with cup-like petals as a way to capture and store heat efficiently. The Cup-Flower Porcupine's quills do similar, with flower-like appendages on the end that open instinctively. Not only does it help the little guy stay warm, but also serves as a form of camouflage. When stationary, he can lie down and make himself look like a small patch of flowers.

Flower-Cup Porcupine Concept Figure 1 - Flower-Cup Porcupine Concept

The second animal this week is a secondary consumer and a predator of the Cup-Flower Porcupine. The Domino Fox is much like arctic foxes in our world but with a very specific adaptation - the addition of a domino mask allows them to dig through snow and ice looking for food, and also acts as a protective shield when attacking those prickly little porcupines.

Domino Fox Concept Figure 2 - Domino Fox Concept

Character Art

This week the Character Artists have been working on texturing and coloring of the equipment system, as well as improvements to our male model for the purpose of aging and body dynamics.

Seen here is a picture one of our artists put together that shows some different materials and colors, again giving you an idea of how customizable equipment in CoE will be. Pick your fabrics, pick your dyes, and get to work creating your own style.

Custom Fabrics and Materials Figure 3 - Custom Fabrics and Materials

Several months ago we showed the aging and body dynamics video. This allowed us to demonstrate moving between a thin and heavy male, as well as a young and old male, but we didn't yet have the blend shapes in place to go from a thin old man to a heavy old man. Well, here ya go... Note, we cropped it to avoid having to paint another 'blur spot' over his private bits.

Dynamic older male model Figure 4 - Dynamic older male model

Engineering & Animation

Our final update this week is a new video! Yay! Engineering, animation, and environment have all worked hard to create a smooth locomotion system and a beautiful world to run around in. So per our hint last week, below you'll find a video of Titan's Steppe, the setting for Prologue: The Awakening.

A few quick notes, we're currently in design and development phase, and I'm a firm believer in the practice of 'optimizing last.' This means that there's no point in spending a lot of time optimizing your solution while trying to validate and test your ideas. As a result, we haven't attempted any form of optimization yet. So you'll notice in the video below that, with the addition of the screen capture software, we're running at between 30 and 60 FPS.

But don't let that discourage you. Indeed, quite the opposite. Notice the neat looking mountains in the background... Well, part of the frame-rate issues are because we're rendering that... entirely. That's not a skybox. Everything you see in the background is a complex, full-LOD mesh. It won't take much to get us to a point where we're once again running as smooth as butter.

Finally, not all animations are still in place, noticeably absent is our landing animation. In either case, the system is nearly complete, and movement in the world is now intuitive, responsive, and fun.

Figure 5 - Tour of Titan's Steppe


Well, this update has been short and sweet, but hopefully, it continues to instill confidence that development is moving along great. There's more and more content coming on board all the time, and with the team doubling in size in the next 6-8 weeks, we're just about to hit our stride. Stay tuned!