12 July

Soldiering On

By Vye

Hail and well met, Elyrians!

The entire studio had a couple days off over the USA's Independence Day holiday and, along with other vacations throughout the team, it was a welcome respite. We've got a company picnic coming up in a couple weeks so it's been relatively relaxed around the office. Even still, the team has been pushing ever forward on their various undertakings. Read on!

Chronicles of Soulbound Studios

Elyria, as a living, breathing, tangible world, is forming before our fingers. With every line of code, with each push and pull from Perforce, with every meeting, with each sprint, we move closer to our goals. Here's what our noble questors have been working on as of late...

The Tribe Foundry

Members: Caspian, Heat, Souzou

All of the launch-playable tribe write-ups have been released. If you missed any, they're now all available in our Game Guide. The remaining four tribes that will be discoverable at launch (the Erishé, Mydarri, Owem, and Yoru) will have information released later, after the Q&As conclude, but the write-ups will be constrained to things that the launch tribes would potentially know about them from afar, leaving plenty of mystery to discover about their cultures once players make contact in-game!

The eight launch-playable tribe line-up

The last Tribe Q&A is on July 24, and the question thread is already available. While more information will be released about the tribes as we continue to develop the game, and some mechanics may change based on pre-alpha experiences, any questions about the overall themes of the tribes and how and why they were developed, will try to be answered in this last Q&A of the series. Further discussion is encouraged on the forums, and there are already several excellent threads on various topics!

This party's quest is nearly at an end now. How much XP should I give them?

Society of Elyrian Ecology

Members: Mudokon, Racronos, Irreverent, Vanimus Prime, Souzou, Wiz, Raevantiel

As part of the grass layer work, the Botany Department has discovered a new type of grass that may grow in certain areas of Titan's Steppe. Before moving onto the riverbed or foliage layers, Wiz and Raevantiel will be addressing some new lighting technology and consulting with the Order of the Online with their voxel representations of the world. The flora and fauna of Elyria will have a voxel representation in the MUD, and most of the Society is working with the Order this week in order to set some standards and workflows for such assets. The goal is that our art and animation team will not have to spend time making voxel assets for the MUD and, instead, the design and engineering guilds will be able to import anything they need through a converter.

While movement can also be imported into the MUD, the fidelity is very different. Mudokon and Racronos have been feeding information to Strider for his work on mounts, in addition to starting the movement study on the Canis Rabbit and Otter Bear. The Ursaphant is getting pretty close to having its study done, so it or the Trison may be the next mount we work on. Wiz also took it upon himself to make the horse's coat super shiny.

If the saddle fits, then you're ship shape!

We're also investigating a new add-on for Unreal that could save additional work for us through animation mirroring. Since the world interaction systems do care about which hand you use to pick things up in addition to simply being able to move in any direction, it'll be nice if we don't have to do that ourselves. We've also been perusing the marketplace for some of the standard, Earth-like animals that will exist in the world such as rabbits, birds, and chipmunks. Elyria will have plenty of unique creatures, and we've already shown many of them, but we're pretty sure you'd rather play the game before the heat death of the universe than have us hand-craft an entire worldwide ecology from the smallest ant to the biggest tree.

Lastly, I must share a charming story from the trenches. Souzou, being tasked with adding some wildlife to Titan's Steppe, placed a number of Flower-Cup Porcupines in a field. He put them in "pancake" mode, which is what they do when they are trying to hide. Even though he had clumped together a small family of porcupines, he couldn't actually find them once he started playing in the level!

Flower-Cup Porcupine Camouflage Test 01: PASSED

Order of the Online

Members: Cynax, Tripnull, Glaive, Michael, Sekmu (temporarily)

Sekmu has spent some time converting the equipment work he's done to be compatible with what the Order is working on. As amusing as it is to be running around naked, we're pretty sure that most Elyrians are going to be interested in wearing clothes and armor. I suppose I should break it to you nudists now: being fully naked won't be a feature in the game. Even if you remove all your equipment, you'll be wearing some underwear. We're not making Vanimus Prime model and texture sex organs.

Aside from equipment, the simple combat, AI, UI, physics smoothing, and input handling in ElyriaMUD are just about ready. There will be footage of all this in the State of Elyria update coming up soon. Even though Caspian is hoarding all the assets for his post, I've managed to smuggle this across the border, but don't tell anyone I showed it to you:

The voxel character models as will be seen in ElyriaMUD

As you can see, it's made of voxels, as I've mentioned in these updates. We're utilizing a program called MagicaVoxel, which is freely available and well supported. This is just a teaser to what you'll see in Caspian's mid-year update, so remember to act surprised. This is our secret, after all!

Protectors of the Web

Members: ZRO, Death, Cynax, Scarlet, Serpentius, Kaizen

Though this intrepid team has an epic quest of the V3 version of the website as their ultimate goal, they stand on the front lines and cannot help but help out the people of Elyria whenever duty calls. Bounties continue to be collected and odd jobs also get taken care of on a regular basis. It's rare that these undertakings are not readily apparent to the community, such as the inventory itemization that occurred last week, and the retirement of layaway. These have immediate impact on the community, but are all working toward V3 improvements.

Now that the inventory work is done, ZRO is taking the graphics and UI designed by Death and Scarlet and building the new front-end experience. Glaive popped in to help as he passed through as well. Scarlet is continuing to create the graphics for other parts of the site, while Death feeds her wireframes. Kaizen is finishing up the Game Guide reorganization in order to help, so that finding information about the game will be much easier in V3. While the V3 game guide will be a marked improvement over the dated pages we have now, we still want the Wiki to be the community-curated source of current information. If you haven't ever looked at the Wiki, there is a team of dedicated editors from the community that pore over every update, every forum post, and Discord discussions in order to provide up-to-date information for your enjoyment. If you haven't said "thank you" to the contributors, or you want to help out by writing your own contributions, I highly encourage you to do so! The Wiki will continue to be a great reference for new members and seasoned veterans alike!

The Proto-Tailors

Members: Irreverent, Wiz, Sekmu, Heat

You wouldn't guess by looking at him, but Irreverent knows his textiles! He's spent the last few weeks creating different weaves that can be tiled seamlessly, resized endlessly, and colored independently. Though the current work is all around Titan's Steppe resources, such as thick wools and cottons, he is creating a system that will allow for everything from silks to chainmail.

Heat is continuing to provide visual targets for the rest of the team to evaluate. This includes asking questions like:

  • "What layer would this be?"
  • "Is this part of the base pattern, or is it an adornment or alteration?"
  • "Does this need to work with translucent fabrics?"
  • "How can we achieve this look without adding another clothing layer?"

Here's the latest piece we are looking at, a super-fancy Neran armor example:

If you use your imagination, you can see that the armor still provides similar protection even when crafted without embellishment

League of Extraordinary Locomotion

Members: Strider, Tripnull, Sekmu

Strider has been making strides on mounted locomotion and, sure enough, it's as satisfying as warm bowl of succotash while watching the sun set on Titan's Steppe. I'm sure there are some folks who have wondered why the League has been together for so long - surely it doesn't take that long to get things moving around in game, right?

Your head perks up, "Quite astute, I say! It strains credulity that it should be more than a trifle to do a thing that thine chosen Unreal Engine does out-of-the-box, if I am to use the current vernacular..."

Let me begin by saying that yes, we've been moving around with the default locomotion since we picked up Unreal. To be perfectly frank, however, whatever you imagine your characters will be doing in Elyria, a significant portion of that will be taken up with basic locomotion. Whether you are tracking prey in the wilds, caravanning goods between settlements, moving between anvil and forge, or even walking to your seat of government, you will be moving around in Elyria almost all the time. If that experience is awful, if you feel hamstringed or confined, if the controls are clunky or unresponsive, it will negatively impact the majority of your gaming experience. In other games, fast-travel and mounts and zone lines are often used to mitigate just how terrible it is to simply exist in that world. Because Chronicles of Elyria is shooting for a more realistic in-game existence, we'd like the way you move to be in-line with that narrative. There is no fast-travel, mounts will adhere to the same survival mechanics you will, and there are no zones. When you move from point A to point B, it will be under your own power and direction (unless you're on a cart someone else is driving) and that has to be enjoyable.

I'm pleased to say that, so far, it really is enjoyable. Walking around in Elyria is fun! And now riding around it is also fun! We still need to tune the movement speed while mounted on the horse (each mount will have different speeds) and improve its jumping, but you can totally get around in a horse and it's great. We're capturing some video that Caspian will share in his State of Elyria post.

In the meantime, Tripnull and Sekmu have been working with the Order of the Online to make sure that all the great things about moving around in Unreal are shared with the server and, subsequently, the MUD.

Tribe Q&As

We're nearly through all the Q&As, and you have had a ton of great questions about each tribe and about the tribes in general. The question thread for the last Q&A of the series is now available. The write-ups on all the tribes playable at launch have now been released so I anticipate some good questions, now that the full scope is more clear. We will not be releasing write-ups on the Erishé, Mydarri, Owem, and Yoru before the Q&A since we don't want the question thread to fill up with questions about those tribes. Information about those tribes is being intentionally withheld in order to make it fun and interesting to discover them later on. Any questions about the eight launch-playable tribes and their history, mechanics, or relationships is perfectly fine to ask about, and more information will provided about each one as we continue to develop them further.

In case you've not committed the schedule to memory or you need a refresher on anything we've covered, here's everything you need to know:

  • Tribe Q&A Part I can be viewed on YouTube.
  • Tribe Q&A Part I In Brief is available on YouTube.
  • Tribe Q&A Part II can be viewed on YouTube.
  • Tribe Q&A Part II In Brief is available on YouTube.
  • Tribe Q&A Part III can be viewed on Twitch and YouTube.
  • Tribe Q&A Part IV will happen on Monday, July 24 at 1PM PDT / 4PM EDT / 8PM GMT / 8PM UTC on Twitch.tv.

After this fourth Tribe Q&A, we will return to a more moderate Q&A schedule like before. In general, Q&As will be coincide with recent Design Journals in topic. While there are a million things to have Q&As about, we'd like you all to have at least some information before we do the Q&A so that the questions are delving deeper into the areas you want to know about, rather than simply providing an introduction to a topic. Information about whatever Q&A comes after tribes will be included in a future Community Journal.

Remember, starting in August, we'll have different types of blog posts from different areas of the team. The days that blog posts come out will likely change, but expect it to still recur on a schedule - it just may not be every other Wednesday (or Thursday if you're past the International Date Line) as it has been. No need to panic (cue everyone panicking) since there will probably end up being something new to feast your eyes on more frequently as a result! Until next time, my friends!

Pledged to Your Continued Adventures in Life, Both Actual and Fantasy,