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Update #41: D&D: Dwarves and Doors

project eternity dwarf doors adam brennecke dimitri berman sean dunny pre-production

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#1
The Guildmaster

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D&D: Dwarves and Doors
Adam Brennecke



We are another month into preproduction and have been making awesome progress on all fronts. This update covers dwarves and doors, two of the many accomplishments in the month of January, and gets into the finer details of development on Project Eternity.

The Creation of the Dwarf
One of the goals in preproduction was to figure out how we could make character modeling pipeline be as efficient as possible. The problem is fairly complex: All of the six playable races, human, elf, dwarf, aumaua, orlan, and the god-like can wear armor, boots, gloves, helmets (...well, some have trouble wearing helmets, but we will talk about that some other day...) and have other options that the player can customize like facial hair, hair style and skin color. We also have tons of armor variations and types of armor, like plate, brigandine, leather, and mail. (Josh loves his armor). Ideally, our artist would only need to model one armor piece - let's say plate body armor - and have it fit all six of our playable races even if the races are all of different proportions and body structure. At the end of the day the same model for plate armor could fit a slender four-foot-tall orlan and a burly seven-foot-tall aumaua. The goal for January was to build a system to allow us to do this very thing.



During January, we've developed a new system to allow our human bipedal skeleton to be shaped and morphed into the other playable races and have armor be shaped and morphed along with the skeleton. The character modelers have fine control over the proportions of the races, and only need to model armor pieces once and not six times over. In preproduction we look at developing systems like this. It may cost us time up front, but will save us hundreds of hours down the road in production. The dwarf ended up being our first test case, and now we have dwarves as playable races working in game.

Pictured at the front of this update is a high-poly dwarf head that Dimitri Berman (lead character artist) modeled in ZBrush. The high-poly head is used for making normal maps which aid in lighting the character models. A simplified mesh is created from the high-poly head is used in game.

Open, Close, Lock
On the other end of the pre-production spectrum, the programming team has been writing the building blocks for the area design toolbox. One of the essential things that all areas need are doors. From past experience we know that doors always present difficult problems with pathfinding and are a big pain in the arse. Getting a potentially risky, yet required, feature out of the way now seemed like a pragmatic goal, so Steve Weatherly (game programmer) and Sean Dunny (environment artist) set off on a quest to get doors working in the game.

We first tackled this problem creating a list of all the features that doors need to have. It's easy with doors since we all know how doors work: Doors have a few states, like open and close. Doors can be locked, and be unlocked with a key (or skill). Doors can be used, meaning the player can click on a door and the selected character will be commanded to go and "use" the door. Doors can animate to match the open/close state. Doors block character pathing when closed, and don't block pathing when opened.

We even listed out minor details such as doors can change the mouse cursor to a different state when hovered over, and doors should always open away from the character using the door.

Tasks were made from this list, and the work began. Steve was able to get a working prototype of a door ready to test quickly. At this stage we could see how the door looked and felt in game, and if there are any unexpected problems that came out of the prototype.



One issue that came up was door placement. We found that it was not easy to place a door in the exact space to fit a dungeon doorframe. Steve and Michael Edwards (senior technology programmer) coded a system for doorframe "snap points" that makes the door pop to the exact place that we want it to go. Designers can now place doors efficiently. Hooray!

We love being able to share our progress with you all, and we hope you enjoy reading these production updates. If you have any questions about development, please post them in our Project Eternity forum.

Thank you!


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#2
Aquadrizzt

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You mention that there are only five playable races in this update (humans, dwarves, aumaua, orlans and god-like) but had previously mentioned (Update #25) that there would be six races (elves in addition to the aforementioned). What happened to elves; are they no longer available as a playable race? 



#3
Hormalakh

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The dwarves look great! i'm assuming the Orlan ears are proving to be a problem in terms of clipping when trying to put on helmets. There should still be circlets that they can wear. Or crowns. Small detective hats would be nice :)

 

scottish_cap_pocket.jpg

 

Something like this  for my Orlan would be nice. I think it also fits his theme, eh? ;)

 

All the best.



#4
Gumbercules

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Neat update! I love seeing these kinds of details.

 

I have a question, Adam. Along with morphing the armor to fit different races, would it be possible/worthwile to somehow give each companion character a signature filter that customizes the armor or clothing that they wear? For example, one companion's armor might always look more scuffed-up or patched, while another might have religious symbols applied to their clothing.



#5
Adam Brennecke

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You mention that there are only five playable races in this update (humans, dwarves, aumaua, orlans and god-like) but had previously mentioned (Update #25) that there would be six races (elves in addition to the aforementioned). What happened to elves; are they no longer available as a playable race? 

 

We will correct the mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.


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#6
Pandamaniac

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You mention that there are only five playable races in this update (humans, dwarves, aumaua, orlans and god-like) but had previously mentioned (Update #25) that there would be six races (elves in addition to the aforementioned). What happened to elves; are they no longer available as a playable race? 

Elves and paladins have been removed for the game to help others stay sane. But really, that was just an unintentional omission on their part.



#7
Stiffkittin

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The minutiae of development is overwhelming. The tricks and tribulations to get every interactive elemnt in the game working like it should is a real eye-opener for non-techie people like me. The time taken to open the door on your world is very much appreciated.

 

Difficulty with helmets eh? You coy sods .. ;)



#8
Rubicon

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I love the updates. The heads look great. The tech involved with the characters and door mechanics is fascinating. The screen shot looks much better to me this time. I know its still a prototype but the character is much more visible enough that I can see details on the armor. A teensy bit closer and that would be perfect for my eyes.  Those facial sculpts have me pretty excited about whats to come!



#9
NerdBoner

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will doors be bashable with weapons like a giant maul or hammer? or trappable for rogues attempting to lure enemies into an ambush?

 

 

Dwarves look great btw.


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#10
Shadenuat

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Will all armor fit all characters? Race-restricted armor was p. cool in Wizardry, for example.

 

Will larger creatures miraculously follow party through small doors, or will they be stuck in it? Will you be able to use doors as choke points or the same as above will happen with regular creatures?

 

In DA:O that made me rage when enemies somehow teleported and ran past my fighter guarding door, ignoring any possible collision.

 

...yeah, doors. I guess I can make a design question out of anything. When you'll make chairs I'll try to think of something of how chairs could be tied to combat system as improvised weapons. Maybe I need to relax sometimes.


Edited by Shadenuat, 05 February 2013 - 08:06 PM.


#11
Lephys

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Wait, DOORS are going to be in the game?! Ahhh, crap. Time to start a thread about how terrible of a design decision that is, u_u...

8). Hehe. Juuuuust kidding.

See, now I KNOW I want to work in game design, because the idea of meeting with a team to break down all the facets of doors is strangely enjoyable.

Thanks for the great info, guys! ^_^. Every time I encounter a door in P:E, I'll reflect upon all the hard work and dedication you put in. Especially when I play as a Dwarf, and equip armor that I get from another party member, while another party member interacts with a door. 8P

#12
Tamerlane

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Customizable beards confirmed?

 

JE Sawyer Production Beard on my PC is a go.


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#13
Ieo

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Awesome...

 

The player-customizable elements make me wonder how the artist-rendered portraits will work in conjunction, though.

 

(And can someone at Obsidian answer my question in #40 about the paint artist?  :sweat: Just really curious...)



#14
Adam Brennecke

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Awesome...

 

The player-customizable elements make me wonder how the artist-rendered portraits will work in conjunction, though.

 

(And can someone at Obsidian answer my question in #40 about the paint artist?  :sweat: Just really curious...)

 

The customizable elements will not show up in the portrait of course. Just like in the IE games you will need to use your imagination. :)

 

As for the artist that painted the orlan... I can say that it is the same artist that painted the image of Sagani. Rob may/may not reveal the artist in his next update. I'll leave it up to him.



#15
rjshae

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Very nice. Love the bone structure of that dwarf! :)



#16
Ieo

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Awesome...

 

The player-customizable elements make me wonder how the artist-rendered portraits will work in conjunction, though.

 

(And can someone at Obsidian answer my question in #40 about the paint artist?  :sweat: Just really curious...)

 

The customizable elements will not show up in the portrait of course. Just like in the IE games you will need to use your imagination. :)

 

As for the artist that painted the orlan... I can say that it is the same artist that painted the image of Sagani. Rob may/may not reveal the artist in his next update. I'll leave it up to him.

Re: Portraiture--fair enough!

 

 

Re: Artist: 

 

YOU. ARE. KILLING. ME.

 

 

 

(Edit: Thanks for the answer, though. :p)


Edited by Ieo, 05 February 2013 - 08:50 PM.


#17
Elerond

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I like these technical updates very much as they give me new perspective how I see things in video games. And is nice to hear that you try to things cost effectively, but still aiming to give quality product.

 

Dwarf look like dwarf which is very good thing also.

 

Race specific helmets (or no helmets at all for some races) sound nice addition. Orlans especially look like that they would need specially made helmets to get their ears to fit in.



#18
Luridis

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Yay! Great stuff guys, we're glad you can talk about development too. :)

That said, LOLz at Adam's paste-oopsy in the update email... (I've done that too.)

Edit: The oopsy being the "The problem is fairly complex: All of the six playable races, human, elf, dwarf, aumaua, orlan, and the god-like..." appearing three times. :)

Edited by Luridis, 05 February 2013 - 09:05 PM.


#19
jackcorbae

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Forget armour and helmets ... what about capes? <ducks>  :biggrin:


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#20
doshu

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We first tackled this problem creating a list of all the features that doors need to have. It's easy with doors since we all know how doors work: Doors have a few states, like open and close. Doors can be locked, and be unlocked with a key (or skill). Doors can be used, meaning the player can click on a door and the selected character will be commanded to go and "use" the door. Doors can animate to match the open/close state. Doors block character pathing when closed, and don't block pathing when opened.

 

Maybe a silly question, but what about smashing/smashed doors? Would this be counted as one of the states? I mean, c'mon, you have to be able to smash a wooden door or something with a big axe if you don't have the key, right?


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: project eternity, dwarf, doors, adam brennecke, dimitri berman, sean dunny, pre-production

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