Emberfall Q4 2020 Dev Blog
We hope that everyone has been having a safe and fun holiday season! We want to start off by thanking everyone for their patience while we continue working on updates. We have been focused on ironing out Emberfall’s core mechanics and gameplay systems in tandem with getting some art assets finalized. Integrating the game’s various systems and features in a way that will positively impact the player experience is vital and we expect to have many testing phases over the course of development to ensure that the final product is something amazing.
Emberfall has been updated to Unreal Engine 4 version 4.26. This is Epic Game’s final release for Unreal Engine 4. In the coming months Epic Games will be releasing Unreal Engine 5 and continue updating and ironing out bugs for the new engine throughout 2021. We are anticipating that moving Emberfall to UE5 will be relatively straightforward, but as with all things development related, we will prepare for difficulties so that we can be pleasantly surprised if there are none. UE 4.26 includes the final release of Epic’s new sky atmosphere system. This system allows for the creation of realistic volumetric clouds, day/night cycles and incredible looking weather, including lightning storms and blizzards. We will show footage of the weather system separately once we are done making some adjustments.
Dragon Animation Preview
We are thrilled to announce that we have been working with an extremely talented animator to bring to life the dragons that will be playable in Emberfall. Some of you may be familiar with Maccollo’s amazing work on the Primal Carnage series. We are aware of how excited everyone has been to see our dragons in motion, so we wanted to include an early preview animation teaser. Please keep in mind, animations are very early work in progress blockouts and still actively being adjusted and refined to fit our vision. Finalized, polished animations will be shown in the near future (more on that below). We are currently focusing on ground locomotion animations and will showcase some of our flight animations shortly. As mentioned in our last quarterly update, we intend for our flight system to be very dynamic with the ability to bank, rise, roll, dodge, dive, and more. Fluid and realistic animations are essential to sell the concept of a heavy beast moving itself through the air as opposed to the player feeling as though they’re floating forward or hovering in place with no sense of momentum or weight. Proper timing and resource management will be key to dominating the skies.
Additionally, our lead creature artist Álvaro has been working on one of the special skins that will be available to anyone who supports the game early on. There will of course be plenty of cosmetics added down the road as well as ones that will be unlockable via gameplay and achievements. This is not the only bonus that will be available to those who support the game early and we will have more information on other goodies that will be included at a later date. We are still planning to have a dynamic skin system with which players can adjust the colorations on each skin pattern, allowing for more variety among players characters.
Human movement Preview
We’ve been hard at work setting up the foundation for our human animation, locomotion and combat systems. Human players will have the ability to vault over objects, dodge out of the path of enemy attacks, and scale larger areas such as castles or cave walls. These abilities are vital for both traversing the environment and surviving encounters with dragons or other human players. It was important to create a solid base to avoid any issues down the road, since everything we add will build upon the current locomotion system. Once a solid foundation is laid, it is much easier to add more abilities, weapon classes or other animation or movement features. For example, what weapon a player has equipped determines the animation set that’s used and how the animations layer and blend together to create a believable result. Our animation and locomotion systems have been built from the ground up to network as efficiently as possible so that we can achieve believable, high quality animation systems with minimal network overhead.
We are also planning to reveal a Dragon vs Human combat teaser as soon as we can. As with everything we do, we want to be sure that all of our assets and gameplay systems are as polished as possible before we unveil them. This does mean slower updates than we’d like considering that we are a very small team, but we hope that the quality of what is produced will meet or exceed everyone's expectations. Combat is obviously the primary focus of Emberfall, so it is necessary for the combat system to be ironed out as early as possible so that it can be thoroughly tested and polished. Being such an important feature, it’s something we really want to get right.
We have a large variety of unique features and mechanics planned for Emberfall, but one of the most exciting that is currently undergoing development is the dynamic Climbing system for Humans. Heavily inspired by games like Shadow of the Colossus and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we want to give humans the freedom to dynamically climb anywhere in the world as they see fit for exploration purposes, sneaking around enemy encampments, escaping from dangerous situations or infiltrating hostile lairs and human settlements. Exploration will be a huge part of the game and the dynamic climbing system gives us the freedom to have fun and interesting points of interest all throughout the world that won’t be easily accessible otherwise. Towards the end of the video there is a brief showcase of the climbing system, but stay tuned for a more in-depth video demonstrating the system further into development.
We also want to update everyone with some information regarding our use of social media platforms. After much internal discussion and planning, we’ve decided to move away from Discord as a community discussion platform. There is a long list of reasons for this decision, but the short answer is that the platform does not meet our needs for building and maintaining a large community. Limitations on features, frequent server downtimes, and the overall future of the application itself are all concerns when relying on a third-party app for building a large community in the long term. For these reasons, we have opted to instead develop our own official Emberfall Forum which will be the main discussion platform for the game! Our goal is to keep things as streamlined as possible in how players communicate with each other and receive updates and information regarding the game from developers, as well as making it easier for us to receive feedback from players throughout the game’s development.
Forums make it easier to have cohesive, thoughtful, long-form discussions where information can be archived and pinned for easy access later as opposed to fast-paced chatroom style platforms where important information is quickly buried as discussions shift topics. Social media apps come and go, but by creating our own centralized forum we can ensure that the platform will remain active and available for the entire lifespan of the game. Since the forum will be integrated with players accounts, we also have the ability to enable settings so that you could view a fellow player’s in-game stats, leaderboard rank, kill counts, etc. This level of integration helps to create a real sense of community and bring players together even if they don’t play in the same sessions with each other. We want to give players the ability to meet others, join groups, and experience the game together. For us as developers, it is infinitely easier to communicate on one main platform rather than trying to be available on multiple social media networks at all times.
We have already ironed out much of the planning for setting up an official forum. That being said, developing the game itself is still our top priority. It may take us a bit to get the forum completely up and running, but obviously we wish to do so as fast as possible. We love chatting with our community, answering questions, and seeing everyone as excited as we are for the future of the game!What does this mean for our Discord server? We know that many people use Discord to follow their favorite projects and stay up to date. We’ve opted to keep the server up so it may continue to work as a convenient announcement feed for those who prefer to get updates via Discord over other platforms. We intend to keep the server around, and it is possible we may even use it in the future for events that require us to interact with the community in real time.
We’re very excited for all the things we have planned going forward. For such a small team, we have been making amazing progress. Everyone has been putting in hard work to bring the project to life and truly create something that will be an incredible experience for players.
This year has been tough for everyone, and we want to take some time to really focus all of our energy on development and give our moderators a break before we launch our official forum. Until then, we hope everyone will enjoy seeing how development progresses as we continue to share more updates. As mentioned, we are quickly nearing the time when we can reveal a combat teaser to show everyone how fast paced and exciting the combat in Emberfall will be! Be sure to stay tuned for our next update. We look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on the forums! We hope 2021 will be an amazing year!
Have a safe, and happy New Year!
Emberfall Development Team