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Summer 2020 Update

Updated: Aug 15





We want to start this off by saying how excited we are to be able to share some information about the future of the game with everyone. We understand that everyone is eager for updates, and no one is more eager than us to get more content out to the community. The team has been hard at work focusing on getting the core of the game ironed out. We're fortunate enough to have another very experienced engineer who has recently joined the team to help us achieve our development goals, and are continuing to acquire even more talent to help with various aspects of the project. It's no secret that the world has been flipped upside down over the last few months. Unfortunately most of the team happens to live in some of the hardest hit locations worldwide. Despite this, everyone is doing well and we continue to move full speed ahead.


The future of Emberfall looks bright. That being said, we do want to be clear that everything in regards to game development is always subject to change. As new features become available with Unreal Engine and new gameplay possibilities open up, we want to experiment with all of the tools at our disposal and see what works. Today we want to share some of those future plans with you.


Movement


Player navigation in the world of Emberfall will include a variety of movement abilities, including an omni-directional dodge roll, the ability to climb on and vault over surfaces, as well as a full arsenal of progression-based unlockable abilities such as dash attacks, finishing moves, and more powerful fire abilities. Next-generation Inverse Kinematic solvers will be used to adapt character animations to environments in real time for high visual fidelity.


We’re planning to support a full suite of melee and ranged weapons as well as different armor classes. By utilizing an equipment weight system we can modify how quickly you move and fight in the world to help balance power and speed. We hope to bring these to life with a variety of dynamic movement and combat animations. This diversity of equipment choices allows players to experiment with different playstyles and character builds. The goal is for each weapon to have its own unique fighting style and let players explore and experiment with what they find to be the most fun.


The Dragon faction will have access to a dynamic flight system which we hope will bring these large flying creatures to life and handle naturally. We’ve implemented elements such as diving, gliding, and flapping to maintain speed and altitude. These mechanics will make flying in Emberfall a more immersive and engaging experience. We have a lot more that we’d like to reveal in the coming months including some more details about the creative ways that both humans and dragons can traverse environments.


Combat Overview


Out of all the aspects of the game that are subject to change, combat is at the top of the list. It’s hard to truly iron this out until we do some very serious group testing. We’d still however, like to give everyone a basic overview of our plans for combat.


Our design intention for the combat system is to provide an intuitive experience that’s easy for new players to pick up, while providing a depth of options to allow seasoned players to shine. Both human and dragon factions will have access to skills and abilities that are unlocked via the games progression system. Human combat will be distinguished through stat based equipment. Both factions will also have stat attribute points which can be invested to modify their characters combat style.


The core foundation for combat is similar regardless of the characters faction. This includes being able to dodge, block and parry incoming attacks, riposte windows that are available shortly after parrying, being able to stagger opponents with stamina breaks and more. The primary resource used during combat is Stamina which attacking, blocking and moving consumes, and is regenerated over time. Three attack types are currently being used, which are Light attacks, Heavy attacks, and Special attacks unique to the weapon or dragon species being used.


We’re aiming to create a skill-based combat system that is fast-paced and rewarding, but we also want death to be sufficiently punishing. We’re designing a system that allows players to customize their character builds and attributes to fit their playstyle and preferences. With branching progression paths for the Dragons and a wide variety of unique equipment for the Humans, our goal is to promote experimentation and risk-taking and allow for infinite replayability.


As these systems are further developed, tested, and refined, we will reveal more details and go deeper on the state of the combat system and we hope to share some gameplay combat footage when we’re satisfied with our prototype and ready to move forward.


Map Overview


Emberfall is an expansive open world consisting of an overworld environment hosting a variety of biomes including lush fields, deep forests, lakes, and more. Players will also explore an instanced underworld, containing a vast sprawling cave system of ruins and other points of interest. We plan to expand this world over time, adding new biomes, caves, etc. Server instancing gives us the ability to expand on the world of Emberfall infinitely by adding new locations which are accessible via exploration.


For our environment, we're utilizing Quixel Megascans high definition real-world object scans for the foundation of our environments. Quixel has announced that they’ll be adding completed tree assets to their library in the near future. This means we’ll be able to rely entirely on the Quixel library for our organic environment assets. With the addition of Nanite in Unreal Engine 5, we'll be able to preserve graphical fidelity on all environment assets without worrying about performance. Along with Epic Games IK solution we are utilizing their Sky and Atmosphere system for V4.26. This will allow us to have photo realistic clouds, fully customizable weather, day/night cycles, and more.


Emberfall's environment will be affected by our dynamic weather system and mimic real world environments

Environment Mechanics


We want to make Emberfall's environments as dynamic as possible, and to achieve that we’re aiming to use a combination of Unreal Engine’s Chaos Destruction Physics with Networking and our own fire propagation system. These two destruction systems combined will create a more immersive gameplay experience when players are able to see where a battle may have taken place in any instance.


We plan to have castles, fortresses, and towns which we want to let players fight for control and inhabit. There will be benefits to capturing control of these various points of interest and in defending them from enemies. Everything we're implementing in Emberfall is in line with Epic Game's goal of "Large, Dynamic online worlds" in Unreal Engine 5.


Chaos Destruction Physics - image courtesy Epic Games

Online Services


Emberfall is an online Action-RPG and as such, requires a robust online services stack. We are excited to announce that we are leveraging the Azure Game Stack from Microsoft, which already powers many games you may be familiar with such as Sea of Thieves, Rainbow Six: Siege, Minecraft, Halo: Infinite and more. Utilizing the Azure Game Stack gives Emberfall many advantages, both for us as developers and for you as players, and we will go over some of them here.


For players the most observable and immediate benefit will be our globally available, low latency dedicated servers that are dynamically provisioned on demand in over 60 regions worldwide. This means no matter where you are, we can guarantee to some degree good networking performance. All network traffic to and from Emberfall servers is routed over an exclusive network backbone, meaning it’s unaffected by other types of internet traffic unlike most typical backend server solutions, helping improve performance and keep it consistent.


This also allows us to have an extremely fast, globally deployed database solution for storing player account and character data and interacting with it, instead of database solutions that are localized and only available on the server instances you play on, allowing you to easily hop between different sessions or play with friends and keep your progress.


The major benefit for us as developers is substantial. We have a rich suite of analytics tools we can use to track how the game is being played and can adjust the games balance based on this data and user experiences, as well as react to events happening in the game in real time with rewards or combine the data with other services. This will allow us to do things like holiday events or special promotions far more easily so that we can reward players for enjoying the game during their free time.


We will also be able to keep track of the top players in a variety of brackets and display and reward them for their efforts, like the longest surviving players, who’s achieved the most player kills, won the most duels, or even who’s crafted the most consumed items. We are considering displaying and rewarding player performance like this on a monthly basis to keep competition fun and healthy, while rewarding people for performing well among their peers.


This will help prevent many issues present in other online games that do not utilize a modern backend solution such as targeted harassment, malicious server hosts and deal with game community moderation issues in a more professional capacity while also ensuring server security and a consistent gameplay experience across the board for everyone. We will also be implementing a robust, modern anti-cheat solution to help ensure a fair gameplay experience for everyone.


Future plans


While it’s too soon for us to reveal any specific dates or timeline regarding public access to the game, we are planning to have closed alpha, as well as beta access periods. During these demo cycles players will be able to experience Emberfall prior to public release, but more importantly we’ll be able to gather data on how players progress and interact within the game and adjust any mechanics and features if needed.


Emberfall is being developed with a focus on next-gen technology. With the release of Unreal Engine 5 in 2021 comes support for Nanite and Lumen which will change the way environments are created within the engine. The ability to have a near infinite number of polygons on screen at any given time without a negative impact on performance means assets can be imported from Quixel or Zbrush in their raw form. These software advancements will mean major advancements in technology as well. As of right now, Epic Games has not released an official statement on what the hardware requirements for these next-gen games will be. We can make a best guess that the focus will shift to the NVME drives that have been unveiled in the next generation of consoles.


We want the broadest audience possible to have the ability to play and enjoy Emberfall. For this reason, we wish to allow cross-platform multiplayer. In addition, we’d like to make Emberfall available on game streaming services such as xCloud. This would allow players with lower end PCs, as well as next gen consoles to have access to our game. We want to emphasize that this is our current plan, and we will be focusing on a PC release first, with console ports being explored post-release.


Nanite - image courtesy Epic Games
Lumen - image courtesy Epic Games

More to come


We hope this has helped to shed some light on what our team has been working on, and where the project is heading. Emberfall is still early in development, but things are moving along smoothly as we implement the systems that will bring our world and characters to life. We’d like to continue with quarterly updates along with some teasers as we continue hitting development milestones so that we can gradually share more information and details about the game with everyone. Our vision for Emberfall involves building a large, dynamic, open world filled with things for players to explore and destroy and we’re excited to share development progress. Make sure to follow us on social media for future updates!


Stay safe,

Emberfall Development Team

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