Defend The Night - Devblog 8 (3D UI Previews)

Devblog 8 – Combat Stances and Art Updates

This week’s devblog will introduce new updates to the Inventory and Defender systems’ UI, Environment Art, and preview Player Stances.  I’ll also discuss changing directions on the development roadmap.

Character Previews

Animated 3D character models have been added to the Inventory system, allowing the player to swap gear and view the cosmetic changes in real-time within the inventory panel.  The character previews will be a complete clone of the player’s character, from race and skin tone to hairstyle and equipment.

The same has been done for the Defender menu.  The buttons used to purchase Defender units now come with animated previews, and full descriptions and statistical overviews have been added for each unit and upgrade.  This will help the player to quickly compare and purchase the most appropriate allies and enhancements for their forces.

Terrain and Lighting Improvements

After some experimenting and optimization with more detailed terrain textures and lighting, I’ve settled on some new 2k textures, ambient occlusion, antialiasing, and real-time lighting effects for higher end setups.  These changes are only costing me about 5FPS in testing and make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of the first map.  I’ve also added in some new particle effects for kicked dirt, dust trails, and rocks on certain terrain types to help increase of the realism for these outdoor maps.  Below are some previews showing the difference between low and high terrain and lighting settings…

Low settings:

High Settings:

Player Stances

The UI for the Player Stance system has been added and is now functional from the player’s perspective.  In the image above, from the terrain and lighting preview, you will notice a new 4-button bar above the spell slots.  This is the player stance menu.  Players will use this bar to choose a stance of either DPS, Tank, Healer, or Crowd Control.  Whichever stance is selected will be communicated to nearby friendly AI units, and this will determine how the friendly defenders play around the player.  For example, if I run my hero towards a group of friendly AI units consisting of a Warrior and a Cleric, and my stance is set to Healer, the Cleric will assume that I want to take over main healing responsibilities.  They will then transition to the most needed other role that they can fulfill.  In this case, the Cleric would likely swap to DPS and start using their mana for offensive magic rather than healing.

Stances will be able to be swapped at any time, and friendly units will detect the swap and attempt to transition roles along with the player.  This system is intended to allow for immersive, grouped combat experiences at many different points on the map and regardless of the number of actual players participating in each encounter.

Changing Directions

In previous posts, I had mentioned wanting to get back to gameplay and content development, but I’ve decided to change course.  I’m holding off on fleshing out the AI improvements, like player stance reactions for friendly units and adding more depth to enemy AI, as well as building out the spell and ability content.

Instead, I’ll be diving into Multiplayer and Networking.  This is something that I probably should have done even sooner, but I wanted to make sure I had the major systems working as intended.  Now that I have a solid proof of concept for most of the major systems, it’s time to put in the work to get these systems supporting Co-op and PVP gameplay.


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