Ethereal Beta Version Update 0.9.1

December 30, 2016
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Here we go!

I am excited to announce that Ethereal Legends has been named one of ten winners in Taco Bell’s Feed the Beta program!  Taco Bell has gone to great lengths to help indie devs like myself make great games, and their assistance with Ethereal has already proven invaluable! There’s already some good conversation happening between the folks involved, and I’m certain the program’s industry experts can certainly provide some quality feedback for Ethereal. I’m pretty excited to be honored with acceptance to the program; it might be the first time I’ve won something since I was a teenager!

In honor of the occasion, I’ve cut an entirely new trailer with nearly three minutes of gameplay footage to help promote the game in advance of it’s release! You can check it out at the top of this page, or directly on my YouTube channel.

Learn more about Feed the Beta on their website, www.feedthebeta.com, and keep an eye out for the upcoming sizzle reel featuring all the winners!

Moving forward…

Ethereal Beta Version 0.9.1 is now available!

Current Beta testers can immediately update to version 0.9.1 via the Steam client.

I am extremely excited to release Beta Version 0.9.1, because it includes a feature I wasn’t sure I’d be able to include in the full release: a visual change in appearance when equipping different armor.

I posted back in October and pointed out how I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the modular armor feature into the game, simply because it’s actually a really difficult feature to do.  It takes expertise in an area that I am not overly familiar with.  Sure, Unreal Engine makes modular armor really easy from a setup and programming perspective, since the engine has the “MasterPoseComponent” feature.  However, it’s really difficult from the artist’s perspective, because modular armor sets (where pieces from different armor sets can be mix and matched, worn simultaneously) must adhere to a very strict set of rules in order to prevent from breaking the illusion or causing graphical errors. First, proper modular armor must be designed and rigged to cover the character’s skin like actual clothes – not replace the skin (more on this in a minute!).  Second, armor pieces have to be created in a very specific way, so that they can match up with other sets.  For example, consider a pair of low-cut boots made to be worn with full-length pants, and a pair of knee-high boots made to be worn with shorts.  When the player character is wearing the items in their default configurations, everything looks fine.  But if the player equips the knee-high boots with full-length pants, it has the potential to cause graphical errors where parts of the boot poke through and can be seen through the pants.

These are extremely common issues when you source assets from third parties in the same way I do; buying assets from marketplaces is simply not an effective solution to this problem, because the assets are not created with this need in mind.  I need an actual artist to overcome that hurdle.  In the meantime, I have supplanted my need for an artist with the Adobe Fuse program, which is actually an incredible tool for indie devs like myself who are not as experienced with creating their own characters.  I mean, really, Adobe Fuse turned “average” humanoid character creation into a 10-minute process.  The only thing it’s lacking is more clothing options, but I feel like as soon as devs realize it can be used like this to make modular armor systems, you’ll see a greater demand for artists to start making Fuse clothing content appear on marketplaces.  With unlimited clothing options, Fuse would be the end-all, be-all of humanoid character creators; the ultimate solution for solo indie devs.

However, Adobe Fuse has one major flaw preventing it from being a great solution for modular armor, and that is the fact that the character’s skin is always replaced with the clothes.  All non-visible skin (anything that would be underneath the clothes) is removed from the character before export from Fuse.  I am almost certain they do this for performance reasons, but the problem for modular armor becomes that the armor pieces are now the same size as the character’s skin, and once in-engine, the character’s skin will always poke through certain pieces of armor.  The best solution I found so far was to leverage the opacity mask to hide certain sections of the character’s skin when wearing certain armor pieces.  Unfortunately, with the numerous armor combinations available and different variations on some pieces (such as finger-less gloves), this has quickly become cumbersome to manage.  I tried scaling up the clothing a bit so it’d be slightly larger than the skin, but since it’s already rigged to the skeleton, scaling the pieces did not work well because of where the root is located.  Since I’m not very experienced with modelling or rigging, I do not have any immediate solutions to these problems.  The opacity mask solution I’ve got in there isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I’ve got for now!

Either way, the trade-off is totally worth it to have visible armor in the game.  I think it’ll make collecting all the pieces much more fun!  I’ve got some plans to incentivize players to collect and wear complete sets of armor (as opposed to mix-and-matching), but those ideas are reserved for future updates.  Additionally, I’ve commissioned another FOUR sets of Fuse Armor from Arteria 3D (who so happened to have made all of these, too!), and once they’re delivered to me, they’ll be available on his store for purchase so that the rest of you can use them too.  With the four new sets he’s building, it’ll mean 12 Armor sets in game (60 total inventory pieces), which is a pretty healthy compliment!

So without further ado…


Beta Version 0.9.1 Update Notes

  • Player Character model was updated to it’s final release version.
  • A number of player animations were added or changed.
  • Most actions are no longer available while falling.
  • Removing or equipping Armor will now cause a visual change in appearance.
    • Armor sets include the following parts :
      • Head
      • Body
      • Hands
      • Legs
      • Feet
    • Armor pieces are interchangeable, allowing pieces from multiple sets to be worn at the same time.
  • New Armor sets were added.
    • Cloth Armor  (NQ)
    • Leather Armor  (NQ)
    • Ranger’s Gear  (HQ)
    • Crusader’s Gear  (HQ)
    • Assassins’s Garb  (Rare)
    • Adaman Armor  (Rare)
    • Valhalla Armor  (Epic)
    • Exo Suit  (Epic)
  • Capes as an Armor piece have been removed from the game.
    • All Cape-type inventory items have been removed from the game.
    • The Armor equip menu has been modified to reflect this change.
  • Changes were made to lighting and post-processing in all Realms.
  • Changes were made to the distribution of Chests in all Realms.
  • Changes were made to the items contained by some Chests.
  • Chests will no longer appear on the map after they have been opened.
  • Fixed a bug where the Map debug color for some doors in Arcadia was incorrect.
  • Fixed a bug on some sounds that would ignore the player-defined audio volume options.

Notice to Current Beta Testers

If a previous version of Ethereal currently exists on your system, and you perform the update via the Steam client, you should manually delete your game’s current save data before loading this update.  Otherwise you may experience errors when attempting to load previously saved items from your inventory that no longer exist in this build.

If you do experience errors, navigate to the following directory within your Steam installation and manually delete all files you find there :

..\steamapps\common\Ethereal Legends Demo\Ethereal\Saved\SaveGames

This is the first update I’ve had where loading save data from a previous version could break some things (all of them have to do with the new Armor system…), so I’ll be looking into solutions for preventing this type of thing in the future.  Do note that this is not an issue with a clean installation of version 0.9.1.


I did a bunch of other stuff recently that didn’t make it into this update, but I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got in store! In the meantime, hit me up with any feedback you may have!  Find me on Twitter, Facebook, the Ethereal Steam Community, or subreddit.

 

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