The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #19


Hey there, sweet beans!


Welcome back to the Kristala dev blog! We're happy you're here.


The last time we met, we shared some pretty exciting updates from the world of Kristala, and this issue will be no different. But before we dive into today's super thicc, super juicy issue, we have to get something off our chest...


We know we've promised you bi-weekly dev blogs, but in truth, there's been a lot happening lately here at ACS headquarters.


In addition to our regular jobs and personal lives, we've really been amping up development for Kristala over the past couple weeks (hey, just look at this dev blog issue for proof). Plus, we've also been prepping for an upcoming virtual convention (WOOHOO!), so things have been a liiitle hectic around here.


With that said, we'll try our hardest to stick to our bi-weekly schedule moving forward, but just in case we can't, we wanted to let you know that we'll have a new issue comin' to you hot and fresh out of the dev oven at least once a month.


We promise. ;)



Programming


To kick things off this sprint, Will worked on refining the functionality for our (obnoxiously gigantic and shiver-inducing) spider enemies and (ridiculously stubborn and annoying) Gilsanka enemies.


After tweaking and testing both enemies' AI behavior, we're now confident these baddies will properly engage and attack during gameplay. Take a peek!



Next, Will worked on modifying the death systems for our main character (and some of the game's enemies) to allow them to utilize the new death animations Producer Allie recently created (make sure you check out the Game Production section to see them in action).


In addition to implementing death animations, Will also modified our new backstab mechanics to be more in line with the results we were looking for, then worked on ensuring our Stat system properly displays in the crystal menu and properly performs clamps.


After that, Will created a new smoke instance and modified (then applied) it to work for various destructibles. We're really diggin' these changes. Take a look!



Will also worked on setting up several of the original musical tracks that will be featured both in the Kristala demo and in the full version of the game.


These recent programming changes now allow the various tracks to fade in and out depending on where the player character is located in-game, or which level she's currently journeying through.


All tracks for Kristala are composed by our incredibly talented Sound Designer, Adeel (who professionally goes by the name AdLibPiano). You can hear more about the new and improved soundtrack for Kristala in our Sound Design section below.



After pinpointing some issues we discovered with a few of the initial audio transitions, Will fixed the combat and non-combat music for the Dalamase swamp level, then fixed the fast-travel Kristal Checkpoint track so that it too now functions properly.



To round out this sprint, Will addressed Quitting and Loading functionalities and then further modified both Save and Load functionality to include proper HUD information.


He set the HUD to disappear at appropriate times (such as Loading and Menu screens), and disabled player input to prevent players from - for lack of a better phrase - getting into mischief.


...As they say, curiosity killed the cat, no?



3D Asset Design


We hope you're ready for the fat stack of modeling updates we have for you this sprint!


To kick things off, Nick continued working through his list of custom assets needed for our various level areas, including the swamp villages of the Dalamase, the singed streets and charred abodes of the Nasahara, plus some additional trinkets and items meant for a few of our special NPCs.


First, Nick worked on modeling a couple of old, moss- and dust-caked beds that will be featured in the various homes, huts, and burrows found in Ailur.



Nick then moved on to creating several variants of random, burnt items that will ultimately help represent the carnage of war that still lingers within Nasahara city limits.



Next up for Nick were a couple items that seem rather ambiguous without explanation, but we'd like to save a few surprises for you to encounter in-game, so we'll just leave the purpose of these to your imagination for now.



In addition to indoor items, Nasahara was also in need of a few structural pieces to help further build out the eerie, abandoned nature of this once-great, sprawling city.


Here's a look at some of the pieces Nick created for this purpose, including a cool homage to our studio itself. Can you spot it? Let us know in the comments!



Lastly, Nick revisited the 3D model for his previously created Anagativa skeleton to improve its shape and textures before handing it off to Allie for rigging and animation.


We can't wait to see what Nick has in store for us next sprint.


If you've been following our game dev journey over the past couple sprints, you know that Cass has been our go-to modeler for creating custom houses and structures to populate our various in-game villages, cities, and towns.


To start off this sprint, Cass finished the five forest townhouses that will be used throughout our Nisargan clan levels. As the peace-keeping, nature-loving clan, the Nisargans' homes are all constructed from natural elements found throughout the surrounding environment.


You can read more about each clan's general vibe and aesthetic by snacking on some of the Lore from our Sagas of Kristala newsletter series.



After finishing up the forest townhome models, Cass then started in on texturing each of the structures. We're pumped to get this into the game build once all five are completely finished.



As our resident texture expert, Shelly has been hard at work retexturing some of our existing assets to make them even more visually pleasing in-game.


Here's a look at some of the revamped textures for a few of our 3D environmental assets.



Next, Shelly reworked one of our existing enemies, making it a bit more catlike in order to better match the aesthetic of the world of Ailur (aka devoid of any sign of humanity).


Previously, these enemies had a very human-like look to them, but with Shelly's changes, they now resemble our feline-like main characters.


Just wait until you see what we have in store for you with this enemy. All we'll say now is that we hope you don't mind unexpected jump scares when playing games... ;)



Although we're really digging the existing textures on our main Anagativan character, we figured we'd let Shelly try her hand at improving them even more.


In addition to applying new textures to our nature-loving Nisargan character, she also performed a quick texturing on our yet-to-be-seen necromancing Myrtunan character too.


We're not entirely set on these new textures as they currently stand, but we're really looking forward to seeing how lifelike and realistic we can make these Anagativan beings appear.



In addition to texturing and modeling, Shelly's also quite a gifted graphic artist, which means she often gets recruited to assist with various odd jobs inbetween her regular modeling duties.


As one of those odd jobs, we had Shelly try her hand at a new look for some of the loading screens that will be featured throughout the game.


The first screen she tackled was for our Nisargan clan lands. Each loading screen will feature a different-colored glowing orb that represents the specific clan that's featured in gameplay at the time.


For example, if you're playing as one of our tribal Keozans, the orb will be orange or red; if you're playing as one of the mentally skilled Sykomanans, the orb will be black or yellow; if you're playing as one of the tundra-dwelling Tandarans, your orb will be blue or silver.


Have a look at Shelly's work on one of the Nisargan-themed loading screens thus far.



If you've tuned into our last couple dev blogs, then you'll know that two of our talented 3D modelers, Shelly and Bianca, have been tag-teamin' it together to whip up an updated, more realistic model for our male Anagativan main character.


When we last left off, Bianca and Shelly had both made some really great changes to the model, and this sprint, Bianca charged full-steam ahead and really refined this character's look.


We wanted to see how similar changes would look on the female model, so Bianca then went back and made similar adjustments to her too.


We're still not quite sure which version of the main characters will ultimately be featured in the Kristala demo, but we can't wait to see these babies fully textured, rigged, and animated.




Level Design


The more Joe and Tiffany apply their keen eyes for composition and design onto the Kristala game build, the more the world of Ailur continues to come to life.


If you've caught recent issues of the Kristala dev blog, you know that Joe has been working tirelessly on laying out our Nasahara Ruins level and placing assets within it. This sprint has certainly been no different.


Joe recently placed a bunch of the various row houses Cass created into the level and added in some atmospheric fog and ambient fog particles into the level. He also placed some occasional small fires that are still burning in Nasahara today.


Over the past couple weeks, Joe has also learned how to use decals and began playing around with particle systems in Unreal to give the entire Nasahara area a more vacant, ominous ambiance.


What do you think? Would you be scared to walk these streets alone at night?



With Joe continuing work on the Nasahara, Tiff focused in on the Dalamase swamp and Nisargan cave levels. First, she helped Shelly figure out the proper Tessellation for the "Twigativa" branch creatures.



Next, Tiff finished breaking up all our various sublevels into smaller chunks to allow for improved level streaming within the game build. She also performed some testing to make sure all the levels load-in correctly without being seen.


Tiff then updated the main character's positioning and rotation on the Pause menu before adding damage-dealing poison water to specific areas of the Dalamase (sorry, we unfortunately can't tell you where; you'll just have to find out for yourself when you play).


To finish out this sprint, Tiff continued building out and detailing the Nisargan cave area, adding more and more beautiful and enchanting fauna to the overall environment.




Concept Art


We recently welcomed a new member to the ACS Games family!


Pete not only possesses a wealth of talent and experience when it comes to concept art, but he's also an incredibly skilled character modeler and rigger too.


As Pete's first official task for Kristala, we had him work on revising the concept art for a very important NPC, Gustav Gondasa. As a famed adventurer, Gustav travels all over Ailur in search of rare and exotic nuts to peddle to his Kotakayan counterparts.


You'll be hearing a lot more about Gustav in upcoming issues, but for now, here's a look at Pete's vision for Gustav thus far. He's still a work in progress, but we can't wait to see him really come to life.




Sound Design


Since our new composer, Adeel, has joined our team, he's been hard at work revamping a bunch of the tracks that will be featured on the original soundtrack for Kristala.


One of our favorite things about these new tracks is the way they can be used as a subtle storytelling device in the game. Over time, players will learn to associate various tracks and sounds with specific areas of the game (or particular actions that may be taken).


We'll leave you to figure out which songs represent which areas or actions on your own, but for now, be sure to check out Adeel's incredible work and send him some love




Animation / Rigging / Production


Throughout the past sprint, Allie's been hopping around from task to topic area in order to ensure production for Kristala not only stays on track, but that everything is working smoothly in the UE4 game build too.


To kick things off, Allie worked on implementing some magic-cast animations for our aquatic Gilsanka enemies.


If you were paying close attention to the combat videos featured in this issue's Programming section above, you may have already seen these spells in action, but here's a closer look.


Next, Allie tackled a bunch of death and backstab animations for both our Anagativan main characters and a few of our common enemies, like the swamp-dwelling Gilsanka and the ever-present Kotakayan patroller.



Last on the list of animations Allie created this sprint was the special attack for our Myrtunan Shiv weapons. After applying the initial visual effects, Allie then went back and further refined this movement.



Shifting gears from animation to rigging, Allie then brought the Anagativan skeleton enemy Nick redesigned this sprint into Unreal Engine in order to test the skinning she'd previously completed.



Upon further inspection of the revised enemy, however, Allie noticed a few issues with the skeleton's forearm, tail, and pelvis, so she fixed those up before bringing the final, fully rigged and animated enemy into the Kristala game build.



Funnily enough, the skeleton's skinning wasn't the only issue Allie ran into with this cat-like bag of bones.


Once it was brought into Unreal, Allie noticed (and captured) a pretty hilarious blooper during gameplay testing. We hope this makes you chuckle just as much aas we did.



As you may have noticed in the above blooper clip, we've got another sweet armor set available as a pickup in the Kristala demo. We've been internally referring to this set as the Hooded Armor set, but you may also see it referred to as the Myrtunan Enforcer Armor set too.


Here are some screenshots and video clips Allie snagged of this gorgeous set while getting it properly set up for testing in the game build.



While snagging clips of the new armor set, Allie also captured some really stunning and beautiful clips of our Myrtunan Glowshroom and our illuminating Kristal Shine spell.


Behold!



To round out this extended sprint, Allie began testing the rigging she recently applied to the new Anagativan character that Bianca and Shelly have simultaneously been working on.


Here's a quick mouth-movement test Allie captured while working.



Kristala Merch Alert!



Don't forget! We now have a Kristala merch store!


Make sure you check out our brand new 3"x3" and 5.5"x5.5" custom vinyl stickers and slaps. They're the perfect way to rep Kristala in your everyday life.



Kristala Stream Team Corner


Every week, members of our dev team stream their work LIVE at 9 pm EDT on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook LIVE.


Studio owners Allie and Tiff share their tips and tricks on rigging, animation, and level design; and lead gameplay programmer, Will, walks us through the inner workings of Unreal Engine 4.


Here are some of our favorite moments from the past week's streams. Be sure to tune in live every evening (except Mondays); we can't wait to chat.







Whew. Talk about a jam-packed issue! If you enjoyed this round of development updates, don't be shy...let us know about it!


You can register for a site account and leave us a comment or join our Discord community to chat directly with the members of our dev team and stay up-to-date on all things Kristala. You can also follow our dev journey via social media at the links below.


Until next time, sweet beings, thanks for your continued support...and thanks for stopping by.



-The ACS Games Dev Team





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