The team continues to expand as the game gets further along the development cycle. In the past three weeks we have brought in two additional artists and a new programmer.
In Art we are busy with several areas: our concept artists are working on some of the new monster races as well as architectural styles for things like the Imperial outposts. In modeling we are currently concentrating on some final art for a human village, making a full set of various structures in anticipation of the new terrain becoming functional. These are finally beyond the concept and placeholder art that were used back while we were improving the game engine and testing design concepts. Work also continues on NPC characters, particularly ones for use in the five League Halls in the Citadel.
Programming is busy in three main areas: the new Terrain system, adding to the Enact Tool and User Interface functionality.
The Terrain, as promised, is a big project, and it will not be completed quickly. On the other hand, it continues to progress at a satisfactory rate. The team who builds the Trident3D engine did run into some issues with some artifacts in lower zoom levels of detail during the wind and erosion phases of the terrain generation. They abandoned the previous algorithms and wrote a new system to solve these issues.
In addition, the new algorithm calculates the water speeds around the world while carving in the rivers, waterfalls, lakes, cascades, rapids, etc. The means that the data for the water to use is already in place so that we have realistic flowing water, with eddies, rapids, currents, etc. These will affect both the visual of the game water as well as the interaction (if you jump in, you are affected by the water current, etc.).
Next up for the Terrain is polishing the water and wind erosion system . At that point we will be able to generate all the Biomes (terrain types), based off of all our earlier calculations of weather patterns, slope, average rainfall, average sunlight, temperature, seasons and much more.
In tool programming progress continues on NPC behavioral controls and Level Designer functions.
In game design we have continued to refine the user interface to make it easier to understand and use. The Uber ability system has seen some tweaks that now allow players to move a previously placed ability within the League and Tier to a different Uber ability allowing for changes to their character up until the ability is actually earned. Flying mounts have always been under consideration, but we recently made the call to include them in the game.
We anticipate getting the new Terrain functional this year (though not finished). This is the critical and final piece of R&D, after which we can finally get to a playable version of the game for testing. Though progress continues in many areas, all these pieces cannot be melded until the new Terrain system is functional. Each week we get updates from the Trident3D team and see further progress toward that end.