Posted by on August 25th, 2014

Greetings!

It’s just about that time again, and we are preparing to launch some major content and engine updates… New terrain system, performance enhancements, predators, apothecary, alchemy, and more in development.

The Awesome News/Update:

We are in the final testing phases for the next update, which should be ready to go really soon. But we have a way to get you guys access to even MORE broken things, much faster than the traditional update schedule. These “Indev Builds” will go up quite a bit more frequently and will be all kinds of not working sometimes, but it will let you all see what we are working on, as we are working on it. This way, we can take what we have from these “Indev Branches”, and push to the main game, as it becomes more stable.

So, what’s coming in the next update?

Crafting refinement
Item and objects durability now take effect. What does this mean? You can hit trees with a rock but you’ll have to use a whole bunch of rocks, or you can craft a crude axe and chop it down in a few swings. The choice is yours.

Tool tips & Name Plates
Tool tips are back and refined so you can see durability/health status of objects now. Oh yea! Name plates!

Predator
We showed you the art concepts about 6 weeks ago. Now they are in the world of TUG. We cannot guarantee your safety any more as we accumulated over 1000s of deaths just testing it. Good luck!

Apothecary
Early stages of apothecary are in the next update. The Pumpkin cauldron and everything needed to make the potions are in.  With an important one, you’ll need to consume to sprint your way out of danger. There are 5 potions being added, but we will leave it up to you to figure out what they do.

Mod Support
We have exposed more of our API engine and it is now easier than ever to mod. Mods can now be installed by simply copying it to your mod directory. More information will be posted on our forums soon. Be sure to check out the Eternus API here.

In The Works:
Here are the latest work in progress videos if you missed it.

Apothecary and more

Hostile Predator

Potions and Predator

Alchemy & Terrain Gen v2

The Not-So-Awesome News, but added typical PR spin to negate potential rage!

The new terrain is NOT going into the main build with this update, HOWEVER since we are going to be pushing “Indev Builds” out, as well as this major update, you guys will be able to explore the new terrain and see what is going on. And as usual, you guys are free to stream and post videos on this branch as well, we just ask that you make it VERY clear that you are working off an exceptionally unstable build we use to work from, internally.

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Importantly, you guys rock (OMG did we just say that?) and thank you for supporting TUG and Nerd Kingdom. We will try to make sure these news and updates are out more frequently (bi-weekly).

Shoot us an email at [email protected] if you still haven’t claimed your TUG early access key on Steam. They have been sent out since April :-p

To follow our development go to our 2014 Dev Board on Trello
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Join our circle on Google+ here.

If you think we have not done a TERRIBLE job so far, please share our project and news with your friends. As usual, every penny earned in Alpha and Beta goes right back into development.

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Posted by on August 21st, 2014

TUG multiplayer is in development and it is a high priority for the Nerd Kingdom team to deliver it to our players in the upcoming months. Tim and Cameron are our two wizard coders focused on making multiplayer happen!

It’s currently 3am. I am sitting at IHOP because my AC is out and my apartment is a sweltering 87F! Gotta love the Texas summers. So what better way to pass the time unable to sleep but to tell you guys a bit more about multiplayer in TUG!

Tim Ullrich and I have been crazy busy getting Eternus ready for an expansive and fully capable networking component to support you and your friends in the same environment, building, farming, and hunting those poor innocent goats together. However this is not a simple process and believe me when I say that we have a lot of work to do.

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As most of you know, TUG already has a multiplayer component in it. So why are we replacing this? There are two reasons. The first is so we can merge the other powerful Eternus components better through a multiplayer environment which will allow for us, the NK team, to expand the engine much more easily in the future (which let’s us deliver more content to you faster). The second reason is to give the modders a vastly more capable and expansive setup to truly code for the server and client. The road to get Eternus where we want it to be with multiplayer is going to be bumpy and will be developed over the course of several public updates, each one giving you guys more and more functionality and efficiency.

This first phase of multiplayer in TUG that we plan on delivering to you has 4 major sub-phases on our end that Tim, myself, and the rest of the NK team need to complete before it’s releasable to you.

The first sub-phase that we are currently working on is gutting the current network code out of Eternus and porting over some TUG game play elements that relied on that networking code to get the game back to simply single-player. As of this blog we are making very good progress so far!

The second sub-phase, which will require the most work, will be to fully centralize the current game’s state in one easily expandable container that will open us up for client and server synchronization later on. We dub this the “World State Controller”. This will change a lot of core components in Eternus, but won’t cause any regression of current capabilities. We are essentially just giving Eternus a supercharged face-lift to help expand its beauty even further!

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The third sub-phase is to take the new World State Controller and implement the key piece you guys are all waiting for! The goal of this phase is to start synchronizing the “World States” between the client and server. This means when you kill a goat with a spear or dig a hole with a shovel, the data is propagated through the network in a smooth and efficient manner. The new World State Controller will easily give us the ability to develop authorities on certain game play events depending upon if you are the server or client. Once the fundamental networking core is in place and connections are made, then game play code can start being rewritten to use the new network and World State Controller architecture!

The last sub-phase is where Tim, myself and the rest of the NK team will test, polish, and tweak everything to get it working just right! Once we are confident that everything is in working order, then we will release multiplayer to the masses!

Right now Tim and I are in the middle of the first sub-phase. We hope to be done with it soon as we are both excited to start tuning Eternus toward getting ready for all your multiplayer desires!

I will try and keep you guys apprised on our progress via Twitter @camfergusondfw

Follow Tim via Twitter @tjullrich

Don’t hesitate to drop me a line via Twitter if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them. I will try to do another blog once we are going strong on sub-phase 3, maybe I will even give a few hints on Phase 2 of multiplayer and what we have planned for the future!

Now it’s time for me me to leave IHOP and go back to the sweat lodge.

Best regards,

Ghost

Cameron Ferguson

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Posted by on August 15th, 2014

An early introduction about TUG’s early magic interactions. How is apothecary and alchemy introduced in the world of TUG?

Thus far in TUG we have seen a lot of beginnings to systems including the crafting, cooking and hunting systems.  Each of these have used a very basic principle in its design, the idea of crudeness and early experimentation.  Now we are entering into another new system, our magic system and it also follows that same design principle of early crude uses with the potential of great refinement as the game progresses.

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What is magic?  In our real world, magic is a universal umbrella covering anything that is misunderstood or not quite explained.  I’m sure several of you have heard the Arthur C Clarke’s third law stating: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  Let’s break down this law a little bit.  When Clarke made that statement, I don’t think he was saying that technology and magic are similar or that all magic is just advanced technology but more of what he meant is that to someone who has never seen a technologically advanced device, its operation would seem like something magical.  When comparing this to how we want magic to operate in the world of TUG, magic is a “shortcut” to powers or abilities that become readily available through more advanced tools and devices as the Seedling’s progress in their technology levels.

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Keeping this in mind, our first forays into the realm of magic are coming in two forms that match up to the Seedling’s crude level of current tools and we have chosen apothecary and alchemy to represent these first forms of magical interactions.  Much like how early human civilizations progressed, the process of gathering roots and herbs veered into creating poultices and crushed concoctions.  Likewise, hunting and cooking meat left bones and other products that could be ground into powders.  

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Potions created through apothecary provide us with our shortcuts to aid in other systems.  From a potion that helps your plants grow faster to a potion that extends the amount of hunger or fuel that the Seedling runs on!  That last one is a perfect segway into discussing our second element of magic, alchemy.

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Alchemy is truly one of humankind’s mystical arts.  Alchemists believed in finding that one transmutation that could turn lead into gold but in TUG our alchemy system is a little more grounded on helping Seedlings find easier routes to goals.  Early alchemy systems in TUG are all about finding a return on investment as well as exchanging one product for another product that will be more useful to the player.  Alchemical experiments can be conducted both in the wild as well as at a crafted station made by the player.  Wild alchemy is a little bit more costly but doesn’t require the Seedling to return to their home base when they really need to make some conversion of resources.  The alchemy table the player can craft doesn’t take as much of a toll and also offers more types of conversion experiments.

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But what is this cost?  While potion making in apothecary is more based on the player’s skill at gathering and brewing up mixes, alchemy is about a new type of interaction with the Seedling and his environment.  Performing magic, even at its most basic comes at a cost.  The Seedling will sacrifice a little bit of his fuel for each alchemical exchange.  This is the price of forcing energy in the world in new and unusual ways.  As magic progresses as well as the Seedling’s technology and understanding, new ways to offset this cost will become available as well as stronger uses for magic.  Exciting new mystical paths will begin to open for the Seedling but every tap into the energy flowing through the world has a cost!   

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Posted by on August 8th, 2014

TUG Animation Information for the Masses

More on planning, with a hint of Predators

Hey all, Skittles here again, and today we are continuing our exploration into Animation in TUG!

Last time we chatted about the my focus on planning, gathering information on restrictions/requirements (like needing things to move at a certain speed or hit on certain frames to keep certain beats), and just overall working with the team so as to get the most of of each animation.  This week, before we get down to the nitty-gritty of taking an animation from planning to something closer to what you see in-game, we are going to chat a bit more on the planning side of things.

After having gotten done determining movement speeds and sound information, the last bit of planning before starting an animation is “how many states will this character/critter have”. Now, to better illustrate this, allow me to use you, dear reader, as part of this example.  You have many states you go through during the day; one of which is sitting, another sleeping, and yet another is walking.  Now for you, you might consider that you right now are just sitting there reading this, while for me, your state is the “sitting” state, and you are performing the “reading” action at this very moment.  Now that I have hopefully illustrated what I mean by “state” , let me proceed with my animation explanation.  After determining the state, I then must conclude what sort of animation it needs to be.  There are two types of animation I tend to use to get the variety of animations we have in game, the animations are either an action, or a loop set.  These two can either be used to transition from one state to another (A), or to simply complete an action and return back to it’s previous state (B).

A.

B.

On top of these two, there is also the determining factor of should this animation be combined with one or more of state’s default animation? If it can, this is then called a mask (both images above use a mask for only applying the animation from the hips up, thus allowing from the hips down to either walk, run, idle, or crouch).  Last, but definitely not least, is the action frame.  The action frame is the frame in which the important piece of the animation takes place: the strike of the weapon, the contact of the pick, etc.  The action frame is something determined and balanced by the game designers, and then it is up to me to take their timing adjustments and make sure I hit the correct timing.

So yeah, with that all in mind, I open my 3D program and load up the rig Shotgun Ninja has so awesomely put together for me, and then go to town.  It is here at the first animation for the character/critter that I choose either to animate the walk, the idle, or the run animation.  Now the idle animation will most likely have the most animations branching from them, but the walk and run cycles give me the chance to explore the personality of the character/critter.  I normally choose to start with the walk, that way I can get into the character’s personality faster and use it to influence the rest the animations.  The predator was a fun one to work on because it needed to be fierce, stealthy, and powerful.  Starting with the stalking animation, I immediately brought his head down so as to give a more ominous feel stealthy feel, while having his tail whip from side to side to show his excitement in the hunt.  I tried to keep his head as centered as the movement of his body would allow, to give the impression of focus and determination.

Alrighty good peoples of the internet, it’s been fun sharing this time with you, but now I must get back to actually putting these tips and tricks into practice and giving yall new animations to play with.  *high five*

… hmm… would a “high five” be loop set or an action… action I think… unless… unless we wanted to have the hand stay up in the air WAITING for another person to participate… Then a loop set it is… the high fiver would wanna be able to move around or stand still, so it has to work with idling, walking, and running… now which hand shall I apply this to… I think the Gem hand, that way the high fiver can still be productive…

Yeah… *waves* bye now!

@Nk_Skittles

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Posted by on July 31st, 2014

Here at Nerd Kingdom we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can empower the community to help create the game they want to play. One important way that we can help do this is by supporting modders with the tools and information they need to author interesting content. Modding is always at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to technology, and we’ve gone to great lengths to build the game with the same modding tools that we will be providing the community.

Though TUG is still in alpha, today we are providing the first revision of our scripting api documentation. You can find them at http://eternusapi.nerdkingdom.com.

We would also like to spotlight some fantastic mods that have recently been created:

Gecko Mod:
Swaps all Goats with Geckos! Written by power modder Sigil.

http://forum.nerdkingdom.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1389
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc7TVbVXH_E

Scripted Bow:
Adds a bow that the player can shoot. Although the Seed might need to learn a thing or two about bow usage. Written by forum user nocare.

http://steamcommunity.com/app/277930/discussions/0/43099722035315667/
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8r7j13g67rfbczd/bow-5.png

Magic Goat Wand:
We have also written a fresh guide, intended to introduce modders to scripted content within TUG via the creation of a simple Magic Wand.

http://forum.nerdkingdom.com/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=1412
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbo-DTXnNzQ

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Posted by on July 17th, 2014

Gameplay is all about decisions.  Designers offer interesting choices in their levels which in turn causes the player to make a decision.  In a shooter, the placement of things such as weapons or ammo elicits the decision by the player to risk their safety to get an advantage over their opponent or the decision on whether they must conserve their shots or freely lay down a shower of bullets on their enemies.

This idea of interesting decisions is what players enjoy about games and gives them a feeling of accomplishment when they have made the right decision or an even greater sense of triumph when the decision leads to even more meaningful decisions.  Even when it is not the player making the decision but merely observing other players or NPCs in the environment making choices, it still leaves people with a sense of wonderment and a more solid grounding in the world the designer is trying to create.  Think of how many times you’ve seen an enemy in a game look broken due to bad AI.  Granted this makes it easy for the player to get an advantage on the enemy but at the same time it breaks down the illusion of the game world.  The suspension of disbelief is broken and the player’s experience is lessened.

AI can never be perfect, nor would we really want it to be.  While seeing huge imperfections in a system breaks the player’s immersion, so does a robotic, systematic pattern.  Human players have imperfections or do things erratically so we would expect our AI NPCs to mimic some of that same level of pattern differentiation.

When working with AI in a system, we want to start off with the basics.  As with any game system a lot of complexity at the start also means a lot of complex bugs to work out as the system is being built.  For TUG, we started prototyping the prey AI first.  This AI system had the easiest set of requirements for the AI to function.  Prey needed to be able to roam its environment, graze or idle and avoid danger, mainly the player.  Our first prey model is the goat.

Goat0.jpg

The goat’s basic AI decisions should all have a meaningful choice behind them.  Deciding whether to graze or roam around is a fairly 50/50 choice.  Neither decision really affects the goat’s well being but can be driven by two factors; am I hungry or am I near danger?  The player represents the goat’s main threat at this stage, so adding in a check for the player’s distance provides an influence on the goat’s decisions.  With this little bit of logic, the goat can begin to make more intelligent choices.  Is the player near me?  I should go into alert and search for the player.  Is the player dangerously near me?  RUN!

Goat1.jpg

Hunger is the other driving influence on the goat.  Adding in a hunger range on the goat influences his choices as well.  Once a goat reaches certain thresholds of this hunger level, his decisions begin to drive him more towards grazing and not just the casual type of grazing but seeking out his favorite foods like crops grown by the player!  Adding in this conflicting type of decision tree, the goat may now override his fear of the threat to satisfy his hunger.  This type of meaningful choice makes the goat’s actions seem more real and adds a level of gameplay for the player.  They can now choose to hunt the goat based on luring it toward food or find ways to prevent goats from destroying a field of crops.

Goat2.jpg

So with a few control points in his decision making we’ve created the prototype for the prey.  The prey can occur in certain biomes which is handled through our generation system, it can wander and graze the land, it actively searches for threats by the player and it has an insatiable hunger for player’s crops.  So now what about the predator?

Well at first glance, it would seem the predator is a whole different beast from the prey.  But with careful analysis, the predator is not that much different in his decision making.  We want the predator to live or at least start off in certain biomes.  We want the predator to actively search for food, in this case, the prey but also the player.  Finally, we want the predator to, well, act like a predator once it has found its prey: stalk the prey and take it down!

So with a few tweaks to the prototyped system in place for prey, we can have the predator searching based on his own hunger meters.  The more hungry, the more actively they search for food.  But also we want an alert system for their decisions as well.  When the player gets too close, the predator would be alerted and immediately switch to his attack phase.  Finally a decision path of what to do when it is hungry and near food would need to be in place, is it stalking the prey or has it closed enough distance to switch into its attack phase.

And with that we now have two AI prototypes that benefit from the same decision trees to make a basic cast of Critters to fill out the world and add to the player’s experience.  Further tweaks to the exposed controls for these systems can add variety and expand on the functionality to create new Critters in the future.  So enjoy hunting goats and watch out for that sneaky predator lying in wait just behind you!

predator0.jpg

 John aka (@x_nekochu_x)

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