A happy and horrifying Halloween to all of our lovely creatures of the night out there. Let’s celebrate with another dev update!
Today we thought it might be nice to give everyone a window into the various things we’re working on. Each team from art, to gameplay, to worldbuilding, to us at marketing, has been pushing full-throttle to get the game into a state we’re happy with for testing and beyond! With this update, you’ll get a little glimpse of some of the bits and pieces of what we’re working on and maybe offer an idea of how our various teams weave their projects together.
Art and Worldbuilding
One of our concept artists, Viktor, has been working on a sub-biome for the Cursed Forest! They’re calling this area “The Swamp Lands.” This area is largely reminiscent of the Cursed Forest but with deep puddles of nasty swamp water, bugs, and nasty critters. Stalking through the mire, you’ll find the rotting remains of beasts that have been lured down into the foul waters of the swamp and now have fluorescent mushrooms growing out of them, signaling that danger might be lurking around every corner. There are these big roots that almost seem like tentacles from some horrible monster that is slowly climbing out of every pool. We wanted lots and lots of brambles in this area, so a challenge we’re tackling now is to find the sweet spot between lots of cool, ominous roots and also have good readability.
A concept paint over of The Swamp Lands.
One of our producers and resident loremasters, Max, has been collaborating with the art team to expand on some of the denizens of the swamps, witches! The witches of the Cursed Forest are primal beings, magically able to twist nature to their own corrupt purpose. To this end, like most sentient creatures, they use this power to craft their homes. Their dens are a mix between the resilience of nature and the corrupt magics and rituals of their terrifying residents.
“They shape their nests from the trunks of great trees and decorate them with occult symbols, bones, flowers, and sometimes even the limbs from whatever prey they’ve captured.”
Concept paint over of a gnarled, old witch’s hut.
Animation and Visual Effects
In animation, we checked in with Albin, our technical animator! Albin told us that he’s primarily working in Unity to make animation implementation easier for the other animators on the team, as well as coming up with solutions for making our characters move more smoothly and gracefully. However, that isn’t all he does. He went into a bit of his process for one of his own recent animations for us! In animating this burrowing rat, he started with what artists refer to as ‘blocking,’ which nails down the overall pose and silhouette. They’ll then go on to animate the joints and limbs to add motivation to the motion and add a bit of personality. Finally, there are the details like the claws curling into the ground and the ears flopping. They are little things that add realism and character to the gestures.
“For this one, I wanted the tail going into the ground to kind of resemble someone slurping a strand of spaghetti.”
‘Blocking’ of rat animation on the left, finished animation on the right.
Adrien, our VFX artist, has been hard at work refining the visual effects that really enforce that vampire feel. While this mission covers everything from the shiny quicksilver swooshes of the sword to the brutal dusty slam effects of our massive two-handed maces, Adrien went into a little bit more depth about the visual identity of the vampire itself.
“Because we deal with a vampire, its identity is quite obviously attached to blood and shadow. So you might recognize a vampire’s core abilities by its wine red and black voluptuous shapes. My goal is to evoke a feeling of elegance along with a strong sense of power so that the player really feels like a noble vampire.”
One of Adrien’s most recent projects is the Blood Well that supports your castle, one of the most important pillars of your vampire journey. While the visuals of the Blood Well used to be fairly static, thanks to our VFX guru’s efforts, there’s now a completely visual representation of how full it is.
The Blood Well, empty to filled.
Aleksandria Migova, composer of Battlerite and Battlerite Royale soundtracks, makes a reappearance in V Rising producing music for both the game and trailers. Just in time for Halloween, she’s been working on giving The Cursed Forest an extra layer of spooky intrigue! Here’s a little treat for you all in the form of a preview:
“I wanted to create an ever-changing atmospheric journey that communicates both the claustrophobic feeling of The Cursed Forest and tells the stories of its strange inhabitants.”
Gameplay Design and Technology
The gameplay and tech teams have made some pretty significant leaps in defining our ‘road’ system on the map. While this may sound pretty simple on its surface, the idea of roads is more than just the cosmetic dirt and cobblestone paths that run from one side of the map to the other, but an integral gameplay system! Our Creative Director Martin (you may remember him from Dev Blog 6!) expanded on this a bit.
According to Martin, these road systems are a series of interconnected individual points throughout the map that our non-player characters (NPCs) and game systems recognize. We can connect these points to create road systems with different traits. Some traits might be creating reliable thoroughfares that players can’t grief by building on to block travel or pathways for our NPCs to traverse.
While we certainly had things like NPC patrols before, they were contained within individual ‘chunks’ (see Dev Blog 4 for more information on how chunks work!) and were fairly limited. Now our patrols can be global! This opens up avenues for all sorts of interesting interactions, not just for wandering unique creatures to be found over wider areas within the world, but also things like patrolling boss monsters. There are even now way more avenues for our NPCs to interact with each other. Different factions of NPCs like bandits and militia guards might cross paths and get into skirmishes. You may happen upon one of these fights, or even the aftermath of them getting unlucky enough to run into a boss themselves!
The aftermath of a skirmish between a bandit and militia patrol.
Filippa, our junior technical artist, has been hard at work piecing all the maths and visuals together to generate minimap visualizations of our roads. She was nice enough to take the time out and describe the process to us.
Adding roads to the minimap is done by traversing a network of connected nodes in order to create a mask texture that will later be used to color the roads in the final minimap. We gather the nodes and connections, then construct lines between connected nodes in a texture by determining if the pixel is within a ‘road width’ distance of the lines. This gives us the mask to colorize. After we have the mask, we then color the roads, apply an outline and combine it with the rest of the minimap using a compute shader… and we’re done! So what you might have thought was a hand-drawn representation of the map is actually a perfectly accurate simulation.
“Hopefully, these roads will help you in navigating the world to find your next
The process of generating the road from node map, to mask, to finished visualization.
Meanwhile, in Marketing…
The marketing team had a hectic but super fun time releasing the long-awaited V Rising gameplay trailer. We’re beyond grateful for every view, comment, share, and like from you guys, and we’re blown away by the 1.5+ million views (ours and IGN’s upload). By the side of the actual trailer, we worked with some big content creators and streamers to get the word out about the game, running various ads and making sure our press release found its way to media outlets all around the globe.
There were 175+ articles published, and, on top of that, we sent 2 million newsletters, ensuring that no one in our community missed out on the trailer. We also updated playvrising.com, and our art director Johan Wahlbäck did a stellar job with our new key art, showing off our poster-boy vampire, while our senior concept artist Johan Aronson helped us with polishing and putting together assets for the campaign.
Overall a successful and important push for V Rising, which more than doubled our sign-ups and wishlists, bringing us up to currently number 64 most wish-listed upcoming games at Steam: https://steamdb.info/stats/mostwished/.
Key Art by Johan Wahlbäck; Logo Design by Johan Aronson
How about that beta?
We know you guys have been eager for more news on the beta, and with only a few months left in the year, we thought now might be a good time to update you guys on where we’re at with that. Currently, we plan to start a very limited closed beta test this year to get the necessary data for our initial adjustments before scaling it up next year. After that, we’ll be gearing up for the paid early access release, a date we will set in 2022, so if you don’t happen to get into either phase of the closed beta test, fear not! Unlike the noble vampire, your wait will not be eternal.
It’s been a great month, with lots of progress on the back end and lots more to introduce when we can start gathering feedback later on this year. With the path ahead of us clearer than ever and our work set out for us, it’s going to be an exciting time at the Stunlock Studios offices for the foreseeable future. Happy Halloween, and don’t forget to follow us on our socials down below for more V Rising news and updates!
Wishlist V Rising on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1604030/V_Rising/
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://www.stunlock.com/newsletter
Join The V Rising Discord Server: https://discord.gg/bsSgmhMVSe
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V Rising Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vrisinggame/
Lots of love and a pint of blood,
/The Marketing Team