Talking about hair models and physics

Latest update from Heroic Games regarding their hair models:
We'd like to give a quick update regarding where we are on the idea of adding new hair models. We added a new, highly skilled artist to the team and he is working on hair models for us, beginning with the transfer of the hair models from Paragon (very nice free assets provided by EPIC Games to their community). We have grabbed those assets, converted them to our standards, and also now have LODs for them.
The next step, which is underway right now, is to adapt them to our models, add the collision features and bone physics we want to employ (which we are creating from scratch), and then to test the resulting hair models in SoH.
We've begun testing, and of course appearance is the first issue. They do look good by the way.  :)
We also need to fine tune the physics, and the collision issues, and make sure we can easily afford the models within our FPS goals. That is not done yet, but it is all looking pretty good as we move forward. Our current selections for this system seem to be delivering a big improvement in FPS compared to APEX physics, which was our prior system, from 2017.
We still need to pull it all together in the game (the assets are not pushed to the real SoH yet, they are in testing), and settle a few things, and also make sure we like the color options for hair. But it is coming along quite nicely.

 This update, and the community's comments are on this thread on the official forums, and there's an associated older thread talking about hair choices.

Apotheosis City - latest look

Here's a couple of images posted on the official forum showing the latest view of part of Apotheosis City. The area certainly isn't flat, offering many points to jump onto unsuspecting bad guys (or be jumped on!) and plenty of interesting areas high up providing landing pads, etc. This is starting to look like a really interesting place to explore.



There are some more on the forum.

Mission Difficulty Sliders!

Here's an interesting post by Consultant on the official forum...

We are working on the code for missions, and this reflects our plan for the mechanics of how missions should work. I thought that perhaps we should start describing what we have in mind so that all of you can weigh in before we settle on this approach. Each of these factors is more less independent from the others.

First we still plan to let characters set their difficulty level for most missions, so if you are level 20 you should be able to dial the level of the mission up or down and get level 21, or level 19 enemies to fight. And perhaps a few more levels as well.

Next we also intend to allow characters to affect (perhaps with a slider) the composition of enemy mobs. So you want more trash mobs? Fine by us. More lieutenants, bosses and maybe an Arch-Villain? Again fine by us.

Enemies need to scale to the size of the hero team, so a mission that has a solo hero obviously needs to spawn fewer enemies and lower level enemies than the same mission being played by a team of 10 heroes.

These factors do all interact, and we are planning this out right now, in detail. And some mission types begin at higher levels of difficulty than others. So any given mission can deliver a totally different player experience, depending upon how the player makes his selections and forms his team (or does not form a team).

So we'll basically be able to choose our own level of difficulty. They really are going all out to make this as friendly to play as possible. If you have any comments about this, hop over to the forum to add your voice ;)

Upgrade to Unreal Engine version 4.21

Heroic Games have announced an upgrade to version 4.21 of the Unreal Engine they're using to develop and run their new MMO, Ship of Heroes. You can read all about the benefits offered by this new engine on their website.

Also last year, was the release of an enormous amounts of assets by Epic Games which developers can use as a base for their own creations. Some of the hairstyles have been shown by Heroic Games - it's worth noting though, that these can't just be copied to Ship of Heroes, a lot of work is required to modify them to fit the new character models used in SoH.




Here's part of the newsletter, copied verbatim:
Our skilled coders and artists have done engine upgrades many times before, and we usually take a moment and tell all of you what the advantages on the new version are going to be.  And once again, we’re going to provide the top-level summary, but moving from 4.18 to 4.21 means that we have integrated over 400 improvements into the game code, many of which are visible to our dev team but are not visible to our players.  Some of the most important upgrades that you’ve be able to see or hear us discussing and reacting to are the following:

  •     Dynamic Resolution supports linking resolution to FPS for console games made in UE. We are not building a console game, and we already have a custom version of this feature coded and working in SoH, but having DR as an engine feature helps us optimize.
  •     Advances to the Niagara FX system in terms of realism. It’s possible that we may use both Niagara and PopcornFX in our FX, depending upon the situation, so this gives us options, including with powerset creation.
  •     We can pull the art and FX assets that Epic gave to the community from their game, Paragon, and re-use or re-create them in our MMORPG. While the costumes from Paragon are not directly useable in Ship of Heroes, they do give us advanced 3D concept art to work with, and also some really cool hair models (that we still need to extract and optimize for our purposes).
  •     The Replication Graph feature allows a significant reduction in server work for the kind of instanced missions that will be our bread and butter. We still need to code this capability specifically to our game, as it does not deliver results “out of the box.”  This is a tool specifically designed for high-volume multiplayer games.  Thank you, Epic!
  •     The introduction of the Proxy LOD system in version 4.19 is an extension of their Hierarchical LOD system, the system we use to help reduce draw calls and improve LOD performance over long range. This will be an especially welcome improvement during some of our Beta events later this year.
  •     In Epic’s 4.21 version of their Unreal Engine, they added a feature to detect and mitigate DDOS attacks. While we will need some time to figure out how to integrate it with SoH, we believe that this may ultimately improve both the security and performance of the game during a potential DDOS attack. Of course, we hope we don’t ever need such a thing, but historically DDOS attacks have taken down MMOs before and we would prefer to avoid the experience.
  •     Finally, Epic has given us a year’s worth of bug fixes, LOD enhancements, animation improvements, Sequencer upgrades, and debugging tools that our dev team is looking forward to adding to SoH.

Over 10000 accounts registered on the SoH forum!

Another milestone reached, over ten thousand registered accounts on the Ship of Heroes forum in two years. As Consultant said on his thread, that's pretty good for a team of mostly volunteer developers making a new MMO...

Ship of Heroes - Post Holiday Video

  • Ship of Heroes has released its second annual Christmas video highlighting a future holiday event in-game: fighting winter-themed seasonal monsters. Those looking carefully will notice that the flashing presents from the 2017 Christmas video are still in use in this year’s build. This video was released a week late because the devs conducted a series of login tests on December 15 th with several hundred supporters, and that pushed back production of the holiday video.
  • This time, a team of seven heroes defends the city. There is one tank and six ranged damage-dealers, two of whom can also heal. Civilians run away from the invading monsters as the heroes run in to fight them. Nice touch!
  • This video shows several new game mechanics. First are waves of extradimensional monsters invading the FHS Justice. Each wave spawns once enough of the previous wave has been defeated by the heroes. The video also shows brand-new temporary power-ups called infusions being used in-game. Finally, players can now buy infusions; this is the first time we have seen vendors working in Ship of Heroes.
  • This Christmas video is the conclusion of a big year for the SoH development team. They’ve conducted a major combat Alpha in Q1 and a hugely successful set of login tests in Q4, allowing 200 real players and supporters from the community to run around inside Apotheosis City for the first time.
  • Ship of Heroes has now published 26 videos over the last two years, showing the steady construction and expansion of the MMORPG. One of the hidden benefits of this process is that we can go back and look at any of their prior videos, even the very first one, and see how their game prototype is evolving in an extremely focused manner. These devs understand project management, and are illustrating their development philosophy of “build excellence, then expand it.”
  • The devs at Ship of Heroes are also asking their community to make donations directly on the SoH website, as a beta is now in the offing for the end of 2019, plus several additional events that the donating community can participate in. The video was sent to more than 10,000 newsletter and YouTube subscribers, and contains a soft appeal to help the self-funded indie developers at Ship of Heroes to achieve their goals.

Ship of Heroes has planned multiple events open to their community for the coming year, and is currently scheduling a Beta launch at the end of 2019.
 
You can see the video on Youtube - https://youtu.be/fHJuoFohhYI