Illuvium Dev Blog — June 2022
June was one of those months that was quiet on the outside while frantic on the inside. I think sometimes the community gets used to more interaction (way more than they get anywhere else) and considers that normal. Then when we go into lockdown mode, they think nothing is happening. It’s understandable, but not the case. We’re still focused on many projects, so sometimes, it will feel like there isn’t much progress when it’s spread across many areas.
We’ve committed to reducing the number of projects for this very reason. It allows us to focus better and gives the community a more steady output of information.
Nowhere was this seen more than with the Forge. Though the community asked for a solution to the things that it solves, it came out of Left Field. There have been many conspiracies about it, but none are true. We were unsure we could get it done in time, and we didn’t want to say, “we will have this done before June, all your problems are solved”, and then have it turn up late. While there was a vocal minority against it, had we missed that deadline, there would have been a vocal majority. So when we managed to get it done faster than projected (hooray us), the community were surprised, and many rejected it. We’ll now wait to see what adjustments it requires before working on it. I’m still adamant that deploying it would have been better overall, but if it hurts community confidence, it isn’t worth it.
Even at our least transparent, we still put out an IIP, had weeks of robust discussion, and then shelved it to ensure it met community expectations. We continue to strive to be better all the time, but this is an area where I think we are already best-in-class.
PB2 has taken longer than we wanted. But the positive note is that the core engine is the hardest for us to build. It’s worth it because it front-loads so much of our effort. Too many new systems are being implemented to release these features as patches. They must be in larger chunks, which means longer times between betas. Rest assured this cadence increases over time. Eventually, we will reach our goal of not requiring ANY human code for a patch. The AI balancer will drive it.
I often question if it was worth it doing it this way rather than the traditional functional approach that is faster but requires constant maintenance. Whenever I do, I return to our original idea of being the first genuinely decentralised gaming DAO.
That doesn’t even factor in the gaming and structural benefits we gain from doing it our ways, such as much higher reliability, lower ongoing costs, the replay system, and many other features. You’ll see a genuinely CINEMATIC auto battler that’s entirely data-driven and deterministic. Sometimes the thing that gets you up in the morning is the sheer audacity of what the team is building. Take that away, and I don’t know where we would be. I know I’d be less interested.
The Combat Engine will continuously improve, but we are close to version 1.0.Survival Mode Rules are all completed, including Checkpoints, Interest and Drone Health.NOTE: Drone Health will probably be a later patch. It’s working on the client but could be a casualty on the server.Instanced data, meaning we are soon ready to load real NFTs with data rather than using generic data.Augments. These aren’t your standard “gain ten health”. These are fully functional, complex interactions that happen to run via tiny bits of data. In Beta, they might not “wow” you all the time because there are bound to be some improvements, but one day they will be so frictionless that new players will take them for granted. But you’ll know how much effort went into them.Bonding. Such a simple mechanic, but with such complex ramifications. Pick an Illuvial, and bam. Your Ranger now has a Class and Affinity upgrade for the battle. This will ensure Composite Synergies are much more impactful. It’s the very definition of “easy to understand, hard to master”.A better Server / Client paradigm. Our backend team is small and impressive. In an average game company, they need to interact with a smaller subset of systems. At Illuvium, they touch everything. And they are getting it done robustly. In the last few days, you would have seen some downtime. I know this annoys people, but it’s necessary if we want to build as fast as possible. Don’t worry, though. They will be your favourite people you never knew existed.The Red Panda community Illuvial is halfway done, and all other Illuvials are close to completion, artistically. Super exciting. There are many different tasks in the Overworld for the art team, so being able to divert some extra resources to them will accelerate progress.Shard UI for all the new Tier 0 and Lynxs is complete. You’ve seen them in leaks, but they are so gorgeous in-game. If ever you want to make someone bullish on Illuvium, show them a Tier 0 and say, “this is the free content”. There is NOTHING in the blockchain space that goes even remotely close to the artistic quality of Tier 0s… and they are free. Think about it.All music and sounds are complete for PB2. The combat music syncs seamlessly between phases of play, and the Illuvials sound amazing. If you don’t have a good pair of headphones, get them.A cleaner connection between the Visualisation and the Simulation. I’ve mentioned this previously, but the Simulation that runs the Combat Engine is near instantaneous. The battle finishes, and THEN you get to see it, which has its challenges. And we’ve hired people to work on improving it. Some future updates include Attack Retargeting (if you can no longer punch your enemy in the face, punch their neighbour), fatigue (Illuvials should look beaten as they lose health), smoother movement paths, and better blending between animations. We’re already quite good, but the long-term goal is that every battle looks like a cinematic.
There are some delays here, too, due to resources allocated to Arena. The community widely praised the video we leaked, but internally we’ve been looking to improve it.
We have already received feedback and have an idea for making the Overworld more dynamic. You’ll love it. (This new idea is something we plan for after Public Beta, but before we create v1.0 of the game)
Harvestable Plants — These have all been integrated and work well, but we’re still working to improve them.The capture flow (one of the most critical parts of the game) is the last thing we need to finalise before releasing the Overworld. Only some of the team work on this so that the rest will continue to ad features.Drone Pathfinding was reworked to be smoother and more efficient. Some might not see this as necessary, but when you know what we have planned for later, you’ll understand why M0z4rt had to put on his Pants of Agility.The dev team added deconstruction via the Zero Point Forge. A simple idea, but brilliant. It allows us to homogenise many systems while giving the player many options. When you upgrade your stuff from Stage 1 to Stage 3, it will feel the same as when you fuse Illuvials. I wish I had thought of it.Drone Attachments. You’ll want to get some sweet upgrades for your drone. So either work for it or splash some cash on the work someone else has already done. Oh, and new Attachments are coming that we hope will get some explosive feedback.Animation. The new movement system is a massive upgrade.We are reworking the Ranger movement.We are adding more animations to give the player more interest in the world.Research into mapping the Arena animations to the Overworld. (Edit: Done)Signature Moves for Illuvial capture.Concept. The team from the future. They kick off every project, and they are running out of work. Don’t worry; we’ve got plenty for them to do, but not on Arena or Overworld. That should tell you we’re close.Crystal Shores and Shardbluff Labyrinth are mostly done.Capture flow ideation complete.Modelling. Work continues on the 1000000 models and textures required to bring the game to life.Environment. We hope you enjoy the atmosphere. Some have said that Crimson Waste feels a bit lonely. It’s that way for a reason. We’re not saying what you’ve seen is complete because it definitely will gain some dynamism, but the FEEL of each region is meant to strike you. It isn’t complete if you don’t chill out in Halcyon Sea or stress out in Shardbluff.Halcyon Sea and Taiga Boreal blackouts are near complete.Brightland Steppes and Abyssal Basin are close to finishing the first pass of set dressing.Sanctum Mesa town block-out is complete. Set dressing next.Asset audit. Someone has to organise it!
The art overhaul is well underway and looking great. We’re in the final stretch to get this ready for you.
Art. We continue to work our way through each region, upgrading the quality. New hires have helped the speed, but sometimes it’s just a matter of things taking time to perfect.Mechanics. The man, Johnny, will take a peek and help the team with the final push. Anyone who remembers how well the land sale did can largely thank Johnny. Everything we do is a team effort, but sometimes having a great captain helps. And I’m confident that things will speed up.Game Design. Don’t sleep on how hard this game is to design. Other games don’t have a split free/paid option where people spend thousands to access the paid version. It does impact the balance. We want things to be rapid, but at the same time, if everyone can build an entire city instantly, then it will lose a bit of the magic. I’m thrilled with the mini-games of the mini-game, such as finding the right balance of structures, upgrades, and tweaks to efficiency.Ideation for Suits and Drone Blueprints went better than we could have dreamed. We’re on to a winner.
The frontend team added some extra features in preparation for Illuvitars. Plus some quality of life upgrades.
Transfer to other wallets.Bug fixes
The primary focus of the web team now lies here. We want to implement this sale as smoothly as possible, just like the land sale. We need to do more work on the reveal and show the community the value added by the Album and Collections feature.
EDIT: Those low-level design changes I talk about below are complete, and you should see a new IIP shortly with the changes. They are just big enough that I think we should ask the community.
The major infrastructure to run the sale is complete.The bonding workflow is well underway. We use this same bonding flow for most of the game, so getting this done kills two birds with one stone.Illuvitar reveals animation improvements are underway.A few low-level design changes that I can’t go into must be done before the sale starts. Most of the delay is here. Once it is confirmed and implemented, we should be ready to go.Album and Collections, with leaderboards. It won’t be available at launch, but when you see it, you’ll flip… pages! (I’m allowed one dad joke per month)
Glow Production started work. They have updated the storyboard, and some new story ideas have come out of those sessions. The cinematic is a long-term project, lined up more for the full release than the Open Beta. I don’t know how long it will take, but I know it will be the best.
CGI work started.The new storyboard is complete, and we will merge it with features from the old one.
I’ve removed a few products from this update since nothing remarkable has been done, and most resources are on other projects. People often ask us: “Why did you do X when you need to do Y?!?”. Well, that’s because we have different teams with different skills. The Forge App required two people out of more than 200. And neither of them is good at building games or art. But they are excellent at building Web3 Apps. People forget just how large in scope our project is. If I could go back in time and narrow it, I might because barely anyone understands how much work goes into everything. But in the long run, it puts us in a position where no competitors are willing to follow.
Two new writers. One for narrative and one for bios.Illuvium: Zero story updated, including Illuvial Facts.Cranking through the Illuvial Bios.Reworked some of the more prominent story points for Chapter 3. (Aaron wants a love story, will he get it? Tune in next month for more Tales of Illuvium)
Our infrastructure continues to mature, which helps the entire dev team.Our systems’ robustness is far more extensive than others in the blockchain space and traditional game studios. We still have our issues, no doubt. And we will continue to tackle them, but I’m proud of the team and what they accomplish each month.
We are behind where we wanted to be, for sure. But an issue with pushing to go too fast is that we end up with a more brittle project that, ironically, takes longer to build. So the teams have spent a bit more time working through tech debt, documentation, communication, and general planning to ensure our estimates are accurate and the products are of the quality we expect. I can’t give specific dates, but I will provide a rough order of release:
PB2 (Arena) → Illuvitars → PB2 (Overworld) → Illuvium: Zero Alpha → Game Loader (needs a name, I want “Singularity”.
And somewhere dispersed in the other releases will be the Dao Dashboard, The Content Gallery, a new Website, and (maybe) Forge.
And then, we can move on to the project’s entire purpose: Hearts Ablaze.