Saurian Devlog #56
Hello again, all!
We’ve got some exciting stuff this week, lets jump right into it:
Lets open with a little scientific vindication: you may recall a few devlogs ago we showed off our new Dakotaraptor eggs, which sported a fancy blue shell, based on oviraptorosaurs with similar eggs. Well, a cool new paper on dinosaur egg colours has been published this week showing that Deinonychus also had blue eggs, further supporting our inference!
In addition, the findings of this study should aid us in choosing nest type, egg shape & shell colour in the rest of our playable dinosaurs.
Now, I have been spending most of my time wrangling the art-book together (its very nearly done) and doing under-the-hood game stats, but I’ve also found a minute to dust off the old animation skills. With such a huge list of animations to complete for the game and so much reliant on them being available, we really need all hands on deck to get them done. I hadn’t animated since I was studying computer science in about 2014, but after sitting down with Jake and watching a few tutorials I was soon able to pick it back up again.
My first solo task was to create some flying animations for our resident pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus sp. We wanted to start implementing this guy as a simple AI that flies over the map, with more complex behaviour coming further down the line. All that we needed for this was an idle flight, a “roar”, and a wing flap. The latter can be seen below:
Ignore the missing texture on the feathers, it wont look like that in-game.
Pterosaurs are not my area of expertise, but luckily they are for Mark Witton, and he has written both a book (which I own), and a blog post which explore pterosaur flight. The posture seen in the animation is based on Mark’s reconstructions. In his book he includes a graph plotting pterosaurs and birds by wing aspect ratio/loading to determine flight type. Quetzalcoatlus plots as a thermal soarer. The flight behaviour and wing flapping motion here is based on thermal soaring birds with proportions most similar to Quetz, such as storks.
I've mostly been doing under-the-hood stuff since last devlog--the type that not even the most passionate fan would find interesting--but nonetheless have a couple fun things to show off. First off, I've been writing special defensive behaviors for our new armored friends, Ankylosaurus and Denversaurus. This has required a refactor which tied in nicely to the already-underway damage refactors, and which will allow for implementation of secondary attacks for other animals (Pachy, Trike) in the near future as well. Here is a video showing what happens if you get on the wrong side of an ankylosaur's club:
A few additions you may notice are that Xico's sound effects for aim mode have been added to the newly-refined slow-motion death procedure, physical force is now applied to corpses killed by impact attacks, and transitions from animated models to ragdolls are now much more fluid. All small details, but nice ones nonetheless. Additionally, in case you missed it on Twitter yesterday, I've written a new type of computationally cheap, ambient flying NPCs that will be spawned from now on, giving Hell Creek's skies a little more life. Quetzalcoatlus will be one of them, of course, but so will DePalma's Ornithurine, which will now be seen flocking from time to time. Here's a small video showing off what that will look like; they're pretty high-up, so you may have to look/listen closely:
Lastly, I've improved movement processing on AI significantly since I last wrote here, and expect that y'all will be much happier with how animals move around the world. For example, I have been acutely aware of how the ornithomimids don't feel flighty enough - it has kept me up for many a sleepless night. No more! Check it out:
This improvement will benefit all land animals. The flipside of this is that animals which hunt you will be more efficient at giving chase, so be ready to climb in your youthful Dakotaraptor states. While they're not nearly as flashy, some of these bug fixes and improvements have become equally exciting to me as the upcoming new animals, and I can't wait to get them into your hands.