Saurian DevLog #66
I want to open this week’s DevLog by welcoming our new programmer Syri to the team. He would have introduced himself but he is, in his words, “good at technical writing, not people writing.” Syri specialises in network programming as well as AI, and we are super happy to have him on the team.
Since we released the last patch, I've finally been free to get back to work on the refactor required for implementing Triceratops' more involved social life. This involves writing a centralized manager for all social groups that allows for easier access for cross-referencing, lookup, etc., while the previous (hastily assembled) system allowed animals to keep their own, private records of group composition. It has also meant expanding on the generic, rule-based settings system for defining group composition and allowing for multiple types of groups within the same species--age-segregated subadult herds vs. adult-child herds in Triceratops, for example. While I haven't finished any of this, it is far enough along that the animals are successfully organizing into groups based on the given constraints, as seen here:
Above, you can see the result of dropping a bunch of Triceratops into the world together: red lines connecting members of an adult-child herd, blue lines connecting members of a subadult herd, and a single, lone, adult male who was unable to fit into either of the other existing groups based on their composition rules. The centralized group approach is going to make it much easier to share information between group members, which is essential to our plans for fleshing out social coordination and group dynamics. While I've been taking my time on this part of the system since it's foundational for much of the remaining parts (and therefore I need to get as much right on the first pass as possible), the next steps will be a bit more exciting -- adding in intra-group communication, group dynamics, and all the behavior that accompanies them. I hope to be showing those off soon. Fingers crossed!
I have continued working on animations for Triceratops and Pectinodon, the latter of which I will be showing off today as we’re in to the dull nitty-gritty stuff for Trike, like turning animations and various stand-to-sit-to-sleep transitions.
Here is one of several idle animation variants I did for Pectinodon. When I was looking for inspiration for this fella I ended up gravitating towards the shoebill stork. As a large-headed, leggy, predatory bird, this fella really has the vibe I was looking for.
While looking at videos of these guys I found one with a preen (self-grooming) that I really liked and was interested in trying to replicate. This turned out to be quite difficult, as getting the neck to bend that way naturally was a task. I think I managed to make it work though, and I ended up pretty proud of this animation. I also think its only fitting that we have this dinosaur use its teeth in this way as the name Pectinodon does mean “comb tooth.”
I have so far enjoyed coming up with threat displays for the various animals so far. Pectinodon’s has a little backstory though. When doing sketches for the art book (still available here), friend-of-the-project Richard “Pickle” Hein asked me what behaviour he could depict Pectinodon doing. I suggested a threat display, with some pictures of owls for inspiration and he came up with the lovely illustration to the right here.
I thought it was only right to convert this into the full-blown threat display animation for the animal. I couldn’t get the pelvic hackles to stand up as Pickle drew them because Jake didn’t give them any controls but I think it gets the point across. I also made sure it went along with the excellent threat sounds that Xico made for Pectinodon but you’ll have to wait for a later date for those.
I’ve been doing more animations for Trike and Pecti too. Like Tom said most of the Trike animations have been pretty boring. After the locomotion which I’ve been putting on Twitter, I went ahead and did this drinking animation. I would have done more but Henry gets insecure when I don’t play video games with him when he wants.
Our header screenshot this week is by community member Terraseninian. For our community spotlight I had to shout-out Discord member Andy for this awesome Ankylosaurus war club! He’s planning to paint it Saurian colours too, and we’re super excited to see the finished product!