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Above is a flowchart of how the jousting experience should go . Which will aid in both player comprehension, and development.
How will jousting work in Chronicles of Elyria you ask? Well, there are three implied phases to jousting: approach, aiming, and impact. During the approach phase, players will have the option to enter combat mode or urge their mount on to increase its speed. During the aiming phase, a player can make minor adjustments to the mount's direction and enter the aiming mode to aim where their lance will strike. Players can also clutch their lance to increase its potential to unseat their opponent. Once clutched, players lose the ability to control the majority of their character's movement before impact happens (roughly 1-2 seconds), giving them a brief moment to let the tension build before the lances shatter.
Note that the three phases are logical, and not actual phases. It'll feel like one, seamless experience as players begin their run down the tilt-yard, lower their lance, aim, and strike. Also note that these mechanics are the same in a structured jousting experience as they are on the battlefield, and careful attention has been paid to make sure the mechanics work equally well in both cases.
Next up, we have The Tournament Armory - the group of adventurers in charge of creating the equipment for the knights and steeds - including armor and lance. Technical Art Lead Wiz, Character Artist Irreverent, Art Director Heat, Animator Racronos, and Character Artist Vanimus Prime have assembled to take on these tasks.
The Armory has three main quests we're tracking: they need to create the character and horse armors, the equipment (such as poles and lances), and how the lance breaks and splinters.
We're still defining which armor sets we'll throw on the digital caravan we're bringing to PAX. Until then, above is a look at some of the armor concepts crafted by Heat.
Almost as soon as the jousting idea left the conference room, the Vanguards leapt into action and the first draft of the tiltyard was roughed out in under a week. Because of the efforts of the Society of Elyrian Ecology, representing the biome's flora was quick and easy. Knowing what resources were available in the biome also made it easy to determine the look and feel of the structures and the materials they are made from. In this case, primarily lumber.
Ultimately the length of the tilt (the fence the horses joust along), the distance between the tilt and counter-tilt (the fences that keep the horse running relatively straight), and the collision of everything in the level was led by design and engineering needs, but making it look Elyria Good™ is all up to this group!
After Raevantiel made the ground in the yard muddy, Wiz created mud-splatter VFX that fly off the hooves as the horse trots around. Heat provided paintovers of the tiltyard that showed the home-team's colors and helped to support the narrative of this space: that the tournament grounds are still being set up and the knights are here early to practice. Vandermast has been working like a madman making sound effects for walking or running in the mud, riding the horse, lances impacting shields and armor, all the ambient sounds of the region, and more! Each and every day, the environment for the tiltyard becomes better and better. With still a couple weeks to polish, I'm certain that the level will represent Chronicles of Elyria well.
Some adornments on the helms could also add to the variation, and Heat threw together a few ideas for the party to choose from. These are hot off the presses, so I can't say which of these will make it in for the expo, but you can still get a great idea for the types of adornments we're aiming at including in the launch product.
Those are flower-cup porcupine quills on the fourth helmet, trison horns on the sixth helmet, and ursaphant tusks and fur on the seventh helmet
It's not all about looking cool though. A shield is necessary for a joust as well, and a concept was quickly sketched by Heat and built by Irreverent. The cutout on the shield is a pass-through point for the lance when it has been lowered into position.
Also being worked on is the horse's equipment and its variation. Heat created concepts for the caparison (AKA horse dress) and other equipment that Neran jousters would outfit their mounts with. The first two variants were selected for modeling and, rather than model additional outfits, we thought some different colors of horses would be nicer to have.
Last, but certainly not least, is the lance itself. While jousting in real life has been done in a variety of ways with a variety of weapons, it's not really a tournament without some nice lances to shatter upon the shield of one's gallant opponent. First we needed to make sure we had the right tech to make the lance shatter nicely. It ended up being relatively easy because of the Unreal Engine. Wiz had this prototype up and running in a day.
Heat provided some color variations so the knights would have more flair, which Irreverent is currently working on texturing.
Souzou's basic jousting prototype
Once the prototype of the gameplay felt right mechanically, Souzou and Strider began working diligently on making it feel right aesthetically. If you've followed our previous blogs, you know that we want locomotion to be a great experience. While riding the horse already feels great, spurring one's mount on and aiming one's lance were new opportunities for excellence! A little bit of bobbing on the camera and lance, determining the right camera positioning for each phase, and finding the best way to appreciate the impact with one's opponent have been taking the basic experience to new heights.
Of course, knowing what's going on is helpful too, so we're building some UI to help the experience. While our overall approach to interface design will try be as seamless as possible (favoring spatial, meta, and diegetic styles), our PAX experiences require more traditional, non-diegetic elements to help people master the gameplay quickly and understand the scope of the demo.
I hope this post got you interested in the game if you haven't already been.
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