Spells: Front-End Graphics

It’s finally time for spells to get the treatment and become a regular feature in Daggerfall Unity. I have decided to approach this feature-set in a more visual way than I did the quest system, which involved several months of back-end work before I could even show a single screenshot. This time around, I want the process to follow the visual diary approach from day one to make it more interesting to watch things unfold. This also helps me stay motivated as it’s a lot more fun to hurl around glowing balls of magical death than build a runtime compiler for the quest system.

There will be some more code-oriented articles later in the series, but for now let’s take a look at the front-end graphics of spell-casting animations and missiles.



Before I can do anything else, I have to implement the basic cast/recast loop. Thanks to Lypyl, a baseline spellbook interface is already in the game. It doesn’t have any actual spells yet, just some temp line items, but that’s all we need right now.

I wired up the spellbook to the “cast” key (default is Backspace) so player can select a spell from their collection. It doesn’t matter which “spell” you choose at this point. Just double-click any item to let the game know you’ve selected something.


After selecting a spell, I then had to create the player’s basic spellcasting loop. For non-immediate spells like firing a missile, this hides any weapons and puts player into a ready-to-fire status for that spell. The player will see a message on the screen saying “press button to fire spell.”.


At this point, player can fire spell (press mouse button) or cancel (default is E key). Once the spell has been fired, they can “recast” that spell (default is Q key) or continue attacking with weapons. Most of the work at this stage was around handling when player was about to cast or cancel, when they had a previous spell to recast, and when weapons and other clicks needed to be directed to spell manager. With all that out of the way for now, we can give the player some magic hands.


Casting Animations

The cast anims are stored as a simple left-hand only set of animation frames. They are played from frame 0 through to 5, then 0 again as hand is retracted at end of cast. Here’s how the raw images look as seen by Daggerfall Imaging 2.


These are very similar to the weapon animations, but have a few unique requirements around how they must be scaled and positioned that are quite different to weapons. They’re also a single-frame CIF record format rather than a multi-frame CIF format. Considering how much they diverge from weapons, I opted to create a new FPS animation class to render these for the player and handle their unique requirements. There’s also a few other little twists, like frame 4 (second from right) not being a consistent type in all anims. In the the cast of frost, frame 4 must scale to side of display, but for fire it must be positioned independently like first and final frames.

The final frame is an interesting one as both sides of the anim must meet in the middle while retaining best possible position and scaling under a range of different aspect ratios. This is something classic Daggerfall didn’t have to worry about as it only ran at 320×200 and all the art was designed for that native resolution. This presented me a few problems, but I think these are solved now. To give you an idea how left and right hands join together, here’s an example with the split between each side exaggerated. You can see how the left hand is mirrored to the right and joins in the middle to form the moment of spell release.


After some work, I had all the casting animations working properly. Here’s a loop of each element type in action (direct link)


Spell Missiles

With casting animations done, it’s time to start hurling around glowing blobs of magical death. Well, setup the graphical side at least, these aren’t real spells yet.

Here’s how the fire and cold missiles appear in Daggerfall Imaging 2. The first set of animations are how the missile looks while moving, the second is played when it hits something and the spell is executed.


These were fairly easy to setup, as Daggerfall Unity already has pretty good billboard support. The only problem encountered was making them emissive (appear lit from within and not affected by surrounding lighting). There was a quirk of my texture loading code that detected spell missile textures as windows and blocked the emission. But once that was solved, I was ready to fire missiles around town. I’ve added some basic lighting to the projectile for that extra bit of magic (direct link).


Timing, Origin, Collisions

Now that I can shoot missiles, a few things had to be cleaned up. As one Twitter user pointed out, it looks like the player is shooting missiles from their pants. This is because origin of missiles is the player capsule, and the origin of capsule happens to be waist-height, which is roughly pants territory. This is enhanced when looking up or down as missiles don’t really appear to be coming from the hands themselves.

I setup a delegate event that allows me to time the release of missile with the exact casting frame where it should be released, and I adjust the origin to chest height and handle the facing vector properly. This needed a little bit of tuning as hands cast slightly below centre-point of display (even in classic) so spells don’t appear to go where you’re looking. And if I make origin too high, spell appears higher than casting point which ruins illusion as well. With a little bit of tuning, I found a good balance between timings, origin, facing, and missile radius.

Next I added collision detection. This allows missile to detect when it impacts scenery or an entity like a monster (or even the player themselves). There are two parts to this, first is the direct impact and second is the radius of any area-of-effect spell on that missile. There’s no easy way to show a screenshot of this, but the missile collects a list of every entity it strikes either directly or with AOE so it can hand this back to whatever system initiated the missile. Keeping things abstract like this allows for missile to be used in other ways (like archery) down the road.

And finally, I added the small explosion anim when missile strikes something. Here’s how it looks in action (direct link).

By the way, if you don’t like the lighting or shadow effects on spell missiles, you can turn these off in settings.ini by setting EnableSpellLighting=False or just EnableSpellShadows=False to disable shadows only. Hopefully this will satisfy both classic purists and those who want a little extra shine to their spellcasting. I’m hoping someday there will be spell missile mods to really amp up the visuals with particles, etc. But this early in development, I’m happy with just some basic lighting effects. I’ll show off a few more of these with other element types in later posts.


Putting It All Together

With all the front-end pieces working, I can simulate a magical brawl with some real enemies. There’s no actual damage happening here, because these aren’t real spells yet, but all the import parts are taking place. The player can select a spell, fire/cancel/recast that spell, see their cast animations, and watch the missile explode against the environment or their foes. Internally, any entity struck by the missile or subsequent AOE is collected for later processing when spells get real.

So here’s that magical brawl with one more lighting enhancement, a brief flash of brighter light when spell explodes (direct link).

Now player can hurl missiles around, the work of implementing real spells & effects can begin. My next article in series will take a deeper look at the inner workings of Daggerfall’s spell system and hopefully some first steps towards real spells in Daggerfall Unity.


For more frequent updates on Daggerfall Unity, follow me on Twitter @gav_clayton.

Taverns, Custom Loot, Climbing, Languages, Mod Features

A new round of Live Builds are now available with some great new gameplay and mod features to enjoy.

Tavern Rooms, Food & Drink

Thanks to Hazelnut, it’s now possible to rent a room in taverns. And thanks to Allofich, you can also purchase food & drink for RP purposes. During your tenancy, you’ll be allocated a bed and can use that tavern as a home base. Just talk to any friendly bartender across the Illiac Bay.

Rooms are saved with your character, so if you leave town and return later before your tenancy expires, your room will still be available. This all ties in perfectly with Hazelnut’s world persistence. You can leave loot piles in your room and return later to retrieve them. Just don’t forget to pick up your loot before your room expires or those items become property of the house. No refunds!


Custom Loot Containers

Another Hazelnut feature, and something unique to Daggerfall Unity, is the ability to customise your loot containers. You can now click on the loot container icon (shown in red box below) in your inventory UI while interacting with the container to set a custom icon from a much broader set of icons than normally available.


Use left-click for next icon, right-click for previous icon, and middle-click to change icon group. This feature means you now have some minor customisation over things you leave around your properties, ship, or rented tavern rooms. You can make the icons a bit more meaningful than just a random container, and it’s a great way to add more RP to your game.


New Mod Features

This one is impossible to take a screenshot of, but that doesn’t stop it from being any less awesome. TheLacus, our resident mod-master, has added some generic methods (generics are a way to handle data of any kind) to his asset bundle handling. This allows asset bundles to import more types of content in future and use load order on the mod import UI to handle duplicates.

The first new asset type now available to asset bundles is custom music and sound effects. It was already possible to inject custom sound and music into the game, but this means whole new music mods can be added as a single .dfmod package. TheLacus is also working on movie import for this feature, so one day it will be possible to import new movies from asset bundles as well.

This kind of work is critical to Daggerfall Unity having a vibrant mod community, and we all appreciate TheLacus’ work immensely.



From Allofich we now have Daggerfall’s infamous climbing feature at long last. This works just like classic Daggerfall – face a wall directly and move slowly forwards. Your climbing skill will be checked as you ascend, so be careful climbing with clumsy characters, as they might come crashing back to earth.


Allofich tells me climbing still has some refinements ahead. For example, it’s not yet possible to climb out of water. But it’s already working exceptionally well and can only improve in the future.


Language Skills

Another Hazelnut gem, and something often ignored by classic players. Language skills give the player a chance to avoid combat with certain monsters based on a language check. If the language check is passed, the monster will become pacified as if you “talked them down”. Unfortunately my character speaks about ten words in Orcish – all of them insults – and is about to get into a fight.


The way Hazelnut has implemented this means that a character with a high Streetwise skill has a chance of avoiding combat with other roguish humanoids. If you encounter a Thief, Assassin, or the like in Daggerfall Unity your Streetwise skill might help you avoid an unpleasant encounter. For characters with a more polite way of handling things, your Etiquette skill might help save you from a tussle with a Knight or other non-roguish humanoid. For monstrous foes, you’ll need to know their exact language to pass.

This also means you might get a chance to land the first blow, if your character is that unscrupulous.


Magic Work-In-Progress

These latest builds also mark the first official step in the 0.5 release line from Roadmap. I have started building the back-end (effect system) and front-end (projectiles, cast animations, UI) of the magic system. This is still a work in progress and nothing is available to players in this round of builds, I’m afraid. But just like quests before it, the magic system will scale upwards in small incremental steps with each release.

I’ll be posting more on the magic system around spells and effects soon. Until then, I hope you enjoy all the other great stuff added to these builds.

New Builds For 2018

Welcome to 2018 everyone! What a great few months we’ve had in Daggerfall Unity. Despite my general absence in November through December last year, work still continued on the project at an excellent pace. I owe a debt of thanks to everyone that continued adding features while I was out of the scene for several weeks. I want to make this post all about these contributions, and mention the people who contributed during that time.

We’re close to a stable “Quests 0.4” build now before officially moving on to 0.5 and spells. “Stable” in this case doesn’t mean everything is complete or bug free – just that quests should be relatively steady and playable based on our current position in the Roadmap at the end of 0.4. Work will continue on improving and tightening up quest system all the way to 1.0, but now it’s time to move onto something new. This often means exciting new bugs to fix so the stable build stands as good fallback point if anyone is experiencing too many troubles with latest versions.

You’ll find the latest downloads on the Live Builds page as usual. If you’d like the very latest code, you can check it out directly from our GitHub page. And if you’d like a full blow-by-blow account of all changes up to now, the Commits page has what you’re after. This post mainly covers featured highlights and the people who added them. In alphabetical order, they are:


Aaron Fritz

Aaron is best known for his work on OpenTESArena, an open source recreation of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. This recently hit a 0.6 release milestone. If you’re a fan of projects like this one, you can follow Aaron on Twitter @aaron_fritz1.

The fake sky background in classic Daggerfall works best in 320×200, 4:3 aspect, and with the short draw distances you would find in a game Daggerfall’s vintage. It’s not a skybox in the modern sense, just a set of tiled images that slide around behind the world. Works well enough in classic and is quite beautiful in its own pixel-art painterly way, even with some oddness such as distant trees being larger than ones nearby.

In Daggerfall Unity with high resolution and long draw distances, the disconnect between sky background and foreground world is intensified. The sky images aren’t really scaled for widescreen and the way I implemented this originally lead to the sky floating around without really feeling connected to the 3D world. This had the potential to make some people feel motion sick, or at least uncomfortable, after playing for a while. The Enhanced Sky mod doesn’t have these problems, but some prefer the pixel-art sky and not feeling ill.

Aaron’s contribution was to add Y-shearing, a trick from the early days of realtime game graphics to help the fake sky horizon stay “glued” to the 3D world horizon. This goes a long way to making the sky more comfortable for anyone who experiences motion issues. It’s hard to communicate in a single screenshot, but when looking up and down, the horizon line of the sky no longer slips around. It may not be perfect depending how badly you’re affected, but it should be a noticeable improvement.



Where to even start with Allofich? He’s a binary magician, that’s for certain. I’m not bad at reverse engineering stuff, but he makes me feel like my training wheels are still on. Some of the deep inner workings of Daggerfall Unity such as level-up formulas and combat work precisely like classic thanks to his efforts. He’s also responsible for locating obscure bits of data answering questions like “how is dungeon water level determined?” to “how are shop shelves stocked?”. Allofich has built or refined a large number of real gameplay features in Daggerfall Unity. Here’s an overview of his work over the last several weeks.


Dungeon Water

It’s now possible to swim in dungeons… and dive underwater… and drown when you get lost in that flooded passage. Allofich solved the long-running mystery around how dungeon water level was determined and proceeded to implement the entire feature stack of swimming, right down to sound effects and breath management. All I had to do was add the water plane to show the water surface visually. I still need to implement underwater effects at time of writing.



When you deliver a big hit to enemies in Daggerfall, you can send them reeling, physically pushing them away. This knockback effect helps the player feel more powerful and stops enemies from always pushing forward relentlessly. It can even give the player a split second to turn and run. Allofich has recently implemented the knockback effect in Daggerfall Unity.


Magic Weapon FPS Graphics

In preparation for 0.5, magic weapon FPS graphics are now used when player equips a magical weapon. The actual magic effects aren’t there yet, of course, but this is still an important part of the process.


Animal Sounds

A small but welcome addition is that animals now play their appropriate sound effects at random when you stand nearby.


Enemy Ranged Basics

Certain enemies are now capable of attacking with ranged weapons if player is far enough away (or tries to run). It’s hard to see in this zoom below, but this Knight is lining up player for a shot.


Stealth Basics & Backstabbing

The player is now able to sneak as per classic Daggerfall by holding down the “sneak key”. To complement this, you can also backstab enemies by sneaking up behind them.


Stocking Shelves & Containers

And last one for now is the correct stocking of shelves and containers as per classic. While Hazelnut was building out shops and containers (more on this below), Allofich worked on stocking these containers with the correct items loadout.


Allofich has added many more smaller items than I can cover fully. This includes work on skill mastery, animation fixes, weapon and shield equip delays, and more. Look back through the commits on git to get a full idea on just how much work he contributes.



He debuted with horse riding last year and has gone on to implement several important gameplay features. Between Allofich and Hazelnut, many 0.6 and 0.7 features on the roadmap are working ahead of schedule. Here are the highlights of what he’s been working on lately.


Teleportation Service

The Mages Guild offers a teleportation service. Thanks to Hazelnut, you can now use this service from your local Mages Guild to travel instantly across in the Illiac Bay.


Shop Shelves & House Containers

If you have bought or sold items in Daggerfall Unity recently, you have Hazelnut to thank for these features. While selling has been in for a while, the ability to interact with shop shelves and buy items is a more recent addition. This required some work to link up 3D container objects to loot containers, populate with items as per classic (Allofich helped here), and persist state of these containers when player enters and exits buildings. There’s a little more on this below, but the short version is you can buy stuff now.


World Persistence & A Shipworthy Home

In classic Daggerfall if you exit a building then return back inside the interior is just how you left it. Up until recently, Daggerfall Unity wiped the interior of buildings as soon as you left. Some work was needed to persist world state for the player as they entered/exited buildings, purchased items, opened doors, stole items, dropped loot on the ground, stored items in their home, and so on. This world persistence was a hard job, but Hazelnut has delivered excellent work all around. This feature is also the bedrock of player housing, which makes an early debut by way of the player’s ship.

You can now buy a ship from a bank, use that ship to speed up your transportation time and reduce costs, and transfer to that ship directly using the Transport menu. From here the ship acts as a kind of nautical home base where you can store loot gathered in your adventures. Any loot dropped on the ship or stored in the available containers will persist permanently in the save data for that character.



New contributor Numidium recently added “organisation info” answers to the Talk interface. This is used when you ask wandering NPCs about groups like the Mages Guild. Every addition to Daggerfall Unity is welcome, and it’s cool to see new contributors building on and fleshing out existing work. Thank you!



You already know Nystul from his fantastic work on the Automap interfaces (interior, exterior, and dungeon), and mods like Distant Terrain and Realtime Reflections. He’s made more important contributions to the core than I can list. He’s also the creator of the Talk window interface and the glue which binds this UI back into game data.

Over the last few months, Nystul has built out the Talk UI to be more functional and bug-free than ever. One of the big new features is rumours during and after quests. Below, the NPC is spreading gossip about the player’s most recent quest to rid a wife of her undead husband.

This kind of data wet-work is very hard and dry, and I can’t shine enough light on Nystul’s progress with screenshots alone. Hopefully it’s enough just to say what an incredible job Nystul is doing here and how important this work is to the final game.



If you’ve modded Daggerfall Unity in any capacity then you know TheLacus for his amazing work on these systems. Not only has he continued to build out the mod system from its humble beginnings, he has continued to provide documentation for creating mods and supporting new mod creators in need of help. He’s an all round great person with a great big brain.


New Advanced Settings Window

TheLacus has created and refined a nice Advanced Settings UI straight off the startup screen. It’s no longer necessary to dive into the INI to set most of the options players might be interested in. The latest builds are sporting an all new look for the Advanced Settings window with a tab-like interface and new controls. I can only see this getting better from here.


Texture Compression

This new feature applies DTX5 compression to replacement textures injected through the mod system. This will reduce texture memory by half or more at the expense of greater load time (as textures are injected procedurally). This is hard to show in a screenshot, and I have King of Worms on the forums to thank for this informative image created after performing some tests with texture compression and a large number of texture mods.

Some other things have improved in the texture modding side of things. The super-atlas is no longer used, which could lead to overflow for some textures. And a few memory leaks have been plugged in the texture system. Work in this area will continue to improve over time. The next step is to refine the texture cache to lower the amount of texture memory used after an extended play session.



All of that by itself makes for a huge couple of months, and I’m also back in the mix rolling out more parts of the incoming spell system. I look forward to posting about my progress on this soon.

If you want more frequent news, I post small bite-sized updates about Daggerfall Unity on Twitter @gav_clayton.

Daggerfall Unity Now Playable Start to End

That’s right! The main story quest in Daggerfall Unity is now completely playable from start to end. I’ve spent the last couple of months playing through the story quest, building out engine support, and fixing all the major bugs I could find. It’s true this game still has a distance to travel (spell system is next major journey) but this is a huge milestone in the project’s life cycle. It’s no longer fair to say Daggerfall Unity “isn’t playable yet”, that’s not even close to accurate anymore. And thanks to regular contributors like Nystul, Allofich, Hazelnut, and Lypyl, some of the later features on the roadmap are building out ahead of schedule.

The quest system has consumed around a year of my development time to bring to this point. It represents the single largest group of features in the project so far, and drives almost every other gameplay system forwards. I feel confident in saying the magic system probably won’t be anywhere near as challenging. And once we pass that milestone, everything else is on the downhill run.


Getting Started

After you grab the latest DragonBreak build from Live Builds page, there are two ways you can play through the main quest. You can either start a new character and play normally (using quests offered by any Fighters Guild to help level up between main quests) or use the “setmqstage n” console command to force the game to a specific point along the main quest process. There are 7 total quest stages, thus “setmqstage 1” through “setmqstage 7” are supported. Each stage is a chain of around two to six quests that represent a particular story arc in the game. If and when new problems are found with main quest, testers can quickly restart and test just that stage without playing through the whole game from the beginning.

If you want to play the game as normally as possible, start a new character. Playing the game from start to end normally is also an important and time-consuming part of the testing process, so your time here is valuable, even if something breaks and you need to start again. But if you want to perform focused testing of the main quest, grab a high level character save and use the “setmqstage n” console commands. I’ll post more details in this forum thread as time allows. Please offer feedback in that thread or ask general questions, and post to Bug Reports forums with obvious bugs.


Stable Builds

The next step from here is to work towards a DragonBreak stable build and complete the 0.4 cycle. This might take several weeks as the main quest is a massive and complex system, there’s no telling what problems testers might run into. Once the stable build is ready, work will proceed on the spell system and 0.5.


Thank You

I also want to thank all of Daggerfall Unity’s contributors, supporters, mod-creators, and community members. You are all responsible for this project’s momentum, and for keeping morale high during those bleak periods of solid development where nothing visible seems to be happening. I am very excited for the future of Daggerfall Unity and the community building around it.

Cheers everyone!


For more frequent updates on Daggerfall Unity, follow me on Twitter @gav_clayton.


Dust of Restful Death

The main story quest in Daggerfall Unity is cracking along lately. The more problems I solve, the faster I can pass new quests. This has created a cumulative effect where things are snowballing towards the finish line. Today, I feel I’ve reached an important milestone with the main quest passing up to “The Dust of Restful Death”, only a few short steps from the end.

In this quest, the player briefly soothes the tormented bones of King Lysandus to learn why he requires vengeance. From a technical front, this is not only the result of a long chain of earlier quests, but required some new interaction between the world and quest system, and is the first quest to play an in-game cinematic.

There are bound to be problems and bugs to fix as the full story quest rolls out to testers, but for now let’s just enjoy this one quest where Lysandus has his big moment.

Vengeance Build 81

New builds are now available on the Live Builds page, bringing us up to build #81 across all platforms. A lot has happened over the last month, with steady contributions from long-time Daggerfall Unity developers Lypyl, Allofich, TheLacus, and Nystul. I would also like everyone to welcome on board new developer Hazelnut, who has built many valuable updates over the last month.

I’ll post a more complete list of updates towards the end of this post, but want to start with the big visual stuff that’s changed since last update.


Main Quest

The complete main story quest is now offered when starting a new level 1 character. Please keep in mind this is still under construction, so you are likely to reach a point where you cannot continue and may need to start fresh later (or use a console cheat). It could be another few months before all main quests are in a passing state, but I felt it was important to start offering to new players.


Main Quest Testing – Stage 3

I’ve pulled the wraps off stage 3 of main quest for testers. This includes a quest from Prince Helseth to blackmail Lord Castellian (S0000002) which follows onto recovering an unauthorised biography for Queen Barenziah (S0000011). This tome can be stolen by the necromancers if you don’t recover from Orsinium in time, leading to player needing to strike a deal with Gortwog for recovery. Will the player return the book to Barenziah as planned, or betray her and deliver the book to Gortwog instead?








Transport Menu

Hazelnut has implemented the transport menu for player to switch between Foot, Horse, Cart, and Ship. Until full shops are implemented, all level 1 characters will begin with a free horse, cart, and ship to play with. It’s a great feeling to tear around towns and the wilderness on a horse at long last. But as player housing is not yet implemented, you cannot store loot on your ship. Please keep this mind or anything you drop to the ship will be lost when you leave!


Item Info & Player Status Popups

Another Hazelnut update. He has implemented inventory info popups and world status popups. What you can’t see easily is this required a fairly large back-end system to expand context macros correctly across various systems. This work is also being used in several other places now.



The third big update from Hazelnut builds on earlier groundwork by Lypyl. Banks are now mostly operational. You can deposit and withdraw gold, convert gold to letters of credit, and even take out loans!


Selling & Repairing

If you’ve played one of the earlier interim builds, you might have noticed player encumbrance and weapon condition has been implemented. To complement this, Hazelnut has added selling and repairing items at stores. The selling and repairing gold values match classic very closely thanks to additional work by Allofich. Now you can finally tip out that wagon and profit from all your dungeon crawling.


Real-time Info Panel & Enhanced Item Lists

The final big-ticket item from Hazelnut is a real-time info panel for items which displays details as player moves mouse over an item. This is optional, but currently enabled by default for testing. A second option, which must be enabled in settings.ini (EnableEnhancedItemLists=True) will show an item grid of 16x tiles instead of the default 4x. This is excellent work that brings the UI forwards while maintaining classic style.


Enhanced Mod Support & Post-Processing

TheLacus has built out texture injection to support wilderness flat replacements, and added post-processing support for effects like SSAO, bloom, vignette, anti-aliasing, and more! Post-processing is currently available in mod form. Check out this thread on the forums for more information.


Talk Window & Discovery

Last but certainly not least is the NPC talk interface by Nystul. You can now bother town NPCs to ask for directions to local shops, with more features on the way. A huge thanks goes to Nystul for all of his amazing work on this system.

The talk window also complements my location and building discovery, as NPCs can direct you to nearby businesses if they like you enough (and know the place). Please keep in mind this system is still under development and NPCs cannot yet offer all the topics available in classic at this time.


More Gameplay

One of the most under-represented contributors by screenshot is Allofich. He contributes a great deal to the back-end formulas, reverse engineering, and general flow of game systems. These are all very hard to show in screenshot form, so make sure you have a skim through the patch notes to find more of his work. Some of the features he’s added recently include fixes to activation, residence greetings, and shop opening hours.



There’s no doubt that Daggerfall Unity is barrelling forwards. Thanks to contributors, new systems are starting to be built ahead of my original schedule. If this trend continues, some of the later gameplay elements are likely to be ready concurrently with upcoming work on spell system. Bundle this with all of the amazing mod work being done over in the Community Workshop forums. It’s just not possible to highlight everyone here, so please take the time to read through mod creator’s threads and give them feedback on their work.

Detailed patch notes follow for build #81. If you want more frequent micro-updates, please follow @gav_clayton on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

  • Shop opening hours and greetings. (Allofich)
  • Show up to 16x inventory tiles per list instead of 4x. Currently off by default. (Hazelnut)
  • Realtime info panel in inventory. Currently on by default. (Hazelnut)
  • Texture injection improvements and fixes. (TheLacus)
  • Main quest is now offered to new level 1 characters. (Interkarma)
  • Can now “start quest” by quest filename. (Interkarma)
  • Quest resources are now culled when placing them to a second location. This can happen when quest want to move item from one dungeon to another. (Interkarma)
  • Fixes to face display of static NPCs. (Nystul)
  • Fixes to quest execution flow. (Interkarma)
  • Cycle quest debugger display from Off/Minimum/Full (default is Minimum) using LeftShift+Tab. Off will also disable place markers on HUD. (Interkarma)
  • Quests will now always have a minimum of one day travel time. (Interkarma)
  • Implemented QuestSuccess flag. This is raised when quest calls “give pc” action. (Interkarma)
  • Can no longer remove quest items to remote container, except when item must be dropped as part of quest. (Interkarma)
  • Quest items are now removed when quest is tombstoned. Orphaned quest items in saves are purged on load. (Interkarma)
  • Soul gems with trapped souls now read from classic saves and displayed correctly in inventory. (Hazelnut)
  • Banks are mostly operational now. Can deposit, withdraw, take out loans, and convert gold to letters of credit. (Lypyl/Hazelnut)
  • Fix for quest item stacking issue. (Hazelnut)
  • Fix for bucklers stacking with two-handed weapons on paper doll (Allofich)
  • Boots and shoes now count as leather armour. (Hazelnut)
  • Cost calculations for selling and repairing. (Allofich)
  • Holiday text now displays when player enters a town during a holiday. (Allofich)
  • Slightly increased interior ambient light at night.
  • Post processing stack now available for camera effects like SSAO, bloom, etc. (TheLacus)
  • Initial talk window for mobile NPC interaction, ask for directions, etc. (Nystul)
  • Partial fix for mobile NPC precision issue causing them to glide north at spawn (Interkarma)
  • Fix for faction data pollution from bad saves.
  • Main quest stage 3 ‘setmqstage 3’ now enabled. (Interkarma)
  • Enemy names are now saved with corpse loot container. (Allofich)
  • Most shops now support selling and repair of equipment. (Hazelnut)
  • Implemented weapon material effectiveness vs. specific foes, e.g. silver to hit werewolves. (Allofich)
  • Prohibited equipment now restricted based on class settings. (Allofich)
  • Back-end tracking for starting crime guild quests Thieves and Dark Brotherhood. Quest line currently disabled. (Allofich)
  • Mobile town NPCs are now killable. No blood splash at this time. (Allofich)
  • Info click now supported on dead enemy mobiles. (Allofich)
  • Inventory weight and encumbrance. (Hazelnut)
  • Click distance check and fix activating through walls. (Allofich)
  • Improved artifact handling (Hazelnut)
  • Fix for starting Mynisera’s Letters. You should now be able to complete this quest, rounding out Stage 2 with only some bug fixes required (see below).
  • Improved enemy equipment calculations (humans and orcs will use their own armour and weapons for combat purposes). (Allofich)
  • Improved loot tables by dungeon type. (Allofich)
  • Location and building discovery like classic. Player will now need to discover locations through quests or exploration. Buildings are discovered as player interacts with them.
  • Exterior automap and travel map updated to support discovery. (Nystul)
  • Improved player movement speed calculation based on attributes. (Allofich)
  • New texture import support for billboard batches. This should allow mod authors to replace all foliage sprites in world. (TheLacus)
  • Fast travel countdown on travel map and fix for borders showing on zoom. (Nystul)
  • Transport menu: Foot, Horse, Cart, Ship now supported. (Hazelnut)
  • nfo popups based on item type and improved text macro support. (Hazelnut)
  • Fix for bucklers and two-handed weapons. (Allofich)
  • Fix to prevent fast travel with enemies nearby. (Allofich)
  • More combat sounds. (Allofich)

The “Vengeance” Update

A few weeks on from the Fighters update and the quest system is now ready to run with Daggerfall’s main story quest. Well, the first few quests at least. Welcome to the Vengeance update!


The aim of this test cycle is to ensure the main quest can be experienced by a non magic using character. My plan is to roll out the main quest in small bite-sized pieces with the ability to reset the main quest instantly to one of several critical points along the way. This forum post has all the details.

In summary, you can use the console command “setmqstage number” to setup your character level, reputation, global variables, and quest loadout to start testing main quest from any point. Right now stage 1 and 2 are active, and more will be added in the coming weeks.


By limiting quests to a handful at a time, I can build out remaining quest actions in small pieces while bug-fixing the live quests. Hopefully this will keep testers on track and communicating in a standard way. But you can try to play ahead through the whole main quest right now if you so choose. Only please keep in mind some of the later quests are missing action support and will not execute properly. So play ahead for fun but keep the real testing and feedback for the current stages.


Also new in this version is full save/load of quest state. If a quest breaks or doesn’t go as planned, you can send me your save file and I’ll be able to inspect what’s happening from the save data. A lot of other bug fixes and small improvements have also made their way into the latest builds.


You will find latest builds on the Live Builds page as usual. I hope you enjoy playing through the first few story quests in Daggerfall Unity. Don’t forget, this forum thread is the right place for discussion and feedback. If you want more micro updates on the project, follow me on Twitter @gav_clayton.

The “Fighters” Update

The Fighters Guild awaits

A whole new cycle of Live Builds is now underway for Daggerfall Unity 0.4. Here are some of the new features you’ll find in the latest “Fighters” update.


Quest System

The quest system is now open! Visit any Fighters Guild and speak to the usual quest giver to receive a random guild quest. Be sure to bring your strongest character, because quests span everything the Fighters Guild has on offer, from rats to liches.

Mordane Yeomham has work for you


While still incomplete, the quest system in Daggerfall Unity manages to kick things up a notch over classic:

  • No more binary QBN/QRC files and command line compilers! Quest scripts can be created with a simple text editor like Notepad and are based on Donald Tipton’s TEMPLATE v1.11 scripting language, the de facto standard for creating Daggerfall quests. If you’ve written Daggerfall quests before, you already have the skills needed to write quests in Daggerfall Unity.
  • Quests scripts are JIT (just in time) compiled by Daggerfall Unity. This means you can write new quest scripts and test them while the game is running.
  • Daggerfall’s classic quests have already been migrated to the new scripting language and many quests are perfectly playable in Daggerfall Unity now.
  • New features! Daggerfall Unity is already extending the capabilities of the quest system beyond what’s possible in classic, such as using location exteriors in quests. It’s even possible to write new quest actions in C# and extend quest system through mods.
  • The Quest Debugger lets you see what your quest is doing at any time by displaying the internal Task states and Timers, and helping you find buildings quickly. This debugger will continue to grow in power as the quest system develops. Note: Quest Debugger is always enabled in “Fighters” update. A toggle will be added once quest system passes tests.


Real Skills

Be prepared! Daggerfall Unity now has real combat formulas, including weapon and armour checks, dodging, critical strike, and more. If you take on a vastly more powerful enemy, you might not land a single blow.

How do you like me now?


Skill and level progression are now working. Your character will grow in power by playing the game and be able to level up at last. Skills like dodging and critical strike will be checked during combat, and skills like medical are checked during rest. Daggerfall’s level-up formula is applied on travel and rest, and you’ll go up in level once your skills have been raised enough.

Practice makes perfect


You can now set your interaction mode using F1-F4 (default keys). Use Info mode to find an NPC or building name, and use Steal mode to try your luck at picking locks. This even checks your Lockpicking skill against the lock using Daggerfall’s lockpick formula.

Maybe a more direct approach is needed


New UI Windows

The exterior automap will help you navigate around town locations. Named buildings are marked automatically for now, and the Quest Debugger will direct you to quest buildings until the discovery and “talk” systems are implemented. Like the dungeon automap, you can zoom, pan, and rotate the map. It’s great dragging the map around with left mouse button rather than using arrow keys.

Now, where was I?


The keybind interface will help you bind keys just like in Daggerfall.

No more editing text files


Wandering NPCs

Mobile NPCs now wander the streets during daylight hours across all climates in Illiac Bay. Meet Nords, Redguard, and Bretons in your travels.

Excuse me, do you know where I can sell all this orc blood?


The “talk” system has not yet been implemented in Daggerfall Unity, so you can’t yet speak to these wandering people to ask for directions, rumours, and so on. This will be coming sometime in 0.5 update cycle.


More Mods

All the mods that were previously integrated with Daggerfall Unity now have standalone updated versions from their creators. Available mods are on the Released Mods page of the forums. Please let the creator know if you encounter a problem with their mod.

You can now create art replacement mods for Daggerfall Unity. Check out the new Modding pages for more details on how to replace textures, sprites, models, sounds, and movies. A few great-looking art mods are already in the works, such as the Terrain Flats art mod by jman0war. He is hand-painting all new terrain art and it looks amazing.


And in case you didn’t know already, Daggerfall Unity has a runtime C# compiler, mod packager, and mod loader. This has been available for a while, but not a lot of people seem to know about it yet. Check out this page on the forums for more information on creating a Hello World styled mod in C# for Daggerfall Unity. You could even make a mod that adds custom actions to the quest system!


Get Involved

You can find the latest builds on the Live Builds page as usual.

For conversations, please use the following forum thread for all talk and bug reports for now. More information will be found in that thread to help you run quests.



I have the following people to thank for their contributions to the above features, in no particular order:

Allofich – For tirelessly working on skills, formulas, level ups, and researching classic save format. Some of the real gameplay features in this release would not have been ready without his efforts.

TheLacus – For creating the asset swap capabilities, documenting everything, and supporting people in their efforts to mod Daggerfall Unity.

Nystul – For the incredible automap user interfaces and mods he creates.

Lypyl – For the runtime C# compiler, mod packager, and mod loader. Also for his help with reverse engineering building data during early stages of the quest system.

JustinS – For his perfect keybind interface.

And thank you to everyone else who has contributed smaller fixes and patches on GitHub: muderbeard, midopa, electrorobobody, and more. Daggerfall Unity has only come so far thanks to the ingenuity and generosity of contributors. The combination of open source and a brilliant community will take this project a long way in the future.


Town Populations

I’ve had my head in the quest system for several months and really needed a short break. I also happened to need a solution for spawning enemies outdoors in cities (for example, the ghosts and wraiths in Daggerfall at night) and noted there was a good amount of overlap between spawning enemies and NPCs in town environments because they all need to avoid placement inside building geometry. And whatever solution I use for placement could probably be used for navigation as well. I had scheduled wandering NPCs for 0.5 cycle, but decided to make an early start on this while solving town placement and navigation. And what better way to test this solution than to actually watch NPCs walk around?

The first problem I had was how to find an appropriate placement position. My initial idea was to use the foliage placement array in exterior data. This formed a nice grid over each block, but it also marched over water and under buildings. That would not be suitable. I considered just dropping in mobiles and using a combination of rays and colliders to refine their position until they found open space, but that approach seemed way too messy and inefficient.

That’s when I had a eureka moment thinking about how perfectly automap image data lined up with the game world. Take the below screenshot as an example. In game, I’m standing outside the Odd Blades looking at the entrance door. On the automap, once unit conversions are done, I’m in exactly the same place.


So Daggerfall’s automap perfectly skins building footprints. This should mean I can take the inverse of automap data to work out which parts of the environment are open. I quickly prototype by placing white cubes on open environment and avoiding the building footprints. Take a look at the results.


This is beyond perfect. The automap doesn’t just contain data for building footprints, but for flat placement and decorative geometry as well. I have a strong suspicion Daggerfall also uses the automap data in this manner, it’s just too precise and detailed to be a coincidence.

With a solution in mind, I now have to execute the idea. I create a new class called CityNavigation which is added to the location GameObject at scene layout time by StreamingWorld. This constructs a navigation grid at the same time location and automap data is read so only a small amount of additional processing is done per location. With the inverse of automap blocked out, we get the following:

This is good – the white areas can be used for placement and navigation, but it’s not perfect. It also needs to account for tilemap under location. We can’t place NPCs on water tiles, and they should try to avoid those tiles when walking around. Rather than just block out unwalkable tiles, I take this one step further and allocate each tile a specific weight, where a higher weight means the tile is more favourable. Here’s the final navgrid where black areas are “no-go” and brighter areas are preferred over darker areas. You can probably see right away this creates a strong preference for the road network:


What you can’t see in the above image is that each weight occupies the upper 4 bits of a single byte. The lower 4 bits are reserved for a flag system, giving me up to 4 bits to control NPC behaviours. This will be important later in this article.

Now that I have a nice procedurally generated map of any exterior location, the next problem is converting between all the different coordinate systems. If you’ve ever tried to make a big world in Unity, you’ll know that precision problems kick in after a few thousand scene units or so from origin (position 0,0,0 in world). This manifests itself through jittery movement and shadows, imprecise feeling of control, and issues with physics system. The game map in Daggerfall rocks in over 819,000 x 409,000 scene units, way beyond what Unity can handle with fine floating-point precision. I overcame this challenge very early on by using a fixed point coordinate system for the world (Daggerfall units) and normal floating point units for the scene (Unity units). The world is built around the player in chunks close to origin, and when player runs too far in one direction, the whole world is brought back towards origin. To the player it feels like they are running continuously through a huge open world, when in fact the world is being constructed around them one chunk at a time. The player never moves more than 1000 units from origin in the X-Z plane.

What does all of this have to do with the navgrid above? Well, now I have yet another coordinate system to glue together. I have not only the Daggerfall units and Unity units, but the X,Y position inside the navgrid array where any virtual mobile objects have to move around. So the next thing I do is write some helpers in CityNavigation to convert from navgrids to world space, world space to scene space, and back again, and so on. This chewed up a solid chunk of Sunday to get working properly, and there’s still a few precision issues due to the large differences in scale. Something to refine down the track.

With all the math out of the way, I can now start placing mobile NPCs into the world. One problem though, I hadn’t written any code to render wandering NPCs yet. So I started with these guys just to confirm the navgrid through scene conversions were working. Sometimes in game development, you have to bust out some programmer art to get the job done.


With placement working, next came the process of building the mobile NPC billboard properly – including that stop-and-stare thing they do when you get too close to them.

Town NPC Billboards

With rendering done, I can start moving them around the navgrid using a simple motor. They will generally follow roads when encountered (because roads have a higher weight), but there’s enough randomness to let them change directions and wander around elsewhere on the grid.

And do you remember me mentioning the navgrid can store flags in the lower 4 bits? The first flag I created is an “occupied” bit that lets a mobile claim a navgrid tile before walking into it. This prevents two or more NPCs trying to occupy the same tile at a time. The next clip shows the mobile movement, path following, and dynamic avoidance of each other. I’ve cranked up the spawn count and movement speeds because it helps me observe the behaviour (and it’s kind of fun to watch).

Mobile Pathing and Dynamic Avoidance

Despite everything accomplished, I still have more to do. The next step is working out which races are placed in which towns. I put my travelling boots on and tracked around classic Daggerfall’s world until I found which races appeared in which climate zones. I built this into the helper which returns climate data for texture swaps, etc. and now the correct NPC races (either Redguard, Nord, or Breton) will appear across the game world.


The final step was to build a PopulationManager class. This code handles spawning/despawning of NPCs around player as you move through town environments so the location feels populated. After a bit of experimentation, I used a population index per 16 RMB blocks so that small towns feel like they have a smaller overall population than large cities. One of my challenges here is the draw distances in Daggerfall Unity are huge compared to classic Daggerfall. While classic can place NPCs safely in the fog out of sight, in Daggerfall Unity you can see two full city sizes distant across the map. This means that hiding pop-in and pop-out of NPCs is a little trickier. For now, I mitigate this by trying to only show or hide NPCs when player is not looking directly at them (as Daggerfall does) and only allow them to pop-in when a certain distance from player.

There’s still a few bugs to iron out. You can still catch them pop-in nearby if you happen to look in the right direction at the right time, and they sometimes glide slightly in the wrong direction on spawn due to precision issues as they align to the grid. And of course you can’t talk to them yet, because the “talk” system won’t be introduced until 0.5 sometime. But overall, the feeling of crowds is quite satisfactory and Daggerfall-ish, and it’s wonderful to finally see these sprite people bustling around cities.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the work that goes into creating even a small feature like this one. If you’d like to read more, I try to post regular micro-updates to my Twitter feed @gav_clayton.


Closing The Loop On Quests

For the first time yesterday, I was able to run a full quest in Daggerfall Unity from start to finish, and I’m very happy to say that a sizeable chunk of the quest system is now implemented. Following is another quick visual diary on what I’ve been working on lately. Where possible, I’ll share some information on what the quest system is doing in the background. There’s also a new video at the end.


Guild Quests

I have partially implemented guild quests with their usual service providers. Visit the quest-giver NPC in any Fighters or Mages Guild across Illiac Bay to receive a quest from a curated pool that is “mostly working” in Daggerfall Unity. This system helps me set the scope for testers, and introduce new quests over time as more of the quest system is built. Let’s take a look at this in action by following a quest from start to finish.


If you have  a sharp eye for Daggerfall quests, or have ever written one yourself, you’ll notice a lot is happening in the screenshots above:

  • Quest-giver NPC is identified by faction ID and the guild service window shows “Get Quest” as it should for that NPC.
  • The quest offer process is in place for you to accept or refuse job offered.
  • Many text macros are expanded automatically – such as random monster name, target location, player’s race, current region, and so on.
  • Reward is being randomly generated based on quest script.
  • Travel time is calculated from world using same logic as travel map, ensuring player has enough time to travel there, find the item, and return back.
  • The quest log information is generated and stored in the journal with current date, return location, quest-giver NPC, target monster, and how long you have to complete quest.
  • The quest-giver (Mordyval Moorhart) has also been tagged as the Questor NPC for this job. The quest system will keep track of your clicks on this person to know when you’ve returned with the wrappings.

If you travel to the named dungeon and explore it thoroughly, you will eventually find the mummy who is the target of this quest. If you don’t want to search you can use the ‘tele2qspawn’ and ‘tele2qitem’ console commands to teleport directly to the target spawn or item markers in dungeon. However you find it, kill the mummy and the target quest item is placed in its inventory for you to loot along with other randomly generated treasure.

Here are some of the things the quest system is doing under the hood in the above screenshots:

  • Tracking when player visits target dungeon and injecting the mummy into world.
  • Capturing script events like “injured foe” and “killed foe”. In this particular the quest, the mummy wrappings are placed on the monster when you injure it.
  • Tracking quest items, setting their background green, and displaying scripted text after picking up the mummy wrappings.

Now it’s time to return to Mordyval Moorhart for our reward.

In this step, the following stuff happens in the background:

  • Quest script detects you have clicked on the Questor NPC with the target item.
  • The QuestCompleted text is shown for a successful outing.
  • A loot container opens with your agreed-upon reward.

In classic Daggerfall, if you accidentally close the loot window without getting your reward that item is lost. I’ve made a small change where the reward is placed into a dropped loot container at your feet if you forget to collect it. This at least gives you a second chance to pickup your loot.


With all of the above working, this closes the loop on the quest process for a whole bunch of quests. It’s not just mummy wrappings, a lot of quests involving item hunts and killing monsters all operate inside this same framework. Where things fall down right now is with some of the special script actions that add flavour and complexity to quests. These remaining quest actions and conditions will be built out over time until quest system is at 100%.


Escort Quests

Sometimes a quest will ask you to take an NPC somewhere, such as rescuing the below person from a giant slain as part of a Fighters Guild quest. It seems the giant had been keeping this person for a snack.

A lot is happening in the above side-quest:

  • The quest script selects at random from a victim NPC, a map reward, or no map and no victim. In this case, the victim NPC was selected.
  • The random NPC Lysausa Gaerwing and her home town of Crosswold Borough are generated, giving her a bit of a backstory.
  • According the quest log, she wants to be delivered to Lord Mordoryan’s Wares, a shop in Oxville. Note the %g2 pronoun macro isn’t working yet. This is on my todo list.
  • When accepting the escort, a portrait (which usually does not resemble NPC flat in world) is added to your HUD to show this person is journeying with you.
  • The quest system tracks when player enters target building, displays the scripted popup, and removes NPC from your HUD.



A smaller task than above, but still necessary for the quest system is the ability to spawn artifact items. These special items are created by merging two sets of template data together to form one very powerful item with a larger than usual number of enchantments. While magic system isn’t in the game yet, certain groundwork still needs to be implemented. Because I’m looking at spells and effects in the update chain immediately after quests, now is a good time to start thinking about this stuff. Artifacts are still at a very early stage, and I might not return to them for a while.

The character above is holding Chrysamere from a quest script intended only to test these items can be generated by quest system. A big thanks to all the people who sent me their saves so I could test artifact import and creation. I still have some bugs to fix, but I’ve made a good start on this.



The quest system is doing great. It’s still a ways from being finished, but all the hard problems have been solved and now I’m just building out support for remaining actions and conditions, and fixing bugs along the way. The next items on my list are multi-spawn foes (e.g. kill 6 rats in a house) and more work on text support (like the %g family of pronoun macros). There’s bound to be a few more articles to go before I can call quests complete.

If all goes well, I should have the first real test build with the quest system in current state available in 2-3 weeks. This will have the Fighters and Mages Guild quest system in place for testers to run through available quests and help me find bugs. You’ll also be able to use ‘startquest’ console command to launch whatever quest you wish, even quests you write yourself, but things might not work properly if you go too far off grid for now. I’ll post more about the test build once it’s ready, including any limitations in the build at the time.

Thank you for reading! If you would rather watch quests in action, following is a pure gameplay video of Daggerfall Unity, except I’m using the console cheats to teleport to objectives in dungeons for the sake of brevity.

For more frequent updates on Daggerfall Unity, follow me on Twitter @gav_clayton.

NPCs, Items, Enemies, Quest Debugger

I’ve been hard at work the last couple of weeks, finally making serious inroads into the real meat of the quest system. Here’s a quick diary of my progress since last post. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve already seen most of this, although there’s a new video at the end you might enjoy.

In the last post, I talked about using buildings as quest sites. This has allowed me to start work on placing NPCs, items, and enemies as part of quests, and to support branching quest execution based on where player is in world.

When a named NPC is reserved by quest system, Daggerfall Unity handles all the book-keeping to move that NPC to the quest site. I tested this out using King Gothryd at first. Once the new quest site is determined and Gothryd is reserved, scene builders will no longer deploy him at the usual home location – unless the quest specifies the atHome flag at time of NPC reservation. In screenshot below, Gothryd has already left for the quest site.


The quest system then generates a SiteLink between target Place and Person resources. When the player visits the target location, scene builders need to place Gothryd at that location. Here’s Gothryd at the end of his journey.


I wanted to take a short break from NPCs and moved onto items briefly. There’s a few different ways Daggerfall uses Item resources in quests. They might added directly to your inventory, placed in a dungeon, or used as a permanent reward. Different quest conditions will also trigger based on whether player is carrying a certain item or not. I still have a lot to do here, but have made a start on the first case – adding an item directly to player inventory. The parchment with a green background below is the first real quest item in Daggerfall Unity. Specifically, it’s the letter from Brisienna.


At this point the quest engine is getting advanced enough that I need more detail on what’s happening under the hood at any time. I put together a quest debugger that shows the various Task and Timer states for a running quest. I plan to make this capable of step-through execution in the short term. The debugger shows which tasks are active/inactive and which timers are pending/running/complete. After setting this up, I could finally resolve many bugs in execution flow. I also added proper support for persist-until tasks, global variable links, and rearming tasks designed to switch on and off.


I’m pleased to say the quest system is all coming together rather quickly now. There’s still a huge amount of work to do, but most of the hard problems have been solved now and I’m just building out action support and fixing bugs. Here’s a little video of the current state of the quest system. Some of the early quests are working nicely now.

As a bonus, this video also shows the new skill tracking and player levelling by Allofich. Yep, it’s possible to level-up in Daggerfall Unity now thanks to his efforts. Great work Allofich!