January Builds – Vampirism, Spell Icons, More Magic Stuff, New Quest Actions, and More!

It’s time for a fresh round of Live Builds for January 2019. The last month has seen a lot of progress across a wide variety of systems, so rather than waste time on an intro. let’s get right into it.

Vampirism

The full loop of Daggerfall-styled vampirism is now in the game from curse all the way through to cure. Each time you’re mauled by a vampire, you have a 0.6% chance of contracting the disease that will transform your character into one of their kind. Some time after being infected, your rest will be plagued with bad dreams. Unless you like fangs and late-night shopping, this would be a good time to find a temple and cure yourself of diseases.

 

If you allow the disease to continue a few days, you will “die” and awaken two weeks later interred somewhere in the region. In classic Daggerfall, your death will also remove you from all guilds and reset your legal reputations. At this time, Daggerfall Unity doesn’t modify guild memberships or reputations, this will be implemented sometime in the next few months.

 

Becoming a vampire comes with some great perks. You can no longer be touched by weapons less than silver quality, you get +20 to most attributes, +30 to Climbing, Critical Strike, Hand-to-Hand, Jumping, Running, and Stealth, and unique vampire versions of spells including one specific to your clan. I should note that only Levitate and clan-specific spells are currently delivered to vampires. Charm Mortal and Calm Humanoid are not working yet, but will be added soon. You also get a nice set of fangs and some really bloodshot eyes.

 

It’s not all positive though. As a vampire, you will start taking damage from sunlight and holy place. But most pressing of all is the need to satiate your urge to kill at least once a day. If you fail to kill each day, you will find yourself unable to rest which can make things difficult. Fast travel will also make you arrive at night, so you will have limited time windows for shopping in cities before they close.

 

After playing for a while, you will receive unique vampire quest, starting with an introduction ques from your clan. There are 10 vampire quests in total, including one that will cure you of the infliction.

 

It’s probably worth mentioning that most of the back-end work for racial override effects is now complete, so lycanthropy won’t be too far away.

 

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Daggerfall Unity 0.6.1 Stable & 0.7.2 Combined Releases

Happy New Year everyone! It’s great to be here in 2019 at last. This will be the year that Daggerfall Unity steps out of pre-alpha into alpha, and reaches feature parity with classic Daggerfall. If you haven’t seen the Roadmap page lately, it’s time to take another look. There aren’t too many items left now and no major systems remain to be developed. Everything that’s still to do is just a small part of an otherwise finished system. Even the Quest System and Effect System roadmap pages are looking very green these days.

With a busy end to 2018, I didn’t make time to put up change notes for the Live Builds released on 20 December 2018. I think its a good idea to address these changes before dropping the next release, or solid contributions from our developers aren’t going properly credited. Let’s start with the highlights of new features from 0.6.1 Stable and 0.7.2 builds. I’ve tagged anything introduced in 0.7.2 with [0.7].

Highlights

Hanging Mode for Advanced Climbing [0.7] [Meteoric Dragon]

Upgrades to the optional Advanced Climbing system allows skilled climbers to hang from ceilings and eaves, and climb around on ceilings. This rounds out the other Advanced Climbing features such as sideways movement on walls and climbing around corners.

direct link to gfy

 

AI Obstacle & Fall Avoidance [Allofich]

Enemy mobiles have learned a few new tricks, and it’s a bit harder to trap them on the environment now. In addition to moving around static and dynamic obstacles, they’re smart enough not to walk off high places. While this isn’t perfect yet, it’s still a big improvement over classic AI. In other news, enemy AI is now capable of bashing open locked doors to reach the player!

direct link to gfy

 

Personal Light Sources [Hazelnut]

If you enable “item based player torch” in startup settings > Advanced > Enhancements, you can finally make use of those lanterns, torches, and candles in General Stores. Lanterns and torches can be refuelled using oil, also found in General Stores. If you make dungeons darker with the ambient light settings on the same Enhancements page, this adds a nice RP touch to dungeon delving. It can be quite tense knowing you’re running out of lantern oil and about to be lost in the dark.

 

Potions [0.7] [Hazelnut]

This is a big one! All potion recipes and effects are now supported in game, along with the crafting UI to make them. As a Daggerfall Unity quality of life feature, like-kind potion will stack.

 

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Creating SDF Fonts For Daggerfall Unity

Introduction

All the way back in September, I upgraded font rendering in Daggerfall Unity to support Signed Distance Field (SDF) fonts. This enabled smooth high-resolution font replacements which can operate under the same “layout rules” as classic Daggerfall’s pixel fonts, with a substantial improvement to reading comfort as this comparison screenshot demonstrates.

 

Rather than storing individual display pixels of a text glpyh, SDF fonts store a distance value that can be turned into display pixels later at any resolution using a custom graphics shader. Unlike regular pixel fonts that become quite pixelated at high resolutions, SDF text can use those distance values to generate sharp detail even at UHD resolutions and beyond. If you’re interested in the inner workings of Signed Distance Fields, there are loads of great resources out on the web. This tutorial doesn’t look very deeply at SDF concepts, only the process of creating new SDF fonts for Daggerfall Unity.

 

Resources

There are a few resources you will need to work through this tutorial.

You can use whatever font or tools you like to generate your SDF font atlas. This is just the process I’m using that will generate known-good output for Daggerfall Unity. If you do use a different toolchain, the only thing that matters is the output image is a proper SDF texture and the glyphs are laid out in a specific way.

 

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Notebook, Enemy Spellcasting, And Bug Fixes

To cap off a great month of progress, we have one more round of builds for October. This was going to be a solely bug-fix build, but amazing work kept on rolling in and I’ve decided to get these new features out to you now rather than wait until November.

 

Enemy Spellcasting (Allofich)

Building on top of my work on the magic & effect system, Allofich has wired up foes to hurl spells back at the player. This means ancient liches and vampires are serious threats again, imps are more than just a nuisance, and scorpions and spiders will just wreck your happy feelings with paralysis.

A lot of work was required in enemy AI to select spells based on touch or range. Enemies might stand their ground and hurl a fireball, or approach and attack player with a touch spell. And unlike in classic where the monster’s entire payload of spells are released instantly, they now make more intelligent decisions and release spells at sensible casting intervals. I can’t put into words just how amazing Allofich’s work on this has been. Magic in Daggerfall Unity suddenly doesn’t feel quite so one-sided, and magical encounters have become very dangerous again.

Here’s a short video where I pick a fight with some denizens of Mannimarco’s lair. Everything goes about as well as expected.

direct link to gfy

 

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Daggerfall Unity October 2018

New Builds for October 2018

New builds are available on the Live Builds page now. This has been another huge month for Daggerfall Unity. We’re quickly closing the gap towards major parity with classic Daggerfall and exiting pre-alpha. The magic system has taken another big jump forwards this month with the number of implemented spell effects crossing the 90% complete mark.

I’ve also updated the main Roadmap and shifted a few magic-related items out of 0.5 into 0.7. This is so I can create a stable 0.5 build and start the downhill run towards exiting pre-alpha. I don’t think we’ll spend very long in 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8. These milestones have become more a formality at this point.

Alright, let’s unpack what’s new in October!

 

Automap SDF Fonts (Nystul)

The new SDF font system is now functional in automap UI. Now the fonts look smooth whether you’re zoomed all the way in or out of the map.

 

Advanced Climbing System (MeteoricDragon)

Daggerfall Unity isn’t just about reproducing classic 1:1 with quality of life features and mod support. We’re also adding depth to parts of the game that needed a bit more love in classic. If you’re the type of Daggerfall player who enjoys the Acrobat class, you probably want to make sure this option is enabled at Advanced > Enhancements.

 

The Advanced Climbing System allows characters with a high Climbing skill to not only scale walls, but to move in any direction, wrap around corners, cling to the wall, grab walls in the air, and leap off walls. A Khajiit with a high Climbing skill and magic can scale over practically any surface in the game. You can even climb out of water now, rather than face certain drowning.

direct link to gfy

In latest builds, you can rappel down walls by walking backwards off the top. I remember looking everywhere for that rope mentioned in Daggerfall’s manual, only to discover it wasn’t in the game. Well, who needs ropes when you can rappel?

direct link to gfy

If you’re a classic purist who prefers just scaling walls, all of these features are optional. Simply disable the Advanced Climbing System in settings and things are back to classic. The Advanced Climbing System is currently enabled by default for testing – and because it’s really fun to play with.

 

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Daggerfall Unity September 2018

New Builds For September 2018

First builds of the month are now ready on Live Builds page. There are some great new features this time around, so let’s take our time unpacking them.

 

SDF Font Rendering

One common feature request is to improve quality of fonts in the game. This isn’t a trivial problem to solve as Daggerfall’s text formatting is hard-coded in books, quests, popups, etc. to line-wrap at certain points. There’s a very tight relationship between Daggerfall’s regular pixel font widths and how many characters appear per row. For any font upgrade to fit seamlessly within classic user interface, it must take this into account.

My solution was to completely overhaul the way UI renders text and support Signed Distance Field (SDF) fonts in addition to classic pixel fonts. This works by first performing a virtual layout for text elements then rendering either a standard pixel-font character or SDF-font character into the layout using a fast GPU shader. The end result is smooth high-resolution fonts at any resolution that follow the same layout rules.

You can toggle SDF font rendering in the startup UI or at any time in game with shortcut Shift+F11. SDF fonts are modable by dropping replacements into the StreamingAssets/Fonts folder. I will post an article dedicated to creating an SDF font atlas suitable for Daggerfall Unity soon. SDF fonts will be visible wherever text appears in the game – with the exception of text that’s “baked in” to UI elements. This needs to be modded out a different way and is unrelated to text rendering.

Below are some examples of book text at 4k resolution (click for full size).

 

 

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