First Look At Spells

I recently demonstrated spell missiles and discussed the back-end framework driving magical effects in Daggerfall Unity. I’m happy to report that it’s now possible to create custom spells and hurl sparkling death at your foes! As my last article was a bit dry and technical, I’ll start this one off with a short video of spells in action.

 

New Builds

You’ll find all new test builds on the Live Builds page as usual. Here are the key features of this release.

  • Create custom spells in the Spellmaker UI (invoke using “showspellmaker” from console).
  • Spellbook UI where custom spells are saved with your character.
  • 3x magic effects are currently available for testing:
  •     Continuous Damage Health (a damage over time effect).
  •     Damage Health (a direct damage effect).
  •     Heal Health (heal yourself and other entities).
  • All elements and target types are available (as appropriate for effect) when creating spells.
  • Smooth crouching, head bobbing, and head rocking when damaged (Meteoric Dragon).
  • Sound and music volume sliders (in progress). Some effects not wired up to volume slider yet (Meteoric Dragon).
  • City Guards and crime tracking, starting work on Crime & Punishment (Allofich).
  • More mod support in the back-end (TheLacus).
  • Various small bug fixes and improvements.

While only 3x effects are available at this time, this doesn’t nearly do justice to the progress that has been made. Spell effects are actually very small scripts – usually no more than a few lines of code and some properties. What really matters is the framework driving magic in Daggerfall Unity has finally progressed to this point. The previous article has more on this if you’re interested.

 

Testing

The purpose of these builds is to test the magic & effects framework is well-behaved and usable in its current state. What I’m looking for are crashes and other unexpected behaviour in the framework. Once this is working well, I will continue to roll out more effects in future builds. To keep testing as focused as possible, here’s a summary of what you can expect from this release.

  • Create and cast spells using the starting 3x test effects above.
  • There is no spell absorption, reflection, or elemental resistance at this time.
  • You can select elements to change appearance of spell and missile, but all elements are equal in terms of damage.
  • All target types (caster, touch, target at range, etc.) should be working.
  • Spells do not yet increase related magic skills of character.
  • Spells are all currently free to buy and to cast – so make them as weak or powerful as you like.
  • All of these free spells will be expired at some point closer to 0.5 stable.
  • Magic items are not implemented yet, this will come much later in 0.5 cycle.

Note: Due to changes in the modding system older mods may not work in this version. Please revert to build #105 for any broken mods until creators update for current version.

 

Feedback

For discussion on these builds, please head over to the forums. If you want to report a bug, post this to the Bug Reports forums. If you’re not sure if something is a bug or just not implemented, don’t hesitate to ask in Help & Support.

I hope you enjoy this early preview of spells in Daggerfall Unity. Have fun!

 

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.

Tutorial – Cloning from GitHub

If you’re interested in developing mods or contributing to Daggerfall Unity, you’ll first need to clone the project from GitHub. This light tutorial goes through the basic process of cloning Daggerfall Unity using GitHub for Desktop and opening with a fresh Unity install. There are many other ways to clone from git, but this is probably the simplest if you’re new to Unity or open source repositories.

After cloning the project, I go for a quick run through Privateer’s Hold to check everything is working normally.

First Look At Setup UI

The first time you run Daggerfall Unity 0.2 and later, a simple setup wizard helps you configure the game. This replaces the Unity resolution dialog, and for many users will entirely remove the need to edit an INI file to get up and running.

As discussed in my previous post the INI file and KeyBinds files are now stored in a persistent data path. This means you only need to setup Daggerfall Unity once and future updates will continue to use your custom settings. This should make things more convenient when downloading incremental releases in future.

For regular micro-updates on Daggerfall Unity, I can be found on Twitter @gav_clayton.

First Look At Classic Save Importing

Just a quick update today, as I’m right in the thick of it getting the test build ready.

The below GFY shows the current early state of importing classic Daggerfall save games inside Daggerfall Unity. At the moment this is just spawning a character to exact position in world, but I hope to be importing all vital character details eventually. As with everything else, classic save import will become more advanced over time. My ultimate goal is for you to be able to import your Daggerfall characters and pick up the game more-or-less where you left off.

This represents a nice milestone in development so far, one that has required several weeks of planning and engineering just to accomplish this much. Now to put some meat on those bones.

Character Creation – Part 3

I’ve been so focused on importing Daggerfall’s save games that I forgot to post a video of the character creation as it will be seen in the first release of Daggerfall Unity. So welcome to part 3 of character creation (or part 2 if you’re just following along on YouTube). I really need to think about these titles more.

Players familiar with Daggerfall’s character creation process will notice a couple of things missing from that video. The first release of Daggerfall Unity will not have the “10 question to determine your class”, custom class creator, or biographies. The biographies in particular have to wait for a while as they interface with a few other systems (like inventory and reputation) which still need to be written. As outlined in my mission statement on the forums, I will be building individual parts of Daggerfall in small, incremental stages that give priority to core systems first. My goal is to work towards a minimum viable product sooner rather than later, and keep iterating over the whole until it takes shape as a completed Daggerfall clone.

Personally, I think it’s better to put a work in progress into your hands (along with the source code) than make you wait long stretches between releases. This approach also means that my efforts are battle-tested right from the start, leading to a more robust final product. Think of Daggerfall Unity along the lines of Early Access – except it’s completely free, open source, and you can literally become part of the development. Even if you aren’t a programmer, good testing and feedback is vitally important.

I’m running a bit behind on the first release now, mainly because of the additional work required to import native save games. But we’re getting close to first release of Daggerfall Unity now, so keep an eye on the Workshop over the next few weeks for more information.

Character Creation – Part 1

I want players to really connect with Daggerfall Unity from the start. Rather than dump you into Privateer’s Hold with a random starting character, my first order of business is to code up character creation and importing existing save games. This means you will be using your characters (new or existing) to experience the project as it grows. The below video shows progress far.

It will take several releases before character creation and importing saves gets to where I want them, but I’m iterating quickly over the problems. Once everything is working, I hope it will help you form a personal connection to the project. The other huge advantage in a save/load system is that you will be able to send me your save games with bug reports. This should cut down on time required to reproduce and resolve any bugs you find.

A lot of work was required just to bring things this far, and that doesn’t even include the big stuff you’ve already seen in action like the streaming world. To give you some idea of what’s happening above, here’s a rundown of new systems packed into that short video. Some of these systems are visible, others are ticking away under the hood.

  • An entirely custom state-driven UI system to render and properly scale Daggerfall’s 320×200 UI at any target resolution. This includes stuff like panels, buttons, outlines, text labels, message boxes, and so on.
  • A custom bitmap font system to render glyphs directly using Daggerfall’s native font files.
  • A messaging and event system for handling opening and closing windows, clicking buttons, etc.
  • ITextProvider interface and support classes to handle extracting native text resources from TEXT.RSC, book files, etc. This also forms the basis of translation features, which can implement ITextProvider in conjunction with a translation asset.
  • Extraction of native video streams and playback in Unity engine with all correct timings.
  • Initial race definitions. This is incredibly basic right now to keep development flowing. The goal is for final race definitions to be read from text files to simplify creation of custom races. Same goes for custom classes when the time comes.
  • Initial entity and effect systems. This covers stuff like player (and monster) resistances, immunity, special abilities, and weaknesses.
  • Real-time export of audio from DAGGER.SND into a Unity AudioClip for playback.
  • Started implementing an importer for importing vanilla Daggerfall save games.
  • Started integrating a serialization system for Daggerfall Unity save/load game.

I hope to have the first release available within 3-4 weeks with at least partial character creation working. New features will just keep being added from there. It’s obviously still early days, but that’s the shape of things to come.

LypyL Action Enhancements – Updated

Below are the awesome improvements LypyL has made to the action system. Billboard actions and touch-based actions are now working. And for the first time we can teleport through those terrifying red doors. Great work man, great work.

Enemy Prefab

The below short video demonstrates using the new enemy prefab inside editor. The same prefab is instantiated when building scenes procedurally. There’s a lot more I want to do with this, including the ability to override classic billboard-based enemies with full 3D models.