It’s update time! 0.23 brings with it visual changes that will rock the very foundations of the Arena, and we’re not talking its brick and mortar base – rather the systems used bring it to life.
These foundational changes will not only make the game run better (and look a hell of a lot prettier), they’ll make future changes and additions easier to implement. This does mean a big ol’ download this time around, however, as almost every art bundle has had an overhaul.
For mortals with slower internet connections, we’d recommend jumping into a solo match before heading online to ensure your game has correctly downloaded all your new assets. That way, when you load into a multiplayer game, you’ll only need to download the other mortal’s assets (instead of both).
But enough of that! To run you through these updates, we’ve got a dev dropping-in in 3, 2, 1....
Feature Spotlight: VFX Overhaul
Hey mortals! Brennan here – Principal/Lead VFX Artist. I’m hijacking this section to speak specifically about the new VFX (visual effects) system as it brings a number of improvements for players.
The motivation behind this new system and revisions to current game effects is to address a number of issues that we feel will provide all players with a better experience. Let’s get into it!
Out with the old and in with the new
Behind the scenes we’ve updated our engine, new tools, and systems, which are in turn affecting many facets of the game in a positive way. The main improvements from the new VFX system aim to optimize every aspect of the in-game effects.
- VFX Bugs: As we’ve continued to update Gods Unchained’s tech, the original visual effects have suffered due to a range of technical issues. Whether that saw VFX sorting incorrectly with other game objects, spawning in front of cards for long periods of time, or one of the other many issues – it was definitely time for a change.
The new VFX system is fixing these issues at an accelerated rate and additionally make it very easy to troubleshoot and polish VFX art in the future.
- VFX Performance: The original visual effects were built to look as good as possible in the short time we had. We were eager to get a solid version of the game into players’ hands without getting held back by system issues and – mission accomplished – we did just that!
This worked as a short term solution, but it’s not the optimal way to build VFX for a live game that requires a constant stream of new content. We were left with poorly optimized visual effects that used too many assets, thus impacting game performance.
The latest update corrects this, setting us up for the long term by providing a more considered base to work from. Not only that, the new system will result in snappier gameplay as VFX ‘hitches’ (stutter caused as VFX data is compiled and decompressed) will be greatly reduced.
Gameplay is God
The entire Gods Unchained team agree that in a competitive game art should service gameplay. In fact, everything should! In regards to VFX, that means giving quick and obvious feedback to a player’s actions. As our lead VFX artist, I worked closely with our art director on two specific areas to make sure we have a visual language that acts as a base upon which all VFX are created. These are:
Shape and Color: Firstly we wanted to make sure there’s a consistent color and shape language to each god. Each god has its own lore, so coming up with shapes that fit the gods’ VFX was pretty fun. Additionally, any god-specific effects should adhere to a set color language, since color is a powerful visual communicator – especially when it comes to game VFX.
For example: if you see an orange flame in-game, you may assume it represents a normal fire as that is naturally the color of fire in the real world. Yet, if you see a blue flame in-game, you may assume it is a magical fire as that is the color attributed to Elyrian, God of Magic, in the Gods Unchained world.
Motion: Of equal importance is the motion language of VFX. At first glance this may seem pretty straightforward: if there’s a “positive” effect (a buff or heal, for example) then it would certainly make sense to express it through uplifting visuals and movement, like rays that shoot up to communicate something has been improved or increased. And yet, with so many varying effects that fall into this category, this language runs the risk of becoming murky if not outlined properly.
To help define these, we’ve created a visual language guide which’ll keep things consistent from here on. Below are a few examples of how these visual guidelines are expressed:
Please Note: The motion arrows are not part of the effect art, they are a visual aid for the VFX artist to help signify the motion of the particles.
Building out these two sections means we’ve completed Phase One of our quest to improve GU’s VFX, but we’re not done yet...
Phase Two needs you!
We are now moving onto the next phase, and we need your help! Phase Two will see us weaving lore notes into the above VFX, giving each god and the tribes that serve them a more unique look and feel.
We’re opening up this part of the process to community input, and I plan to chat with as many of you in Discord as possible so we can work together to ensure Gods Unchained continues to grow with its player-base.
Your suggestions are endlessly helpful and often go a long way to shaping the end result. A perfect example of this is the ‘summon sleep’ effect above, as that started as a player suggestion! We’re currently in the process of building it, and many other features that started from community suggestions too. Keep that feedback coming!
That’s all from me, I hope this gave you some insight into what actually goes into creating Gods Unchained’s visual effects. I’ll see you in the Arena, mortals.
~ Brennan, Principal/Lead VFX Artist
Alongside the visual effects upgrades outlined above, the team’s been working on some lighting changes that are far more versatile. Our previous system ensured everything was very bright – too bright – and didn’t allow for the atmospheric intricacies our boards and trinkets required.
By baking the lighting into the textures themselves, we’re now much closer to that mood-lighting sweet spot. This change not only improves the visual quality of the game (drawing greater attention to individual details), but also improves overall performance. The days of wasting power rendering things in real-time are long gone, it’s now all built-in and ready to roll.
As of this update, cards summoned in-game will now inherit the quality of their creators. For example: if your Diamond card summons other cards, they’ll appear as Diamond cards too.
For those with a need for speed, card draw animations are now ~2 seconds as opposed to the previous ~4 seconds, allowing you to sling cards at the speed of sou- well, maybe not that fast… but faster than before!
All network calls have been improved to better handle reconnects or temporarily disconnected players in a match. This change works to improve reconnect features across the board.
A total of 80 bugs were fixed in this release! Here’re a few of the fixed issues that were reported by some very diligent mortals:
- Transformed Soulless – Creatures with Soulless that are transformed will no longer be put into the void.
- Auto Attack Sequence – When multiple creatures that attack automatically (Spiral Golem, Broken Harvester & Underbrush Boar) are on the board, there is no longer a chance that subsequent auto attacks will target an opponent that has already died.
- Sanctum UI – Fixed an issue where players could open the Sanctum while a card selection screen is active, as it caused UI elements to become hard to select.
- Lost In The Depths – Fixed an issue that could cause Lost In The Depths’ card effect to appear delayed.
- Relics – Fixed an issue that caused Relics to occasionally leave their durability number visible on the board after being destroyed.
- Burn Application – Creatures with innate Burn (e.g. card text that reads “Burn 1.”) that are copied into a player’s hand will no longer re-apply their burn when summoned to the board.
UPDATED: Wednesday June 17 @ 12am PDT
Squash one bug and another rises. Below are some of the ones we’re working on:
- FIXED – There is currently an engine-level incompatibility with the Radeon RX 580 graphics card that can cause the game client to sporadically crash to desktop. The team is actively investigating a workaround. In the meantime we recommend playing with internal graphics, if available, or on a computer with a different graphics card.
- 6/17/20 – Mac OSX Catalina 10.15 has continued access issues with the latest update. If your device is running Mac OSX Catalina 10.15, Update 0.23 will get stuck on “Retrieving User Cards”. To fix this you must grant the “gods” application “Full Disk Access” in your Privacy Settings. This issue is widely affecting a lot of software on Catalina. You can fix this by following our guide here. If you have already followed this process with the previous update, remove "gods" from "Full Disk Access" by using the "-" button and re-add "gods" by using the "+" button.
- Reanimate’s card effect is resolved at the end of the turn.
- VFX for Deadly triggering gets further from the card each time it is played.
- When a card is pulled from the deck into the void, an animation plays on the deck that makes it look like a card is being added to the deck, not removed.
- After copying a creature, some tooltips and buff VFX can go missing.
- Creature card tooltips can get stuck on the screen until the player hovers their cursor over a different card.
- Scrolling through tooltips may not work when there are two or more creatures on one side of the board.
- Regen and Burn tooltips are displayed twice when played to board.
- You cannot open the Bug Report window while using the Sanctum.
- The defeat screen doesn't appear when the player manually concedes the game.
- Reconnecting during the loading screen can cause the game to get stuck.
- Reconnecting causes incorrect display of opponent’s Rank and Level.
- The game board becomes black when increasing latency and packet loss at the “Opponent Connecting” step.
- We’ve fixed an issue where Anti Magic Expert was not giving the stolen creature sleep at the end of the turn.
- Exoscout will no longer deal damage even after it was killed.
- Crashes related to AMD Radeon cards, which are caused by a conflict between Unity and the hardware, have been resolved.
For all the latest balance updates, join our Discord and follow #balance-announcements.