Sep 19
QuiVr - Blueteak
User Account Improvements
User accounts are an incredibly important part of any game that has item permanence. Previously there have been two major issues that (rarely) could affect players negatively with items and accounts.
  • Local user file corruption
  • Inventory/Resource resets
Both of these issues did have solutions, but they were both manual and required significant effort on both parties (player and developer) to resolve.

With this update, two new systems have been implemented to handle these issues.

The first is auto-repair for corrupted/expired local user files. This should be invisible to players and will simply remove and regenerate the local user file (using online copy) if an issue is detected. This will hopefully lead to fewer (hopefully 0) instances of needing to delete the Parse.settings file.

The second change is a modification to how item rewards work. Instead of pulling down, modifying and reuploading your inventory locally (which could pull down nothing, add one new item, and upload the blank inventory, overwriting the correct one on the server), item generation will happen both locally and on the server, and no inventory upload will ever be performed by the client. This way, even if your local machine fails to download the correct inventory at launch, it will not be able to update the server with that incorrect information.

Hopefully these changes will lead to fewer issues of losing items and reduce the severity of issues with connecting to the server.

Temporary Items
With this new item reward system, a new type of item is possible! By giving items to the player on the client only, and rewarding them on the server, temporary items (given for that play session) are possible.

To test this system, two new bows have been added to the game!

These bows will be a temporary award that will be given to players currently on the Single or Multiplayer Leaderboards and will only be available while the player remains on the board.

If this is successful and seems like a fun addition I will look at adding more temporary items, potentially even ones only to be used during a particular round of play.

Other Changes and Fixes
  • Updated engine to Unity 2017.1.1p2
  • Graphical improvements for some effects
  • Fixed navigation area performance and accuracy on many tiles
  • Added community buttons to menu that lead to QuiVr Discord

While this update is a bit light on content additions, I think the infrastructure changes will be extremely helpful, and there is a lot of content on the way!

Teaser:
Sep 12
QuiVr - Blueteak
Cave Environment


A new tile set has been added to the game this week - caves! This is a test of enclosed spaces, dynamic lighting adjustment, and some atmospheric effects which will hopefully lead to some more interesting and unique environment tile sets in the future!

The transition tiles from Snow/Highland environments to the caves were the biggest challenge as lighting information changes on a per-tile basis after teleporting, I think the results look quite promising.

Gate Healthbars


Thanks to some community brainstorming, a new gate healthbar system has been added that strikes a good balance between useful player information, unobtrusive UI, and thematic styling. These healthbars are also extremely lightweight in terms of performance using a sprite shader instead of dynamic UI slider adjustment.

Enemy Death Effects

Ragdoll physics are one of my favorite effects in games. They make each enemy kill a unique and rewarding experience. However not everyone's computer is capable of running the expensive physics simulation on many bodies at once, and not every enemy death needs the same treatment.

Therefore a new system has been put into place that allows enemy deaths to be quick and cheap for the computer. The effects will be used in a few different scenarios.
  • If the death occurred without player action (when a gate is closed)
  • If ragdolls are turned off in the settings menu
  • If there are too many other ragdolls in the scene already (> 10)
This will add a large performance boost for those without beefy CPUs, removes unnecessary overhead when certain actions in the game are taken, and puts a limit on the amount of CPU power the game can allocate just to ragdoll physics.

Other Additions and Fixes
  • Added contextual Leave Game button to menu
  • Scaled down gate energy requirements in 4-player games
  • Scatter Arrow should no longer trigger teleporters
  • Warp enemies color changed to match teleporting effect
  • Fixed issue with AoE effects not triggering when enemies entered
  • Fireballs are now cleared when a gate is closed
  • Fixed energy not being rewarded to non-host players in multiplayer

Edit: Graphicstest branch updated to 0.42.0 as well
Sep 5
QuiVr - Blueteak
Map Tile Optimizations

Most of this week's work has come in the form of map tile optimizations. Two systems have been implemented:
  • Rock Visible Sides
  • Rock Level Of Detail (LOD) models
The rock side system lets me quickly set the visible rock side via script so that only the part of the model that is facing into the canyon is used at all, reducing the amount of mesh data per tile by close to 50%.

Additionally, each major rock model now has two lower quality models (levels of detail) that are swapped in when the rock is far away to preserve quality up close but require less processing at a distance.

Enemy Hitbox Improvements

This update changes one of the enemy hitbox sets with a different style of collision detection to collect information about a more simplistic but less accurate setup.

The shielded enemy now uses 14 primitive colliders as opposed to the previous 25 colliders. This will improve performance and give you more leeway with collision detection (fewer false negatives) while potentially allowing for arrows that seem to float a few inches in the air when embedded in the enemy. We'll see how it feels with more player data.

Aimed Shot Changes
The previous implementation of Aimed Shots was a bit too complex to work with effectively, both for new and experienced players. It has now been changed to a simple aimed/not-aimed value that occurs after 2.5 seconds of charging.

In addition, this allows for a new mechanic type when particular objects are hit with an aimed shot. The first implementation of which is in the shielded enemies. They will now drop their shield if it is hit with an aimed shot.

Other Changes
  • Update to Unity 2017.1p5 for crash fixes
  • Fixed enemy footstep audio spatialization
  • Minimum gate HP after loosing set to 100
  • Energy requirements for progressing through gates reduced
  • Critical strike energy multiplier increased
Aug 29
QuiVr - Blueteak
Scoring System


With the new procedural maps, the old scoring system didn't make as much sense. This patch introduces a new scoring system that is both based on the gate you reach but also your statistics throughout the game. The actual formulas will likely be tweaked over the next few weeks but the general idea will remain unless a serious flaw is found.

This should lead to more score diversity (in addition to the reduced difficulty curve) as well as some more interesting multiplayer cooperative decisions (the best individual stat in each category is taken for the group's score).

Tile Compression


This compresses the gate regions along with reducing the number of enemies on screen at a time. This should hopefully lead to better performance due to fewer enemies being on screen at the same time, but those enemies that do exist are more impactful due to the closer gates.

Teleporter Boosters


Teleporters can now power up, giving faster aimed-shot powerup. This should encourage moving around the map more as well as giving players a decision of weather to leave a well positioned location to go a different, potentially farther boosted teleporter.

Other Changes and Fixes
  • Elite flying enemy now carried two smaller fireballs instead of one large
  • Fixed stack overflow issue with orb trails
  • Fixed quiver trigger area performance
  • Fixed glove animation performance
  • Removed extra details on gate towers for rendering performance
  • Lowered first gate gem count
  • Added option to disable gate gems
  • Added Bow pull multiplier slider to Bow options
  • Gates now immune to damage for 5 seconds after building
  • Improved enemy health bar performance
QuiVr - Blueteak
New Environment - Highlands


Due to the recent release of the procedural, tile bases map system, I gave myself the challenge this week of creating a new environment (having already had the art, but taking less than a week since I traveled for the eclipse!). The result is the new Highlands environment which breaths new life into the canyon with lush green pines and ground cover as well as new rock formations and designs.

I am really excited for the future environments as well, as the process has become more and more streamlined for easy addition of more varied tiles and environments.

You can check out the new environment in this week's map seed!

Interface Options


A new settings panel has been added to the menu, which now includes the first set of "Interface" options: Enemy Health Bars and Floating Combat Text

These are off by default, but if you want to do some theory crafting or compare different strategies or abilities, there is now a good way to do so. There will likely be some more interface options added in the future as well to give you more control over the balance between information and immersion.

Difficulty Adjustemtns

This patch includes large changes to the difficulty system, including a much slower ramp up as you close gates, as well as a more static difficulty tuning system due to score being tied directly.

Over the next few weeks I will be making many adjustments to both the difficulty scaling system and separating it out from the scoring system so that there is more flexibility in those areas and a more granular score system for the leaderboards.

Other Changes and Fixes
  • Lowered enemy smoke effect height
  • Final gate health display fixed
  • Increased collider size of Time Warp ability
  • Fixes for Keyboard and Mouse gameplay
  • Disabled Graphics Jobs to fix graphics related crashes
QuiVr - Blueteak


It's finally here!

After months of work, testing, and community feedback, the procedural map system is now live! Most of the major issues have been smoothed out, and the game's replayability has been massively increased. New systems have been added that improve the new player experience as well as give more depth to the gameplay. And the system has been designed with additional content in mind, creating a streamlined system to add more to the game.

Procedural Maps

The static frozen canyon has been replaced with a procedural map system. It is built using map tiles in a similar way to Diablo's level generation.

There are currently 2 environments (Snow and Desert) that can appear at any point in the map using transition tiles. This system will be significantly expanded in the future and we have tons of environment ideas such as caves, swamps, lava, etc.



Each week there will be a set game seed (this week is "Week-1") that will determine the level layout and in the future be tied to the primary leaderboards. Each time a game ends or you create/leave a multiplayer room, this map will be generated.

However, you can generate a new map by grabbing the die. There is currently no way to save/enter a map seed, but a system to do that will be added soon!

Map Progression



We've taken a hard look at our system of progressing through the map by closing gates, and we realized that standing on towers may not be the most intuitive or fun way to do so.

Therefore, this update brings with it an entirely new system for progressing down the canyon. Instead of standing at gates to close them, you will now kill enemies to do it.

Each time you kill an enemy, it will grant you some energy toward closing the next gate. Difficult shots and maintaining combos will generate more energy. Once the progress orb is filled, you can shoot at it (or let it happen automatically) to immediately close the next gate.

We feel that this system is both more understandable for new players (if you kill enough enemies the gate will close), as well as more interesting for veterans who can now create strategies around how to efficiently generate the maximum amount of energy while still successfully defending the enemy onslaught.

Aimed Shot



For a game that is almost entirely about shooting an arrow, there has previously been few opportunities for decision making about the process. Before now, shooting fast was rewarded more than shooting accurately, which seemed counter-productive to playing the game like a well trained sniper.

So this update also brings a new archery system, the 'Aimed Shot', which will make your arrow stronger the longer you hold it back, up to a maximum of 5 seconds.

Not only does this increase the damage it does, but it will also compound your energy generation. Hitting a fully charged headshot at 100m will give you a massive boost.

We think that this new system should give an additional level of depth to the archery gameplay without forcing players to learn a new button or skill.

Additional Notes
While we've spent months working on this new system, it's still a massive overhaul and not every combination of map tiles and multiplayer interaction can be tested, so I expect this week to have plenty of issues for me to fix.

Please continue submitting issues in the discussion forums, or better yet on the QuiVr Discord where I can reply and get extra information immediately.

Finally, I want to give a huge thank you to all the people who helped me test the new map systems in the beta branches both this past week and over the past few months during development. It is incredibly helpful and I honestly could not do all of this without your help, suggestions, and support :)
QuiVr - Blueteak
The procedural map system is now entering it's final testing phase before moving into the default branch!

Therefore this week will be entirely dedicated to testing to find and fix bugs. To that end, for this week only there will be a unique reward for playing a game in the beta branch.



Those of you who play a game of QuiVr in the Beta branch (Singleplayer or Multiplayer and until the game ends) before next Tuesday will receive a new set of wings to show of your dedication to improving the game!

Please also consider joining the QuiVr Discord so that you can post bugs easily and get immediate responses from myself and others in the community.

Procedural Map Info
The current Procedural map system is different from the existing game. In addition to a brand new environment type (Desert) that can exist in any randomly generated canyon ...



... the new Procedural Maps are infinite in length. As you progress through the gates, the game will become increasingly difficult, however you will never be required to fall back all the way to the beginning. Instead you will always be given a single gate to lose/restore, if you lose two gates in a row the game will end.

We have an interesting plan for merging this new infinite system with 'event tiles', which will bring the much anticipated "Giant Climbing" gameplay into the world of QuiVr.



In the mean time however, we think that the current procedural map system is enough of an improvement on the existing, single map that it should be brought into the main branch to give the game some much needed replayability.

Please remember to report any bugs or issues you find in the beta branch, duplicate issues are helpful for cross referencing and finding the underlying causes!
Aug 1
QuiVr - Blueteak
Overview
0.39.0 has some great new additions thanks to feedback from the community and some additional engineering help provided during my recent trip out to Microsoft.

There is a ton more coming down the line soon as things are starting to come together in the Procedural Maps, Art dept, and PvP system. If you want to stay up to date with the latest info and updates, make sure to join the QuiVr Discord as I post updates and talk with everyone daily!

Performance Improvements
Thanks to the help of some fantastic Microsoft engineers, I learned a bit more about shader performance, and more importantly how to measure it. Due to this new knowledge I was able to review some of the existing game shaders and adjust them to strike a better balance between visual quality and performance.



Rocks in QuiVr use a custom shader to apply a high quality 'cover' texture (usually snow, but sand, moss, etc are all possible) over a high quality rock texture in a way that doesn't require massive individual textures to get good quality up close.

Previously this custom shader was based on the Unity Standard Shader, which is a 'realistic' shader that can be used as a base for almost any material (stone, plastic, metal, etc). However, by switching to a Lambert base (which uses diffuse reflection instead of a more realistic approach) we can get similar results with less than half of the math operations per frame, per rock, which is a massive performance improvement.

Similarly, the ground shader previously used was also based on the Standard shader and had a detailed normal map. However, you're very rarely up close to the ground, so I've switched it to a diffuse only map which changed it from 192 math instructions to only 43.

I'll be continuing to look through the existing shaders to see if I can squeeze out some more performance while retaining the visual fidelity of the game.

PvP Testing


The PvP Testing section of the game has now been merged into the main branch thanks to some suggestions by the community. Due to the fact that it is a completely optional experience to the core gameplay loop, I've enabled the button in the default branch since that's pretty much what Early Access is for.

Please Note: The PvP Matchmaking and game system is very much still in development and may not work correctly, much less be a balanced experience. I'm currently looking for feedback on bugs/crashes related to the PvP experience (though I'm always happy to take suggestions on improvements), so keep that in mind if you decide to try it out!

The Queue is passive, so just hit the button and when a match is found you'll be notified and (if you don't cancel the request) removed from whatever you're currently doing to join the 1v1 PvP game (additional player modes will be added later).

Other Changes
  • Fixed Multiplayer enemies running backwards
  • Attempted fix for teleporter enemy attacking before reaching gate
  • Duplicate resource name fixed
  • Fixed smoker not working on lowest quality setting
  • Heal achievements reduced [250, 500, 1000]
  • Rapid Fire requirement reduced to 8 (down from 12)
  • Improved hitbox for armored enemy (normal and elite)
Thanks as always for your continued feedback and support!
QuiVr - Blueteak
As is sometimes the case, it is difficulty to keep up with weekly updates while away from my main development computer.

This week I'm in Seattle, working with Microsoft on some really cool stuff that I'll be able to share more about very soon (part of which is major optimizations to the game systems since they have some experts on hand!), as well as visiting with Valve for a bit which I'm super excited for!

So, while I'm still very hard at work on improving the game, there won't be a patch this week.

However, if you missed it (maybe because you're not part of the Official QuiVr Discord where I post many more updates about the other branches in progress), there is a new branch where you can try out the PvP system I'm working on ;)
QuiVr - Blueteak
Unity Upgrade to 2017.1

This update brings QuiVr to the latest public release of Unity (2017.1) and with it come a huge amount of performance improvements, VR bug and crash fixes, and access to some of the latest features to be implemented in the future (VR Works, Foveated Rendering Pipeline, additional VR SDKs, etc).

Gameplay with the new version should feel smoother than ever and will hopefully lead to a more consistent experience.

UI Overhaul
Thanks to the fantastic work of @TheStoneFox and the rest of the VRTK Community, the previous UI interaction system has been replaced with the continually improved, open source system found in the latest version of the VRToolKit.

Not only should UI interactions now be more consistent, but this update also fixes one of the most common problems of requiring QuiVr to be in the foreground to allow the UI to work (now you can alt tab away and UI interactions will work as intended!).

Additional Changes
  • Enemies now correctly kill player on collision
  • Miss ability effects no longer clear combo
  • Arrow size adjusted for 2017.1 PhysX modifications
  • Removed unnecessary logging
  • NaN Error fixes
As with any major engine upgrade, the upgrade to Unity 2017.1 has too many features and changes to test myself. Please let me know in the discussion forums or in the Official Discord if there are any undocumented issues!
...

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