Recipe for an update - World Building, Scripting and a Dash of Arcane Brainstorming: So what happened the last 6 months?

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Ok, so this is going to be a longish article getting everyone up to speed with all the projects that have been completed and projects that are currently being worked on. This should give people a good outline of what the systems are, how they will fit into the overall concept of Arcanima and the general direction that we have been driving in during the last 6 - 12 months.

We would like to acknowledge the lack of updates on the website (although discord is used regularly), but going forward we want to bring the website back into play and use it to discuss, explain and show where Arcanima is heading as a concept and hopefully attract like minded players and admins /DM’s to help make a great game.

The website has been quiet, but behind the scenes the guys have been very busy. Below will be a lot of outline information about each system or project with an outline summary. There will be follow-up articles about each project in detail with images and videos for your perusal.

I asked Yorlik how he would best describe Arcanima:

"I would describe Arcanima as a social experiment in virtual space. Not an experiment as in using lab rats to achieve scientific results but an exploration into what is or is not possible.

The experiment consists of trying to build a community around a game, where the game also is the social platform, grounded in fantasy space, but with a real life counterpart which is discord and the forums and maybe real life meetings as a perspective.

The goal is to have fun, to exchange, to experience ideas, stories and the gameplay systems, to develop a shared storyline and to meet other people from different countries and cultures in a playful manner.

I hope we manage to develop an environment and a process, where people can have engaging and interesting experiences which help to open and broaden the personal scope."

Here is a quick list of completed projects so far:

Werewolves . . . Scary, this was a first attempt to create a shape changing system - What we learned will help us apply it to similar systems eg: druids, shape changing beasts etc. The next iteration will hopefully allow werewolves to be a playable race-like game mechanic which is not just a curse or punishment for the player. We may also implement vampires and other entities but for sure we will not copy the lore of a well known TV series ;)

One very cool concept that the team created at the start of our project was a hidden stashes system . . .

A hidden stash is used as a possibility for players to hide wealth or create provisioning points for later use (for example - longer expeditions into the wilderness) by burying chests or satchels in the ground. Players are able to create treasure maps for these locations. You only have to use your imagination to see how cool this will become once storage space becomes an issue (expensive bank safe storage, limited house storage) and player treasure hunters are under way.

One simple but very useful system is the folio. It is a repository of information acquired while playing the game. It is inspired by well-known single-player RPGs such as "The Witcher" and the “Dragon Age" Series. Capturing all that lore for later use is always good to have.

Custom dyes are one of the oldest, if not the oldest custom gameplay system. It is much more differentiated than the vanilla colouring system because it distinguishes between different types of dyes and it allows the mixing of dyes to create new colours. We even have a skin bronzer! (No animals were harmed during the making of our dyes).

Dye Merchant

What's that falling from the sky? Abseiling Slyons attacking from an airship! Yes please :) The airship drops are inspired by the DayZ helicopter crash sites. Basically they are random encounters which appear at random locations and stay for a limited time. So you have to actively search for them and you cannot camp a site and wait for the loot to rain down on you. It's also a pretty complex script with custom AI. Look out in game they may have some good loot...

Slyon Airship Drop

Have you walked through the camp fires in the vanilla game and thought “I must be made of teflon.. Didn't even get warm”. Well, our campfires not only put you into a resting / recovering mode within 10 seconds, but if you stand or walk into them you will take burning damage.

Most quests are still pretty close to the vanilla originals at the moment but we have changed the dialogues to suit the Arcanima lore where possible. There is still a lot to do on the quest side. See if you can see which ones are ours. We have our own custom mobs too, though there still is a lot to do on the custom mobs. We have some, many of them even quite complex but we feel we need to do much more concerning this area of development.

There are two extremes concerning balancing difficulty when it comes to spawning mobs. One extreme is to spawn the same thing independent of what the players are doing. Another extreme would be to adjust the difficulty of mobs to the level of the players. Both approaches are problematic. We are currently experimenting with spawning mechanics, which spawn more difficult mobs once the easier mobs have been killed. You could visualise this as a certain part of the map becoming hotter and hotter as players are actively hunting mobs in this area. A player grinding / farming a certain area might experience that the situation becomes too difficult and must move on to a new area to explore or harvest in. But this is only one of the mechanics we are playing with, nothing is set in stone and we need to put a lot more work into these experiments where the world reacts to player behaviour.

On the admin tool side of things we have made a range of useful ones, big and small. Player data capture on logout is a small but essential tool. It's been months already since we started saving serialised player data on logout. This will help us compensate players in case we need to wipe due to technical reasons and it also helps fix player issues since the state of players on every log out is recorded. This is done by converting all player data including backpack content and equipped items into a json string which is stored in a time stamped file.

One of the larger efforts went into the seed manager. We already have a system in place which allows builders to create scenes and to store them permanently from inside the game client,  without using the unity toolset. We have also created a set of tools to view and edit object properties in a convenient way to support our builders, such as an animation player, a sound player, effect player, and an in-game colour editor.

The colour editor works nicely with all sorts of things but also works in conjunction with the NPC editor. We built this tool to create and edit NPC templates. This is a visual tool where you see the NPC you are creating and work directly on it using all the equipment assets available. From a simple fisherman to a heavily armoured knight, you can create them all.

One thing we are very keen on is having a detailed and robust custom skill set. We already have a bunch of custom skills in place and in development (e.g. Metallurgy for smelting more than 20 custom ores and making custom alloys like "Knights Death" or "Glawigs Mending Alloy"; Survival as part of a survival system with hunger, thirst, injuries and diseases; Stonemasonry for making gravestones, pillars and house repair as well as stone figurines and artifacts; Archeology for finding stuff). We will write more about custom skills and their place the Arcanima world in follow-up articles.

And to finish off, we are also doing crazy frankensteinian experiments. Like the creation of an AI which is working with genetic algorithms to improve mob behaviour by mutation and selection. The first application of the genetic algorithm library was the creation of a rabbit population with two genders, a simulated reproduction cycle, simulated gametocytes, meiosis and genetic mutations and crossover - just like in biology. The result was the population separating into two types of genotypes and phenotypes: One subpopulation was very good in finding and utilizing food, the other was very good in fast proliferation. They crashed the server and needed to be taken out because they took a lot of CPU resources, but the system will get used later on to allow new forms of mob behavior.

As you can see, there has been a lot of good work over the last 6 - 12 months. The point of this article is to just catch you up with where we are on completed elements, systems and concepts. One of the next articles will be talking about some things we are working on now and what we want to implement long term. I hope you like what you see so far and would like to join us on Arcanima.

Cheers, Bye.


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