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3nrique
concept-Blog.jpg

Greetings, Defenders!

Before any of the lush environments, gnarly villains and dashing heroes step into the third dimension, we need to make them look like something -- preferably something cool! So how do we create concepts for new additions to the game? I figured we could go back to one of our recently revealed enemies, the Javelin Thrower, and see what it took for this abomination to come into fruition. (I also want to use this blog post as an excuse to melt your eyes with tons of art.)

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Design, Reference, Brainstorming

So where do we start? Usually there is a to-do list for each development milestone for things that need art -- animation poses, VFX, environment paintovers, and weapons to name a few -- but my favorites are the enemy concepts. Usually we work on those that need priority first, but most often we pick the fun things! So when we first start, we need to know the enemy’s role in the game. At this stage, a design document has already been approved by the higher-ups with the information we need. Below is just a brief excerpt from the Javelin Thrower’s doc:

Design Goals
  • Ranged, smaller version of the Orcs
  • Uses massive javelin that pierces through targets and damages them
  • Varies minion wave composition
  • Switches to melee on close range


Makes sense. After we have a clear grasp of what our goal with this guy is, we start gathering reference and spend some time thinking of our design goals. Our main job as concept artists is to solve visual problems, so in this instance we ask ourselves a few questions: What would a heavy ranged enemy look like? How do you throw a javelin? Is he intimidating, or can we inject humor? At this point my mind is already brewing with endless possibilities. I start going through the list of ideas in my head, exploring different shapes and personalities while still keeping in mind the design goals.

Our initial goal is to generate enough ideas and concepts to get people talking. Sometimes we hit the nail right on the head, and the first concept we make is the one that everyone likes. We celebrate, shake hands, and party. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. After we’ve exhausted our brain and poured our initial concepts onto digital paper, we usually gather with our Creative Director Daniel Araya, our Art Director Rusty Drake, and the rest of our art team, and pitch ideas back and forth until we are clear on what the game needs.

Form Follows Function

One of the great things about games is the amalgamation of so many talented folks coming together to illustrate a single idea. Oftentimes, if done really really well, you know what that idea is by glancing at it, without guessing or having someone explain it to you.

With the Javelin Thrower, we really wanted that to be apparent. We wanted the player to have a sense of what this character was just by looking at him. Hopefully we did our job right. In the initial concepts, everyone really latched on to the idea that his throwing arm is all he uses, so it’s ripped and huge! If this guy throws something at you, it will obliterate anything in its path. We wanted that to be the focus, so he is extremely out of shape, disfigured and malnourished in certain parts. He has basically neglected everything else… but that arm, though.

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We are getting close! So at this stage, we couldn’t decide what to go with exactly in terms of personality. Should he be angry like the Orcs? Alarmed? Mysterious? Perplexed?

Ultimately, we agreed to have him be a little more fun and show more personality than his angry and intimidating Orc counterpart. B3 (see illustration above) was definitely the way to go. He seems super excited to get into the map and just throw things with wreckless abandon.

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So there he is: the Javelin Thrower! He is perfect, the kind of enemy Etheria deserves -- except we are not quite done yet.

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Tiers and Tears

So here is the part where we take the design and break it only to mold it again into perfection. Most enemies in Dungeon Defenders II have tiers, which means this guy goes from tough to tougher to ridiculous. Visually, one of the things we really care about when it comes to tiers is the character’s silhouette. Will you be able to tell this guy apart from the others? If so, how much will his silhouette change when he is in a higher tier? Is he still visually interesting, or is it boring?

Normally enemies need to look more aggressive and intimidating. With the Javelin Thrower, it needed to be that plus we had to maintain his essential dorkiness. There is a lot of back and forth in this stage. We move things around, try a lot of different shapes, armors, colors, and horns, lots of horns, until ultimately…

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Like Brad Pitt in Troy

Bear with me here! We have a bit more time just before our deadline. Now after the design and the tiers have been approved, we need to make sure that all of our ideas are clear for everyone to be on the same page. We make a call out sheet to go over a few details and ideas we might have missed to make the 3D modelers and animators’ lives easier.

Now this little guy is ready to step into...

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The Third Dimension

Our buddy Dan Pingston made sure of that, and he turned out very presentable, wouldn’t you agree? After this comes rigging, animation, materials, and finally those ones and zeroes can run through their veins. We have a ton of cool things to show you, so until the next one! Cheers!

The random winners of our previous blogs are:
  • Early Access Blog: Wyldbill
  • Early Access Blog: Ramzilla
  • Concept to Creation Blog: TehOwn
  • Concept to Creation Blog: xPi
  • A Bold New World Blog: Basston
  • A Bold New World Blog: Ratiasu


What did you think of the concept art process? Tell us in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Friday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community!
drod1000
Greetings Defenders,

We have decided to delay Early Access to Dungeon Defenders II. This was not an easy decision, and I know many of you are disappointed.

Let me explain.

Originally, our plan was to follow the recent Early Access trends and release the game in a rough “pre-alpha” state with many features missing. Over the past couple of months, our team has been playing with our Councillors, analyzing their feedback, and a different conversation started. Simply put, we discovered that Dungeon Defenders is not the kind of game that benefits from a super unfinished early access like DayZ or Rust. To focus on delivering you a more complete, high-quality Dungeon Defenders experience from the beginning, we’ve decided to hold Early Access.

This will allow us to create almost every feature we and our Councillors believe is important for a AAA quality Early Access experience before going wide. These features include the new tavern, solo play, bosses, item upgrading, new enemies, more missions, more loot, a refined UI... plus a ton of polish and tweaks that our Councillors have suggested to hero abilities & defenses, mana distribution and so much more.

In a few weeks, we will also have an exciting announcement that will fill the gap between now and the Early Access release of Dungeon Defenders II. This will provide a different means to test our Playverse server architecture, which will allow us to iterate on the technology without jeopardizing the stability or ultimate quality of the launch of Dungeon Defenders II.

Thank you for understanding. I want to reiterate my commitment to empowering the developers here at Trendy to realize their creative vision - and my commitment to you, our loyal fans, who are patiently awaiting your next visit to Etheria. Keep an eye on this blog for more DD2 updates. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at someone familiar:

TavernScreenshot-1024x515.jpg

Darrell Rodriguez
CEO, Trendy Entertainment
ZackSmith
forge-Blog.jpg

Creating 3D art is so cool! Okay, I had to get that off my chest because it's the truth! Turning a flat 2D painting into an object that you can walk on, interact with or marvel at as you run by is truly rewarding.

When a concept is given to a 3D artist, or at to least me, I am flooded with so many thoughts that are usually instantaneous. The main thought is, "How will I create this thing?" I begin to break down the shapes that I see in a given concept and ponder how I will translate that given asset into the third dimension.

forge.png

Creating the Forge for Dungeon Defenders II was an exciting task to complete. I thought to myself, "I get to create a cool design that opens up, emits cool VFX, has glowly parts, and the Council helped design the concept!" This asset had a bit of pressure for sure, but a little pressure never hurt anyone.

Like any model, it all begins with a primitive geometric shape. I usually start off with either a cube or cylinder. Who would have thought that in high school I would literally work with geometry all day? It's a good thing the math is behind the scenes; I just work with the shapes. A given triangle count limit is given. This is the max limit of how many Tris (cool people say Tris instead of triangles) that can be used to create that given model. I try to not think of it as a restriction, but rather as a nice number that I have in the back of my head that will sometimes whisper to me: "Hey Zack, your Tri count is getting a bit high! Try lowering that number, okay?" I'm always happy to oblige to myself. Creating models efficiently as possible is one of the many factors that help regulate how well a game runs.

ForgeScreenshot02-1024x780.jpg

When creating the Forge, I broke the model into different parts. It was easy enough to do because the great design has very distinct landmarks that made it painless to figure out shapes and spatial relationships. This is crucial in my thinking process to get the model to look as close to the concept as possible.

Before the process of painting the Forge, I had to completely lay out the model to be flat. This is the process of creating UVs. The letters U and V are just the axes that a texture will be placed. Creating UVs is like unfolding a cardboard box completely flat. To save as much space as possible, UVs are overlapped and flipped in all kinds of ways to be snug tight. The better the UV layout, the easier it will be to paint the model's texture.

UVs.jpg

Texturing is one of my favorite parts. This is when the model really starts to come together. About 98% of my painting is done in 3D-Coat. This program allows me to paint directly on the geometry. Photoshop is used to do any minor clean-ups or color adjustments. The Forge involved painting lots of metal. The first part of the painting process involves putting down those nice base colors. Once that is done, I begin to paint the overall form a bit more. Little nicks and dents are added to give the overall piece an interesting look. Unlike realistic textures, not every minute detail is put into the painting. Implied paint strokes can be just enough to let the viewer understand what the material the model is made out of. We also do not want the model to become noisy with detail.

ForgeScreenshot01-1024x430.jpg

After hours of painting, the model is done. I do a quick visual sweep of the model to make sure I'm satisfied and to ensure there are not any technical problems before it's checked by the 3D art lead and art director. After critiques are given and changes are made, it’s handed off to rigging and animation!

forgegif_1.gif

Are there any other models that you'd like to see from concept to creation? Tell us in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

The random winner of the Javelin Thrower Boogie blog is TezNyanCatLipoca! There's still time to enter the Bold New World blog giveaway!
Joesith

A Bold New World

vfx-Blog.jpg

Recently, we overhauled our visual effects style in DD2. Our old VFX style used the soft shapes and smooth gradients from the first Dungeon Defenders, but it didn't match what the game was currently achieving in its art style. DD2 uses bold colors and hard shapes, especially in the way we design and build our worlds. Our amazing 2D Animator Alexey Mescherin was already using a more hard-edged and bold color style in his animated flipbooks, so we needed our basic particles and accent components to match that same style and feel. Our goal was to emphasize very simple shapes, simple gradients if any, and bold colors in our VFX.

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We went through our library of VFX assets and picked out the textures that no longer adhered to the visual style we wanted to achieve. I selected a group of textures that used soft shapes and gradients to experiment with. I brought these into Photoshop and played with ways to turn these textures into the hard-edged and bold look we wanted. I tried to find the basic shapes and elements of each texture to break them down to these core elements. I also made them uneven and nonuniform to bring more interest to the textures.

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Then I compared the old and new textures side-by-side with a slight blur added to make sure they still had a reasonable enough similarity between the two. Because we were replacing the old textures with these new ones, we didn’t want to completely change the intent and feel of the VFX.

We didn’t change every soft shape and gradient, though. There are some visual effects that we kept in the old, softer style. For example, we kept certain types of smoke and fog -- volumetric fog, candle smoke and distance fog/smoke -- in the old style for places that are more ambient and less volatile.

portal1.gif

Adjusting to this new style of VFX has been a major hit internally at Trendy, and we are continuing to move forward with it. The hard edges add a very nice banding to our VFX that really push the cartoony stylized feel we want to achieve with DD2. We hope you all enjoy this new approach with our VFX as much as we do!

How do you feel about the bold new VFX style? Tell us in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Friday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

Also, there's still time to enter the giveaway on the Javelin Thrower Boogie blog!
PutmickJ
qajav-Blog.jpg

Greetings, Defenders!

Welcome to this month's QA Bug Blog: Let's Go Bughawks! [WORKING TITLE]. When enemies aren't barreling their way to your core, they like to kick back, relax and have some fun. We were able to capture one of these rare moments, and so we present to you Etheria's hottest new dance craze: The Javelin Thrower Boogie!

jav_dumb.gif

This bug was a fun but albeit tough one to solve. Sometimes, we would see enemies permanently stunned with their heads hanging down or enemies that were infinitely flailing after being launched by a geyser. After spending a few hours exhausting every avenue to track it down, we were finally able to reproduce the issue. As it turned out, the enemy needed to be hit and change AI states -- for example, hurt, stun or shocked -- right as it was coming out of the shocked state. This led to the enemy being stuck forever in the shocked state, which gave us the hottest dance craze this side of Greystone Plaza!

According to Javier Barreto, DD2's lead software programmer, the problem with the bug was related to how AI states wait for the end of an animation to pop. In this case, the hurt state would wait forever for the animation to end. After being knocked back, the stun state would pop back and run a looped hurt animation, which would end up running forever. After identifying the problem at hand, the fix didn’t take too long to come through in the way of a check to prevent the stun waiting for the animation to end.

Javelin Throwers were not alone in making the new dance hit famous, as this also affected Witherbugs, Kobolds and Goblins! Here’s a smooth tune so you can groove along with the enemies in these gifs:

boogie1.gif

boogie2.gif

And there we have it, Defenders: a fun dance party featuring the Old One's Army! What do you think of the Javelin Thrower Boogie? Tell us in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

The random winner of the Beyond the Boundaries blog is viteros, and the winner of our Bringing Maps to Life blog is happyguy3216!
DanielKaMi
backdrop-Blog.jpg


Greetings Defenders,

We’ve talked about the process of building playable areas, and we’ve shown you how we bring them to life with kismet. But what about the world beyond the playable area? How do we create those epic vistas in the distance in our DD2 maps?

bigChunks-1024x357.png

Setting the Background


The first step in building a background is to craft the main chunks -- for example, a vast mountain range or a clustered group of buildings. These big pieces will determine the volume and space of all the background, so they should be built carefully.

The pictures above show the first iteration done for the background of the Nimbus Reach level. These mountains were done in Maya and exported to UDK to get a preview.

paintover-1024x357.png

Small Details and Optimization


Once the big chunks have been made, concept artists will draw a paintover to help level designers get a better idea of what is required for the small details. A second iteration on the big chunks might be made at this stage to better match the paintovers.

To keep the level playable in terms of frames-per-second, most of the small details are built using a very small number of triangles. At this point, we must distinguish between mid- and long-distance objects. The further away the model is from the player, the lower the level of detail should be. For mid-distance objects, we reduce the triangle count of the original object to something above 75%, while long-distance objects are created as planes with an artist´s textures applied to them.

Here are some examples:

objects_optimization-1024x868.png

These small details could include unique visual elements from other existing levels. To keep the map well-optimized, we make very low-poly versions of these representative buildings for the background areas to save lots of triangles as you can see in the next picture.

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Also, for all of this optimization work, it is very important to keep in mind the angle at which players will see the background areas. Any area that isn’t visible to the player must be removed.

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Adding Particle Effects


Finally, to bring some life to these backgrounds, our VFX artists design tons of cool particle effects. For example, an artist could include the warm glow of the sun on the horizon, a wisp of smoke escaping a chimney or a flock of birds flying below the clouds.

To give you a better idea on how these particles affect the level, check out the next comparison pic. The map on the left doesn’t have any particle effects while the map on the right is filled with them.

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Final Result


These elements all come together to create the backgrounds you'll see in Dungeon Defenders II. Check out some of the backgrounds we've made so far!

map1-1024x510.png

map2-1024x510.png

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nimbusreachfinal-1024x510.png

Which background did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

The random winner of last week’s Animation Iteration blog is Rakkeon! The winner of our Bringing Maps to Life blog is going to be chosen on Friday. If that blog hits 250 comments, we'll give away TWO codes!
Muskie4242
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All art made for games is super easy to create and we, as artists and animators, can speed through pretty much everything. We are guaranteed that anything we do will always work with the tech, design, and overall style the first time, every time.

...Yeah, right.

The reality is that solid, polished art takes time. So much so that terms like “polishing” or “fleshing out” are extremely commonplace, and it is not unheard of that production deadlines be missed because of it. Thus it’s out of necessity that game animators find ways to make fast and simple versions of each and every one of our assets before we devote ourselves to the lengthy process. This is known as “iteration.”

So Many Questions. So Little Time.

When I first begin an animation, a wide range of people may be required to add their input. This is where the iterative process is most important. Designers, programmers and artists all have specific needs and desires for what they want the animation to achieve, and the number of potential problems that each individual's expertise can reveal is virtually limitless. This inevitably requires dozens of changes all around. My ability to quickly and efficiently implement those changes -- or “iterations” -- in my work can be the difference between meeting or missing a deadline, and subsequently ruining or making the day of the people further down the production pipeline.

Of course, it’s always a fun day when art, design, and tech requirements clash.

WouldDevelopeAgain.jpg
Every day is a fun day in the Game Dev business.

This is why I adopt so many different workflows, so that I always have one I can utilize depending on each scenario. In most cases, though, the process can be broken down into three steps of development: blocking, fleshing, and polish.

Where to Begin?

The blocking stage is where I establish the main poses and the timing they play on, which sets the stage for everything that follows. When an animation is blocked out, we focus on the broad strokes concept -- the essential components that communicate the desired movement.

monkSTART_FINAL.gif
“Too simple.” / “Nah, I don't like it.” / “I changed my mind. Go back to the other one.”

Blocking is traditionally the most preferred way of starting an animation, being that it generally allows us to work quickly while still showing off the full range of movement. However, it might not be the very best approach every time. If I don’t have a completely clear direction from my supervisors, for example, I might take a more broad approach for some animations, using nothing more than a couple of individual poses just to set a specific tone.

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“It can’t be a strike. It has to be a slash.” / “Tone the arc down a little so it stays tight to the lane he is in.” / “The attack should come from a low point or a high point. Not across.” / “Thats the one. Build from there.” (Dark Assassin animations are a work-in-progress.)

Or no posing at all, but rather a path of action that the character takes, complete with the timing of their major movements. It can also mean that I have to use placeholder animations in the engine while smarter people figure out if it will work properly.

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“Neat, it doesn’t crash. Now make him do squirrel stuff.”

The Illusion of Life

From these individual starting points, I can begin to develop the animation further until it is the asset you see in game.

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“Blocking” / “Fleshing” / “Polish”

Above you can see the full process behind one of our new enemies, the Javelin Thrower. In the blocking stage, I was directed to push his style to a more fun place than other characters, so the movements are more exaggerated than some of our other enemies. Once it moved into the next stage, I fleshed it out by smoothing his movements into something more refined. Then I spent a lot of time polishing all the little details until he reached the point where he can feel alive on your screen. (Though not for long.)

While it may seem like a long process, the multiple levels of iteration each animation goes through are crucial to getting the final asset at the quality you've come to expect from DD2. It’s always important to maximize the conveyance of important information early on, while minimizing the time spent on it. We can never foresee all of the potential problems, but we can find ways to address them faster.

Thanks for reading! Let us know in the comments which animation you enjoyed the most and you could win a seat on the Defense Council! Want to see the finished/near-final versions of each animation presented in this blog? Check ‘em out in the comments below!

John Muscarella
Virtual Puppet Master (Animator)

The random winner of last week’s Elemental Weapons blog is Lord_DaS!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

Also, the random winner of our Enemy Lane Balancing blog is going to be chosen on Friday, so there’s still time to enter!
iamisom
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It was a tough decision, but our judges have made their decision. The winner of our Caption Contest is -- Cade Usher (Facebook)! Cade won a Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha code with this caption:

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Congratulations, Cade! Send us a private message on Facebook to receive your code.

While runners-up don’t receive a prize, they do earn the greatest gift of all: our respect. The runners-up of the Caption Contest are:

     Hanakinn, Forums: "I love you, Ground! You understand me!"

     Deanomoore, Twitter: "Ignore him. I've seen more meat on a McNugget."

     Carter English, Facebook: "What? He was like this when we got here!"

     Lord_DaS, Forums: "But alas... after 3 hours undercover in a goblin conga line, the Apprentice could conga no more."

Didn’t win? There’s still time to win a DD2 pre-alpha code on the Enemy Encounters Blog (Enter on Facebook | Enter on Forums) and the Elemental Weapons Blog (Enter on Facebook | Enter on Forums)! Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!
JBrawley
spawn-Blog


Deciding how enemies spawn in each lane requires careful planning on the part of the level designer. Each of the three lanes -- ground, air, and the optional, sub-objective blocked lanes -- are balanced differently, and each designer has different balance goals depending on the map being created. Ultimately, though, the goal of all level designers is to provide a fun and challenging experience for the player.

Ruins02OvershotV2Nimbus Reach has six ground lanes (yellow), three air lanes (green), and one sub-objective lane (purple).


We want to avoid the need for players to build the same defensive structures in every lane, as we feel it robs them of any sense of choice or agency. Until recently, we had a limited selection of core enemies to use -- just the standard Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds, and other monsters from DD1. To promote as much spawn diversity as possible, every ground enemy was placed in every ground lane, creating situations where you knew you were going to have a certain mix of all enemy types in each lane.

But as more enemies become available for the design team to use, we can strategize the lanes differently. We might even be able to create specialized lanes, where only one enemy type spawns. For example, one lane on the map might be the "Kobold" lane for that particular match, and players would have to build accordingly.

kobold1


The Spawn Schedule

When we balance a map, one of the first things we do is write a spawn schedule that determines when enemies spawn. Each designer has a different way of approaching the spawn schedules on a map. I personally prefer to create a plan that outlines where I want players to be during each wave. I try to make spawn layouts that will encourage players to move from location to location to react to threats on the map. For this to happen, each threat has to be spaced out. Once I have a good idea of where I want each player to be during a wave, I can plan them in a way that creates the movement I am hoping for. For example, I may start a wave with a heavy assault on the east side of the map, but then rotate the attack to the west side of the map near the end of the wave.

We write one schedule per wave, and of course we try to include some surprises along the way. We also try to ensure that each wave is progressively tougher than the previous. Additionally, we keep guidelines to ensure some level of consistency in difficulty across different maps, and to be sure that the challenge increases in a fairly obvious way. This set of guidelines is constantly evolving, but it helps us turn a complex balance system into methods with somewhat predictable results.

ogre_walking


Under Pressure

The next part of balance is deciding how much “pressure” should be exerted from each lane at any given time. Generally, I use five levels of pressure in a lane, from low to high. A “high pressure” spawn is intended to require the presence of two heroes, or a single player unleashing most of his abilities. When a high pressure group hits a lane, I expect the player to lose defenses if he doesn’t react. Obviously, high pressure groups are used sparingly, with anywhere between two to four appearing in a single combat wave, depending on the difficulty and length of the wave.

Another example are “skirmish” groups -- small groups that contain a limited number of light enemies that a reasonable defense setup should be able to take out. When a skirmish group is in a lane, I expect the player to be able to break away from the lane if a teammate needs help somewhere else.

These are just some of the methods I use to make enemy spawns as engaging as possible for players, so that every lane presents its own kind of challenge. Moving forward, what would you like to see from specialized lanes in maps? How would you adjust your strategy for a lane that spawned only Kobolds? Let us know in the comments and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of last week’s QA blog is Chubby McGiggles!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Friday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

Also, the random winner of our Elemental Weapons blog is going to be chosen on Tuesday, so there’s still time to enter!


http://bit.ly/1oe1vZm
iamisom

Sad News

Greetings Defenders,

Today is an incredibly sad day at Trendy. Roughly 20% of our Trendy family were laid off. We’re working with an outplacement team to make sure that everyone is taken care of, and we’re providing financial assistance and extended benefits to those affected. You can read more about the news here.

We’re very grateful for their hard work and dedication, which you will forever see in Dungeon Defenders II and the other projects we are working on. We hope to see them land on their feet soon. Wherever they land will be lucky to have them.

Some of you will have questions about this situation that we unfortunately cannot answer at this time. Instead, we ask you to use this thread to say goodbye and good luck to the members of Trendy who are no longer with us.
iamisom
Defender-pineberries.jpg

If you've watched any Dungeon Defenders videos on YouTube, you’ve probably stumbled upon oNightPineberries. He’s one of the biggest names in Dungeon Defenders Let’s Plays. Who is this man? How did he come to be? We have so many questions, and he’s here to answer them. Without further ado, here’s the man of the hour!

How did you get your username?

Long Story! o = Okazaki, my godfather’s last name. Night = Short for Noctis. My godfather named me Noctis when I was little because I always looked at the stars late at night. Later my friends changed it to Night because Noctis was too hard to say when we were in elementary school. Pineberries = a white flesh strawberry with red seeds! They look like strawberries but taste very similar to pineapples! My best friend visited Europe and brought back some pineberry jam. Thought it was really bizarre. So I originally was going to do OkazakiNight, but it seemed not interesting. I ultimately took inspiration from the Yogscast’s Honeydew and Seananners and added Pineberries to my name. Thus giving birth to oNightPineberries.

How did you get into making Youtube videos?

At the time, I had several friends already YouTubing. Whenever I saw them making videos, they seemed to be having a lot of fun. So I thought, “What the heck, this will make an interesting hobby.” I originally was going to focus my channel on MMORPGs and smartphone games, but I noticed no one was making Dungeon Defenders videos anymore, and I gave it shot.



What was your first experience with Dungeon Defenders?

I am a MASSIVE fan of TotalBiscuit. He did a “WTF is…” video on Dungeon Defenders, a 3rd-person Tower Defense game. It blew my mind that there was such a game. After playing hundreds of different top-down-styled tower defense games, I thought this might be the Golden Age for tower defense games. So yeah! After watching that video, I was instantly hooked.

Why did you decide to make Dungeon Defenders videos?

At the time, I was looking for a Let’s Play of Dungeon Defenders. I was curious to see how they progressed throughout the game to get them to the higher-leveled content; however, all I ever saw was tutorials or “how to hack the game” type videos. There were huge YouTubers making LPs, but they stopped after level 30. So I decided to record my own “Quest to 78” (which was the level cap way back when) just for fun. I later found out there were hundreds of people looking for the same kind of videos!

How active is your DD YouTube fanbase?

Very active. In fact, they constantly yell at me to make more videos to see me progress. They are often (always) teaching me and giving me tips on how to improve my gameplay. I honestly couldn’t have made it this far without their help and their awesome support! Thank you guys!

About how long does it take you to film and edit a video?

That really depends on my mood. I usually record in bulk sessions. Anywhere between 30 minutes and 6 hours. Recording is probably the fastest and easiest part. Editing takes anywhere between 10 minutes to 12 hours. Recently, a 30 minute video would take about 2 hours of editing. So on average, every video takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes! Obviously rendering and uploading takes years. ;__;



What's your favorite DD video that you've made?

Ironically, it’s currently my most popular. (Probably 10k views were mine! LOL) But it was the Rainbow of Death mod by the amazing Alhanalem! That map was freaking crazy. I never had so much fun trying to fight a horde of mobs on a Rainbow. I’m also pretty sure I’ll never fight a horde of mobs on a Rainbow again...

What's your favorite DD video that someone else made?

Hm, that’s a really tough one. I really enjoyed Hatfilms and CaptainSparklez videos. Especially Hatfilms, as they are currently my absolute favorite YouTubers! Dungeon Defenders 2 videos. Definitely the bug videos on the Trendy channel are the funniest things in the world. Rainbow Cat Flask must be a thing.

What other games do you enjoy playing?

I love the Blizzard franchise. I’ve been playing loads of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The obvious Pokemon games. Daniel Sound’s awesome new game. And any sort of MMORPG! Looking forward to Blade & Soul!

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Strawberry <3

We really appreciate oNightPineberries for being such an active member of our community. Check out his YouTube channel for some sweet Dungeon Defenders & DD2 footage!

Who should we feature in a future Defender Spotlight? Let us know in the comments below!
iamisom

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In the first Dungeon Defenders, players could swap between an unlimited number of heroes during a match. This had several benefits, including the ability for individuals to access more than just one set of defenses. It also encouraged players to create multiple heroes -- and sometimes specialized versions of the same hero -- to use in a single match.

But this system created a few issues. Leveling multiple heroes became the only way to play -- you couldn’t complete the late-game content using a single hero. In addition to this, it discouraged true, four-player co-op in which every player has the chance to contribute to the build strategy. Instead, designated builders would bring in their heroes and tell other players not to take part in the defensive setup.

Ultimately, we want players to embrace the strengths of their teammates. We also want to make it possible to complete the entirety of the online co-op game with a single hero, if that’s what you desire. To facilitate this, we’ve created the Hero Deck, which plays up the positives of the DD1 system while fixing some of the key issues.

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The Hero Deck lets you bring a selection of heroes into battle. At the moment, players can add three individual heroes to their deck. Just like the first Dungeon Defenders, you can go to the Forge to swap between these heroes during the Build Phase. And your ability and defense mana now transfers between heroes when you swap, so no more dropping mana on the ground and cursing when someone walks by and swipes it!

The Hero Deck has encouraged teams in our Defense Council to develop strategies that involve all players, not just a designated builder. We’ve watched players use our revamped Ping system to ask each other to build blockades, auras, towers and traps, which is something that was rarely seen in DD1 public matches.

The Hero Deck is still in the early stages of development, and it’s already sparked some great discussion among our Councillors. For example: What if you’re playing solo and you want to access every defense and hero combination? Or what if you’re playing with friends, and you want one person to build everything like in DD1? We’re still working on how the Hero Deck system will address these concerns, but this feedback and perspective is invaluable to us as we move forward with development, so keep it coming!

How do you feel about the Hero Deck system? Let us know in the comments below, and you could win a seat on the Defense Council and a chance to try out the Hero Deck for yourself!

The random winner of last week's Ping System blog is MasterElodin!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!

Also, the random winner of our Javelin Throwers blog is going to be chosen on Friday, so there's still time to enter!
Blacksmith

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The life of a young Javelin Thrower in the Old Ones’ army is hard work. Since birth these adorable-looking critters are told to focus on one thing and one thing only -- beefing up the strength in their right arm. All in hopes of being drafted into the army to get that one throw that might pierce through the Heroes’ defenses and shatter an Eternia Crystal. Or at least that’s how I imagine it.

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“Just Like Brad Pitt in Troy”

The Javelin Thrower is designed to be a medium-to-long range Artillery style enemy. He bombards your defenses with a massive, high-speed Javelin that can pierce several targets in one throw, depending on the tier. The Javelin is weakened by each target it impacts, doing less and less damage until it finally shatters.

But the Javelin isn’t just designed to slice through defenses. The Javelin Thrower can hurl his weapon from a very long distance, and if there aren’t enough targets for the javelin to pierce through, he could easily damage your cores.

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Bringing Out the Whimsy

The Javelin Thrower is certainly one of our more whimsical creatures, and thanks to the art team, it shows. They really wanted to push the goofy and lighthearted nature of the Javelin Thrower, from its disproportioned figure to its facial expression, animations, and even sound effects.

What do you think about the Javelin Thrower? What sort of name should we give him, and what do you think happens to the poor young Javelin Throwers who don’t make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!

The random winner of our Pings blog is going to be chosen on Tuesday of next week, so there is still time to enter!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. You have a full week to leave a comment! We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Friday! Don't have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join!
iamisom

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O-A! Pings are back in Dungeon Defenders II, and we’ve made several improvements to their design and functionality to help you communicate with ease.

In the first Dungeon Defenders, pings were only on your person, and only the basic “O-A” ping existed. This was great if you needed help, but these limitations could not account for situations where you might want to instruct other players in more detail. For example, if you needed a Spike Blockade placed in a specific location, or if you wanted someone’s attention in another lane, you had to walk over to that spot, press the Ping Key, and then type in the chat what you pinged for. Not exactly intuitive.

With these issues in mind, we’ve made two major changes to the ping system: separating pings from the player, and creating context-sensitive pings.

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We Claim This Land!
Pings are no longer tied to your location. You can ping as near or as far away from yourself as you want! Press the Ping Key to activate a preview of the ping, then select where you want to place it -- just like a defense.

At the moment, pings are represented by flags that slam down from the heavens and pierce the ground, which -- let’s be honest -- is pretty cool. But it isn’t as intuitive as we’d like. Some new players have been understandably confused by the sudden, repeated appearance of a flag, which ultimately defeats the purpose of the system.

We’re thinking about going back to the graphical display from DD1 to better communicate the purpose of the ping. This goes hand-in-hand with our new context-sensitive pings!

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This menu is in-progress and temporary.



A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action
Now you can use hotkeys to give more in-depth information about your ping. When you press the Ping Key, a menu of ping options will appear. You can activate the Basic Ping from here, or you can navigate the menu with keyboard shortcuts to select an Action Ping. There are now Action Pings for building defenses (including what type of defense you need), repairing and upgrading defenses, and defending/attacking specific lanes. Both the Basic Ping and the Action Ping will create a line of text in the chat that corresponds with the ping -- for example, “Need a Blockade here!”

The contextual ping system maximizes communication between players, so that even if you’re in a game with someone you’ve never met, you’ll know exactly what they need the moment they ping the map. This feature has already seen a ton of use in the Defense Council, and the feedback has been extremely positive on the conceptual level.

There’s still lots of work to do on the system, of course. Players are having problems noticing the pings on the minimap, and in some levels the flag is hard to see. But we plan to address those concerns and try out new things to make the ping system easy and rewarding to use.

What do you guys think? Should we change pings back to the simple icons we had in DD1? Should context-sensitive pings use different art? Would you use this system instead of voice chat to communicate clearly and effectively? Let us know!

The random winner of our Dark Assassin blog is Sinamoi!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. This time, you have a full week to leave a comment! We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner next Tuesday!

We have two other Defense Council code giveaways: one on our Facebook page and the other on our Twitter. That's three chances to win!"
Blacksmith

Assasin-Blog



Greetings Defenders!

So far the Old Ones’ army has been primarily focused on taking down whatever stands between them and the objectives you and your friends are trying to defend. This month, I’d like to share one of the more sinister additions we have planned. This new enemy is only concerned with isolating and eliminating players. We’re calling it the Dark Assassin for now, and it’s still in early development, so please let us know what you think of the design!

FlyingAssassin
New enemies go through a lot of iteration, including names!



An Old Terror With a New Face
The Dark Assassin replaces the Dark Elf Warrior we had in DD1. We know he wasn’t a fan favorite, but he fulfilled a very important role: Providing a real threat for heroes that could otherwise stand back and avoid the thick of battle. Without him, high-damage ranged characters rarely faced the fear of death.

That said, the Dark Assassin isn’t a 1:1 replacement. He differs from the Dark Elf Warrior in a few key ways:

  • He has absolutely no interest in your defenses or the map objectives, he will never attack them
  • He’s a flying melee enemy.
  • He has lower health and higher damage compared to other enemies.
  • There are clear tells as to when he’s approaching.
  • Higher tier versions of this enemy are initially cloaked, but savvy players can initiate combat with him first.

Once a Dark Assassin spawns into a map, it picks out a player based on a set of criteria favoring:

  • Ranged heroes, like the Huntress or Apprentice.
  • Weakened heroes that are low on HP.
  • High-priority threats, like heroes with a high damage build.

Dark Assassins have the potential to do a lot of damage to their target if they aren’t dealt with quickly. They’re relentless and will stick to the hero they’re pursuing even after they’ve killed them, waiting for the next respawn to charge again.

The Cloaked Assassin
The Dark Assassin comes in three tiers. Starting from the 2nd tier, he gains the ability to Cloak himself and disappear as he moves toward a target. While Cloaked, the Dark Assassin cannot be damaged by any defenses. Perceptive players can spot the Dark Assassin from a distance by the Cloak ability’s distinctive shimmer, and those with particularly sharp ears will hear him approach. The Dark Assassin can be damaged while in cloaked, and a quick attack will disrupt its Cloak, making it visible to all players. But should you ignore the signs and fail to stop him, you’ll be subjected to a massive attack before the Dark Assassin even reveals himself.

What do you think of the Dark Assassin’s design? Will he make a good addition to the Old Ones’ army? If you have any comments or suggestions, leave them below!

The random winner of our World Building blog is Tedion!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
DanielKaMi


Greetings Defenders,

When thinking about what our community might like to see from our dev blogs, we often draw from topics that excite the team. This month, we’re sharing one that’s always been a conversation-starter: The process behind turning a bare-bones map into the beautiful level you see in game. Today we’ll be sharing how Nimbus Reach was designed, from start to finish.

Starting From White Box Levels

Nimbus Reach was a large undertaking, and it all started with a layout made by the level designers called a White Box. The main purpose of a White Box layout is to define the gameplay before going too far into the visuals. White Box levels have the fundamental gameplay elements: defined enemy lanes, objectives, Kismet integration, and the basic architecture of the map. Most of the geometry is created with primitives like cubes and cylinders, but sometimes temporary meshes are used for clarity. Once the White Box level for Nimbus Reach was done and properly tested by our team, we moved on to the next stage.

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Where We Get Our Inspiration

Before we can build any geometry, we have to have some inspiration and a strong idea of how the final map should look. This is where our talented concept team comes in. At this stage in the process, they create concept sketches and mood shots to inspire the rest of the developers. Later on, they paint over the geometry to show new assets that need to be built or any tweaks that need to be made.

How We Build

Once the concept artists have given us an end goal to work toward, we study the initial layout and make it more visually interesting by replacing the basic primitives (cubes, cylinders, etc) with more complex shapes and curves. In the process of doing this we have to be very careful to keep the gameplay intact, especially the enemy lanes and the objectives.

We always start working with the floor areas first, because enemy lanes are one of the most important things on our levels and they define the final gameplay. In the picture below you can see an example where we did a complete ground path mesh based on the initial White Box layout which is defined by the red lines. In this example, a basic shape is turned into a finished, vertex-painted mesh in Maya.

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So this is for the basic geometry of the level -- floors, walls, ceilings, etc. -- but there are other types of geometry we don't need to create from scratch. These are based on our environment artists’ work.

They create new meshes with superb, hand-painted textures based on concepts for every level. And although most of these new pieces are modular, sometimes we need to make modified versions to fit them to complex areas of the level. This can done in 3D software using blend deformers like lattices, curves, and also the classic modelling tools.

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Adding the Lighting

After the geometry is created and placed, we then need to add lighting to the map. In DD2, we’re trying to define strong focal points by creating depth. Lighting plays an extremely important role in this, and not just visually. Good lighting should help players find the critical areas in the level, while drawing attention away from less important areas.

The Final Result

Once all of that is done, the map is passed off to the VFX artists where it’s really brought to life. You can see the final result and the evolution of Nimbus Reach in the picture below, from the White Box layout to the final level.

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And here’s another example from Little-Horn Valley:

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It takes a lot of hard work and a team full of dedicated artists and designers, but we’re extremely proud of the level of polish we’ve achieved with our maps and hope to bring you the same quality in the future.

Of the maps revealed thus far, which would you like to see from start to finish? Let us know in the comments and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our Witherbeast blog is Satori!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
Blacksmith


Greetings, Defenders!

The Old One’s army is full of diverse enemies, each fulfilling a unique -- and sometimes specialized -- role. This week’s reveal introduces an enemy that’s completely different from anything we’ve shown you before. So far, it’s the only enemy that doesn’t directly attack you or your defenses at all. Let’s take a look at the Witherbeast!

An Enemy With a Very Specific Purpose

The Witherbeast is designed to reinforce the principle that the player’s attention is the most valuable resource in Dungeon Defenders II. He’s a menacing, bulky creature that moves quickly and has low health compared to our other enemies. Instead of attacking outright, this beast rushes your clustered defenses and begins to burrow.

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As soon as he starts to dig, he becomes harder to kill, gaining a large boost to his health and armor. But that’s only the beginning! If you don’t manage to kill him before he’s fully burrowed, you’ll soon understand why he’s called a “wither” beast.

Withering Your Defenses One Dig At a Time

Once he’s fully burrowed, he plants himself into the ground and emits a pulse that cripples any defenses around him, causing them to take more damage.

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While he’s busy making it much easier for enemies to smash through your defenses, he becomes even harder to kill. His health regenerates so much that in our internal co-op games he often requires a focused effort to take down. Once the Witherbeast burrows, he will never resurface. To avoid players hunting for them at the end of the Combat Phase, we plan to have them self-destruct if they’re the only enemies left, damaging nearby defenses in the process.

Everything about this enemy is designed so players will react to it immediately. When these creatures enter the battlefield, we want you to be faced with a very clear choice: Do I stop what I’m doing right now to deal with this threat? Or do I set up defenses that can delay his ability to burrow? That’s a question only you can answer, and it will change from game to game--maybe even from moment to moment.

We’re still working on the specifics, though -- especially in regards to his detonation -- so if you have any comments on this new enemy, leave them below! We’re also looking for ideas on what to name him, and where this creature might have originated.

The random winner of our Core/Subcore Destruction blog is Ioxp!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
Broham

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As part of our visual overhaul for DD2, we wanted to take a look at the destruction of Crystal cores and see how we could improve them. Originally, the cores in Dungeon Defenders played one simple explosion animation once they were destroyed, but since we're moving away from static Crystal cores in DD2, we wanted a way to give meaning and context to the objectives.

To this end, we decided to have a full destruction animation along with VFX for main-objectives, sub-objectives, and some environmental sequences. Many of these animations are unique and tailored to the map, like the water tank in Siphon Site D. Some are what we call modular, or reuseable, such as the East Gate Lock in Greystone Plaza. Let’s talk about the process of completing one of these animation from an initial concept to the final, in-game implementation.

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Creating Destruction

Once the concept for a destructible object (like a main objective) is created, it goes into the modeling and texturing phase. This stage is crucial, since it is where the modeler and I decide where and/or how the object will be broken apart according to the concept. In some special cases, we have the luxury of having storyboards for the destroyed animation and VFX, which makes it much easier for us to plan out each stage of the animation.

Once the modeling is done, the object goes to the animation team where that plan is brought to life. The art director sits with me and we decide exactly what is going to happen for that respective destruction, always sticking to the main concept and style.

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After the environment, objects, and different broken pieces have been set up in the 3D application (eg; Maya, 3DS Max), it's time to simulate a destruction. Time spent on the simulation varies from object to object. Some are very complex, containing rigid bodies such as pieces of wood or shards of crystal as well as cloth physics that involve several layers of simulations. Others can be rather simple and quick.

When it comes to simulations, there are many techniques that we use including Maya's native Dynamics, Ncloth, Hair systems, deformers, etc. We choose the tool according to what is needed. And if we don’t have the tool we need, we create it. As a technical animator, I've created several tools to aid our process -- especially when it comes to scene setup. This makes the whole process faster and more efficient, saving us precious time.

The Final Touches

After the simulation is at a decent stage, it goes into review. If approved, it enters the polishing state and gets imported into the editor, giving the VFX artists a chance to work their magic. Once both the simulation and its VFX are in the editor, a final review is made just in case further tweaking is needed. The level designers then implement the destroyed objects into the game, setting up the triggers and logic behind where and when these objects should blow up.

In the end, everything ties together to create a spectacular explosion that gives significance to the object and its impact on the space around it. The simulation of the larger chunks lends real weight to the destruction, VFX add power, and sound brings in that last, crucial component that makes it believable.

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The random winner of our PAX East 2014 Recap blog is ssjtrunks15!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!

Want to see more destruction GIFs? Check 'em out!
LaurawantsaCow

When the doors opened at PAX East, things didn’t look good for the Trendy booth. The announcement rang from the PA: “The show floor is open!” And in the blink of an eye, people charged past us to get to Riot’s massive League of Legends booth. Others booked it to the Oculus Rift booth. And there we were, sandwiched in between the two, without a single person in our line.

But within an hour, crowds gathered around our monitors. Our line maxed out. And almost everyone who played told us the same thing: Dungeon Defenders II was damn fun.

For us, PAX East was about more than letting our fans play DD2. It was a chance for feedback from people who had never played before -- some of whom had never even played the first game! Armed with a pen and a notepad, our team gathered their feedback. Here are the top 3 pros and cons:

Pros:

  • New and old fans really liked the faster-paced gameplay and revisions to tower placement -- not being locked in place while build/upgrading/repairing.
  • People loved the new tower/ability kits and combo possibilities between players.
  • Players felt the difficulty of all three maps was spot-on. (We brought an early-game map, a late-game map and a special challenge map to PAX.)

Cons:

  • Chest & Key system was difficult for players to grasp. It was hard for them to understand how chests were instanced, what keys were, and how to use them. (In DD2, players get their own chests. Players are given keys to unlock those chests.)
  • The Relic system was hard for people to understand. Oftentimes, people were not picking up relics that would make them more powerful. This could also have something to do with the convention center.
  • On the early-game map, players wanted to be able to place more defenses (mana shortage). On the same token, players felt that they were able to place a good number of defenses on the late-game map.

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    Of course, feedback is a two-way street. So we closed down our booth for 30 minutes on Saturday afternoon to hold a Q&A event for our fans. Co-creative directors Danny Araya and Daniel Haddad, along with Lead Technical Artist Joshua Javaheri, answered questions in an intimate chat at our booth. Highlights included a discussion about player hubs in DD2 (yes, you will have one), which hero was the hardest to mature (the Monk), and if bosses will be returning in DD2 (yes, and you may have already seen the first one).

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    Every day at 4:30 p.m., we held a raffle at the Dungeon Defenders II booth. Everything we could possibly get our hands on, we gave away to our fans. This included DD2 pins, buttons, signed art prints, mouse pads, Razer headsets, scarfs, and mice, Dungeon Defenders T-shirts -- and on the last day, we gave away 4 Defense Council codes. We hope you all enjoyed Brys’ (our MC’s) antics for the raffle! We received a ton of positive feedback for the raffle. We would like to thank everyone who posted pictures and commented about it online! It let us know we should definitely do raffles this way in the future.

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    Cosplay and video games go hand-in-hand at any convention, and PAX East was no exception. We got to see people dressed up as all sorts of characters, but our favorites were the fans who came to our booth in Dungeon Defenders cosplay. We had a variety of heroes stop by, including a red DD1 Apprentice and a grown-up DD2 Squire. A Jester came to our merch booth and dropped some "mana" and some presents for the Trendy Crew. We even had a Propeller Cat drop in and say hi! It was great seeing our fans in their Dungeon Defenders gear. Hopefully next time you'll see some of our Trendy Crew all dressed up as well!

    We want to say thank you to everyone who stopped by and played the game. Thank you for sharing your feedback and helping us get a clearer picture of what we need to do to make DD2 even better. Without a doubt, this was our most successful, popular PAX adventure yet. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

    The random winner of our New CEO blog is StillPad!

    Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
drod1000



Greetings, Defenders!

My name is Darrell Rodriguez, and I am the new CEO of Trendy Entertainment. I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for the vast majority of my career, where I have been privileged to work with some of the foremost creative and tech leaders around at companies such as Disney, EA, LucasArts, and now Trendy Entertainment.

I am here to empower the developers at Trendy to achieve their amazing vision, technology, and creativity. I am here so we can continue to build games you will love and create technology that will empower other independent developers to take their games to a place they could not have otherwise gone. Like everyone at Trendy, I am a big believer in collaborating with you, our community. So I’m also here to build systems to empower, to better listen to you and to make your input a reality in the games we make.

I, like you, have been captivated by Dungeon Defenders’ unique gameplay and pledge to bring more of that to you in the future. Both in the form of Dungeon Defenders II, whose evolving art style and gameplay continue to impress me every day, and other (more secret) projects for Dungeon Defenders lovers. I ask for your patience and trust as I help guide your beloved Dungeon Defenders. I am human, and like us all, may stumble. But through listening and learning from you all, I am confident we will work together to make Dungeon Defenders future as bright as possible.

As an independent developer, funding is tight and decisions need to be made that enable survival and empower developers to make games you will play and love. So to start, I have a question for you. The Kickstarter concept of voting with your wallet to fund products you would like to see built has been popular for many independent studios so far. What are your thoughts on using this concept, not to fund a game, but to grow and expand one? For example, would you chip in with other players to help create new features or content for everyone to play as opposed to just buying content for yourself?

The random winners of our Wyvern blog are Baxter and Beorn424!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
JBrawley

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Balancing the roles, quantity, and power of enemies in DD2 is no small task. The enemies we place in a level affect nearly every vector of difficulty in the game. This is one of the reasons it is imperative that we experiment not only with different types of enemies, but how we use those enemies, as well.

Wyverns were a staple of the original Dungeon Defenders’ gameplay, but it was clear the role of air units in DD2 needed to evolve. Fundamentally, an air unit poses a different tactical question than a ground unit. Units on the ground can be blocked using a barricade, permitting time to react to their presence. Wyverns required players to develop different strategies that were based around anti-air defense.

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The Trouble With Wyverns

But DD1’s Wyverns had numerous shortcomings, and in order to make Wyverns more interesting to engage in DD2, we had to resolve two main problems:

  • There was little variety in their behavior, making any gameplay that involved them monotonous and predictable.
  • They utilized extremely basic AI, flying straight for their objective without deviation.

Fixing these problems in the long term was going to take time. But there was nothing stopping the intrepid level designers from hacking their way around these problems. Early on, it was clear that we needed different types of Wyverns.

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Creating Different Behaviors

Initially we developed the Heavy Wyvern by creating a copy of the standard Wyvern, making him larger, and changing him to a rich purple hue. The Heavy Wyvern was a bit slower, but could take a much larger amount of abuse. We coupled this change with making the standard Wyvern much faster.

The difference was immediately noticeable in terms of strategic consideration. The heavy Wyverns did a fantastic job of diverting the attention of players, and when they appeared in early prototypes, everyone reacted to their presence. Internally, we had to devise new ways of counteracting the presence of the Heavy Wyverns. Players devised new defense setups to combat the Wyverns, such as groups of Frostbite Towers that would freeze and then shatter them when they hit the ground, or Cannonball Towers placed in positions that were advantageous to attacking air units.

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In another playtest, we created a small, fast, black Wyvern that could bombard players and their defenses from a long range. These opponents created a different type of player reaction: If not controlled quickly, the black Wyverns could severely disrupt the team’s defensive layouts.

Tweaking the Flight Path

Resolving the Wyverns’ flight paths was actually surprisingly easy. With a little manipulation, we were able to create a chain of flight waypoints that forced the Wyverns from a specific lane to follow a tightly controlled path. This allowed us to create predictable air lanes (making it much easier for players to position anti-air defenses) instead of having Wyverns simply spawn on the outside of the space and fly directly towards their targets.

The result of these two initiatives was much stronger aerial gameplay, allowing air units to play a clearer role in the combat space. But we continue to iterate on our air units with new ideas and new prototypes, so if there are any air unit types you might like to see in the game, leave a comment below and you could win a seat on the Defense Council.

The random winner of our QA blog is Ikulity!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We're going to be at PAX East this week so there won't be a blog this Friday. That's why we're going to pick two posters from this blog and reveal the winners in next week's blog post!
Luska Arco

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Defenders! Welcome to another edition of QA’s bug blog: Ninety-Nine Problems But A Bug Ain’t One [working title]. We’ve got a great bug this month: A mysterious, truly awe-inspiring issue that seemed to affect players at random!

Fire in the Dungeon! Fire in the Deeper Well!

For seemingly no reason, players began to burst into flames. We’re not talking a little spark, either. I mean this was undeniably, spectacularly broken and unignorable. This happened so infrequently that for a long time we couldn’t reproduce it with any reliability.

Let me put it into perspective. You’re playing the game with friends, having a good time. You notice one of the sub-objectives is being swarmed. The exchange goes something like this:

"We need a hand by the East Gate Lock," you say, pinging the map.

"I'm on my way," they answer, rushing to your side. "Incoming Heroic Wave!"

As the horde falls at your feet, you celebrate your hard-earned victory. "Yeah! We rule. Towers for days. Orcs got no game."

And while you're taking a victorious swig of your brand soda of choice, you turn back towards your monitor and see...

[video=youtube_share;Ix4Nr76q40Y]http://youtu.be/Ix4Nr76q40Y[/video]



...And so you say something to the effect of: “Sweet sassy molassy! щ(゜ロ゜щ) What’s happening?!”

Just as quickly as it appeared, it ceases. Not only was this bug very rare, occurring maybe one in every thirty games, but it was such a distraction that it completely captivated us, even though the fire visual effects only lasted two or three seconds at most. We gathered no new information as to what caused it or any steps to reliable see it again, so it slipped through our fingers for a while.

We had to extinguish this bug. We focused up, and after some time, we managed to get it to happen again. We found out it was due to a specific part of our Town Square map, specifically an animation, or what level designers call a “cinematic event,” that played as part of the background.

Bug Type: VFX
Time Spent On 100% Reproduction Rate: 4 months
Time Spent On Fix: 3 hours


After I saw the bug and began eliminating possible explanations, I remembered browsing through the internal build when I first started working here and going down each letter of the alphabet to find console commands. I found one for castleseige2 -- yes, siege is misspelled in the actual command line -- that made me catch on fire randomly, but I didn’t link the command to the bug since the fire didn’t happen right away. I had to do a lot of experimenting once I found the command, because using it once didn't give any results. It only made me burst into flames maybe once in every dozen times, so I used another command to keybind the castleseige2 cinematic event. Spamming the bound key made the bug happen within seconds, which gave us a reliable way to see it and fix it.

What happened was this: There’s an animation of cannonballs striking the castle in the background of that map on the northeast side that helps visually communicate the siege. This animation has different parts to it, like say, a fire visual. The frequency of the animation sometimes meant that the fire visual would sort of “overflow” and wouldn’t know where to go. For whatever reason, it went to the last thing that was affected by something with a particle effect, like fire from a goblin’s bomb, for instance. The end result was that it transferred to enemies and sometimes even heroes.

This bug is easily my new personal favorite. Easily. ( ̄︶ ̄)

Let us know what you think in the comments. This bug is fixed, but we’re interested in hearing how you might use this awesome superpower of random self-combustion. Maybe to roast a few marshmallows during your victory celebration? Tell us below, and you could win a seat on the Defense Council. Until next time!

The random winner of our Press blog is HPTSparky!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
LaurawantsaCow

press-Blog



One of the hardest parts of working on a video game is figuring out when it’s ready to be shown. While it’s twice as much work to maintain a stable “live” build alongside a development build or create a completely separate build for an event, the feedback we receive -- be it from comments, surveys, or previews -- is invaluable to the process. That’s why we’ve committed ourselves to showing Dungeon Defenders II at every opportunity, whether it’s to our community, the press, or even students at the local university.


Level Designer Steven Collins hard at work making a PAX specific build of the game.



DD2 Makes the Rounds
We’re constantly adding new features to our development build so that we can “fail” quickly and learn what content is fun versus what needs major retooling. When we show the game, there are even more features we need to add for each specific event. This past press tour, we decided to demo the mid-game experience of Dungeon Defenders II, along with one of our newest features: the elemental combo system. With that experience in mind, we created a build and balance for level 18 heroes and took it to San Francisco and New York City.

We assumed everyone playing the game had been a part of our first press tour in February, so we dove straight into stats, elemental weapons, combos, enemy tiers, advanced maps, and more. Unfortunately, we forgot that some of the journalists playing hadn’t had the opportunity for a hands-on before, so for them it was a bit overwhelming. And of course, like any early build, there were bugs aplenty:

ogreDumb2_1
Surfing Ogres made it even more difficult!


All that aside, the response was very positive. Below you can see some of the writeups, livestreams, and videos that came out of the press tour. And we’re still expecting more!





  • Game Informer: “There Are Even More Reasons To Team Up In Dungeon Defenders II”
  • GamesRadar: “Rube Goldberg machines of death abound in Dungeon Defenders 2”
  • Digital Trends: “Dungeon Defenders 2 grows up with a new focus on colorful loot.”
  • Buzz Focus: “Hands-On with ‘Dungeon Defenders II’ – Promise in Pre-Alpha”
  • GameSpot: “Dungeon Defenders II - Now Playing”
  • Joystiq: “Teaming with Trendy in Dungeon Defenders 2”
  • Destructoid: "Dungeon Defenders 2 Pre-Alpha Gameplay with Max Scoville"

The Road Ahead
Now it’s time to create the build for PAX. Luckily, this past press tour allowed us to “fail” quickly enough to learn a lot for our biggest showing thus far. To satisfy new players and veterans alike, we’re preparing two maps for the PAX East show floor: Dragonfall Gates and Nimbus Reach. Players of the first map will have two defenses and two abilities unlocked, and players of the second map will have three of each. We’re hoping the first map will serve as a good introduction to the new game mechanics and the latter as a challenge for hardcore DD1 fans. Even then, we still have questions to ask ourselves, the biggest being: How can we make loot relevant in just a 20-30 minute demo?

What do you think is the best way to demo the full experience of Dungeon Defenders? Is it even possible in a short session? Let us know in the comments below!

The random winner of our Apprentice blog is a474247132!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
LaurawantsaCow

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So far we’ve given you a preview of the Squire, the Huntress, and the Monk. Now it’s time to introduce the Apprentice!

After the events of the original Dungeon Defenders, the Apprentice finally proved he was ready to attend the Magic Academy and further his studies. While his dedication to the magic arts troubled his father, his pursuit of knowledge never wavered. He channeled that resolve into perfecting his craft, and although he’s not the strongest hero physically, he makes up for it by having a devastating and diverse toolkit of elemental defenses and abilities.

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Get Lifted
Have you ever wanted to rock someone like a hurricane? Well, the Apprentice can make it happen! With a swift flick of his wrist, he conjures up a cyclone that spirals toward enemies. The Cyclone sweeps up any foes in its path, suspending them in the air while its lightning deals Storm damage over time. While suspended, the enemies are vulnerable to any anti-air defenses, and take extra damage if affected by water debuffs. Once the Cyclone disappears, they crash to the ground taking smashing damage, which leads us to….

frostgif3.gif



Ice Ice Baby
Alright stop, collaborate and listen. The Apprentice is back with a brand new invention: The Frostbite Tower. This tower shoots a beam of frost that damages an enemy and freezes them over time. Once frozen, the enemy can be shattered and killed instantly by defenses and abilities that deal smashing damage (see above). Not all enemies are built the same, though: Smaller enemies freeze much faster than larger enemies, so keep that in mind when lining up a combo for this tower.

Knock_back2.gif



Momma Said Knock You Back
Don't call it a comeback. This wall has been here for years. What used to be the Magic Blockade in the original Dungeon Defenders has evolved along with the Apprentice, turning into the Arcane Barrier. This defense blocks the path of enemies and uses magic to periodically knock back any that try to get past. Taking a page from the Monk’s book of tricks, the Apprentice can position this barricade so that it points toward a nearby ledge, knocking enemies straight to their demise. It also does great when paired with high-damage, low-health defenses, as the knockback gives them more time to unleash their power without fear of being damaged in return.

Now that you’ve seen Hero Previews for all four of our main heroes, tell us what you think about them in the comments below and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our PC Giveaway Winners blog is CBlue413!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
LaurawantsaCow

prize-revealed.jpg



Drumroll, please!

The winner of our PC giveaway contest is Ethan B.! (ebrad123 on the forums!) Ethan will receive a custom Avatar Gaming PC, a Razer Black Widow keyboard, a Razer Naga Hex mouse, a Dungeon Defenders II Prize Pack and a golden key into the Defense Council!

The ten runners-up who won a Defense Council code have been contacted via email. Check your inbox to see if you won!

We hosted the giveaway to do something awesome for our fans, but we also wanted to grow the size of our community. Curious to see our results? Here are some interesting stats:

  • 10,214 people entered the PC Giveaway contest
  • 101,920 people saw the post on Facebook
  • 11,002 new fans on our Facebook page
  • 15.09% increase in new visitors to the Dungeon Defenders II website
  • 866 new followers on our Twitter page

What did you think of the giveaway? Do you have any ideas to help grow the Dungeon Defenders community?

While the PC giveaway contest is over, we’re gearing up a new contest on our forums. Display your Dungeon Defenders knowledge in our Trivia Contest for a chance to win one of three Council codes! The contest will run until next Monday. Should more people post in the thread and show interest in the contest, we might expand the number of codes we’ll give out. Thanks to RaNgErZ-BERT for his help and influence in organizing the contest!

Do you have a cool idea for a contest? Is there something you’d like for us to giveaway? Let us know in the comments below!

The random winner of our VFX blog is Gelostar!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
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