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LaurawantsaCow

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We’re giving away a custom Dungeon Defenders II PC to one lucky fan! Just visit our Facebook page and follow the instructions to enter. That’s it. So easy an Ogre can do it.

One grand-prize winner will receive a prize pack valued at more than $1,300 that features a limited-edition Dungeon Defenders II PC courtesy of Avatar Gaming! Custom built to give you the optimal DD2 experience.

Other goodies included with the new computer are:

  • Razer Naga Hex Mouse
  • Razer Black Widow Mechanical Keyboard
  • A Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha code
  • A Dungeon Defenders II lanyard
  • A Dungeon Defenders II poster, signed by the Dev Team
  • A Dungeon Defenders II T-shirt of your choice
  • A Dungeon Defenders II mousepad of your choice

In addition to one grand-prize winner, we will be giving away 20 seats on the Defense Council, where you will access the pre-alpha and work alongside the developers to create the best DD2 possible. The first 10 seats will be given away on the Facebook wall post, and the other 10 seats will be given to those who enter the giveaway. Giveaway winners will be selected on March 21st, and Facebook wall post winners will be selected February 28th.

From everyone here at Trendy, have fun and good luck!

The random winner of our Relics blog is Dagarath!

After you stop by Facebook, leave a comment below for an extra chance to win a Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha code! We’ll announce a random winner in our next blog post. We're also giving away a DD2 pre-alpha code on our Twitter page. Good luck!
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!
LaurawantsaCow

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We’re over halfway through our pre-release hero reveals, and we hope you’re getting pumped to step back into the world of Etheria! Thanks to your feedback, this month’s hero reveal showcases a favorite of many: The Monk!

From a young age, the Monk was trained in techniques that would aid his allies. That focus on support has only grown over the years. Not only does he use a combination of auras and abilities to truly embrace his role as the steadfast support hero, but he also fills a powerful niche in Dungeon Defenders II, being one of the strongest anti-air heroes in the game.

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Team Goblin’s Blasting Off Again!

In the original Dungeon Defenders, the Monk’s abilities had multiple functions to support his teammates. His new ability Chi Blast continues to build on this, as it does two very important and distinct things. When it passes through a defense, it significantly buffs that defense’s damage for a brief period of time. And when it hits enemies, it knocks them back. This allows you to jump behind a well-guarded choke point and fire off a Chi Blast to boost the defenses and push enemies away, giving you a chance to repair. Or you could just engage in the Trendy team’s favorite past-time--blasting Orcs off ledges.

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The Chain Will Keep Us Together

Though he’s capable of great versatility, the core of his toolkit revolves around Auras, which make up all but one of his defenses. Boost Aura, inspired by the Monk’s Defense Boost ability in the original Dungeon Defenders, links together defenses in its radius, granting them extra damage and health. Should a linked defense fall, the rest of the defenses in the Aura’s radius are healed. Boost Aura is great for any choke point, but it’s especially helpful in lanes with Ogres, as juggernaut minibosses have a pesky habit of decimating anything in their path.

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Can’t Take the Sky From Him

While Auras are a staple of the Monk’s toolkit, his new Skyguard Tower fills a vital role as one of the strongest anti-air defenses in the game. Air units in Dungeon Defenders are no joke, and the Skyguard has three rotating cannons that take them out with ease, firing concentrated bursts of Chi energy at anything airborne. This includes ground enemies that are hurled into the air by abilities or defenses such as the Huntress’ Geyser Trap!

With three heroes down, we hope you’re planning some awesome combo strategies! Tell us about them in the comments below and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our Dragonfall Lore blog is Koyre!

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


And you thought he couldn’t get any uglier.



Big, strong, and with an indiscriminate hatred for all things heroic, you won’t catch this Ogre meandering through the fields of Etheria with his trusty donkey companion. He’s not on a quest to save the princess. He’s on a quest to destroy your defenses, pummel your friends, and wreck your day. And it’s a quest he’ll complete if you don’t have a few friends to back you up.

In the original Dungeon Defenders, you had to rally your allies around the appearance of the very first Ogre. He was big, he was mean, and he didn’t care that you’d just spent all your mana upgrading that barricade. If you didn’t have friends to help you, it was toast, and so were you.

But after time you could outgear him, bulk up your defenses, and treat him like a superpowered Orc. In Dungeon Defenders II, we want to change that. The moment an Ogre enters the battlefield, you’ll know you have to step up your game at all levels of play.

An Offense to Counter Every Defense

So, what can you and your comrades expect when facing the revamped Ogre? Well, remember how he could easily hit you through your defenses in the first game? Yeah, his cleave is still massive -- just don’t say that to his face. And with his new Stomp ability, he unleashes a seismic wave that knocks back and damages anyone caught in it, making it harder to strafe around him and get in a few pokes.

Just like in the original Dungeon Defenders, you’re going to be in for a terrible surprise if you try to casually take pot shots at range. A slimy, wet, green surprise. Globules of… Who knows what explode on impact, doing a hefty amount of damage to anything in range. If that wasn’t enough, they also slow heroes and corrode defenses, making them less effective.


Plus, who wants to touch defenses covered in… that.



And those are just his basic attacks!

The Many-Layered Ogre

Like many of our other enemies, the Ogre has three tiers of progression. As he advances, he gains powerful armor. You can hear an excruciating thunk as your blows glance off of a Tier 3 Ogre. Distract him with a well-placed defense, or get a teammate to help: Either way, you'll need to think on your feet to make your hits count.


Aim for the fleshy bits.



Prepare Your Defenses!

So far, the Ogres haven’t been deployed to the front lines. The Old Ones’ army has been pretty confident in its ability to destroy Etheria without resistance. But with the Sunderguard’s heroic response, they’re definitely thinking twice about which soldiers they send into the fray. Gather your friends and expect to see the Ogre on the battlefield soon!


Are you ready to face him?



There is one thing that makes him a little less intimidating than we’d like, though. A fierce warrior should have a proper name for his weapon. What do you think we should name the Ogre’s club? Leave a comment below with your most terrifying (or funniest) name, and check back next month for a look at another new enemy!

The random winner of our QA Bug blog is Carionis!

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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Working in game development means bugs can crop up at any time, in any place, and for any reason. As we were finishing some tasks at the end of last month, we found a pretty amusing one. Internal changes were made to the format we used to save our Heroes’ character models, which led to… The Paralleltress:



At first I spawned into the map with a character that wasn’t affected, so this bug caught me off-guard. I was just doing my thing, setting up some defenses before starting the level over again as the Huntress. Then I did a double take.

Remember the first-person mode from DD1? At first I thought somehow an unfinished first-person mode found its way into the game. Naturally, I tried to jump and attack. After a solid minute of laughing, it was pretty clear this was no experimental perspective change, but instead a good, old-fashioned bug. Things move so quickly in game development that within a few hours, The Paralleltress only existed in my memory--and in that video!

And that’s our best bug for this month! Tune in next month to see what crazy new things we’ve captured and preserved forever on our hard drives. Are you curious about any of the bugs we’ve reported, or maybe you want to know more about how we find these pesky bugs? Let us know in the comments below!

The random winner of our Combat Improvements blog is Dougle101!

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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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!
LaurawantsaCow
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As 2013 comes to an end, were already feeling the icy chill of winter here at Trendy. I had to take out my winter coat to endure the frigid 65 degree weather. And thats not even counting the cow blanket that permanently warms my office chair!



Were going to take a detailed look at this past year in review in January, but for now heres a brief summary:



In March: We headed to Boston for PAX East.



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In October: We narrowed our focus to a true Dungeon Defenders sequel and unveiled the games new direction to the world at NYCC.



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In November: Studio Director Dave Lloyd shared our five pillars, beloved Community Manager iamisom returned, and the Defense Council raised over $16,000 for Childs Play.







And that brings us to December. Its been a busy few weeks here at Trendy, but this is our last post for the year. Our studio will be closed from December 23rd through January 1st as we spend some much-deserved rest and relaxation time with our families. Well hit the ground running in 2014. After a few warm-up laps. And maybe some stretches.



Before we leave for the comforts of 8-Bit Wreaths and Gingerbread Death Stars, we have a very special gift for you.



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Isnt she a beauty? This is one of our first pieces of loot for Dungeon Defenders II, and while its got all the style and substance you could want, its missing one thing: A name! We tried throwing a few trays worth of Scrabble tiles at the artists and seeing what stuck (literally), but just as I was about to slingshot a Triple Word Score at them, Josh thought of an even better solution. Lets get the fans to name it! Brilliant.



So what will it be? Will you go for the minimalist approach (Dwayne seems to be a big hit for the lightning bug around the office) or something epicly verbose? Leave a comment below with your proposed name and when we get back from our break, Creative Director Danny Araya will choose his favorite. The winner will receive a seat on the Defense Council, and the winning name will adorn this lovely piece of loot!



And remember, while Council members arent eligible to win a seat, we still want to hear your ideas! If you win, well give you something special.



From our family at Trendy to yours, we wish you a safe and happy holiday. See you next year!



DanielKaMi
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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?

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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!
CKeene

At the Gates of Dragonfall

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Greetings, Defenders! This month we wanted to try something a bit different to show you how our four heroes have come face-to-face with the Old Ones’ army. Check out our first DD2 short story -- told from the point of view of everyone’s favorite Knight-in-Training -- below, and keep an eye out for teasers from one of our upcoming maps! Please note that this is a lore exploration, and the specific sequence of events could potentially change as we continue development.

---

The Squire woke with a start, his helmet grazing one of the metal supports as he propelled himself out of bed.

“It’s here!” His palms pressed firmly into the mattress above him and he used the leverage to bounce on the balls of his feet. “Come on, get up! It’s here!”

The figure in the bed groaned and turned over, shielding his eyes. “What?”

“The Crystal!” As far as the Squire was concerned, they both needed to hurry, or they were going to miss it completely.

The Apprentice’s eyes widened. “Already? It’s not supposed to be here until tonight. Are you sure you heard the horns?”

“I don’t need the horns. I can feel it.” Honestly he was surprised the Apprentice couldn't feel it too, considering how much time they’d spent around them when they were younger. They definitely gave off a strong sort of energy.

The Apprentice sighed, but finally pushed himself into a sitting position. The Squire fetched his bunkmate’s hat from a nearby table, tossing it to him. A distant horn sounded, and he grinned under his helmet. “Hurry up! I’ll meet you outside.”

---

It wasn’t long before the Apprentice met him, wearing all of his gear as he stepped out of the inn. He looked like he half expected the courtyard to be filled with Orcs, but Dragonfall was safe. That’s why the Crystals were being brought here.

The Squire led him to the Gates, breaking into a jog at one point while the Apprentice remained tense, searching every alleyway. By the time they reached the entrance to the town, the Huntress and Monk were already waiting.

He leaned over and gave the Monk a nudge with his shoulder. “You sensed it too, yeah?” He nodded toward the Apprentice. “This guy didn’t believe me.”

And then he saw it, cresting the hill. A bit of the protective casing peeked through a cloth. His whole face lit up. This was one of the last Eternia Crystals, and he was going to escort it. He was sure they’d start winning this war once it was safe.

A grin split the Squire’s features, broadening as it drew closer. The cart hauling it looked a little rickety, and the yak hitched to the front seemed only interested in the carrot dangled in front of it, but if it got the job done, the Squire supposed that was all that mattered. The driver urged the yak onward, but a horrible crack made the Squire’s expression fall. The cart lurched, and he leapt into action.

“What happened?” he asked, bounding up to the cart driver.

“The wheel is broken,” the Monk said.

“But the Crystal needs to make it to the castle!” It was the most important thing by far. His friends didn’t seem to understand. They were too busy looking around the town’s entrance.

“And it will, lad,” the driver said. “Stay here with the cart, I’ll go see about getting a new wheel.”

“You don’t need one. We can carry it.” They’d just have to be extra careful.

The cart driver opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. His gaze fixed on something above them, and after a moment, a huge shadow streaked across the ground. The Squire brandished his sword, searching the skies. A Wyvern. A huge one, speeding off toward the towers in the Plaza. A real, live Wyvern. He hadn’t seen one of those in years.

Not wasting a moment, he thunked down two Spike Blockades and readied his stance, shifting his weight to the balls of his feet. The Apprentice, Huntress, and Monk built their defenses, and the Squire grinned broadly as a horde of goblins broke the treeline.

Finally something to defend.

---

So what do you think? Can our four heroes keep the Crystal safe once more? This storytelling format is something we hope to expand upon in future blog posts, so let us know what short stories you’d like to see in the future!

The random winner of our PC Giveaway blog is Omm!

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!
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.

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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.

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“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!
Artorias


Greetings, Defenders!

So far we've given you quite a bit of insight into how our levels are developed visually from start to finish. There is, however, one final element that greatly contributes to the atmosphere of our beautiful maps: audio. Once our level designers have finished building and scripting a map, and our VFX artists have gone through to make sure everything is appropriately shiny, it's finally time to implement sound.

When a map is ready for sound, my first step is to generate an audio asset list for our talented sound designer, Afshin Toufighian. It is during this process that I decide which environment pieces and effects will require an audio element and which areas of the map will require their own stereo ambient sound waves.

Stereo Sounds


Unlike mono sound waves, stereo sound waves utilize both your left and right speakers to create one sound, and as such are not spatialized. This means that they don't seem to come from any one direction in particular, which makes them useful for establishing an ambient backdrop to a given area. Most indoor maps like Siphon Site D only require one stereo sound spanning the entire level. In contrast, outdoor maps like Nimbus Reach can have a variety of environmental settings that each require their own stereo sound.

With Nimbus Reach, we wanted the starting area near the main cores to sound windy and devoid of wildlife. As we imagined the player approaching the forest area towards the back of the level, we wanted the sound of wind to fade out as the sounds of wildlife faded in. Of course if the player were to approach the waterfalls and rivers on the sides of the map, we wanted the sound of rushing waters to fade in. You can see how this was achieved below.

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Yep, with circles. Mystery solved.


Here you can see I've placed a stereo sound wave on each side of Nimbus Reach. The inner and outer blue circles surrounding each sound indicate its minimum and maximum attenuation, respectively. When inside the inner minimum attenuation circle, the player will hear that sound at full volume. As the player leaves the minimum attenuation circle, the sound's volume will dynamically fade out as the player approaches the maximum attenuation circle, beyond which the sound will no longer be audible. By fine tuning these attenuation values, I am able to make these stereo ambient sounds fade in and out as the player traverses the level, giving the sounds a sense of 3D placement.

Mono Sounds


After the stereo sounds are in place, it's time to start adding in mono sounds for singular environment details. Mono sound waves only utilize one speaker channel, so I set them to be spatialized. This means a player standing near the sound will hear it travel from speaker to speaker as the they turn their camera and experience a direct audible link to where the sound is coming from. In Nimbus Reach, I've implemented mono sounds for things like rustling grass, glowing plants, and single crickets chirping throughout the level.

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All my single crickets, chirp your hands up.


The Big Picture


When used together, mono and stereo sound waves can create a complete and convincing soundscape for the player to experience. For example, while the water areas in Nimbus Reach do have a stereo water sound encompassing them, each individual waterfall also has a mono sound associated with it as well. These mono sounds communicate to the player's ears that each waterfall is indeed making its own sound, while the stereo sound communicates the reverberations of water sounds a player should expect to hear that close to the base of a few waterfalls. To put it simply, the stereo sounds function as my broad brushes, while the mono sounds function as my detail brushes.

The finished product can look a little messy...

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It’s ART, okay?!


...but we think it sounds pretty good. You don't have to take our word for it though. Check out the video at the top of the post for a tour through Nimbus Reach and hear for yourself!

The random winners of our previous blogs are:

Enemy Tiers: Holliewood
Enemy Tiers: xFuNz
The Concept Art Process: MyGoldfish
The Concept Art Process: Alih789

What did you think of the ambient sound 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 TWO random posters and reveal the winners next week. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community!
iamisom

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Greetings Defenders,

It’s been a busy few weeks! We were absolutely blown away by the launch reception. As more players dove into the game, we scrambled to put out the server fires. You may have noticed several patches and maintenance updates since launch, which we’re pleased to report have greatly improved our server stability. On the Xbox One side, these server issues also caused several crashing issues -- most of which were fixed in last week’s patch! There’s still work to do, but things are looking brighter by the day.

Alongside Xbox One and server fixes, our team is working on Patch 1.0.3! This patch contains loot tweaks, balance changes, optimization updates, quality-of-life improvements and bug fixes based on the feedback we’ve seen since launch. It also includes a little something special for sticking with us through the launch madness! We’re still finalizing and testing the patch, so we don’t have a release date for Patch 1.0.3 yet. We’ll have a release date for you soon!

Here’s what’s coming in the patch:

FREE Beat the Heat Bundle & Weekend Events

In Patch 1.0.3, we’re giving away some exclusive gifts for hanging with us through our launch kinks. These items will only be available for a limited time once the patch comes out:

  • A free 4,000 Defender Medal gift

  • A free, exclusive Purrville the Helicatter pet!

  • A free, exclusive Squilbur the Squid hat for the Squire!

  • A free, exclusive PAWS the Corgi shoulder pal for the Squire!

  • A free, exclusive shirtless beach Squire accessory!

  • A free, exclusive Squire beach shorts accessory!

  • And our eternal gratitude, which is the most priceless gift of all. Literally. It has absolutely no real-world value. Damn you, society!

Plus we’re doing TWO Double Gold Weekend events when the patch comes out! Keep your eyes peeled for more details on these free items!


Xbox One Crash Fixes

This patch will include more Xbox One crash fixes. It’s also our goal to release another hotfix before this patch releases with even more crash fixes!


Loot Drop Updates

After reviewing player feedback and diving into the data, we agree that item progress, especially in Chaos 4-7, is too slow. There are too many items spawning that only give very small increases in power. This is making it take far too long to beef up all your characters, and the problem gets worse as you play in the later Chaos difficulties.

So with this patch, in all Chaos difficulties (but especially in Chaos 4-7), items will drop with larger power increases than before, and we’re increasing the chance of finding items with larger power increases. Not only that, but we’re adding in the occasional chance for a ‘super drop,’ which gives you a chance at items that are substantially more powerful. There’s still a good bit of randomness in the system, so don’t expect to get loads of high-powered legendaries dumped on you in your first game. But there are now far more opportunities for ‘big wins’ than there were before, and we hope players really feel it!

While we don’t consider this a blanket ‘fix’ to all the known item issues the community has highlighted, we do consider it a great step in the right direction. More changes coming soon!


Four More Chaos VII Trials Maps

We’re adding four maps to the Chaos VII Trials rotation! These maps are:

  • Little-Horn Valley

  • Assault on Throne Room

  • Buried Bastille

  • The Dead Road


You’ll encounter 8 total maps when you tackle the C7 Trials. More Trials improvements to come!


Wall Collision & Range Indicator Updates

We’re increasing the collision size on our blockades!

  • The Spike Blockade collision volume is 37% larger on the X axis and 20% larger on the Y axis.

  • The Volcano's square collision volume is 37% larger.

  • The Training Dummy's square collision volume is 18% larger.

  • The Arcane Barrier's collision volume is 66% larger on the X axis.

  • The Maw of the Earth Drake's collision volume is 25% larger on the X axis.

  • The Viper's Fangs collision volume is 11% larger on both the X and Y Axis.

  • The Colossus' collision volume is 33% larger on its Y Axis.


In addition to this, we’ve added new range indicators on blockades to help you seal your lanes.


Trap Range Indicator Updates

All traps now display two ground decals during placement and inspection modes:  one decal displaying the trigger radius, and another decal displaying the damage range!


Minimap Improvements

The minimap now displays damage states for defenses. On top of the flashing when they get hit, towers will change colors from green, to yellow, to flashing red when below predefined health thresholds. Defenses that have been destroyed will also show up on the minimap with a blinking icon for 3 seconds for a better at-a-glance view of your moment-to-moment action.


Balance Updates

We’re making numerous balance updates to specific defenses with this patch, with a special focus on a few of our less frequently used defenses.

Most of our fixed-target towers (Cannonball Tower, Harpy’s Perch, Earthshatter Tower, etc.) will see a substantial increase in their overall DPS. This is a straight stat boost to these towers, trying to make them competitive with defense that can hit many targets. We want to see these towers leveraged more, especially in Chaos difficulties where projectile towers are expected to shine.

Defenses with extremely slow ATK Rates (Earthshatter, Lightning Strikes Aura, etc.) will see some improvements in their ATK Rate. While we’re not expecting every defense to hit as fast as the Flame Aura, the slow ATK Rates on these defenses has lead to a lot of ‘overkill’ damage and general targeting failures. These defenses will fire faster by roughly a second or so than they are currently, with corresponding adjustments to Defense Power and Crit Damage ratios.

Next up, many of our defenses with very high DU/Mana costs will see their base costs come down. Defenses like the Blaze Balloon have proven hard to use, despite their relatively high DPS outputs, and we want to get them back into regular usage. This change is intended to be more of a usability improvement and not a straight stat buff, so we’re accompanying these changes with corresponding reductions to their Defense Power and Crit Damage ratios when appropriate.

There’s a few bug fixes going in that will affect balance as well. Swapping shards to temporarily increase the max nodes on some of EV2’s defenses has been eliminated; you must leave the shard on the defense or the extra nodes are removed. We’ve also fixed a terrible bug with Hornet’s Nest that was crippling its DPS, and it should result in it being quite a powerful defense again!

We’ve also finally made some updates to the Shatter combo effect. While we’re super happy to see players using Frosty Proton Node to setup this combo, we felt that the potential damage output of the Shatter effect was a bit too strong. We really didn’t want to nerf Frosty Proton Node, and, there was certainly no call to nerf the Cannonball Tower, Earthshatter Tower, etc., so we went with a reduction to the Shatter effect itself. Shatter will still obliterate weaker enemies like Goblins, but after this patch it will no longer be a guaranteed kill on tougher enemies like Drakin and Berserkers. We’ve also fixed it so it can now damage minibosses / special enemies, instead of just consuming the Freeze and having no effect.

And while the reign of the Weapon Manufacturer (and to a lesser extent, the Poison Dart Tower) has been interesting, it’s proven to be too much of a ‘one stop shop’ solution to many Chaos difficulties. As such, we’re making some adjustments to reduce its dominance, with the hopes of seeing diversity increase with these changes plus our numerous defense buffs.

We hope these changes will improve diversity and flexibility amongst builders in all Chaos difficulties! Fans of the Mystic and the Obelisk will want to take special note, as it’s undergoing some pretty radical balance updates with this patch. (It’s basically hit by every one of our core changes listed above!)


Optimization Improvements

This patch includes several optimization improvements to the game, which should improve framerate across all three platforms but particularly on the PS4 and Xbox One versions. We’re exploring more optimization changes to improve framerate on the console versions. Stay tuned for more information!


Inventory UI & Shard Icon Tweaks

We’re adding a number of Inventory UI improvements in Patch 1.0.3:

  • More Shards have unique icons now! This will help you find the Shard you’re looking for.

  • The Experience/Ascension bar is now permanently located on the Inventory screen

  • The Inventory now highlights any new item that the player didn't previously own until the player focuses on the new item. This includes auto-equipped items, items that have been manually picked up by the player, and bundled items like Shards.

  • Items selected in your Inventory will now highlight any valid slots on the left side Hero Manager screen, making it easier to determine which items can be equipped where.

  • The number of weapons a hero can equip is now accurate, which means only the Squire has two weapon slots now!


Disable Controller Vibration Option

For those who don’t like to play with your controller shaking like an earthquake, we’re adding the option to disable controller vibration!


Game Browser UI Changes

We’re making several usability changes to the Game Browser UI to make it easier to join and create games on controllers!


Xbox One Vsync Option

We’re adding a Vsync option for the Xbox One version in this patch!


Controller Deadzone Updates

Thanks to a wonderful Reddit post, we’re exploring updates to our controller joystick deadzones. In case you don’t know, deadzones relate to how far you have to move the joystick from its central resting place before the game registers movement. A large deadzone means you have to push the joystick really far to the edge before movement begins; a small deadzone means very little joystick movement is needed. The result of these changes should improve overall joystick movement and give you more useful deadzone options. This is a stretch goal for the patch, so if it doesn’t come out in this patch, it’ll come out in the patches following.


Bug Fixes

Finally, this patch will contain a number of bug fixes, including a fix for the auto-collect options not working properly.


Thanks for your support, Defenders, and stay tuned for more information on Patch 1.0.3 and the FREE Beat the Heat bundle!

Love,
The Trendy Team

PutmickJ
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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!

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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:

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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!
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:

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Darrell Rodriguez
CEO, Trendy Entertainment
I_PASS_BUTTER

Everyone in Etheria can find a new furry (scaly or creepy) companion, but only 6 of you can become a true Beastmaster.

For the next six weeks, search high and low to find the strongest pet in each class. Whoever wins that week will be awarded the exclusive in-game title of “Beastmaster." 

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This week, you’re looking for Growld! The person with the strongest Growld wins!

In order to participate, you must take a screenshot of the pet’s stats and post it in the comments along with a link to your Steam profile page. You are allowed to submit multiple entries during the course of the contest. At the end of the contest, we’ll verify who had the pet with the highest DPS. This person will be claimed the Beastmaster.

Any pet that has hatched since launch will be eligible for the contest, so keep all of the pets that you hatch -- it may help you win the next week’s contest. We’ll reveal the next contest next week!

If you win, you will not be eligible to participate in another Beastmaster contest in this series. Yes - only one of you can be the very best. I mean six. Six different of you.

This week’s contest begins now and runs until next Wednesday at 12 PM EDT. The winner will be selected and revealed at the bottom of the next contest post on Thursday.

Good luck!


pmasher

New Reveal: The DD2 Tavern!

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Welcome back, Defenders!

You may have caught a sneak peek at the Tavern in our one-year of development anniversary post. Well, we’re finally ready to reveal the whole thing! There’s still work to be done, but we’re off to a good start:

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Matchmaking

One of our major goals while creating the DD2 Tavern was to provide a robust matchmaking experience that allows players to enjoy the game how they want, whether it’s playing with your friends, by yourself or with new people you haven’t become friends with quite yet!

When you first load into the Tavern, you’ll see the War Table. From here you can launch a private game that you can control or use the group finder to find new players in your level range to play with. As you progress, you’ll unlock new group finder tiers that include fresh missions and difficulties you can play. If you like, you can stick with your group as you play mission-to-mission, and for public games, the matchmaking system will bring in fresh players to fill open spots as they leave to do other activities. Public games also have a leader that is selected each round who can decide what map the group plays. The leader rotates, so as the group continues, everyone gets a chance to select what is played.

We know it’s going to be quite a task to make public games fun in DD2, and we’re just starting down this path. We’ve prototyped a few other features to help encourage positive public play, like upvoting, downvoting and MVP voting other players at the end of a match. Our goal is to experiment with different ideas, refine our implementations and add new features to create the most positive, fair and engaging experience we can. We look forward to working with all of you to create the best matchmaking and map progression system for a Dungeon Defenders game.



Hero & Item Management

Yes, hero and item management is back and better than ever! You can create new heroes, edit your Hero Deck and swap heroes in the Tavern. You can also access the Forge for all your loot management needs. Right now you can only edit your Hero Deck at the hero management table, but we may introduce this functionality to the Forge in the future.

Upgrading

And DD2 wouldn’t be a Dungeon Defenders game without some serious item upgrading. Just like the original, every item spawns with a set of upgrade levels. This time around, we wanted to put a new spin on things. Instead of just dumping mana into your items, you can fuse other items with them, too! We really wanted to make every item have a purpose in DD2, even the “trash loot.” So depending on the class (weapon, relic) and type (swords to swords, medallions to medallions), you get different XP bonuses. Now that low-stat sword can do you some good!

Right now we only have the most base functionality of the upgrading wheel in place. We have a lot of other cool ideas we are going to add in the future, and we’re currently getting feedback from the Defense Council to polish and improve what we currently have to be as fun and easy to use as possible.


Yes, you can skip it if you want. *click*


Shops

A bunch of interesting characters have moved into the DD2 Tavern. So far only two have set up shop, but as we continue development you may notice some NPCs leave their cozy barstools and set up shops of their own.

Right now, there’s both a weapon and a relic vendor to purchase loot from. Their shops refresh on a timer, so you can always see when to come back for new options. Each shop will also have an extra rare bonus item that’s often great AND expensive.



What’s Left?

As you can see, there’s still a ton of work left to do on the Tavern. After we’ve set up all the shops and spent significant time improving the matchmaking flow and map selection process, we hope to move on to some of the fun (and more memorable) aspects of the Tavern… like super-awesome-dope-fantastic Tavern customization. We’d love to hear all your thoughts about the Tavern in its initial state, and more importantly, we have a very specific question for you:

Do you think public Taverns (or a different, visual hub area) have a place in Dungeon Defenders II? We are very split in the office but would love to introduce some way for more than four defenders to interact. Right now some of us think it would be cool to start everyone in a social tavern type area and then give players the option to enter their own private tavern or join a group. What do you think?

The DD2 pre-alpha code winners from our previous blogs are:

  • DD2 Status Update Blog: FlamingTomato
  • DD2 Status Update Blog: Dawnchaser
  • NVIDIA Winners Blog: ToxicCaterpillar
  • NVIDIA Winners Blog: Tdarnok
  • The winners of the Spec Nodes blog will be selected next week!


Answer the question above about public Taverns in the comments, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! We’ll pick TWO random posters and reveal the winners next week. You have a full week to leave a comment. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community!
pmasher

Greetings Defenders,


As we teased a few Devstreams ago, some big changes to Nightmare are coming with the Alpha & Beyond patch. These changes are meant to make Nightmare something both fun and challenging. They will begin a process of making a much larger swatch of Nightmare meaningful, not just Liferoot NM 4.


Nightmare Improvements

Here are some of the changes that will be included in the patch:

  • Free Play & Nightmare maps will be re-organized into 3 blocks. Each block represents a different map difficulty and will award progressively better loot and XP. Map order here is very different from Campaign. For example, Forest Crossroads is in the first block of maps and Liferoot Forest is in the second.

  • Nightmare maps have been rebalanced for solo play. We have reduced the number of threat lanes for solo players on more complicated maps compared to the live version of the game. We have also increased the reduction in enemy level for less than 4 players.

  • Loot will drop from all enemies after Wave 1. On the first wave, loot will only drop from Special Enemies.

  • Nightmare 1-3 will be different than Nightmare 4.Our current goal is that players will be theorycrafting and creating strong builds while playing 1-3 in order to take on the challenge that is Nightmare 4.


Nightmare Rollback

When these changes roll out, there will also be a rollback for Nightmare gear. All gear with iPWR 241+ will be rerolled to iPWR 240. This gear will be the same type (bows will still be bows), but the stats and the passives on the gear will be rerolled and may be different from what you had. Once the patch is live, you’ll be able to take all your gear and start your assault on the new Nightmare modes. We can’t wait to hear your feedback on our latest Nightmare changes!


Nightmare Pioneer Rewards

As a reward for venturing into the depths of Nightmare early, any player who has at least one piece of gear with iPWR 241 or greater before Alpha & Beyond releases* will receive these 4 exclusive accessory variants:

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Good luck, Defenders! We look forward to hearing your thoughts on these Nightmare changes this September.


*We will be providing an exact cutoff date and time for these rewards in the future.

admin
DD2 beta code winners chosen!

The winners of the DD2 beta code giveaway are Narica, Vidurr, xjoshieboox, upwake and bobbysinger! Winners, keep an eye on your PM inbox tomorrow for your code.

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Original post:

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Want a Dungeon Defenders II beta code? How about a Razer mouse and keyboard and some awesome Dungeon Defenders swag? Enter the giveaway here!



Post a comment below for your chance to win a DD2 beta code! Winners will be chosen on Tuesday.
ZackSmith
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!
JBrawley

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One of the most critical decisions in level design is choosing between a symmetrical or an asymmetrical layout. For the most part in DD2, we’re using asymmetrical layouts.

Why We’re Using Asymmetry

For games like Dungeon Defenders II that primarily use arena-based layouts and combat, symmetry has a few positive effects:

  • The player quickly and easily understands the layout -- The human brain grasps symmetry with remarkable speed and accuracy.
  • Artificial spaces are easier to understand through symmetrical layouts -- Such as the symmetry found in theatres.

But there are some distinct drawbacks to symmetrical layouts as well:

  • Symmetry is quickly assimilated by the brain -- Because of this, it is less interesting than asymmetry. It is often less memorable, as well.
  • Symmetrical spaces imply symmetrical use of a space -- In DD1 terms, you would expect both sides of a symmetrical layout to have the same enemies and pacing because the brain already understands the space as a mirrored environment.
  • Symmetrical spaces are less interesting to look at and build.

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Working Around the Confines of Asymmetry

This decision means the maps are a little harder to learn. It's worth noting, however, that while many of the maps are not physically symmetrical, they are conceptually symmetrical. The Greystone Plaza map, for example, contains two isolated lanes on the west and east sides of the map. These lanes don't crossover, and both sides of the map contain an optional lane that becomes active once a sub-objective is destroyed. In many respects, the gameplay of the Greystone Plaza map possess a symmetry even though the map is geometrically asymmetrical.

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Playing in a closed arena tends to be more fun when the 3D space is interesting to move through and navigate. Ideally, a space is fun on its own--before any gameplay has been added in, which is something I touched on in my previous blog about player paths. Part of the joy of a map is learning the space, the other part of the joy is knowing that space. When gameplay is layered atop a well-built space, it’s enriched because the space is already fun. By creating interesting, asymmetrical maps, we hope to create a space where gameplay can truly flourish.

What did you think of the map design in DD1? Which maps were easiest for you to read, at a glance? Leave a comment below and you could win a spot on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our Huntress blog is EagleOne!

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!
iamisom

Hey all! We’re proud to announce that we’ve partnered with Sony to bring Dungeon Defenders II exclusively to the PlayStation 4! In fact, you’ll be able to play the game tomorrow on PS4 at the PlayStation Experience. If you’re going, be sure to stop by Sony’s booth to say hi. We’ll have various people at their booth all day showing off the game.

Stay tuned to our blog for more details on the PS4 version in the future. We still have a ton of work to do, but we’re excited to finally be bringing Dungeon Defenders back to a console. We’ve just completed our first controller pass (it needs a bunch of work!) and are exciting to dig into some other features, like local co-op and a controller-based UI. And yes, all of those features will also be coming to the PC version!


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.

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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.

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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
I_PASS_BUTTER

Our next patch, Loot & Survive, is coming soon™. It contains pretty much everything you could want while defending Etheria -- a new leveling/progression curve, level cap increase to 50, rewards & Skill Sphere choices as you level up, a completely new loot/stat system, Onslaught Mode, Nightmare mode, an economy balance to make gold more meaningful, and oh so much more.


It will also include a wipe of your heroes and some of your other progress. Since we’re going to miss your heroes too (nooo Portario56235!), we decided to go the extra mile and put together some EXCLUSIVE items for your hard work:


Corrupted Welp

Everyone who has leveled up at least one hero to level 25 will be awarded a unique, custom pet. To obtain this award, you must complete this challenge by 5 PM EDT, July 26th.

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4 Survivor Hero Costumes [updated 7/18]

Everyone who has leveled up at least one of each hero class to level 25 will get a unique hero costume for that class. To obtain these awards, you must complete this challenge by 5 PM EDT, July 26th.


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We hope these make up for this heroic sacrifice ever-so-slightly more than a colorized icon. We appreciate all of your hard work helping us build Dungeon Defenders II-- together we are going to make the best Action Tower Defense game there is.


Wyvern Token Rewards [updated 7/18]

Finally, for the past week, all of you have been using your Influence points on which kind of wipe you’d like to see -- a Full Wipe or Partial Wipe. As of the writing of this post, Full Wipe is 7000 points ahead -- but, we recognize this could change at any moment.

We’ve received a ton of feedback from the Partial Wipe camp, asking us to create a reward for the hard-earned Wyvern Tokens they’ve obtained. Well look no further! IF the Full Wipe wins, we will be awarding the following amount of gems based on the amount of Wyvern Tokens you’ve earned by 5 PM EDT, July 26th:


Wyvern Tokens Earned

Gems Rewarded

20 - 39

150

40 - 79

300

80 - 119

500

120 +

1200


Come back Monday for an Influence Vote on the exact details of the wipe


P.S. It’d look something like this if we transferred your hero data over. Also, we’re fully aware of going a bit overboard on the rewards for this wipe. But what can you say, we all got excited about these costumes (thanks Dan!).




TrendyBrad
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Just over a year ago, we left the MOBA behind and restarted development on Dungeon Defenders II.

We’ve had a blast, with over 750 Councillors enjoying our in-development game and guiding us on decisions big and small. We missed putting up our anniversary post last month, but we’d still like to take this opportunity to revisit the pillars we’ve built our game around and discuss a few updates on how we think we’re doing on each.

But before we dive into that, thanks for your detailed feedback on account leveling! We’ve been reading through the posts and are really excited by the positive reception. We also gained valuable insights on issues we need to carefully consider when creating this type of system. With all of this in-mind, we’ve decided to move forward with the concept.

To that end, we’re taking a few steps to ensure we get the best feedback on what we build. This fall, we’ll unveil new opportunities for players to become part of the Defense Council. Then, we’ll introduce the account leveling feature in a Test Realm of sorts, allowing us to get feedback at an early stage before committing to the feature. We want to ensure that changes of this scope are what you want, and we will provide many avenues for you to influence our development process in the near future.

Now, on to our pillars! If you all remember, we defined five core pillars at the onset of development last year. We’ll walk through each one and grant some insight into where we are right now.

The Pillars: One Year Later

Accessibility


This is a major, active focus for our team. Over the past few months we’ve been evaluating our features and overhauling our UI to make them more intuitive. We’re still in the first phase of our UI revamps and are fixing bugs and improving functionality.

We’ve also started adding the first tutorials to the game, including enemy introduction and tutorial videos. These give brief explanations of enemy behaviors and game features as players are exposed to them. We also have a very exciting (non-video) tutorial experience we’re planning to do in the future, once we’re happy with our core features and interfaces!

To help you see some of what we’re doing, here’s an evolution of one of our UIs. You can see how far we’ve come till today, and trust me, we’re not done yet.

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Replayability

We’re always talking about replayability at Trendy. It keys into one of the core tenants of game design: small, medium and large rewards. We finally have some of these reward systems in-place, and we’re iterating on them as we speak. These systems define and create the game’s replayability (awesome loot!).

We also have some new ideas that will encourage replayability, like the prestige and account leveling systems we mentioned in the last blog post. These are currently in the design phase.

Here are some other things we are currently working on to encourage replayability:

  • Creating an engaging balance for our maps
  • Adding more depth into character leveling with the new Spec Nodes system (which we’ll talk about in more detail later!)
  • Evolving our item enhancement system
  • Creating special stats for loot (also, more info coming soon!)

We’ll be talking with you often on how we improve the replayability of DD2 as we go. We’re not there yet, but we have created good building blocks for us to expand on, and we can’t wait to get your input on where our efforts will be best focused.

Well-Paced Rewards

This too has finally started to come together in the last few weeks. We’re constantly working to refine our reward loops so they create a sense of progression and excitement. We’re also constantly working to empower players with meaningful choices they can make throughout the game experience.

Right now, we’re iterating on how and when specific tiers of loot drop in our maps so players are always engaged, excited and getting good upgrades. We’re also iterating on our Spec Nodes feature for character growth (I think we’re on version 3 right now!) so that you have engaging decisions to make throughout the progression curve.

Our current goal is to get all of the reward systems we’ve implemented working in concert together. After that, we will look into adding in new layers on top, like daily missions and better in-match goals. Once we expand the Defense Council, we look forward to gathering feedback on which reward systems we can improve and introducing the reward systems that you want first… first.

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Gameplay Depth

When we first started working on DD2 over a year ago, we were exploring how we wanted heroes to work in the sequel. We created a set of defenses and abilities, iterated on them, and, more importantly, played with them a ton. We’ve learned quite a bit since then about what works and what does not. With that knowledge, we will be doing major passes on each of the heroes to better focus all aspects of their gameplay, including regular attacks, abilities and towers.

Our goals here are to increase the gameplay depth of each hero individually and to expand the interactions among heroes. We’re calling these passes Hero Revamps. We’ve already completed the first revamp, for the Apprentice, and over the coming months will be working through the rest of our heroes, leveraging your feedback.

We have many other irons in the fire too, like adding a renewed focus on magic and physical resist enemies, iterating on our hero spec nodes for better choices, and much more.

Action, Tower Defense and Role Playing Work Together

One of our biggest challenges as developers is creating fun new ways for these three elements to synergize while maintaining an equal emphasis on each of these elements.

When we started developing DD2 we identified action as one of our weakest components and put a lot of effort towards making combat feel more visceral and making abilities more exciting to use. This is also why we enabled player movement while executing defense interactions like repair, upgrade and build.

However, as we continued forward we continuously received feedback from the Council that the tower defense component of DD2 seemed to take a second stage. So recently, we’ve put a lot of effort into bringing the tower defense aspect of gameplay back into focus. The game feels much more satisfying when both you and your defenses are devastating the Old One’s hordes.

Finally, this is also a big inspiration for the Hero Revamps. We’ll be fixing defenses that are broken, throwing out bad ones while replacing them with new options with better strategic choice, and creating new interactions between the tower defense, action and role-playing elements of the game.

Final Thoughts

It’s been quite humbling to look back over the past year as a team and see how far we’ve come. The great experiment of the Defense Council has been extraordinary, from the live streams to the forum posts, and even though it might not always seem obvious to our Councillors, we talk about the notes often and use them every day to influence the decisions we make. As we get ready to expand the Defense Council, we can’t wait to see what new perspectives these players will bring to the table.

So as we continue to work hard at creating the best Dungeon Defenders experience we can, jump into the forums and give us a few of your favorite moments from the past year for inspiration! We’d also love to hear what you’re looking forward to the most, and here’s to another great year of Dungeon Defenders II!

Since the delay between blogs, we're selecting 10 winners from our Share Your Feedback blog! The winners are Senacherub, Tammy, Wylbhr, rawrsair, SnakeChips, Sirpennywise, mattster365, tosado, Low Ceiling and Warmonger! Winners, keep an eye on your forum PMs for more information.

Share your honest feedback about this blog in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! We’ll pick TWO random posters and reveal the winners next week. You have a full week to leave a comment. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community!
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