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Javahawk

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The visual style of the original Dungeon Defenders was quite memorable, but not really for the right reasons. More in the “Wow those colors sure are… Noticeable!” way. The running joke was that the visuals of the game sometimes reminded everyone of a bag of Skittles that had materialized out of one of those jet-powered blenders. Part of this was because the development cycle only allowed for time to create and commit visual effects (VFX), not necessarily polish them. While I’m extremely proud of my work, I felt the finished product could have been more cohesive overall.

For DD2, we’re taking the extra time to ensure the highest possible quality in our game. Even before the pre-production phase started, our artists were determined to deliver visual effects that were extremely stylistic, elegant, and polished. VFX in DD2 would be unique and recognizable, acting as an accent to the art and immersing players in the experience.

Creating Visually Satisfying Combos
When it came time to develop DD2’s combat, we wanted players to seek out and look forward to complex interactions. To do that, we created a combo system for devastating enemy minions that was both visually rewarding and fun to use.

Our first challenge was to conceptualize how these interactions might look. My personal favorite is the water + electricity combo. In this combo, once a minion is hit by the drenched debuff, it becomes vulnerable to electric-type damage and is stunned while lightning arcs through it.

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Yes, that’s a lightning elemental sword. And yes, it actually does something cool now!


In this particular example, our FX team had to come up with a solution for not only an emitter-based electricity effect that would play on the enemy, but also a material-based electrocution overlay, as depicted in the GIF above.

Our minion materials were already designed so that when an enemy is set on fire, oiled, drenched, or poisoned, you see the effect on the character model itself. Because we wanted a similar debuff effect for electrocution, we needed to add that state for each minion’s material.

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This orc is just doomed to die a horribly painful death.


This material effect went through two iterations. Initially, we decided to depict it so that lightning played over a dark ‘scorched’ enemy, but in our first FX review, we realized this was too subdued and wasn’t giving enough incentive for players to activate the combo. So we decided to add a pulsing electric overlay to the minions. That coupled with particle-based glow and lightning beams allowed us to reach something pretty cool and immersive.

This process was a great example of a multidisciplinary effort coming together successfully. With everyone on the team dedicated to polishing the visual effects, we achieved something we feel is a great example of what’s to come in Dungeon Defenders II.

We can’t wait for you to experience the immensely satisfying combos we’ve got in store for you. Leave a comment below and tell us what combo you’d most like to see and you could win a spot on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our DD2 at PAX East blog is abbazabba!

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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Dungeon Defenders II is coming to PAX East!

That’s right! From April 11th to 13th, the Trendy Team is heading to Boston, and we’re bringing the latest build of Dungeon Defenders II with us. We’ve been hard at work making tons of additions and improvements since our showing at NYCC, and we can’t wait for you to see them!

Stop by Booth [[4431,hashtags]] to play the game on one of our 16 stations, enter to win some awesome swag, and say hello to the team!

Test Your Skills and Win Prizes:
Bring your friends and try out two new maps on our custom Alienware gaming rigs. Earn raffle tickets and enter to win a Razer headset or mouse in one of our daily giveaways. Defenders can complete a special challenge at the booth to win an exclusive prize!

Get Some DD2 Goodies:
We also have tons of exclusive DD2 merch for sale. And don’t forget to pick up a raffle ticket when you stop by! We’ll be giving away plenty of T-shirts, mousepads, art prints, and more.

Hang Out With the Dev Team:
A large portion of the Trendy team will be making the trek to Boston to meet our fans. Whether you’re just dropping by to say hi or you have specific questions about our game, feel free to talk to any of us at the booth.

We can’t wait to see all of you on the PAX show floor!

The random winner of our Perils of an Uneven World blog is happyguy3216!

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!
bgoodsell


One of the challenges we faced in Dungeon Defenders II was creating interesting defenses that did not restrict our map design. While many defenses have no problem being placed on bridges, hills, or other sources of uneven terrain in our maps, there are a few that needed some additional tweaks. Today I’d like to discuss some of the steps we’ve taken to help our traps and auras look good on any type of terrain.

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Huntress Traps


In the original Dungeon Defenders, traps were just a decal on the ground. We decided to actually design the physical traps in DD2 so the effects would come from an existing structure. Unfortunately, a physical object designed to lay flat always assumes the ground is level, so it won’t look as good on uneven terrain. This results in object clipping.

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For the Huntress's traps, we were able to fix this problem by aligning the trap to something called a surface normal. What this means is when you place a Blaze Balloon trap (for example) on a set of stairs, it automatically rotates to align itself with the surface underneath it. Once the defense has been adjusted, its visual effects still play in something called world space, which basically means up is up, so you won't have the balloon floating off sideways.

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Monk Auras


DD1 auras were an interesting problem to solve.

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We didn’t want to re-use the domes because of how much it visually overwhelmed the map. After careful experimentation, we re-purposed the dynamic decals we used for traps in the original Dungeon Defenders. This allowed the auras to be projected on and conform to any surface, which was really nice. Problem solved.

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The one issue we ran into was with the Lightning Aura. This defense is meant to shoot bolts of lightning toward the ground, but unfortunately it assumes a flat surface. While everyone on the team loved our initial pass, we had to get creative with our tweaks to make it conform to our design rules.

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We solved this by using another Unreal system called beams. A beam works by procedurally creating geometry between two endpoints, one of which is always at the top of the defense. The other one we fire off into the world to detect the nearest surface it can interact with. Not only does this help simulate how lightning functions in the real world, but it helps the Lightning Aura that understands the surface, regardless of the location it is placed.

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Defenses orienting to and understanding the surfaces they’re placed upon is just the beginning. We have several other cool systems that give defenses more interesting and distinctive effects once they’re placed in the map. I look forward to sharing what we have learned and how we applied it in the future.

-Brian Goodsell, VFX Intern

The random winner of our Environmental traps blog is Ubara-tutu!

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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Environmental Traps are a fun new feature in Dungeon Defenders II, and one that we're continuously fine-tuning as we create new levels. When we first started building levels for DD2, we wanted to provide interesting motivations for players to move around the map during combat. We also wanted to think about how players could place defenses that synergize with the maps. We decided to try out a concept of traps built into the level's construction that players could use to their advantage.

Traps that are pre-built into the maps:

  • Encourage players to learn the traps and, by extension, to learn the map.
  • Encourage players to move around the map to use them.
  • Provide a wildcard to help players regain control in an emergency.
  • Add choice to the action gameplay and to defense placement.


Our First Attempts

We tried a number of different concepts for how traps could work mechanically. An early version of Greystone Plaza had a group of archers across the top wall and the player could switch which lane they were firing at. This trap didn't work so well because it wasn't that gratifying to use. Another early draft had steel floor grates that could be shot out, dropping enemies into the lava beneath -- but this didn't work because players spent more time using the grates to kill each other than enemies. In the end, the most satisfying traps tended to be those that had a lot of punch to them and those that encouraged tactical timing or positioning.

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After we had built a few levels with compelling traps in them, it became clear to us that traps weren't quite powerful enough. When players disengage to fire a trap, they are giving up their own DPS in order to use the trap -- so without sufficient lethality, players didn't want to disengage and risk losing control of a lane.

For example, given the choice between these two traps:

  • A trap that can be used frequently to low effect, or
  • A trap that can be used infrequently to high effect


Players almost always preferred the latter trap because its use was more engaging, less tedious, and felt more powerful and fun.

In another example, given the choice between these two traps:

  • A trap that fires a constant, high-DPS stream while the player holds down the attack trigger, or
  • A trap that fires a single, high-damage explosive burst when triggered


Players generally preferred the second type of trap in this case, as well, even if the first trap was actually more powerful. The fire-and-forget trap allowed them to be in control of the situation instead of pinned in one location.

Refining the Idea

One of our most engaging traps is the water trap in Siphon Site D, which blasts enemies off the walkway with a high pressure shot of water. This trap was a lot of fun to use in early tests, even though the visuals were extremely basic when it was first built. Like many of the other successful trap designs, it is quick to activate, slow to recharge, and has a very high impact effect with rewarding visuals. And, as a bonus, you get to watch enemies plummet to their deaths.

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Greystone Plaza now features a dynamite trap that sets off multiple, high-yield explosions and starts fires in the nearby area. This trap was also selected for its high impact and larger recharge times. When properly timed, it can wipe out dozens of enemies and belch out a sea of damage.

Most of our levels now contain traps that have a long cooldown time, but a high payoff. We're looking to make traps that are both spectacular to watch and fun to use -- nothing beats the excitement of seeing what a trap does to enemies the very first time. The Valley's gate trap is another great example of this and a favorite conversation topic at our first internal playtest for the Valley map.

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As we continue to build traps, we’re keeping these fundamental design principles in mind. We can’t wait for you to try them out and feel first-hand how satisfying it is to bombard a horde of Orcs and Goblins with dynamite, or to freeze and shatter a group of Wyverns. Do you have any ideas for traps that you’d like to see in the future? Let us know in the comments and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our Q.A. blog is mordyo!

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!
PutmickJ

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Greetings Defenders, and welcome to this month's QA column: Bugglemania! [Working Title] Today I present to you a fun bug and another silly video. Without further ado, let's get started on slugging those bugs!

The Squire’s Super Shield

If you enjoyed the recent blog post about the Squire and always dreamt of using two shields at once, then this bug’s for you! Recently, while testing the loot drops on each character, we noticed something a bit odd about the Squire when he switched shields. Instead of swapping out for the old shield, the new one would stack on top of it, doubling the stats! Even better, in a feat of Squire engineering, the shields appeared on top of each other, leading the Squire to carry some ridiculous-looking combinations. Here's just one of the over-the-top shields donned by our lovable Squire:

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Rise of the Ramsters

The Squire bug came up fairly recently, so I already had another thing to share with you guys, just in case we didn’t have a great bug we could get behind. I spent my free time working on something I thought would be funny, something you would all like, so I present to you: Rise of the Ramsters!

[video=youtube_share;vTA9tOHoHN8]http://youtu.be/vTA9tOHoHN8[/video]



Using one of the assets we had in the editor, I placed the skeletal mesh of the ramster onto the wyvern and a couple of other enemies. The results speak for themselves.

So there we have it, a fun bug showing the Squire's adeptness at shield-building, and the cutest thing to ever attack your core! What did you think of the mesh swap, or the Squire's ingenuity? What would you guys like to see or learn more about when it comes to QA? Let us know in the comments, where I’ll also clarify how the Squire bug came to be!

The random winner of our Monk blog is Uchihia!

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!
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!
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!
Blacksmith

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When it comes to loot in Dungeon Defenders II, there is simply so much I could talk about. I honestly felt a bit overwhelmed when I was asked to write this blog. But there is one thing that stands out. Something a little special…

Stat Progression vs. Visual Progression

The earliest versions of armor in Dungeon Defenders were purely stat-based, with no cosmetic benefit. When we first approached loot design in Dungeon Defenders II, we wanted to find a way to balance this. To do so, we developed the following philosophy:

Players should never have to make a choice between the best stats and the coolest looking gear. They should have access to both! From a gameplay perspective, armor should give players stats that allow them to progress heroes, abilities, and defenses to fit their playstyle. But aesthetically, that armor also needs to feel satisfying; to become more and more awesome as you progress within the game.

To accommodate this we decided to separate the two concepts. Instead of being stuck with a set of gear you hate just for the benefit of good stats, you now have the complete freedom to mold and shape your heroes’ look as you see fit.

So how do you improve your character’s stats? To keep the visual progression separate from the stat progression, there will be two types of armor in Dungeon Defenders II:

  1. Armor that provides visual progression: This allows you to change the way your hero looks based on your playstyle. (Lots of exciting things I can’t talk about just yet!)
  2. Armor that provides stat boosts: Stat pieces that drop in the world and can be equipped. We call these pieces Relics!

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Relics: Applying Stats to Cosmetic Pieces

Relics are powerful, enchanted artifacts that drop from enemies and chests. At this time, there are three main Relic classifications: Tomes, Medallions, and Totems. Tomes represent intellect and magical affinity, Medallions represent courage and strength, and Totems represent fortitude.

Each hero will have four Relic slots: Boots, Hands, Chest and Head. Additionally, heroes are restricted in which Relics they can equip based on their role. For example, the Squire can only equip Totems and Medallions in any of the four slots. We’re currently testing Relics with this distribution in the Council build.

When a Relic is dropped in the world it will have four main components:

  1. Relic Type: This can be a Talisman, Tome, or Totem.
  2. Who Can Equip It: The item info will display which heroes can equip the relic.
  3. Where It Can Be Slotted: This is indicated by corresponding visuals.
  4. And all of the other things you've come to expect from loot: Stats, tiers, etc.

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Speaking of tiers, you’ll be pleased to know that Dungeon Defenders II will have 6 tiers of loot! From worst to best, the new tiers are:

  1. Worn
  2. Sturdy
  3. Powerful
  4. Epic
  5. Mythical
  6. And the much coveted Legendary!

This is only one small part of a very large, complex, and rewarding system that is loot in Dungeon Defenders II. I look forward to sharing even more exciting loot news with you in the future, but until then, leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the Relic system so far.

The random winner of our Conceptual Level Design blog is Olot!

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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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!
LaurawantsaCow

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Last month we took you a bit deeper into the mind and arsenal of the Squire. If you’re reading this, you somehow survived the trip. We hope you’re ready for another, because this month we’re taking a closer look at the Huntress!

When she was younger, the Huntress spent her time learning to use a crossbow and making mischief with all sorts of traps. After making the journey to her destroyed homeland, she traded in her crossbow for an Elven-made longbow. The switch has only improved her marksmanship, as she can concentrate on a precise and well-aimed shot.

But devastating archery skills aren't the only thing she’s bringing to the table. Her toolkit is also equipped with ample crowd control, along with traps and defenses that deal burst damage as well as damage over time.

Geysertrap


It’s a Trap!


In the original Dungeon Defenders, the Huntress’ traps were primarily built for damage and could easily clear out cannon fodder in a lane. Some of these, like the Darkness Trap, helped control the flow of battle. These days, the Huntress is more aggressive in her means of crowd control. Her new Geyser Trap triggers a massive spout of water that blasts enemies into the air, delaying their pursuit of the core. It also makes them vulnerable to anti-air defenses like the Monk’s Sky Guard Tower, and applies a drenched debuff. If a drenched enemy is zapped by a Storm-infused weapon or defense, they’re immediately stunned, taking massive damage as lightning courses through them.

OilFlask


E.V.O.O -- Exceptionally Volatile (certified Organic!) Oil


The Geyser Trap isn’t the Huntress’ only means of control, or even her only tactic for supporting her allies! When the time is right, she chucks an Oil Flask at her enemies. It shatters on impact and coats foes in a thick layer of oil that slows their movement. Did we mention it’s highly flammable? Whether they’re ignited by the Huntress’ Piercing Shot or any other source of Fire damage, oiled enemies spread that fire, taking consistent damage while the Huntress picks them off with headshots as they amble toward her.

PoisonDartTower


That Girl is POISOOOOOOOON


But being a hero in Etheria means having a well-rounded arsenal, and for the first time, the Huntress has a true tower of her own: The Poison Dart Tower! This defense fires multiple poison-tipped projectiles into enemies, dealing immediate damage and afflicting them with a damage-over-time debuff. It can also tilt vertically, making it deadly to both land and air units, and especially lethal when placed behind a spawn point, allowing the Huntress to take out a good amount of enemies’ health even while they progress through a lane.

These are just some of the Huntress’ new abilities and defenses. True to her nature, the Huntress isn’t showing all of her cards, so you’ll have to be on your toes if you want to discover new tricks!

Now that you’ve seen what the Squire and the Huntress can do, what kind of combos can you come up with? Let us know in the comments section and you could get your hands on a Defense Council invite!

The random winner of our Puzzling Paralleltress blog is reyrey!

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!
Blacksmith

Combat Improvements



Greetings Defenders!

Do any of you remember our Five Pillars of Design? The Fifth Pillar talks about the unique, symbiotic relationship between the three different aspects of the game: Tower Defense, Action, and RPG. Our Fifth Pillar demands that we make sure these three sides of the game work well together.

We’ve shared some of the new Tower Defense features of DD2, but how are we integrating that with the other two? I’ll be focusing my blogging efforts on this very question, starting first with Combat and how it came to be what it is today.

DD1’s Combat - The Good, The Bad, and the Floaty

When developing a hybrid game like Dungeon Defenders, it’s important that we keep in mind all the different sides of the game. We have to evaluate their strengths and their weaknesses. Most importantly, we have to isolate and identify how those sides can work with -- and not against -- one another. The first Dungeon Defenders featured a simple, yet entertaining combat system. It supported the Tower Defense side of the game and was improved by a rich loot and stat system coupled with unique character progression. But it wasn’t without its problems.

When development began on Dungeon Defenders II, we decided to take a good look at all three sides of the game and see where we could improve them. While DD1’s combat was entertaining and symbiotic, it felt a little too “floaty” in that it didn’t give you solid and powerful feedback. Internally we refer to this as the Lawn Mower Effect since it basically had you mow down loads of enemies without providing you with any sense of contact.


Dungeon Defenders Lawn Mower Melee



Building and Testing Combat Prototypes

Over the course of one week, Trendy’s development team split into three teams, each eager to prototype and showcase their vision for combat in Dungeon Defenders II. While two teams focused on refining DD1’s approach and pushing it further, the third team cooked up something rather special.

Their prototype featured the Barbarian stomping heavily on the battlefield. He slashed his famous axes through the air with monumental force, cleaving through his enemies before slamming his weapons into the ground. Each attack propelled the Barbarian toward his enemies, and each could be chained with another attack. His full body was animated, opening up the potential for attacks that looked both complicated and impressive. With every swing he gave a loud roar, and his axes shook the screen as they pummeled enemies and terrain alike.

When it came time to review all three prototypes, it was obvious which one we were most excited to move forward with. The third prototype was simple, but it very clearly showcased the type of weighty, visceral combat we wanted to give our players.


New-and-Improved Melee in Dungeon Defenders II



Since then, we have been hard at work on this new combat system. In the future, melee heroes will utilize an action chaining system that allows them to combine different actions seamlessly. Your Squire will be able to jump into combat. unleash a flurry of light and heavy attacks, turn and fire a few abilities, repair a defense, and then jump out of combat, all in quick succession. By the time we are through with our system, players will be able to fluidly chain actions together in the heat of combat.

Refining Ranged Combat

We are also improving how Ranged Combat feels in Dungeon Defenders II. One of the simplest (yet coolest!) additions I can talk about is the Hot-Spot mechanic. This allows Ranged heroes to target special spots on enemies and deal even more damage than normal. The prototype was first tested by adding headshots on a single enemy type, and we are continuing to apply this system to different parts of our game. For example: When hit on an unarmored spot, our Ogre will suffer more damage from attacks.



This Hot-Spot system can be used in a lot of interesting ways. What do you all think? Should we invest the time into implementing a full-fledged Hot-Spot system for our Ranged Heroes?

It is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning for our Combat Systems in Dungeon Defenders II. There are still plenty of things we are working on that are hidden away deep within Trendy’s lair. You can imagine how the Squire’s combat plays out now, but what about a hero that wields two weapons? How do the weapon choices influence the combat?

That’s a conversation for another time, but until then, your feedback is vital! Be sure to leave a comment and let us know some of the things you are hoping to see improved in DD1’s combat system.

The random winner of our Community Feedback blog is papafhill!

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!
CKeene

Hero Lore Process

Greetings Defenders,

A few days ago, Laura reintroduced you to everyone's favorite over-enthusiast, the Squire! What you don't know is that he has a completely new biography just waiting to be seen. While I can't share the whole thing with you just yet, I thought this would be a good opportunity to shed some light on how we create a hero biography.

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Writers. Can't take them anywhere.


Why redo the bios at all? For starters, I wrote all of the previous biographies with the tournament in mind, centering each hero's motivation on that key point. As we moved away from the MOBA, inconsistencies sprang up left and right, and the fix wasn't as simple as omitting a few details.

More importantly, the tone didn't match what we were going for with the revamp. Community member Ayjona brought up a good point: There is a tonal shift between the first game and the sequel. Though we want to avoid making it a jarring change, we do need to weave the effect of a slightly darker world into our lore.

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Not Red Wedding dark. More like Magenta Wedding.


Before we worked on the new bios, we were given a template. This template included sections that would be particularly helpful to other departments. As Ben demonstrated in his recent post, creation doesn't happen in a void. It's a collaborative process, and for Dungeon Defenders we use what I like to call “functional lore.” It should serve a purpose -- ideally many purposes -- from helping the animators decipher a character's personality to providing the level designers some context for a map.

With those points in mind, we went to work. Of course we read the old bios first. We also took a good look through the mountain of material that was already created for the Squire. His personality was easy to grasp. It resonates through every asset, from his animations to his sound bites.

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He's still accepting fan mail, by the way.


But the Squire, like all of our heroes, was in the middle of a character arc. The original story was just the beginning; the call to action. We needed someplace for him to go. We tried a few different approaches and pitched them to a team of reviewers including our two Creative Directors, but ultimately it was decided that the Squire's arc should be internal.

Originally we wrote the biographies as you might see them traditionally. But we found the personality just wasn't coming through, so we decided to add in what we called anecdotes -- little moments from the Squire's history that defined who he was.

The Squire got into his stance, bouncing on the balls of his feet. The Knight wasn't reaching for his sword, though. He was grinning. A big, broad grin that took over his face.

"Son, aren't you forgetting something?"

"Huh? I've got my sword. You said we didn't need armor..." Maybe it was a test.

"Pants would be a good start, though."

He looked down, seeing the red hearts on his boxer shorts. With a sheepish grin and a shrug, he matched his father's gaze. "Oops. I guess I forgot."


For me, these anecdotes were much easier to write than the more informational biography style we'd embraced in the past. They gave me the chance to construct a narrative in short bursts, and I think they ultimately helped bring the Squire into a more three-dimensional state.

With anecdotes in place, the Squire's path was clear. After extensive reviews and a few tweaks here and there, he was ready for his closeup. His bio -- along with our others heroes' -- circulated about the office.

Everyone seemed to like the new direction, and it even contributed to a few assets that have been made recently, like new animations that reflect his boisterous personality.

The Squire stared flatly at the awesome, spike blockade shaped hedge. It should make him happy, but it was no match for the real thing. He kicked at the ground, nudging up some loose dirt.

"You ruined it!" The gardener was always really... loud. And never about interesting things.

"Come on, nobody wants to look at another dragon."

"Fix it," he hissed through clenched teeth.

The Squire's jaw set stubbornly. The only person who could talk to him like that was his father. He was better than these stupid hedges. Better than this stupid job.

But... his father had taught him to never quit; never walk away when someone needed help. He let out a heavy sigh, his shoulders slumping. "Fine. I'll just make it a really spiky dragon."


That said, this approach wasn't without problems. Though the Squire was an easy one, we spent a little longer trying to nail down the vibe of some characters. One character went through several iterations before we found an approach that worked. To address this, we've already started having brainstorming sessions early on so that we bring a number of approaches to the table at once.

So what's next for the Squire's biography? Well of course we want to present it to his adoring fans! Aside from the snippets we've shared here, you'll get to see his full biography very soon. Until then, let us know what you think! Comment below and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!

The random winner of our Squire blog is Aheadatime!

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!
Luska Arco
Defenders! (ง ᗒωᗕ)ง Its time for another edition of QAs bug blog: Sluggin Those Smug Bugs Right In Their Ugly Mugs [working title]. So grab your swords and boards, your staves, your polearms, your bows and quivers! Stand tall and sound off!

I present to you my ideal vision of the Huntresss Oil Flask: Introducing the Rainbow Cat Flask.

[video=youtube_share;HSMp-bON3-Q]http://youtu.be/HSMp-bON3-Q[/video]



Note: This video does not in any way represent a feature that has been added to the game.

Ahhh! ( ⌣ `ʃƪ) Its as magnificent as it is effective! Truly the most resplendent display the human eye has ever captured!

This actually isn't a bug at all but more of a messin around in the editor thing. Ive been playing a lot of Huntress lately, using her Oil Flask plus Piercing Arrow combo to coat enemies in oil and then set them ablaze with a burning DoT (Damage Over Time). So far it's my favorite combo -- especially when other fire effects, such as the Apprentices Flameburst Tower, also ignite the oil.

After using the combo so much, I started to look at the Huntress, particularly Oil Flask, and wondered what could have been.

I decided to rummage through our editor program where I found some interesting assets tucked away in a forgotten and unused directory. I was immediately inspired and asked our VFX Artist Brian Goodsell for a favor. He decided to humor me and altered the visuals like the trail that follows the airborne flask as it travels and the sounds of the impact of the flask on the enemy.

I also decided I wanted this new take on Oil Flask to be less about the debuff it provides and more like a bomb -- a pure damage ability. I decided to go into the editor and enable damage on impact. I may have made the number a bit too high from a balance perspective (its pretty much shamelessly absurd), but I regret none of my actions up to this point.

I say let the Orc hordes come. Let the Goblins and the Kobolds barrel down upon our village. Let them bear witness to my new flask. And when the last survivor staggers back to their brethren, broken and defeated, to relay what they saw -- what the defenders of Etheria are capable of -- they will let them know that we have cats!

...Or something like that.

What do you think? Was it great or were you not feline it? Let us know in the comments.

The random winner of our Using Sub-Objectives blog is UltimateJorts!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. Well pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
JBrawley
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In Dungeon Defenders II, were exploring new ways to create a fun and engaging cooperative experience. Instead of focusing your attention on one or two main objectives, youll now have the option of protecting sub-objectives that can drastically alter the flow of the game.



Good Co-op Play Comes From Variety





In DDI, many players told us that the best strategies involved clustering defenses around crystal cores.



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This style of defense is known as turtling.




Its a valid strategy, but one that shuts down mobility across the map and encourages players to remain in one location. We believe a strong co-op experience benefits from multiple stimuli that call for dedicated attention from players. In the original game, so long as you protected the crystal core there was little incentive to do much else as a coordinated team. Moving forward, we want to encourage a greater variety of co-op experiences, and we believe that starts by giving players some reason to spread beyond the core.



Sub-Objectives Divert Resources and Draw Attention





To facilitate this, we decided to create a sub-objective system. You can lose these objectives and still win the match, but once a sub-objective falls, its meant to divert the attention of the players within the level. It forces them to make hard choices and divide up critical defense tasks. And as many of our Defense Councillors already know, it takes a coordinated effort to win a game once a sub-objective has fallen.



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The destruction of a sub-objective also provides meaningful feedback for how youre progressing in a match. In DDI, players were either in control or they were dead. Sub-objectives introduce a buffer between these two points. Its a chance for players to rally their team and reconsider their strategy as lanes shift and new enemies head straight for the core.



Losing a Sub-Objective Is Noticeable, But Manageable





However, building a feature and using that feature are two very different things. We felt we had a great gameplay concept, but instead of creating balanced cooperative play, it was just leading to a frustrating experience. During our first prototypes we used too many sub-objectives, and it created a snowball effect. If players were already losing control of the map, the addition of more enemies almost guaranteed a loss. Were currently addressing this problem by having sub-objective enemies spawn during the next combat phase, but this approach isnt without its own issues. It doesnt have the impact we want, and it doesnt make it clear to the player that the loss of a sub-objective is what opened the new lane. Were still trying out a few ideas to address this, including releasing a few enemies right after the sub-objective falls. Were open to ideas from you guys, as well, so please let us know if you have any thoughts!



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We cant wait for you and your friends to experience the sub-objective system. We truly feel it will create a much more exciting experience for everyone involved, and we look forward to seeing your feedback as we approach release. In the meantime, what would you like to see added as a sub-objective in Dungeon Defenders II? Let us know in the comments below!



Without further delay, the winner of our holiday loot naming contest is Bladedtaco! When everyone finds a Vilethorn in the game, theyll look to the heavens and curse your name for beating them in this contest...we mean, theyll forever praise your name!



Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. Well 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!



MrBlackCap

Raising the Ruins

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In addition to sweeping gameplay changes from the MOBA, Dungeon Defenders II has also changed artistically in the past year. Our focus on a mobile release has diminished, and this has given us the opportunity to explore a greatly increased technical budget. Through this change weve experienced fun, artistic freedoms that just werent possible before.



The team has been cranking away on one of our most recent areas, currently referred to as The Ruins. Were clever like that. Normally when creating a new map, the game designers supply the art team with a written description of the area, then the magic-wielding concept artists turn words into a fully realized image! If this were 1692 Salem, theyd probably have to go into hiding. Fortunately, progressive as our modern society is, they are generally encouraged in their conjuring arts.



In the case of The Ruins, circumstances worked out a little differently. The area had already made its way through level design before enough concept paintings were completed to inform what the map should really be.



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Above is the early map layout for The Ruins. I was asked to take what was in this layout and be as creative as I could in representing what the player might see when it got into their hands. Because more technical elements had already been established, there was immediately an extra level of limitation to work with while still trying to maintain the creative flair. As I said though, I had the conceptual conjuring arts at my beck and call, and I began the arduous ritual of calling them forth. Three hours later, I got off of Facebook and started work!



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We were already exploring Greystone Plaza and Siphon Site D by this point so I wanted to make sure The Ruins really had its own voice. Theres nothing worse than a game where every level looks the same as the next. The Ruins needed to have a heavy air of abandoned mystery. Players should get the sense that something happened here a long time ago and theres a chance it may happen again. That, along with some lighting cues and a few prop sketches, was what I had to go on as I jumped into painting.



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For me, it's important to consider what the other production departments here at Trendy will be focusing on while we build the map. I try to think about how level design will have certain expectations concerning the pathing. I consider interesting things the world builders might be inspired to try as they deco the game space, and what kind of assets and visual storytelling might inspire our lore writers as they continue to explore how the world functions. Above all else though, I want to create something that will bring the entire Dungeon Defenders II team together. Something that will put us on the same page so that we can more easily unite toward the same goal: Creating a great experience for the player.



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For the most part, The Ruins concept did end up supplying inspiration for all of these departments! It got people talking about the area, which in turn led to a lot of cool new lore ideas. Eagerly (and with the concept as our road map), we started building the area. We ran into challenges pretty quickly, though. With new visual inspiration came new ideas, and those new ideas weren't going to work without some changes to what the level designers had previously explored, as well as changes to our understanding of Dungeon Defenders II maps up to that point. Challenges are good, though! They push teams to solve problems and grow together. If the team is up for the work, they usually end up making a better product.



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Immediately the art wizards gathered and, with wands (styluses) in hand, set about solving these new problems. We grabbed screenshots of the original map layout, pulled them into the magical dimension of Photoshop, and started painting over them to detail specific areas. Lighting, mood, architectural cues, and the environment's topography quickly came together to create a map that was more believably alive. I guess you could think of the process as a form of necromancy...If you like.



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The team has learned a lot working on this area and its made us a stronger unit overall. Id love to show off the full map at this point, but a screenshot will have to do. There are still changes and tweaks happening in the maps so a full video reveal of the area isnt planned until later.



We want to make the best Dungeon Defenders II we can. We want to be proud of our game, and more importantly we want YOU to be proud of it. Youre the reason this game even had a chance at being made, and were excited to get this continued experience into your hands. Keep your eyes popped for our upcoming reveals and let us know what you think of The Ruins so far! What would YOU add/subtract based on the screenshot? Let us know in the comments and you could win a seat on the Defense Council.



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Cheers,

Ben
LaurawantsaCow
A wave of kobolds just spawned. You killed their brothers and sisters, and now they want revenge.



They sprint toward your blockades like a ravenous pack of wolves. You catch one last look of terror in their eyes before an explosion rocks your world. When the dust clears, you look for your beloved defenses. Theyre gone. Your beautiful blockade children are gone.



A new wave of kobolds appears. You have a choice: Stand and fight or rebuild your defenses. You start to rebuild. Slowly. Oh so slowly. You cant do anything else. And then you hear it. A loud, persistent scream. It starts off faint. But it gets louder. Closer. The blockade is almost complete. The top of the wall is coming into existence when BOOM. Youre blown to smithereens, and the blockade disappears.



We dont want you to ever make the choice between repairing and death again. Building defenses should add to the fun of combat, not inhibit it. With Dungeon Defenders II, we took a closer look at what was and wasnt working, and how we could better achieve one of our pillars: Tower Defense, Action, and Role-Playing working together seamlessly.



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Defense Placement





In the first game, defense placement was jarring. It left heroes vulnerable during combat, and it typically involved more pre-planning than strategizing on the fly.



To stir some Action into our Tower Defense, weve revamped the way you interact with your defenses. Now:





Youre not frozen in place when building, repairing, or upgrading defenses



You can go kick some kobold butt while building defenses. Youre no longer locked into place while building, repairing or upgrading. This leaves you free to move, jump, attack and use abilities to your hearts content.



The camera stays focused on the action



You get the vantage point you need, and the camera doesnt get in your way. Unlike the first game where the camera changed all too often, now it remains in third-person as much as possible, resulting in defense placement thats immersive, intuitive, and quick.



You can adjust your position and place defenses on the fly



How many times have you tried to place a defense, but the location was just outside of the build radius? In Dungeon Defenders II, weve given you the freedom to move while the build radius is active. Say youre playing the Squire and your Apprentice teammate needs a blockade to protect one of his defenses. You can select the blockade as youre running over there. Then once you arrive, you can align it just where its needed before building it.





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Defense Combos





Of course, blending works both ways. We need to pull Tower Defense into Action, too. In the original game you just ignored your defenses unless they needed to be repaired or upgraded, but in Dungeon Defenders II, were giving defenses and abilities an awareness of each other. Now youll be able to plan complex strategies to compliment your teammates with combos such as:



Apprentices Cyclone + Monks Skyguard Tower (Ability + Defense)

First, the Monk places his Skyguard Tower in a strategic location. The Skyguard Tower hits extremely hard, but it only affects airborne enemies. Thats where the Apprentice steps in, flinging enemies into the air with his Cyclone ability.



Apprentices Frostbite Tower + Squires Cannonball Tower (Defense + Defense)

For this one, the Apprentice places his Frostbite Tower in a lane. This defense freezes an enemy solid, and sets up the opportunity for shattering. The Squire is all about hitting things, so his Cannonball Tower is perfect for the job.



We have a lot more combinations planned for the game, so dont hesitate to build a defense or use an ability just to see what happens!



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Defense Upgrades





If you remember our pillars, youll remember that Action and Tower Defense are only part of the equation. So wheres the Role-Playing element? Just like in the original Dungeon Defenders, youll be able to upgrade your defenses and choose your gear to compliment them. But this time, youll see your defenses progress visually. For example, check out the Squires Spike Blockade above. It goes from bland and ordinary to impressive, powerful, and very indicative of the Squires personality.



Down the line well be sharing more ways you can customize not only your defenses, but your hero, as well.



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So there you have it, Defenders. Immersive placement, game-changing interactions, and distinctive ways to upgrade and affect your defenses. All of our key elements supporting each other in a big, harmonious circle of Dungeon Defenders goodness.



What do you think? Are there any changes you just cant wait to try out for yourself? Let us know in the comments and you could win a seat on the Defense Council!
Blacksmith
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Greetings Defenders,



Cannon fodder: Its a staple of the genre. But with Dungeon Defenders II, were shaking things up a bit. Weve added several unique, specialized enemies to the Old Ones armies. This month Id like to introduce you to one of those enemies: The Lightning Bug.



The Lightning Bug is an airborne enemy. Its a tiny creature--hard to see and even harder to hit. Dont let it catch you unaware, though. It still packs quite a punch! When a Lightning Bug approaches, it begins to charge an attack. Once fully charged, it unleashes a bolt of lightning that devastates multiple targets.



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Like all of our enemies, the Lightning Bug has three tiers of progression. It starts its life as a tiny flying grub and eventually becomes a fearsome wasp-like creature. Advanced tiers are faster, stronger, and harder to kill. Theyre capable of inflicting massive, widespread damage with their charge attack.



While they prefer to wreak havoc on defenses and objectives, Lightning Bugs also have an element of unpredictability. Theyve been known to focus their attention on players when provoked.



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The Lightning Bug isnt ready to come out of its cocoon just yet, but there are plenty of fearsome new enemies waiting in the wings. Well share another with you next month. Until then, keep an eye on the forums as well as Facebook and Twitter for more information on when you can see them in action.



That's all for now, Defenders! What do you think of our temporary name for this little fellow? Leave a comment below with an electrifying name for our newest enemy!
CKeene
Greetings Defenders, and welcome to our first monthly lore column!



My name is Courtney, and I, along with our Creative Directors, am in charge of Dungeon Defenders lore. This month Im excited to share the story of Siphon Site D, one of our newest maps and one that Defense Council members will get to try out very soon!



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Etheria At War





When the threat of the Old Ones was but a distant memory, Etheria suffered its worst possible fate: The Eternia Crystals shattered. Foul creatures spread like a plague through the land. The Old Ones amassed such an army that even the largest cities crumbled beneath them. Etheria was in ruin.



Champions were immediately summoned to the front lines. The men and women who answered the call became the Sunderguard, and they stood toe to toe with the armies of the Old Ones. But the enemy's number was too great. Etheria was overwhelmed, and the Sunderguard had no choice but to fall back to the northern territories.



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The Sunderguards Discovery





Resources were at an all-time low, and miners were forced to delve into previously unexplored sites. In a system of caves far from the larger cities, they discovered a thick slab of decorated stone. They dug further. After three days of hard labor, the slab was revealed to be only one small part of an ancient temple.



The Sunderguard was called to investigate. They descended through the labyrinth, their torches illuminating massive pillars and intricate reliefs. The sound of rushing water grew deafening, and after hours of descent, they discovered the source: An underground spring with a faint light billowing from its surface.



The Ancient Springs





Convinced the temple was built to guard the spring, the Sunderguard drew some of the water into a phial and sent it to the Magic Academy for analysis. Their hunch paid off. The spring was imbued with some sort of magic. The nature of the enchantment was unclear, but the Sunderguard was willing to take any advantage they could get. Once the site was fully excavated, they made the difficult decision to build pipes and tanks directly into the temple.



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Several other sites were discovered with the same mystical springs. It was the first glimmer of hope since the war began. But the enemy was closer than the Sunderguard suspected. Drawn to the springs, they quickly overwhelmed workers. Orcs smashed through pipes. Kobolds forced devastating cave-ins. Many sites were lost in a fraction of the time it took to find them.



Siphon Site D is one of the few that remain, and one of the last hopes for recovering a key asset that could give Etheria a fighting chance.



Want to win a seat on the Defense Council? Leave a comment in the comment section below, and well choose one lucky winner!
admin

I am Isom, and...

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Thought you could get rid of me so easily? Think again, Defenders.

Starting today, Im back at Trendy Entertainment! Ive rejoined the community team as their fearless (and oh-so-humble) leader. My job is more behind-the-scenes now, but rest assured that youll still find me in the various realms of our community.

I am stunned by how much Trendy has changed in the past six months. When I visited the studio last week, the atmosphere was incredibly positive. During a company-wide presentation, various designers, artists and programmers stood before the team and shared what they were working on. There is now a clear passion and attachment to Dungeon Defenders II. I could tell that this was the Dungeon Defenders sequel the team and I want to be working on.


This reinvigorated spirit has spread through every department, including the community team. Our biggest goal is to help rekindle the strong developer/community interactions that made the DD1 community so memorable. Expect to see more of that in the coming months.

If you need me, you can contact me several ways:


Forum PM: Iamisom
Twitter: Iamisom
Email: [email]josh.isom@trendyent.com[/email]


I cant wait to take back Etheria. You have my sword, Defenders.


Until next time,
Iamisom

P.S. Answer the following question in the comments below for your chance to win a Defense Council seat: What community issues would you like to see fixed or improved?
PutmickJ
Greetings Defenders, and welcome to this month’s QA Column: QA Bugstravaganza![working title]
We’ve got an exciting and hilarious bug for you today!



The Apprentress and Friends


When we discovered this bug, one of my personal favorites, we’d just finished a test for the Council members. As soon as we booted up the game and prepared to start on our normal daily tasks, we spawned into the map and were met with quite possibly one of the silliest bugs we’ve ever seen:



When choosing the Apprentice, everyone was met with what could only be called a “monstrosity,” or more accurately, a fusion of the Huntress and Apprentice now lovingly known as the “Apprentress.” This model combination led to some hilarious results as you can see from the video above, with the Apprentress firing off her awesome Cyclone and Mana Bomb. The Huntress and Apprentice weren’t alone in this strange splicing treatment, however, as the “Monktress” had his/her day in the sun, too. This Monk had all of the Huntress’ abilities and, as if that wasn’t enough, had also stolen the Squire’s sword and managed to make it float beside him.



After everyone in the office had a good laugh, a fix was quickly found and our Heroes were fused no longer. Many screenshots were taken, though, so whenever someone needs a pick-me-up, this bug never disappoints.



So there you have it: This month’s best bug. Let us know what you think about our weird Hero fusions in the comments, and what you believe would be the funniest accidental combination of Heroes! Also, if you think you can create a better title than QA Bugstravaganza, we’re taking suggestions!
JBrawley

Player and Enemy Paths

Pathing is one of the fundamental elements of gameplay in Dungeon Defenders II. It has a significant impact on how a level feels and plays, and the process of building these paths is an important part of any Dungeon Defenders II level. Because this is a complex topic, there's a lot I can't cover in one post, so if you want to hear more, be sure to let me know in the comments below.



Planning Paths





When creating paths, I typically start with a global concept: What sort of place am I building? A sewer? A town? An interdimensional fortress? The type of setting has a big influence on how I visualize the space.



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In many cases, I make a bullet list of visual or geometric components I'd like to include, such as a large pipe system traversing the map. Then I create a lane flow diagram. This is just a quick sketch of squiggly arrows leading from the spawn point to the objective. This sketch lets me experiment with various configurations until I get something interesting, like a way for lanes to cross each other vertically.



After I'm happy with the lane flow graph, I plot out how the space actually fits together. At this point I've done some work in the editor to visualize the space in three dimensions.



Creating a Solid Pathing Layout





Before I block out the geometry of a level, I run my sketches through the following checklist:





  • Each lane has to have a smooth and easily understandable flow from its spawn location to its final destination.

  • Players fighting in a lane should have a clear line of visibility to one or more separate lanes.

  • Players can move laterally between lanes with ease.

  • Lanes have vertical contrast, making it easier to understand how enemies will move.

  • Lanes flow in a monodirectional way, meaning they start far away and move toward the objective.







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There are also elements I try to avoid:



  • Lanes that change between major vertical levels, as the brain sees this as two separate lanes. (Ex: Enemies spawn in a dried out riverbed and climb a huge staircase to the rooftops before pursuing the objective.)

  • Lanes that are indistinguishable from directly adjacent pathways.

  • Lanes that have limited entry points from other areas of the map.

  • Lanes that have massive reverse folds. (Ex: Hairpin turns that guide a lane away from its objective.)



Constructing the Level





Once that's done, I move on to the full construction of the geometry, after which I'll run around the space for a couple of hours and visualize the gameplay. This leads to lots of smaller changes where I double check jump distances, visibility, and movement times. I also do a pass to ensure that the spatial relationships between lanes are clear.



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When I'm done, I have a space that I feel is fun to move through, even before any gameplay is put into it.



Which maps do you feel had the best pathing in DD1? Let us know what you think in the comments below for your chance to win a Defense Council seat!
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