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Broham

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

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

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Creating Destruction

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

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

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

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

The Final Touches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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

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

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

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

    The random winner of our New CEO blog is StillPad!

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



Greetings, Defenders!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Trouble With Wyverns

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

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

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

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Creating Different Behaviors

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

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

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

Tweaking the Flight Path

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

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

The random winner of our QA blog is Ikulity!

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

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

Fire in the Dungeon! Fire in the Deeper Well!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The random winner of our Press blog is HPTSparky!

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

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


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



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

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

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Surfing Ogres made it even more difficult!


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





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

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

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

The random winner of our Apprentice blog is a474247132!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!
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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BeforeAfter_clipping-1024x576.jpg

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.

dd1_aura-1024x576.jpg

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.

Boost_uneven-1024x576.jpg

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.

Old_lightningAura-1024x576.jpg

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
MapObjectives-Blog.jpg



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.



SUBOBJ_laneEast-1024x576.jpg



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!
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