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Dev Log 96 — Barbarian’s Wrath

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[CG] LAWLTA

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Greetings Defenders,

In our most recent Devstream we announced that the Barbarian is making his glorious return to defend Etheria once more. His return is something Defenders waited for a long time, and he’s bringing some great features with him:

  • New Hero: The Barbarian, a whirlwind of wrath and fury!

  • New User Experience:  New Defenders are thrown into the action of defending Etheria!

  • Shard Slot overhaul to spend less time in your inventory and more time on the battlefield!

  • Item Progression rework to increase power and knowledge of the gear you acquire!

We recently discussed the changes to the shard system and our item progression during our last Devstream (check it out here). Our latest Devstream recapped that information and also showed off the might and power of the Barbarian in all his glory! This update included a lot of work to create this new Hero and make some much anticipated changes to core systems of the game. Let’s get started!


Alec Saare, Community Manager (Lawlta)

Since working at Trendy, there have been two things that our brave, powerful, and passionate community of Defenders have wanted for a long time: The Barbarian and a way to track gear strength. Everything in this update has been affected directly by the feedback and desires that all of provide, and we’re very grateful for your help in making the game better as a result.

Creating The Barbarian was an amazing process to be a part of. We went from having a base design, and overhauling him completely to crank his epicness up to 11! There was a huge goal of capturing the spirit of the Barbarian from Dungeon Defenders 1 and turbo-charging that spirit. The result is a whirlwind of wrath and fury that is both an immovable object and an unstoppable force. HE. IS. A. BEAST.

With his arrival is something as a player I am stoked to see in the game — gear and shard changes. As someone who has gained Ancient Power and is climbing Onslaught, not having to move shards combined with the changes to gear progression and visibility feels so great! You’ll experience yourself very soon.

The introduction to Dungeon Defenders II is also vastly different than before. Our veteran Defenders are not exposed to this area of the game, but we noticed a lot of newer players were not getting pumped up with the original tutorial and so we set out to improve tenfold! Now new Defenders experience action from the get go, with a certain dragon really setting the pace of the rest of the game.

We cannot wait for all of you to really sink your teeth into this meaty update!


Colin Fisher, Associate Producer (Elandrian)

Hey everyone, just a quick update from me. I have been making larger posts recently about upcoming features so the Dev Log won’t have TOO many tidbits… but I’d like to give everyone some pieces to start thinking about. There’s some areas of our game that we’re planning to improve, so I’d like to clue you in on what those are. I’m sure I’ll have mentioned some of them before, but I’d just like to reiterate what we’re looking into next.

We’re looking at ways to store items, ways to create and customize existing items, ways to exchange items, and ways to enhance items. Did I mention that we’re heavily looking into making items more interesting? We have some features that we’re planning, but we’ll reveal more specifics about them at a later date. There’s a lot of ways we want to make the game more engaging and interesting to players, while also figuring out a plan to continue rolling out new content like maps, costumes, heroes and such. We’re a small team, so finding that balance between improving areas of the game while also adding content is a challenge.

We appreciate our community that are playing, giving feedback, and even just following our updates on the site, forums and social outlets. Can’t wait to tell you guys about what’s to come, so stay tuned!

Eric Petire, QA Designer (Petire)

Being a Dungeon Defenders player and playing a ton of Barbarian in the past, I wanted to bring the visceral gameplay of jumping across the map at rapid speed while also clearing hordes of enemies and wiping bosses off the map with a speed second to none. One of my goals was to bring back the stances that made the Barbarian so much fun to play, flying between lanes and destroying any enemy.

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He is meant to have some of the strongest and most fun abilities to use that require an active playstyle to have his damage reach its highest potential. Many different ideas were thrown around to allow players to interact with other players or other heroes/defenses; the end result is we wanted the Barbarian to be focused on just absolutely demolishing the hordes of monsters you face. This means that instead of being able to buff others, he can debuff enemies in some fun and unique way for other heroes and defenses to interact with.


Daniel Driussi, 3D Character Artist

I was recently hired at Trendy, and I am very excited to be here! When I started there was a working model of the Barbarian that was already modeled and textured by the previous character artist. Likewise this older barbarian was fully playable, but it did not meet the new look that we were trying to achieve. So my first task here was to model and texture the “New” Barbarian.


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(Untextured progression of the Barbarian’s 3D model.)

The process to create the 3D model of the Barbarian consists of a couple of steps.  First, I took the concept art into Zbrush and quickly made a body. Then I took that into Maya to complete the rest of the modeling and created the clothing and armor. Many iterations went into making sure everything worked properly.

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(Textures for the Barbarian’s head and torso.)

From that point, I took the model into 3D Coat and Photoshop to paint the textures.  My biggest hurdle that I faced in getting the “style” of the textures of the barbarian was matching the look of Dungeon Defenders.


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(Texture progression and 3D model changes of the Barbarian.)

This took a lot of work, but I am glad to say that the hurdle was vaulted and the Barbarian looks awesome next to all the other characters in game. Now that he is finished, I really enjoy seeing this hulking mass of muscles, that I helped to get into this game, glide through combat like a beautiful murder ballerina!

Keith "Keithimator" Walheim, Animator

Hey Defenders! Rage, wrath and sheer power were just a few of the words going through my head while animating the Barbarian. Oh, and SMAAAAAAAASH! He is definitely not a dainty ballerina, but he is still quite an agile character. I would say one of the greatest challenges while animating this human tank was moving all that muscle mass around while making him quick enough to react for the Defender playing him. One way we approached this was to really focus on emphasizing the weight shift in his shoulders.


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(Various reaction animations)

Some of my favorite animations that I got to work on for this bad boy were the death animation (finding interesting ways to make characters meet their demise can be fun), and the stances.


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(Death Animation for the Barbarian.)

The four stances were challenging because of the animation needed to depict the functionality of the stance in a split second, while still showing the weight of this huge character. One of the animations that I had the most fun with was a one armed handstand pushup that unfortunately didn’t make it into the game, but you can see it here.


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(The Barbarian staying in shape.)

There is one thing related to the Barbarian I got to animate that I feel makes playing him a whole lot more interesting, the enemy death animations. Each time the Barbarian smashes a Kobold, Goblin, or Javelin thrower they will — well, give him a try and see what happens. Run, don’t walk!


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(Run cycles by John Muscarella, Lead Animator)

Jose Villegas, Technical Designer (TrendyJose)

Hey Everyone! Since last update I have been ESSENTIALLY focused on various Quality of Life improvements. Chief amongst those is the revamp of the previous iPwr system. In theory, iPwr should have been a good indicator to know how strong an item is, but in practicality it didn’t reflect that. You could have an uncommon item drop alongside a legendary item and both of them would have similar iPwr, but because the legendary had multiple stats, it seemed to be way better. This led people into equipping lower iPwr items by trying to maximize their stats.

This also led to the ‘muling’ issue many of you are aware of. Since the highest iPwr of your heroes would determine the drops you see in the game, you were encouraged to have a throw-away character to get the best drops.


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GearScore is the solution we came up for both issues. A piece of equipment’s GearScore value is determined after evaluating every single element of what makes it strong. That is the value of the item’s stats, the number of Shard slots it will enable, and the number of secondary stats it has. Like we mentioned in the Devstream, GearScore should give you the certainty that an item with a greater GS value is overall better than a lower one. Of course, if you are pursuing a certain strategy, you are encouraged to play the game your own way and ignore GS.

Alongside this, I want to say under no ambiguity: Muling is dead. The gear that we are dropping in the game has no relation, whatsoever, with what you have equipped, or what’s even in your inventory. The strength of the items that you see in DD2 is tied to your progression. The more you play, the stronger items you will see, across all game modes. Of course, each game mode and difficulty has a ceiling of the strength at which items may drop, so you are encouraged to always keep pushing higher.

On a different note, we also brought some improvements to Shard management. We want you to keep playing the game with the least amount of interruptions as possible, so we decided to streamline the Shard equipping process. Now shards will be tied to Gear Slots, instead of Gear. This will allow you to naturally equip better Gear, without having to move your Shards around to keep your same build. These Shards improvements come with inventory adjustments to the UI so you can quickly equip and unequip shards.

Anyhow, I’m sure these new systems will allow you to keep doing what you like to do the most: blasting goblins and building towers. I’m more than happy to listen to your feedback, post on our forums and I will see it. Happy defending =).

Mark Telfer, Technical Designer (TrendyMark)

Hey Defenders! From this day forward, I am officially taking all noobies under my wing!  Since the Power of the Ancients update, I’ve been hard at work revamping the new user experience (NUE) of Dungeon Defenders II. Our goal was to make the first hour of the campaign exciting, informative, and most importantly, a showcase for what makes Dungeon Defenders II special.

Over the past couple of months we’ve brought testers into our studio and watched them play both the current tutorial level and the first hour of the campaign. These tests revealed that many people were confused about how to interact with some of the fundamental systems of DD2.  Players were having a hard time understanding how to interact with gear that was dropping, they were forgetting to go to the green mana chests, and worst of all, many didn’t realize you could swap between different heroes!

It was clear that the new user flow needed an overhaul. The approach we took involved creating immediate stakes for players by throwing them straight into the action-packed combat of DD2.  We also wanted to incrementally introduce the foundational systems of the game so that players could fully appreciate their intricacies. Finally, we wanted to present each mechanic in a way that is concise, clear, and within context that demonstrated its value.

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(Behind the scenes of the new user experience)

After many late nights and frequent focus group testing of our work, I am very pleased to announce that my self esteem remains (mostly) intact and that our new user experience will be dropping “sooner than you expect.” Happy defending!

Love,

Mark

P.S.

All of the designers read every single forum post. Keep the awesome feedback coming.


Dani Moore, Remote QA Lead

Our testing groups had fun putting the early Barbarian through his paces. The ability to combine stances made for some interesting discovery of combinations, but also some interesting bugs and balance issues over the course of testing.

The new shard slots were immediately pounced upon as a solid quality of life addition by most of the testing folks, and  thankfully didn't present too many issues.

We're also looking to expand our tester pool once again. Our testers get the chance to try out our still-in development work, in exchange for some cool stuff as a thanks. They help us with balance, feedback and bugs and their contributions to our releases are very valuable.

We have two teams, RQA - our daily bug hunters (for folks with lots of free time each day), and RPG - our larger team for balance and feedback (for folks with limited free time).

If you are interested, drop me an email at dani.moore @ trendyent (dot) com and ask. I'm happy to provide more information on both teams to see what best suits. A big thanks to everyone involved in the Barbarian and the heaps of work and sweat that went into it all.

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Thx TE! Can’t wait for next week! I’m confident the Barbarian is what I need to get past floor 57 - game on

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Thanks for posting this dev log, which also works as some kind of devstream recap. :-) There are tons of changes incoming and to be honest this is the very first time I'm 100% happy about inventory changes. It looks so good. The new layout is a lot better and seems way more convenient than before.

The only stuff I miss here is being able to stack shards, but you have already mentioned somewhere in the forums that it is not as easy as it seems and you're actually working on this matter. So I guess we will see sooner or later.


The barbarian looks cool. The idea about wrath and fury seems genius and mixing those stances/skills looks like a lot of 'experiemental' fun. (that's the spirit ^^ we'll be mixing stuff randomly and watch what the result will be)

You have mentioned that you wanted to bring DD1-feeling with the barbarian. Looks like you nailed it.

The barbarian is darker than the rest of the heroes. Is this specific to the barbarian or do you plan to stay a bit 'darker' for future heroes too? Like a bit of a new art style?



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I'm really digging the sound of the gear and general quality of life updates. Barbarian looks like a blast too. This may bring me to play quite a bit more often. While the game's an undisguised grind, the difficulty in gaining confidence that my heroes were gaining in gear was a significant issue. Now that there's to be a very concrete means of comparison, it'll be easier to get that sense of "okay I put in this much time/effort, and I advanced this much." That really helps incentivize play even more.

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