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DunDef Digest 6/27/12 Discussion Thread

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It worked!

This morning, the heroes entered the tavern before their crusade. I yelled, “Look behind you, a three-headed dog!” They jerked around. When they turned back, a smile cracked their lips. Before long, they doubled over in laughter!

While they were laughing, I convinced them to sell their weapons. I stowed their weapons away in my safe. I can get a higher price for those outside the shop.

But the day wasn’t a total success. A man strolled into the shop just before closing time. His hair fell in perfect waves past his shallow cheeks and sharp jaw. I could see it in his emerald eyes: A man with a taste for opulence. An easy catch.

But when I told him a joke, his lips curled. For a moment, his eyes flashed blue. Piercing sky blue. The same blue that haunts my dreams.

With a small pop, his eyes turned green again. He gave me one last look and stormed out the door.

Could it be? Has he finally come back for revenge?

Welcome to Sky City

Our young heroes arrive at Sky City on July 10 for PC. But what awaits you in the city above the clouds?

The city is divided into four sections -- a large central area; a small, isolated area to the north; a medium-sized area to the east; and a small area to the south. A bridge connects the southern and eastern areas. Several jump pads provide easy access between areas, and you’ll need them to reach the northern area.

Of course, you’re not alone. Mobs crawl out from the central area to attack the Eternia Crystals on the north, east and south sections. (Let’s be honest: If you weren’t fighting mobs, this would a boring level. But it’d be great for our new difficulty mode, Let’s Talk About Our Feelings! Mobs are replaced with Good Feelings. Collect enough Good Feelings, and the game showers you with rainbows, gold stars and unicorns. Farm Good Feelings to sell for more Good Feelings! Turn on the AFK option and the Good Feelings will come to you!)

Helping you save the crystals are the Catarangs. These tubby kitties are equipped with adorable jetpacks that keep them airborne. When you pet them, they shower you with rainbows, just like cats in real life! (Expect to see plenty of Catarangs in the new Let’s Talk About Our Feelings mode.)

Protect the crystals for 12 waves, and you’ll meet the new boss: the Goblin Battlecruiser. This giant airship circles the map and launches missiles at your defenses. Golden jump pads appear during the boss fight, and you’ll need these to reach the cruiser. Climb aboard, and you’ll notice the final Eternia Shard is powering the mechanized behemoth. Fend off the onboard mobs and knock the Shard lose to bring the cruiser down.

Not so fast there, slick. Once you deal a certain amount of damage to the Shard, nearby electric coils will kill everything on the ship. Nothing escapes from electric death.

PC Patch Notes 7.38

Just when you were about to get some sunlight, we had to go and ruin it with more patch notes. Sorry!

In our next PC patch, you’ll find a new tier of loot: Ultimate. Ultimate loot has higher stat limits, levels and a new full-set bonus. This gear is available to level 90 heroes, which brings us to the new level cap: 90!

But those things are expected at this point. We’re bringing two fan-requested features to the game: Mana Tokens and updated Hero Portraits.

You can now generate Mana Token items of arbitrary value at the Tavern Shop's Services panel. Mana Token items have the same resale value as the amount of Mana you generate them at. Your Player Shop will now automatically put excess sale Mana into Mana Token items until your inventory is filled up, allowing your shop to stay open beyond the 2 billion Mana cap.

And we’re including new Hero Portraits for all costumes! People will be able to see what costume you’re wearing at any time! I am a huge Jim Darkmagic Apprentice fanboy, so I can’t wait to show that off even more. Here are a few of the finished portraits!

Map Contest Voting Ends Monday

Sixteen maps await your vote. Download them, play them and vote for your favorites! With the permission of the map author, we’ll take the winning map and give it a second layer of polish -- a new coat of paint, map balance, the works.

You have until Monday at 11:59 p.m. EDT to vote. You must vote for every map. It won’t take you too long to go through the maps.

For every 10 people who vote, we’ll drop a new piece of the Shards IV puzzle we teased last week. Get enough people to vote, and you’ll get a sneak peek at the final Shards DLC.

All of these maps will be available to download when the Steam Workshop launches July 10. If you have a custom map that you’d like to add to the launch lineup, send a cooked version of the map to [email]contest@trendyent.com[/email]!

Meet the Trendy Team: Danny Araya

This week, intern Matt Arnold interviews Danny Araya, lead concept artist at Trendy Entertainment. Danny’s work includes the new cinematics from the Lost Eternia Shards and the hero wallpapers from launch. He is currently working on certain future projects for Trendy. Read on to learn more about his job, his experiences at Trendy and more.

Hi, Danny. First off, can you give me a little bit of background information about yourself?
"Hey, my name is Danny Araya, I'm 26 years old, and I draw things for a living. I was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area and pretty much stayed there up until I got this job. I got my B.F.A in Media Arts and Animation from the Art Institute of Washington, but I pretty much have been drawing since I was a kid."

How long have you been working at Trendy?
"I've been working here about 15 months."

How did you get your start in the gaming industry?
"Trendy's actually my first in-studio job. The current art director, Ben Greene, and I had hung out once back in D.C. during a sketch crawl with some of the local game studio artists. Now in case you're wondering, a sketch crawl is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You get together with a bunch of people and hop around from one location to the next, sketching all the people and scenery around you. Ben and I kept in regular contact through emails and Skype, and when an opening popped up, he was gracious enough to pass my portfolio along to the higher-ups. They dug it and had me do contract work for a few months before moving me on-site and making me a full time employee."

What does the job of lead concept artist entail? What are some of your daily tasks?
"Well, the obvious answer is a lot of concept art, but the bigger part of my job is working with the lead environment artist and the art director to maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout the game. We have a very specific style we're shooting for in future projects, and it can take a bit of time making sure that every 3D asset maintains the look we're aiming for.

In terms of generating concepts, it can be ridiculously taxing. The drawing part is pretty easy, but coming up with new ideas on a daily basis can be draining. I work in a large room with most of the other artists, and I'm extremely grateful for this. The unique thing about Trendy is that the majority of us have become friends since working here, so I'm comfortable enough with the other artists and the art director to just start talking about what I'm working on and pick their brains for ideas.

Talking and joking is also VERY important. Joking around with each other is actually how we come up with the bulk of our best ideas. That sort of friendly, light-hearted atmosphere makes people comfortable with sharing ideas and creates an environment that's extremely conducive to creativity. A lot of the time, an idea that was meant to be just a joke sparks a conversation that leads to a dozen awesome ideas that are directly applicable to the game."

What is unique about being a concept artist? How is it different, for example, than a technical artist?
"Drawing, drawing and drawing. A lot of the guys have to create something from nothing, whether it's a new special effect, a model with no prior concept, the arrangement of a level. The only difference between those guys and myself is that I use sketches and paintings to do it, where they use other tools."

As one of the members of the original development team that launched Dungeon Defenders, what was the experience like for you when the game was first released to the public in October of last year?
"To be honest, the bulk of what I had been working on at that time were the illustrations for the Crystal Shards cinematics. I did very little work on the original Dungeon Defenders aside from some promo illustrations and a handful of concepts."

What was your favorite cinematic to draw?
"My favorite cinematic was definitely the first panel of the Aquanos intro. It gave me the opportunity to draw an expansive ocean and to spend a bit of time rendering water and clouds. Painting monsters and OMG SWORDZ is fun and all, but I actually really enjoy painting natural environments. Mountains, clouds, cliffs, oceans are relaxing and fun to render."

What would you say has been your proudest moment while working at Trendy?
"Seeing what we're accomplishing with our latest project. We struggled really hard to get the style right for this game, and seeing it come alive and look even MORE beautiful than we anticipated is a feeling I can't describe. I really can't wait for everyone to see it."

What is your inspiration when it comes to creating new concept art? What triggers your creativity?
"Working around the people that I work with, it's hard not to get inspired just by having a conversation! We talk movies, art and games all the time with each other as we're working, which only serves to make us more excited about what we're working on.

The question I constantly ask myself when creating anything is, 'What's the game I want to play that nobody has made yet?' I approach it with the intention of satisfying my own aesthetic preferences (within reason) and go from there.

Some specific sources of inspiration for me though are almost anything made by Pixar, animated shorts from the Gobelins school in Paris, FFVII (dominated my middle school years and is the reason I got into games in the first place), anything directed by Edgar Wright, most things written by Aaron Sorkin, almost ALL the artists on CGHub. I could honestly keep going on and on, so I'm going to be kind and stop here."

Your work was recently featured in IGN and Kotaku. Can you talk about that experience?
"Haha. Well this kind of came out of the blue. A while ago ago I did a series of concept designs where I re-imagined some of the Justice League the way I would portray them if I were to direct a JLA animated movie. I posted them online along with some very detailed descriptions about how I saw the characters' personalities and why I made the decisions I made regarding the designs. Fast forward two years later, and Bleeding Cool did an article praising my approach, which was a HUGE ego boost. I was really happy that they dug it, but all of a sudden, articles kept popping up all over the internet. IGN, Kotaku and a host of other places picked it up. It was humbling, but also extremely awesome, and my ego hasn't come back down to earth since."

Looking back on the time you’ve spent at Trendy, what are some of your fondest memories?
"There was a time where almost all of us would go out to lunch together on a daily basis. That doesn't happen as often as it used to anymore, and a lot of those people have since moved on to pursue other opportunities. I miss that."

Who is your favorite character from the Dungeon Defenders universe?
"The monk, because we're both bald with serious eyebrows."

What are your most anticipated games coming out later this year?
"These days it's pretty rare for me to get excited about a game. Working in this industry, your time outside of work is precious because you have so little of it, so I'm very picky about the games that I play. I'm really really really really really big on story, and unfortunately most games out right now don't satisfy me in that department. Some people say it's impossible for games to even do that, but I feel like plenty of games (VALVE) disprove that ridiculous notion, I just think it requires a different approach to storytelling.

The last game I was strongly looking forward to was Journey. I played it, and it didn't just meet my unreasonably high expectations, it significantly exceeded them. That game is in my top five favorite games of all time, but unfortunately I haven't felt passionately about a game since."

Finally, what is the best advice you would give to aspiring concept artists?
"Draw. A lot. Take the time to learn the technical side of art (perspective, anatomy, proper rendering of form with light and shadow) but DON'T neglect your ideas! Do everything you can to foster your creativity because at the end of the day, your ideas are the only real unique thing you have."

To see more of Danny's work, check out his blog, Art of Araya.

Warning: Maximum Trolling Incoming

It’s been awhile since I’ve unleashed my inner troll. My goblet of tears has runneth dry, and it needs to be replenished.

So we’re making it rain ogres on Endless Spires! Sign-up in the 360 thread or the PS3 thread by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight. We’ll randomize the list of people and present the final list of participants Thursday morning.

Survive our trolling, and you’ll earn yourself a hefty XP reward.

Beta Team Update: 6/27/12

Welcome back to the Beta Team portion of the Digest! It’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from us. We haven’t disappeared, we’ve just been really busy. The next Shards update is ENORMOUS, and we’re only halfway done with testing.

The new enemy type is definitely a new challenge. One thing we particularly like about them is that, unlike the Djinn and Sharken, they don’t manipulate your defenses. Instead, they just have a tendency to get behind them. And smash them to pieces if you let them.

The new level looks and feels awesome. The boss is tough and does something that no other boss does. Expect a tough fight! (And we do NOT recommend Hardcore mode on your first playthrough.) We’re still working on the finer points of balancing the campaign map and survival. Hardcore Survival players will be pleased to know that we’ve hit the final wave of Survival on Sky City quite a few times, and we’ve pinned down the trouble spots on the maps.

So, what’s next for the beta team? Why, 60 percent of the patch! We’ve recently gotten a hold of the rest of it. Sky City is just the start, and we are feverishly working through the rest of it so we can see the “ending.” Now, back to playing...

Community Calendar

6/29 -- Trendy Friday Fun: Laura and Ice Style
7/3 -- [Trendy Sponsored] The Toxic Empire Saga Events

6/28 -- Trendy Console Event 2
6/30 -- [Trendy Sponsored] Meanwhile at The Legion of Doom Events

6/28 -- Trendy Console Event 2
6/29 to 7/1 -- [Trendy Sponsored] Etheria’s Super Events

Creations of the Week

Have a cool photo you'd like to share? Send it cool to contest[at]trendyent.com with the subject "DunDef Screenshot"! Be sure to include your forum username or Steam username in the email. Our favorites will appear in future Digests!

Courtesy of MiniMinhMo

Courtesy of @Azaeroth

Monday was miserable. Over the weekend, a ceiling tile smashed into my desk. So I spent Monday morning cleaning up the mess and throwing away some of my favorite pieces of art. Throughout the day, water dripped on my head while I tried to work. (I grabbed a trash can to collect the water. I'm setting up a bottled water factory. If anyone wants a batch, let me know!)

So I think it’s time for a vacation. (Or, as I like to call it, research for the Let’s Talk About Our Feelings mode.)

I’m heading off to the Blue Ridge Mountains over near Tennessee. No Internet. No phone. No video games. Just the misty mountain peaks and maybe a brisk jog through the woods. Nude.

That means you won’t hear from me next week. Or maybe ever again, depending on how the nude jog goes. The lovely Laura will be here to crack the whip until my triumphant return. And she might have some Jester information to share.

Until next time,

Discuss this Digest here!

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"Let's talk about feelings" mode? For real? That sounds hilarious. I can't tell if you are being serious or trolling all of us. Nevertheless, I will be patient and look forward to July 1st!

Also... FIRST!

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Will Cloud City have 4 crystals? It sounds like it from the description.

Also, I hope we get Catarang pets.

Three crystals, one on each of the minor sections.

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Awh! I read the whole thing and was expecting the doughnut challenge.

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Will Cloud City have 4 crystals? It sounds like it from the description.

Also, I hope we get Catarang pets.

Hmmm well;

Mistymire pet: Shroomite

Morrago pet: Donkey

Aquanos pet: Seahorse

All the NPC's from those levels, I think that could be a safe assumption. I want a cat with jet packs!

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Hmm, am I the only one who can forsee the boss battle being even worse than the Kraken?

[quote]Not so fast there, slick. Once you deal a certain amount of damage to the Shard, nearby electric coils will kill everything on the ship. Nothing escapes from electric death.[/quote]

Oh dear............. That being said I'm looking forward to the map.

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Just don't play hardcore mode on your first try :p

Those cats look great :)

That being said, where's ma jesta ? :( :(

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Also, would it possible for you guys to add the Goblin Battlecruiser as a Huntress weapon (and not scale it down at all)?
Hmm, forget weapon, how about a bad *** rare pet?

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Wait, if you get killed on the ship, doesn't that mean, in Hardcore, everyone will be dead before the fight even finishes?

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The Kitty looks nice, but I was hoping for something more mechanical. Also, with unique / powerful ability.

Looking forward to release. Only two weeks to go ;)

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Bring on the 10th. Not only is it patch day but also by birthday and the mrs is working a night shift. Time to spend far too many hours on DD!

Time for some serious gear farming pre-patch!

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The last pic from Danny is from.your new game right????

Sent from my MB860 using Tapatalk 2

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So the electric blast from the ship, after you deplete 1/5th (or whatever set amount) of its health, is a guaranteed kill? Like similar to a direct hit by Kobolds in Insane Zippy Terror? Respawning would be one way to get you down to ground level. There must be some way to avoid it, or it must not do guaranteed lethal damage, as it would make Hardcore completion impossible (particularly solo.) If this just means we'll finally have a major, repeated use for our electric resistances, then it makes me happy that I've been keeping them so high all this time.

Oh yeah, and this explains how our new heroes will get to Sky City without the power of flight themselves: the Tavernkeep. I should have realized this from the picture you guys posted last time, but this one makes it seem even more-apparent. I also love these chronicle bits, keep them up. ^_^

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