Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #233
Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
- Isle of Storms Before & After Polish
- Crypt of the Avatar Polish
- Graff Gem Mines New Cavern Area
- The Making of Celestis (update)
Isle of Storms Polish
Since this is the very first scene players encounter the devs put in some additional visual polish this release, making various improvements to lighting, terrain, visual effects, and flora.
We’ve been busy with lots of improvements and updates this release. We keep improving visual tools and assets to build scenes with, and so it’s fun to re-visit some of the older existing maps and touch them up with our new toys.
Hutch, Damon, and I have been touching up Isle of Storms recently (as well as an update to Arabella from the character team!). Here’s some of our progress:
After! (The Mirror Area will get some additional love beyond this)
More changes are coming about to the Lunar Rift area, the Oracle Confirmatory and more! Thanks for following our progress!
Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski
Crypt of the Avatar Before & After Polish
The Crypt of the Avatar went live originally in Release 29 but the focal point of this scene, the actual Crypt and Sarcophagus of the Avatar, have been placeholders until now. In Release 43 the devs created the actual Sarcophagus as described in The Sword of Midras and redecorated the interior of the Crypt to also match.
I had a bit of fun recently designing the very-specifically-described sarcophagus-like tomb near the entrance to the Crypt of the Avatar scene… From the dashing, bearded, single-braided figure in ornamental armor carved on the lid, to the ancient engraved symbol of the Principles, to the bed of flowers carved in dark granite and inlaid with gold, jewels, and jade,…this fancy tomb definitely had to be a step up from the original generic tomb design I created so, so long ago… I wonder who that mysterious figure is supposed to resemble? ^_^
I actually started with the old tomb model I made, got rid of the kinda clunky geometry of the effigy in that earlier design (based on an actual Irish tomb of the Medieval period), and then worked on creating the best image I could to represent the description in “The Sword of Midras”. After applying the new texture map to the essentially flat lid, I then carefully cut out and sculpted the topology to help make it into a believable bas-relief so it could be achieved in as few polygons as possible….
As you can see, what mostly makes it look fairly good is the painted texture itself, as opposed to the polys. This helped reduce the overhead compared to what would have happened had I used an existing character mesh and tried to alter the series of textures used to make them look accurate… Using the base texture you see below I was able to use existing materials, create only one new material, and get away with a really low poly-count for everything!
You can see this chamber from above-ground while exploring one of the temple-like structures in the Midras Ruins (created by our own SorcerousSteve) found just beyond an enormous old tree as described in the book! Through a debris-clogged hole from which feeble light shines down, a lone sarcophagus can be glimpsed. A hatch nearby leads down into those same depths, and after a short walk through ruined halls whose ancient splendor surely inspired later Obsidian architects, the Crypt chamber can be seen from the room’s upper gallery, though the surrounding edifice itself lay in terrible ruin…
This chamber and adjoining dungeon were put together by Richard Matey who worked with us awhile back, and of course since our goal is to re-purpose as many of our specially-made resources as we can, the Crypt chamber itself was assembled using bits and pieces of architecture I made for both Hilt as well as Desolis. As a world-builder with limited access to actually changing the geometry of these pieces, he did his best to mask off specific Obsidian symbology, alter the materials here and there, and add a variety of details that help differentiate it from those other locations, and to bring it closer to the general description of this as seen in the book. His addition of the wonderfully-lit hole broken in the ceiling really sells the idea of it, in my opinion, and of course the passage leading off from this early chamber reveals completely different layouts of rooms, halls, and adventure spaces (one can assume that the other two exits described in the book have been sealed off by the fallen rubble)…
Having made the new sarcophagus, I was able to create appliques of that same symbol, an ancient Midras representation of the Principals and associated Virtues, to be used throughout this primary chamber to further capture the spirit of the room described in the “Sword of Midras”. These symbols can first be seen adorning the entry hall leading to the upper balcony of the Crypt, as well as the gallery beyond.
Making one’s way down to approach the tomb itself, my hope is that it will now evoke more closely the feeling you may have had when this same area was revealed to our protagonists in the novel. I truly tried to replicate its descriptions of the tomb and its lid bearing the effigy as closely as I could (even down to the little rat-tail braid of hair draped over the shoulder above the symbol on the chest… ^_^). Of course, in the novel the tomb was empty, and the incredible sword was actually to be found held in the hands of the tomb-lid effigy. The legendary sword has long since been taken hundreds of years ago, and the primary difference you may notice is that the tomb is no longer empty. In the intervening centuries, someone has taken it upon themselves to lay some other forgotten soul to rest there, and left an offering of a flower and a book describing the Principles themselves.
And here’s that Principles symbol again! Since the book describes it appearing again and again all over the walls of the chamber, I figured that decorating freely with it was a reasonable way to tip my hat to the theme. I even placed it on the armored chest of the huge stone sentinel standing guard nearby! ^_^
Hopefully you enjoyed this little diversion. At some point we might do a polish pass on the rest of this dungeon, but for now, at least this chamber matches the source inspiration to a better extent… My next task is to make a loving pass on the town of Etceter to see what I can do about adding more details and points of interest to help link it to the “Sword of Midras” as well!
Wish me luck!
Graff Gem Mines New Cavern Area
The devs have expanded the mines by adding a large cavern area that is infested with Kobolds and Water Elementals, and also encrusted with tons of crystal nodes. The rest of the mines remain identical except where they have opened up connection to the large cavern.
Hey Folks, today I have a few screenshots of some updates I made for the Graff Gem Mines. Rather than edit the existing dungeon, I’ve added a new section to the mines for players to explore. The new area is a flooded cavern, which is occupied by a handful of Kobolds and Water Elementals who are defending a large deposit of crystals. The rest of a mines remain untouched, so players should still be familiar with them.
The Flooded Cavern
One of the entrances to The Flooded Cavern
The Making of Celestis (update)
This wealthy city in the Perennial Coast region was completely rebuilt in Release 43 to give it a unique appearance and at the same time make it match the Asian-inspired architectural, costume, and flora themes of the region. As with all unclones all locations of player housing, scene exits, major services, and NPC shops remain identical after the change..
Here are a few updated screenshots of my progress on Celestis!
Kabuki Stage at Night
Pagoda and Mountains