Progress Update: January 29 2020

Hi, everyone! In this post, we're going to round up a selection of the development activity that has been taking place since the team returned from their holiday break. We'll take a look at some experimental new rendering techniques, take a deep dive into Hytale's upgraded atmospheric audio system, and revisit farming to show the progress that we're making there.

It's been a busy month for all of us as we gear up for an important and exciting year in the life of Hytale. As we outlined in November's development update, the success of the original announcement has allowed us to be more ambitious about every aspect of this project, and over the last year we've spent a lot of time determining the best way forward for both Hytale and the team. Now is the time for us to start putting those plans into action, and we're looking forward to sharing the results with you.

Right now, however, it's time to take a look at some cool new rendering effects!

Ice effects

We're continuing to expand the capabilities of Hytale's engine with new features and effects. This month, we started testing new rendering tech for ice blocks. This is particularly effective in the wintry climes of zone 3, adding a greater sense of depth to areas where spires of ice emerge from frigid landscapes and frozen-over cave entrances promise new opportunities to explore.

This feature is still very much at the development stage, and - as with everything we share in these progress updates - is likely to continue to evolve as work continues. In this case, the team is in the process of ensuring this new rendering works properly when combined with blocks of all kinds.

You can find out more about the improvements we're making to Hytale's engine in November's graphics update post.

Ambient sound improvements

Sound designer Kieran Fitzpatrick - whose work on creature audio we featured last year - has been hard at work on some extensive improvements to Hytale's ambient sound system. You'll want to turn your volume up for the rest of the clips in this post - if you've got headphones, now’s the time to use them!

In this clip, you can hear how both the sound of the weather outside and the noises produced by the player character change as they step from rainy moorland to the interior of a gloomy tower. These effects are achieved dynamically by taking advantage of 'ambience zones' - effectively, a set of rules for adjusting audio properties that can be customized based on factors like weather, time of day, the number of walls, and more.

Ambience zones can be layered on top of one another in an additive fashion. In this case, the wind, birdsong and cicadas are all separate ambience zones that merge according to the situation. The system takes into account the ratio of specific block types in the area around the player - so an area with lots of tree blocks is more likely to be accompanied by the sound of wind in the leaves or branches creaking in the breeze. Ambience zones can also effect one another - for example, a weather event like a storm will cause the birds to go quiet as if they've flown off to take shelter.

When the player dives into the water, the ambience changes again. Underwater audio is based on fluid type - fluids of a different viscosity can create different effects, so swimming in water will sound different to swimming in lava.

(We don't recommend swimming in lava, by the way!)

Note: we disabled fall damage for this clip!

This clip illustrates a transition from an outdoor area to the echoing ambience of a deep underground cavern. In addition, the player encounters a number of sound-emitting environmental features. You can hear torches burning and the sound of rocks crumbling deeper in the cave. In the next clip, we're going to hear how the same techniques are used to create the creepy, foreboding atmosphere of a Scarak nest.

This demonstrates how ambience zones and emitter sounds can be combined to give an area a specific audio identity. The distant howling wind combines with the eerie squelching of Scarak eggs and reverberating underground ambience to create the sense that this is somewhere that you probably don’t want to stick around in.

Of course, we have other ways to let the player know that they've wandered into the wrong cavern...

Farming progress

Farming is an area of Hytale that is currently deep in development. Recently, we've been adding new crop types and incorporating new assets to illustrate their growth from seedlings to ripe, harvestable produce. To illustrate this, here’s a timelapse video showing a small batch of crops developing over the course of several in-game days.

Of course, crops don't thrive without help. Properly-tilled ground and water is essential for ensuring that you receive a bumper harvest - and a little fertilizer wouldn't hurt. We've recently added some important new models and effects to the game, along with new AI behaviours that allow Hytale's various creatures to... contribute... to your farm, in their own special way.

TLDR: animals can poop now.

Thanks for reading our latest progress update! You can expect our next blog post in February. In the meantime, keep an eye on our official Twitter feed over the coming days - this blog isn't the only place you can see some new Hytale material this month!

To download a zip containing the screenshots and video clips included in this blog post, click here!