During my time working with the studio, I was responsible for the combat systems, day/night cycles, login, registration, Connection To Server and ensuring everyone was visible on the server, I also dived into some level design aspects for the world while working on things such as the minimap and movement systems. This project had many names, the initial first name was “Bloodrain” however after many names the studio decided to settle on Shadows of Athesia.
I also built up some UI functionality and questing/NPC and dialogue work.
overall the studio was quite happy with my work, and so they allowed me to support them with the back end systems as well. During this project, my programming skills improved a lot and allowed me to gain valuable experience in many different aspects of the development cycle and the networking side of online games.
Shadows of Athesia was a concept that was developed and it hit a unique area, in regards to its style and theme. It is a steampunk-themed MMO, with a massive open world that players could fight in order to gain territorial control, which opened up opportunities for guilds, clans economy.
The idea with Shadows of Athesia was a player-driven environment, where quests, could be created by the players, they were able to control their own lands and build them up. This allowed for content to create itself through players playing the game. It also gave great purpose to guilds and wars, as resources for their lands where limited, and required help from all members of a guild/clan.
While I worked on Shadows of Athesia I designed and developed an entire city, NPC’s combat and we took that to play test on dedicated servers, I managed to grasp the insight of profiling and optimising a dedicated server and resolving bugs that may have been found.
Here was one of the areas I supported in and designed, we added bumps in the road for that little extra realism, while re-using assets, to form rows of buildings. Given the theme which was more steampunk, we also put in a lot of rusted metal buildings in order to really bring the theme out.
When I was working on this project, I also built in a full day/night cycle so that the developers could see the cycle while they tested and played. The day/night cycles was a huge success and implemented really well.
at this point in the project we began working on basic UI elements such as the minimap, the icons next to the map and basic player HUD to show health and manner.
During our play-testing when we had the basics down, we invited people to come and join us, so that we could see how the network would respond and if there were any replication issues present. We found some issues which I was able to quickly resolve, but for the most part, the network seemed to be acting as intended and without much issue. As per the screenshot with the players, the mini-map was also beginning to look really good.
Shortly after this we decided to bring in some heavy model designs, to really get a feel for the environment and performance costs during our test, and again we called in some players to help us test, and the result were surprisingly good.
The test went really well, and I was extremely satisfied with my work, the area I designed, the movement mechanics and combat mechanics I built. Considering the day/night cycle was kicking in here also and the shadows needed to dynamically change at runtime the results were more than satisfactory at this stage. Performance could always be better and optimisation is a continuous task that never ends, but for initial/preliminary result I’d say they were outstanding.
After testing I’d work with the studio and we would always look at the server stats to see how the dedicated server handled the requests, to my surprise we only used around 20% of the CPU which given the fact it was only a small affordable DUO core processer as this was just the studios networked testing server, its a strong start.
According to our network and ram stats at the time, they also were quite satisfying given the early stage and how much the dedicated server was running at the time. On average there was 20% of the memory being used and the network was running smoothly on an average of 15kbs, now these may seem like a lot, but when you consider the whole world was rendered, running on the server, with active players running around and talking to NPCs and utilising chat, that is actually in my opinion really successful, for early stages in this project.
Given how well everything was going I secure additional freelance work and I was asked to develop the loot drops, spawns, and dialog options along with basic inventory systems for the studio, I was all too happy to oblige.
As we began diving into the dialogue options, loot and inventory systems we developed and built-in character statistics for the combat we also began implementing game titles and guilds. I could honestly talk hours about this project and how much I learned from it. The experience of working on such a huge MMO was overwhelming at first, but there was so much I learnt I couldn’t thank the studio enough for giving me the opportunity to work on this project.
After the massive success we had with implementing the loot system, the player statistics, titles, dialog, inventory and combat systems the project was in a very good spot and again the studio allowed me to work further and begin building the login and registration systems.
The login page was connected directly to the studio’s website and used JSON functionality in order to achieve the desired result of validation and registering the users and logging them in, at this stage I was unfamiliar with JSON, however, once I began learning the language and processes, this became very easy for me, it provided a fun challenge and the studio at the time was quite satisfied with how it turned out. Shortly after the login was finished I then moved on to the options menus and I programmed all these in for the studio while trying to keep the colours & themes the same. This is all the work I did on Shadows of Athesia (Blood Rain), and it was some of the most exciting work I had done. Sadly at this point the studio while wanted me to continue and work with them as their freelance agent, I could not as I had other clients and projects that required my attention, none the less I will never forget all the lessons I learned in this project, and it will always remain as one my best and top projects I have ever worked on.