Thursday, April 12, 2012

Revamping Haven: The Revampening

Today's blog post comes courtesy of Ninjanomics, Fallen Earth's (awesome) art ninja, which details the revamp of Haven (because it hadn't been vamped enough yet, so we decided to do some extra vamping)

Hey, Wastelanders! Ninjanomics speaking; I’d like to give you a sneak peek of our upcoming revamp of Haven. So let’s check it out!

Why Haven? Why now?

Up until now, Haven has performed pretty poorly. The town had a confusing layout, was cruelly prohibitive to frame rate, and didn’t well reflect the serenity of the Lightbearers as a faction. Being that Haven is one of the first things you see in Northfields, it needed some love. Given the success at boosting the performance and layout of Embry, the time seemed right to use the technique on another area that needed cohesion and an improvement in performance.

The style of a Faction
The Lightbearers have lacked a cohesive architectural style to their areas thus far in FE’s Art palette. Giving the faction a central hub with a firm basis to use for all future LB architecture seemed like a must. We went with large quarried rocks carved into obelisks to give the buildings a monolithic feel. The patchwork banners with the Lightbearer insignia convey a nice reverent feel to the buildings, which is rounded out with wooden beams lashed together with rope. The effect wound up in a style that keeps with the faction’s core ideas, while still looking post-apocalyptic.

One of the new style of Lightbearer dwellings

Layout and Flow
Formerly the town had no layout or logical flow to speak of. We wanted to try making the area both interesting, and logically lay it out to maximize ease of use for players. The town is divided up into two sections: There’s Haven proper, which contains most of the functionality of the town, and there’s Haven Grove which is an area of trees to the southeast of town, but still within the town walls.
Haven proper is laid out with the town’s defense in mind. There are large walls which encircle the town, and guard towers placed every couple hundred meters. In the center of town is the outdoor Haven Dojo where Initiates spar in mock combat.
Atop the hill overlooking the pond is the Haven Temple, with nearby crafting facility, vaults, and auctioneer. Just across the pond over the narrow land bridge is the Haven Sundial, the Lightbearer shrine to the sun, their emblem. Up the hill from that are the Haven Archives, also revamped to reflect the scholarly nature of the LB Archivist sect.
There are footpaths for traveling to and from different areas of town, patrolled by Lightbearer Initiate guardsmen. There are two omni-crafting facilities on opposite ends of the town, one by the clinic, the other by the temple and AH. Veterans of FE will find the new Haven much more easily navigable.

Performance, where art thou?
The view standing at Haven sundial and looking
out over the pond toward the Temple
The performance boost for this town was easily dispatched. The former incarnation of the town had way too much going on. Too many buildings, objects, and npcs were placed in the area. Consolidating the important aspects of the town and getting rid of the excess proved effective in keeping the performance in check. Lowering the number of textures used to just a few really helped free up memory to do things like interesting landscaped hillsides, valleys, and the town’s centerpiece, the pond surrounded by the Sundial, Archives, Temple, and outdoor Dojo. The land bridge in the middle of the pond makes the whole town come together, and it’s easier on player’s machines in the process.

The Polish pass

In addition to getting the town to make sense physically and perform better, we needed to dial in the awesomeness factor and crank it to eleven. New assets were made for the area like Lamp posts, Shrine gates, fire pits, sparring equipment, and Lightbearer themed throw rugs and furniture, each of which make the area feel lived in, which brings the town alive with activity.

A peaceful refuge

The changes we have made to Haven have morphed it from a muddled, poor performing mess, to an easily navigable, peaceful refuge, that won’t drop your frame rate to 12.
We're very proud of it, and we hope you like it too!
Brother Florens stands in the shadow of the Haven Temple