Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut // Dev Diary #4: New Visuals & UI
This is the last of four Dev Diaries in which we discuss the new additions and improvements in Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut, a standalone release of our critically-acclaimed Dragonfall campaign which first premiered as a major expansion for Shadowrun Returns. (Note: Backers and existing Dragonfall owners will receive the Director’s Cut for free!) Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut goes on sale September 18th for $14.99 on Steam, GoG and the Humble Store.
Hey guys, Mike McCain here again - Game Director and Art Director on Dragonfall. Today I’d like show you some of the many interface and visual improvements we’ve made in the Director’s Cut. But before we dive into that, guess what? Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut launches one week from today! Here’s the trailer in case you missed it:
Oh and one more thing - here’s Felicia Day saying some nice things about Dragonfall! Y’all should let her know to check out the Director’s Cut next week. ; )
Anyway that’s enough PR talk - onto UI and visuals!
New Visual Effects & Animations
Steven and Hollie (our Effects/Tech Artist and Animator, respectively) dedicated several weeks during Director’s Cut development towards further honing our many combat effects and animation. Our main goals here were to 1. make combat feedback more viscerally satisfying (death, damage, spells, etc.), 2. tighten up timing/polish in some places, and 3. create new effects and animations to support the new abilities that the design team added in the Director’s Cut. I think their efforts have made a big difference! Steven and our engineer Sheridan implemented completely new systems for blood splatter effects, directional deaths (characters used to only be able to fall in one direction when dying), dismemberment, and possibly-slightly-over-the-top-gibs upon critical-hit deaths. We’ve found that these really help make your actions in combat feel powerful and satisfying - check it out:
On the animation front, not only have we been able to tighten up some combat timing (for example, the time it takes to cast certain spells) but we’ve added totally new animations for several new abilities. Here’s Glory’s new claw-kick ability, which is one of the new Crew Advancement upgrades you can decide to give her.
Last week, Trevor talked about all of the new combat mechanics we’ve implemented. To emphasize the new systems and new data, our combat UI has also seen a similar upgrade to more clearly show you each potential target’s status. You’ll see a different targeting disc beneath enemies depending on whether you have a “clear shot”, i.e. if you are flanking the enemy’s cover position or if they are standing out in the open, vs. if they are in cover. On mouse-over you’ll also be able to see exactly what type of cover the enemy is in, and we’ve made the shield icons representing cover state more obvious above enemy heads.
We’ve also updated our health bar display to show how much Armor each character in combat has, represented by white “pips” above the bar itself. Each attack that hits now includes quick animated feedback on how much armor was applied against the damage being dealt, how much armor (if any) was stripped by special attacks, and how much damage was done. This is complemented by some improvements to our above-head text “floaties” that appear when you attack. Lastly, this is a small thing, but world interaction icons now have a short text description attached to them, similar to characters, that appears when you mouse-over them (or when you hold down the ALT key to reveal them.) This is nice when you’ve got a lot of inspects or pickups in one place and you’d like to know what you’re dealing with before clicking.
Oh and we also mentioned the new Crew Advancement system a couple weeks ago - here is what that looks like in action:
Combat HUD Redesign
Another thing we were itching to update is the combat HUD itself! So for the Director’s Cut, our engineer AJ* and I took a good chunk of time to almost completely rip out the old system and build a brand new HUD. Our goals here were to better take advantage of common widescreen displays and to improve discoverability of abilities - making it both easier to learn what things do, and fewer clicks to access those things. We also wanted to streamline it so that it does its job and gets out of the way, direction more of your attention towards the world. Here is a shot of the new HUD:
*You may know him as ‘Aljernon the Talismonger’ in the campaign.
As Andrew mentioned in our first dev diary a few weeks ago, there’s several new environments in the Director’s Cut that correspond to the new missions we’ve added. These environments each have their own unique new music and art. Here’s a couple more screenshots of new places you’ll get to visit in the Director’s Cut.
Our character artist Fiona added a ton of new hairstyle options to the game to customize your character with! (As well as some new skin color shades to choose from.) Here are a few of the new selections I thought it’d be fun to share:
Post-processing effects are something I’d always wanted to fiddle with way back when we were working on Shadowrun Returns, but we never quite got the chance. There are a lot of fun effects that you can play with - and I certainly spent a few hours messing around and making the game look all kinds of bizarre - but at the end of the day, less is more, and subtlety is key with this kind of thing. We’ve added some light bloom effects, a small amount of color correction, a better vignette effect, and a (VERY) slight film grain effect to help liven up the scene a bit. I’m happy with the extra visual depth these post-processing settings add to the game environment but we know this can be a really tricky thing to get *just right* for everyone’s tastes - so if it’s not for you (or if you need a small performance boost) Post-Processing can be easily disabled from the options menu.
Steam Achievements and Steam Cards
Lastly - I suppose this doesn’t quite fall under the category of visual improvements but it DOES involve some art - we’ve included full Steam Achievement and Steam Card support in the Director’s Cut! Here’s a sneak peek:
Anyway, thanks for reading! I can’t wait until next week - taking the existing campaign and getting the chance to add to it and make it better has been a rewarding experience, and it’s not something that developers always get the opportunity to do. We’re excited to put the final product in your hands and in the hands of many new players as well.