Drowning In Sand: The Character Creator’s Imminent Descent!

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[ Experimental Release 0.0.0-5 ]

Hey, hey people. Development marches on! The promised day approaches! This month has been incredibly productive, so let us begin.


I am proud to announce, the new and improved character creator will make its debut with release of version 0.0.1-A on May 3rd 2024. Just under a few weeks from now!

I’ve now moved most resources towards Sandbox development. In the run up to release of the character creator, I will be putting the finishing touches on the build. Clean-ups to animations, widgets, tool-tips, and a little bit of tutorial guidance. Simple things which shouldn’t delay us any further, and worst case scenario can always come later. The “tutorial” element is probably the only mandatory feature, though I assure you it’s nothing fancy. It will most likely consist of a pop-up informing players “This is an alpha character creator, the rest of the game is still under development so you can’t proceed further. Have fun creating~”. Something to that effect.

The public release date is now set in stone. I now more than anything want to get it back in everyone’s hands, and following your feedback, figure out what works, what sucks, does it crash every minute? Hopefully not lol. Why aren’t pompadours priority number one!? That kind of thing. And from there I can add new content to the character creator on the side.

Today, we’re going to have a little retrospective, talk about the most recent developments, and briefly touch on where my current focus lies with the sandbox. Be sure to let me know your thoughts and feedback! I will strive to keep on doing what I’m doing, but it goes without saying, your feedback is invaluable. If you like what I’m doing, want to see me doing something better or have any thoughts in between, please be sure to leave a comment. It really does help me know whether or not you like or dislike the current direction.

A Retrospective

For those of you who are only just joining us, following the whole Unity Engine kerfuffle, I’ve put a lot of time into not only switching engines (From Unity to Unreal), but using this as an opportunity to make things better than before. The situation as a whole has certainly been far from ideal, but I do not hold any regrets given what fruits this change has already begun to bear. I’m quite pleased with how far we’ve come since just last October.

Arkavite – You hear of design changes during game development, but this is quite the jump.

Looking back, a lot has transpired these last several months. I hit the ground running, tested like crazy, and had to completely rethink how things should look and feel. Now the dust has settled I think I can confidently say what we have now has a leg up on the previous iteration. And I’m not just saying this from an aesthetic standpoint, but also on a technical level.

Many were saddened by the change. I myself am malding to this day. I put far too many hours into bashing my head against the wall with 2D animation, planning and the whole pipeline behind it, but, after putting the time into this new system, It’s clear the style of game I’m creating benefits from the change immensely. Customization is a fundamental component to the game and with my previous workflow, I was riding up against the limitations of 2D time and time again.

One might assume 3D is more work when it comes to animation, modelling etc, and while both mediums do have their own strengths and weaknesses, for my use case at least, 3D has been so much better. It’s unintuitive to think of, but 3D is better for me largely because of maintainability and raw flexibility. With 2D, when you want to change a base animation you have to update all your composite parts to match. Redo cloaks, redo hair, redo arms, legs etc, etc, and the more items your game has, the worse it gets… Whereas with 3D, if you want to change an animation, you just change it and all your composite parts will follow the rig. If you want to change an item mesh, you just change it. It’s magical.

2D did look pretty but it’d probably have added few years to development, and stolen a couple more years of my lifespan given the standard I aspire for. I may return to the style in future in some other game where ludicrous amounts of customization aren’t a main point of focus and I have more of a team behind me. Who knows~

From the get go, my aim has been to make something as good as – if not better than what we had prior. No doubt the model has room for improvement and will improve as time goes on, but as a general point of thumb, do you think we’ve landed on something as good as or better than what we had before? Is it worse? Let me know your honest thoughts.

So, here we are. The Character creator nears completion for standard functionality. We have basically every key feature of the original, and then some. The UI and aesthetic are all in keeping and consistent. I think we’re in a really solid position to move forward from. It’s as if we’re back at the latter half of last year.

I can’t say it enough but I must reiterate, thank you all so much for backing this project, subscribing, chatting on the server, commenting, and just following along. Had it not been for everyone’s support I really would not have been able to dedicate so much time and resources to the project. Now as I dive deep into sandbox development with reckless abandon, I can’t wait to see everything come together.

Men Men Men

We’ve enjoyed our time reminiscing, over the past. It’s time for the present. Without further ado…

I present, Man… Well. Technically not man, but rather, Magu? Yes. Magu. Magu Magu.

Arkavite – Male Builds

The player has been updated to allow for female to male blends. There has been a slight change to the buttons on UI. Selecting “Male” under Build will now switch the appearance to male defaults while selecting “Female” under Build will switch the appearance to female defaults.

To accompany the new sex I’ve added an Outfit set called “Dapper”, which is just a more masculine variant of the “Adventurer” set. I’ve also added a male underwear I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I’ve also expanded the selection of sliders so that you may create something male, female, or anything in between. I’ve also updated the character description system with the view system so we can determine what you are based on appearance. Male, female, futa, trap, reverse trap, double reverse trap. The whole shebang.

How Did We Get Here?

One of the major challenges was figuring out how we get a 3D character which can be male, female or anything in between. On one hand, you can have separate male and female skeletons and attempt to bridge between the two bodies through sliders and bone scaling… The only problem is, that’s not seamless. You’re always going to have a snap change at certain points when swapping bases, and it doubles the mesh requirement as each base needs its own tailored outfits. And it doesn’t end there. Now you have to worry about, eyelashes, eyebrows, hair, seams, how it all fits on each skeleton. A lot of work gets doubled and we have more complexity to worry about. Now some outfits may need variants for style’s sake, but if we’re talking purely about fit, there are far more scalable solutions.

Arkavite – An intermediate example depicting the deform and snapping issues experienced when working with two bases.

Given the relative simplicity of our art style, I’ve opted to have a single body which can morph between male and female using a mix of blending, bone scaling and bone translations. As far as I know this isn’t done all too often as texture warping can get you into trouble, but we’re cel shaded! We don’t need super high detail textures to make things pop so, what we have just works.

There’s also an added benefit. Because everything ties back to one base mesh, this means male builds have access to most of the same options as females and vice versa. We will of course have separate male and female animations. If we didn’t then things would look weird. On that note, I’m wondering how I should handle the switch between male and female animation. Should the player get to decide how they walk and run? Should it be based on archetype, or apparel? Or should it all be automated and change based on a combination of factors? Appearance, psyche, hips, body and mind. Let me know your thoughts~

Future Body Development

We definitely need more masculine hairstyles so male builds have more to work with. We can also have a think about facial hair and body hair if people really want it.

As for all around body types, currently you can only really create a slim or thicc character. Later I may add morphs for musculature and weight gain. Musculature may be more texture based given the games aesthetic. That way you could have slim lean or bulkier builds. It’s not a total certainty right now as all that adds more complexity and work than I need at this stage, but it is something I am seriously considering for later.

Booba Upgrades

This one goes out to all you booba lovers~

Arkavite – Clean Sliding

During the body upgrade I increased the poly density of the chest, and changed the method used for scaling. This has all been done to allow for cleaner deforms. The breast size nerf discussed in previous updates was in part due to the deform issues we saw when scaling bones. There was self-clipping at the largest scales and horrible outfit deforms at the smallest. With the new method, that’s no longer the case. We can have clean deforms all the way up to humongous sizes, and all the way down to being flat – which also happens to be key for male development. Cleaner, bigger booba and less finicky models to worry about. It’s a win win.

I also added scale based breast and butt jiggle variance. The bigger the jiggilier!.. This should also prevent men from having jiggly flat chests and butts. That would be rather odd. Would you like a firmness slider? Or, perhaps would you like to see jiggle physics tied into a boon or bane~

Face Time

While we’re still on the topic of modelling, let’s touch a little on the face. [Resting Smug Face] now changes the resting facial expression to a smug face. I’ve added a back-end system to manage expressions and reached a stage in the modelling process where we can start doing more face related things… “Such as”, you ask? Why, blinking of course!

It may be the tiniest of details, but it holds a surprising amount of weight when it comes to making a character feel alive. No more dead eye stare! Little by little, the details add up and the composition awakens.

Under The Hood

Putting everything to one side, this month I was mostly occupied with updating the Equip and Player appearance back-ends to C++. Doing this has dramatically sped up my ability to add new items. One such item is prosthesis.

The [Limbless] bane will now replace the player arms with mechanical counterparts when the respective sub-options are selected. I see prosthesis developing into something you can buy or upgrade in future. The starter prosthesis should resemble something shoddy, but perhaps not this shoddy, so the current models may be placeholder. For the next iteration I’d like to develop limbs with a finer mechanical look to them and perhaps some armor-like qualities. For lower grade variants I could then peel away the outer casing and imagine what it’d look like with exposed mechanisms, wiring and sigils.

A Splash Of Color

I’ve added new options for selecting lip color, nip color, and ear floof color.

The Kitsukana ear mesh and textures have been updated. I updated their ears to look more fox-like and less like the Nyaatsu ears. Nyaatsu ears meanwhile have received some ear upgrades of their own. I’ve made improvements to the base mesh and applied some simple textures for the inner ear. Bunnjin ears have also gotten some texture upgrades and I will probably be updating their mesh at a later date. You’ll be pleased to know all ears have received a buff to their jiggle factor. Very important. Highly immersive.

The Squid in the Room

We should really address the squid in the room. Ikaware haven’t received a lot of development time because they require a tad more work than the other starter races. It’s tough to slot in. What are my plans for them? What sets them apart from the other races?

Their ears should be somewhat similar to the Magu. Just a bit pointier and longer. As for their hair, they’re meant to have wiggly tentacles which double as weapons they melee with. They are special snowflakes so I will need to carve out some time for them in the coming months.

Ika Musume – The story of an overconfident hyper-intelligent squid who’d give Cirno a run for her money.

Thank You For Attending My TED Talk

Tomorrow, we’re going to have an experimental release, and this weekend onward, most my free time will be spent putting together the sandbox. Up-scaling and porting the inventory is simple enough. Completing the command system which the TF item framework uses is expected to be more of a pain than anything. What I really hope to focus on is map development and combat. We should really solidify the world style and start treading new ground. heh.

As usual, I’ll be posting as I go in the ol’ Discord. I realized it can at times be a pain to have to sift through chat history for snapshots , so I’ve added a new channel (#workshop) dedicated to pinning the little in-the-works posts and discussions related to present and future developments.

Don’t forget, public release cycle resumes in just under three weeks!

There is much work to be done, so with that said, I will bid you adieu. Once again thank you so much for joining me on this adventure! Till next time~

4 thoughts on “Drowning In Sand: The Character Creator’s Imminent Descent!

  1. Will there be moments in game where you can loose your limbs also or is it just when you create your character?

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