Hey everyone! Welcome to the first issue of the Epsilon Dev Blog. Tia and I are here to discuss the current development cycle. Despite popular opinion, we do actually work on a lot of things. Often we don’t speak about them, tease them, or directly show them.
However, for the sake of “transparency” - *uncontrollable shaking at the mere mention…* - we have decided to start this series.
First, a few disclaimers.
The Epsilon Dev Blogs are not on a schedule. This means that we will release future issues when and if we have the time to do so.
Anything shown or teased in the dev blogs is NOT a confirmation that it will ever be released. This is designed to show you the trials and tribulations of the development team. Sometimes we experiment; sometimes the final product doesn’t work out.
With that out of the way, we come to our first topic: Character models and conversions.
To understand the full scope of the issue we have been facing, we must first explain the differences in character model (.M2 files) between patch 7.2.5 and patch 7.3+
In 7.2.5 and below, the character models referenced their counterpart animation, bone, and skin files in the .M2 file (model file). They done this by using file data IDs. File data IDs are the numbers that are assigned to a specific file.
In 7.3, Blizzard introduced .SKEL (Skeleton) files into the game. Skeleton files - as far as we can tell - are a means of organisation. Blizzard removed the references to the character model's animation, bone, and skin files from the model (.M2) file and put them in the .SKEL file instead.
This was, coincidentally, at the exact same time when the first allied races released. Producing an allied race is quick and easy since they are based off of the already existing base races. Animation and bones files can be reused.
As you have likely figured out by reading up to this point, that is exactly what Blizzard have done. The allied races .SKEL file references the parent race's animation and bone files by using their file data ids. The illustration below should provide a better understanding.
With all of the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, we finally arrive at the point of this section: Greymane Coats & New Character Customisation.
When Epsilon updated to 7.3 we lost our Greymane coats. Why?
Greymane coats require editing the character model. You must physically attach the cloak to the character's model by using a software package like Blender.
Our Greymane coats were added to the 7.2.5 character models. 7.2.5 character models require 7.2.5 animation, bone, and skin files. The allied races character models are 7.3.5. 7.3.5 character models require 7.3.5 animation, bone, and skin files.
The end result of the 7.3.5 allied race character model referencing and using their parent race's 7.2.5 animation, bone, and skin files was horrifying. See for yourself
We were left with three options:
1. Completely redo the Greymane coats on the 7.3.5 models.
2. Retire the Greymane coats entirely.
3. Make the parent and allied races use separate files instead of the same files.
Many of you might be thinking to yourselves "Clearly option one is the best choice."
Often when it comes to development, the most obvious choice is usually the least efficient. By completely redoing the coats on the 7.3.5 models, we would open ourselves up to the chore of having to redo the coats for every new patch.
Option two wasn't really an option. The Greymane coats - love them or hate them - are a great customisation option. Several transmogs have been built around the coats. Retiring them if other options were available just wasn't going to happen.
So we were left with option three. It wasn't impossible. Difficult, but not impossible. Thanks to our friends over at Kuretar (A massive thank you to Roccus) we have been able to modify the base race's .M2s to reference their own animation and skin files. Simply put: Base and allied races are completely separate.
Finishing touches and testing. Testing? Testing! We may be looking for a few volunteers to come join us in testing our newly fixed models. They may also get a sneak peek at some of the other things that we have been working on. We'll announce more details about testing once we're happy with the models.
That about wraps it up for this section of the development blog. If you have scrolled down to find a tl;dr then I'll leave you with this. Greymane coats are hopefully making a full return and we've got some amazing character customisation options ready to deploy in our next content patch.
As a way of finishing this edition of the Epsilon development blog. We'll leave you with teaser of just a few of the things we're working on and planning to release.
P.S. Please forgive any weird colouring, glitching, or artifacts around the models and items. In-game screenshots are hard to turn into graphical orgasms.