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I Smell Elk!

Find out what we're doing and thinking as we develop WolfQuest 3: Anniversary Edition and the Tower Fall expansion!

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I Smell Elk!

Postby loboLoco » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:12 pm

One of the many legacies of our original 2006-07 development effort is the simplicity of most game systems. Our great challenge back then was how to distill the sprawling complexity and variation of real-world ecological systems into something simple enough for our audience to learn quickly (and for us to implement almost as quickly). The elk and stranger wolf zones are one product of that time. We didn’t want to make players wander excessively in search of prey or other wolves. We figured that real wolves do know roughly where to find elk, so establishing elk hunting zones on the map recognized that canine knowledge while also helping players. Limiting the scent spores to those zones, for both elk and stranger wolves, was partly for usability’s sake (again, to prevent tedious wandering) and partly for technical reasons (those scent effects had a performance impact on 2005-era computers).

But now, a full decade later (!), we are redesigning these systems.

Elk certainly do have favored grazing areas, but these extend over much larger areas than our small hunting zones. So we’re building a new spawning system that will put elk and other animals anywhere they would realistically be found. In contrast to the current system, elk and other animals will always be out there — somewhere — for you to find. For example, in Tower Fall, elk might be found almost anywhere, but they’re most common in the uplands where conditions are wetter and grass is greenest. That’s in the summertime. In the fall, they move down into lower elevations. We’ll model this with our new more sophisticated spawning system — for elk, for moose, and for other animals including stranger wolves.

With such wide-ranging prey, players will truly depend on scent view to find elk and other animals. In our new scent system, scent spores will float long distances on the wind. Players can pick up a scent trail a kilometer or two downwind. By heading upwind into these scents, players will hone in on their target — and then pick up a scented trail of elk tracks to close the remaining distance.

floatingscents.gif
Scents floating on the wind
floatingscents.gif (2.93 MiB) Viewed 5696 times


ellk-footprint scent.jpg
Scented elk tracks
ellk-footprint scent.jpg (111.31 KiB) Viewed 5696 times


We’ve got these systems built. Now we have to make sure they work well for players. When searching for windborne scents, it’s quite possible to run around for much longer than I would consider fun. It’s also not clear when to start looking for the scented trackmarks. (We can’t rely on those alone because, unlike the floating scents, they’re much harder to spot at any significant distance.) And younger players may still need additional help to avoid frustration. So we’ve got some work to do on it.

While this new system will make it harder to find prey, we believe there will be more satisfaction in the search as well. These new spawning and scent systems will also factor into decisions about den and homesite selection. And they’ll be especially interesting in regard to rival wolf packs….but that’s a topic for another day.

(And yes, this will be added to the existing game as a free update, and will be incorporated into Tower Fall, which will be available for additional purchase upon release in 2018.)
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Chipara » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:25 pm

Wow! The scent trails drifting across the wind look fantastic, and I absolutely adore the footprints apposed to the floating dots. It really gives a more realistic feel to the search of elk, as in real life it may take wolves hours to find suitable prey. This will definitely provide a new sense of challenge to the game when it comes to hunting, one that we lacked before hand.
One question, will the actual hunting of the elk (Biting, chasing, ect.) be changed for difficulty? As hunting the elk as of now - even on Bring it On! - is relatively easy to do.
I love the updates every Friday, keep it up! :D
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Infinity Howl » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:36 pm

YES! And million more time YES!
I'm so looking forward to this, that game developers will come up with to do this!

Thank you so much!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Ecliptic » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:40 pm

I too am really glad about the updates every Friday. They help ease the pain of waiting and make it so that I look forward to something every week.

As for the scent trails, I'm really glad to see this added!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Sunset-Light » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:48 pm

Oooh! This is so exciting! I think the idea of making elk herds slightly harder to find will be more challenging and rewarding in the end, and it'll add a more realistic aspect.
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby IntelligentWolf » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:51 pm

This is amazing!! I can't wait to see how this works in game!!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby D0m » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:00 pm

These new updates sound great. I like the idea of having the prey be almost anywhere and migrating, rather than just in a small area of hunting ground -- and the scent in the wind is a wonderful idea, too. It looks lovely!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Isela » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:00 pm

I love the throwback in the title to the original WolfQuest trailor ;]

This looks great! I'm loving this new realistic approach for the scent view. Wolves are heavily reliant on their sense of smell in the way that we are heavily reliant on our sight, so it makes sense to have scents play a larger role in the overall gameplay.

Thank you for all the updates, Dave!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Frodo1 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:18 pm

Oh man, this looks awesome! I can't wait to see this in-game!

You guys are doing a great job-- keep up the incredible work!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby DerpBacon » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:32 pm

Loving that original trailer reference.

I love the fact that prey will be able to spawn anywhere they can realistically be found and migrate. The floating scents are also a great addition. I'm looking forward to more updates!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby SolitaryHowl » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:01 pm

Wow, I'm always excited to see a new update every Friday!

Hm...perhaps making the windborne scent particles a little larger so they are easier to spot? Or increase their contrast with the greyscale background? They might be hard to see when you're moving around, turning in one spot, etc.
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby PearlyReborn » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:28 pm

Ooh, this looks really cool!
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Wolvencall » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:55 pm

For the scents you could make them smoky wisps and put them lower, they could float in towards you if you're downwind or float away if upwind. Are you saying dispersals will wander as well? And the elk won't be in the same place Everytime will they?
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby Windstrider » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:23 pm

The weekly updates are definitely appreciated! And this looks really interesting.
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Re: I Smell Elk!

Postby wolfluvr101 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:48 pm

This is incredible! Thank you for all the effort and time you put into this game. It really shows!
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