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Ride of the Wapiti

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

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Ride of the Wapiti

Postby loboLoco » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:58 am


Video link: https://youtu.be/roTLFyRGfkY

While Susan and I were in Yellowstone, our Unity developer Tommi was working hard to make our bigger, better elk flock together realistically when fleeing predators. The video shows the results, and I couldn’t be more delighted. It’s just a thrill to run with the herd, even if they’re running away from me. (Note: I stripped down the terrain so it’s very basic in this video. But you can see the new controller in action. Though it needs some polish, right-click orbits the camera so you can look around easily while standing or running.)

Tommi’s the one to tell you how he did this, so let’s hear from him:

Creating this herd AI was a very interesting challenge, and I'm glad that Dave gave me the time to develop it as far as what you see in the video.

The algorithm the AI is based on is an old one: Boids (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boids) has been around since 1986, and it's still the go-to method of creating herd/flock/swarm AI. What I've been doing is tweaking and modifying that system to match the specific kind of pattern created by a running elk herd. What's beautiful about this is that you don't need any code orchestrating this from above - instead, every animal thinks entirely for itself!

At all times, each elk in the herd tries to move in such a way that:
1) it moves in the direction it wants to go. Usually, that is away from you.
2) it stays close to other elk, because it's safer in the herd.
3) it keeps a certain small distance from its friends, to avoid stepping on their toes.
4) it moves more or less in the same direction as everyone else, because that helps with staying in the safety of the herd.

While it sounds easy, figuring out how exactly everyone should mix these different goals was pretty difficult. For example, the standard Boids algorithm tends to create a round herd because rule 2 above just pulls everyone towards the center. To create the nice long line you see, I had to create a kind of a "follow the leaders" logic instead. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to prevent said leaders at the front from circling back on their buddies, or from splitting the herd up. Another tricky thing was getting elk that had been separated for whatever reason to nicely integrate back into the herd without running against the stream and causing chaos. While at the same time keeping everything responsive enough to outside influences such as wolves, who have an annoying habit to disrupt perfectly good formations.

In addition to the Boids stuff, I also improved the way the animals move in general. They now have a mass and have to accelerate and decelerate, and can't just suddenly turn 180 degrees at full speed. This, I believe, gives the stream its naturalistic, flowing feel, where you could easily imagine getting trampled under their feet.


What about attacking those elk as they flee? We’re working on new mechanics for that as well. Stay tuned for more!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby SolitaryHowl » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:14 am

Wow, that's really impressive

I can only imagine what this is like with sound and/or particle effects like dust or kicked up grass. :D
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby C0rgi » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:33 am

    That's so cool, the new wolf model is pretty spectacular too, looking good!!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Arcturus221B » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:38 am

Watching all those elk run away in a giant herd (well, giant compared to what it is now) is just absolutely amezing. I honestly can't wait to see this in-game. Great work!

The only thing that does bother me a bit, is the wolf's running animation. It looks a bit stiff. I'm trying to figure out why but I don't really know right now. It think it's something with the back and the shoulders. Like they don't move up and down enough compared to each other or something. I don't know. Maybe it's just me and/or the angle :') But really, love all the updates and the way things currently look. It's a lot more natural and realistic!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby roguemoon » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:06 pm

My jaw actually dropped. The herding dynamics are amazing, but I am just blown away by how fluid and natural the run cycles for the elk and wolves are now! The new wolf lope looks very similar to that of a real wolf, and definitely more fluid. I can also appreciate the new wolf model better in this video.

Those elk models are looking great too. I am super excited to see what hunting will be like in the update! It's definitely very exciting to run alongside the herd, one of the few things I miss from 2.5.

EDIT: Rewatching for the 60th time, I noticed it seems like some of the elk have different speeds. Almost immediately when the herd is charged two cows fall back. Very interestiiiing. I'm excited to see how herd dynamics will be affected when you throw bulls and calves into the mix too.
Last edited by roguemoon on Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Wolvencall » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:09 pm

This is absolutely fantastic!! Great work you guys; I can't wait to see how this works in game! No one will be able to hold a light to wolf quest as a stimulator. Maybe the elk who fall back are the weaker ones. I think I know what seems off with the wolf though, the head isn't bobbing much (or possibly its the shoulder that's a bit under exaggerated) it seems when wolves run their muzzle is pointed almost straight out as they run full speed away from something or in for the kill, almost streamlined. I'm not sure if this run is intended to be a lope which conserves energy or if there is also going to be a full gallop but with a full gallop the stride is bigger and quicker

Edit: I think what threw me off comparing it to the old wolf run is the back on the old wolf moves more on the front and the head is pointed straight out in the full run; legs also seem to be moving faster. I think it's just the lowered face and seemingly slower pace was all that threw me off because if you view it exactly from the side it usually seems faster.
Last edited by Wolvencall on Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Noella » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:34 pm

Wow! That is a real thriller to the game! It's makes for one exciting hunting trip! Great work Dave and Tommi!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Phasoli » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:35 pm

The run cycles on all of the animals are absolutely amazing to me. The new herd is going to be way way way more dynamic! I'm absolutely loving it! Perhaps sometime in the future, we can get an inside scoop to the animation process, like an animation tutorial of sorts? I'm hyped for this new episode. Each update gets better and better!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby paperpaws » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:53 pm

Whoa, pretty surreal to watch this after being so used to the current aesthetics of the game for so many years. It looks absolutely fantastic; you all did a great job on this.
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby loboLoco » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Wolvencall wrote:I think I know what seems off with the wolf though, the head isn't bobbing much (or possibly its the shoulder that's a bit under exaggerated as the wolf runs it almost needs to maybe be as exaggerated as the elk run), it seems when wolves run their muzzle is pointed almost straight out as they run full speed away from something or in for the kill, almost streamlined.


Well, not always -- we've been using this (mainly, among other videos) for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmsB30vaz9A

Of course, wolves don't always have exactly the same pose when they gallop at various speeds and situations, but we only have two running speeds, Trot and Gallop, so we have to find a typical gait style and stick with it. (I have also been struck when watching wolf-chase-elk videos that the wolves usually look pretty relaxed in their gait.)
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Wolvencall » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:43 pm

Ohhh okay makes sense! Usually when I see it it's just straight out or a tad lower. Not sure what's throwing me off maybe it's just because I'm so used to seeing the other model run. The back looks like a regular gallop but I think it's the front bit throwing me off; probably just because of the angle though
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Windstrider » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:51 pm

Lol that music tho.

The new models and animations look amazing!
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Isela » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:17 pm

The elk movements look much more fluid now! I gotta agree with Anduril, it's very surreal seeing how much improvement the game has undergone after all these years. Everyone is doing a wonderful job on the game development!

Also, great musical selection ;]
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby PearlyReborn » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:51 pm

Spectacular! I can't wait to see this with the finished maps.
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Re: Ride of the Wapiti

Postby Sunset-Light » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:16 pm

Ah, I never thought that the sight of 30+ elk being chased by a wolf with amazing running animations would cheer me up. There's a first time for everything, right?
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