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Mission Simpossible

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

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Mission Simpossible

Postby loboLoco » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:15 pm



Video link: https://youtu.be/1miy4LZ6mHY

One of the limitations of WolfQuest versions 1 through 2.7 is the linear and rather streamlined nature of the missions. Only one mission is active at a time, and with some concentrated effort, players can move through the missions fairly rapidly. While WolfQuest 3 will retain the story arc of finding a mate and raising pups, we are redesigning at least some of the missions to make them more interesting and challenging. For example, the new “courtship” mission (which replaces the social arena where you meet stranger wolves in Amethyst) will often involve more than one stranger wolf and use the Emotes actions rather than dialog choices to make the courtship more freeform and naturalistic.

We’re also thinking about secondary missions, which players can optionally undertake to gain experience and perhaps other perks. These are a standard feature of RPGs and serve several important purposes:

* Add variety and depth to the player’s experience
* Provide clarity and guidance for the player -- "what can I do now?"
* Let the player practice the core game mechanics, and in some cases, introduce certain controls or mechanics.
* Prompt players to explore the map

Our problem has always been that wolf life doesn’t naturally involve the standard RPG mission types (escort, rescue, kill the monster, find an item/character, escape). Wolves don’t build structures (that would be BeaverQuest) and they’re not particularly interested in finding gems or other trinkets (BowerbirdQuest!) And it’s fun to think about an orphaned pup that needs you to escort it through dangerous territory to find its relatives, but….yeah, that just doesn’t happen with real wolves.

Even when we focus on realistic mission ideas (e.g. defend a carcass until your mate arrives), we have to particular challenges balancing naturalism and gameplay. It would be rather odd to have another wolf introduce a new mission to the player, so how do we naturalistically trigger secondary missions? Our new scent system is pretty cool, but it’s not the most reliable or speedy means of finding a particular animal several kilometers away. The standard RPG method is to put a mission marker on the compass, but that would bypass scent tracking. Is that too gamey, or is it a necessary compromise for playability? As our team discusses the possibilities, we’d love to hear what players think. Remember, WolfQuest seeks to accurately represent Yellowstone gray wolves and ecology (so no picnic basket missions, alas).

* What kinds of naturalistic secondary missions would be good possibilities each map?
* When you are learning the game controls, what simple missions that would make mastering them more fun and intuitive?

Learn more about the development of WolfQuest 3: Anniversary Edition and the expansion Tower Fall and see FAQ’s at WolfQuest.org/blog
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby SolitaryHowl » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:49 pm

(The titles of these dev blogs always make me laugh! haha)

A few ideas:

- Well, the obvious idea would be to convert the cattle ranch into a side mission. Maybe expand it, so there are roaming dog NPCs that you have to avoid, or maybe an electric fence you have to jump over or you'll lose health, etc. Sort of like Fort Knox for wolves.

- Maybe there can be a sheep ranch too as another side mission. But instead of trying to sneak in to kill one calf and get out ASAP, you have to kill as many sheep as possible within a set time limit. This would reflect the fact that wolves do surplus kill, especially when it comes to livestock. At the end, you'll have to escape or you'll be shot (like the cattle ranch). Yeah, its a little game-y with the time limit, but it'll probably be fun.

- For learning the controls, there should be some sort of tutorial. An ambitious idea would have you assume the role of a young pup just learning how to hunt with its parents, and you learn how to hunt through them (including how to dodge attacks at the right time), learn how to use the wind direction to find scents, how to interact with other wolves, etc. This doesn't even have to be interactive, it can just be an non-interactive cutscene you see at the beginning of the game.
Last edited by SolitaryHowl on Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby WholockInCamelot » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:50 pm

My idea for a secondary mission regarding exploration, and it could even work as a hunting mechanic tutorial. (How to bite, to watch the wind, keep an eye out for the bull of the herd, etc)

Have a certain point in Amethyst where you sniff something interesting, perhaps near your spawn? Let's say that the scent is the recent tread of an elk herd; hoofprints, dung and scent tracks. Urge the player to follow the scent and see where it leads! Maybe, lead the player on a little bit of a goosechase, too! The player will therefore explore the map while looking for the migratory herd! Who knows? There might even be a dispersal of the opposite sex who had the same idea as the player. ;)
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Wolvencall » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:50 pm

Destroy the coyote den? Defend your mate against other potential mates. You could have a mates trial period where if you don't get certain things completed such as bringing down an elk with them, then they're more likely to stop pursuing in interest of you. Possibly defending the carcass and look for a new territory, escape from wildfire or try to escape the biologist airplane in the winter when they usually tranq. Wolves but if you are caught your mate will act wary or you'll have some sort of side effect like decreased stats for awhile
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Adoette » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:04 pm

I do not have that much of knowledge on Yellowstone or it's gray wolves, sadly. Wolvencall already stated several I was thinking about. ( x

-Escaping a forest fire. Something of a rare occurrence, if lightning hits a tree it could result in a larger fire(not every time), which in result your wolf would have to escape to a specific area within the time limit.

-The possibility of getting captured, which would result in wearing a radio collar and some declines would come of it.

As for learning game controls.

-Once you get into Amethyst Mountain, an individual quest of hunting a small animal (Hare, coyote, fox) could come.

-A quest where you have to go to a specific spot and do different actions (Jump twice, sprint, walk, howl, lay down) a certain amount along the way.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Hazelflower » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:26 pm

What about surviving through a early blizzard or something like that?
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Lebron BMT » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:26 pm

Using the scent system is better.

For side missions, to make them more naturalistic make them less 'official' and more dependent on other animal AI--things like cougars or bears trying to steal your carcass or even trying to hunt you if they're really hungry. Similarly, more complex AI interactions between other animals (cougars chasing/hunting deer/hares/coyotes/foxes) that players can participate in or interrupt or compete with for food. Make the bears even bigger and more scary and more difficult to kill (perhaps requiring multiple wolves to do so successfully) so players have a bit of fear in them while they wander the woods and don't feel overpowered.

The biggest thing for side missions would involve other wolves though. Complex family interactions with perhaps dispersal wolves trying to join your pack, fight you for your mate/attempting to kill your mate/pups, marking territories and respecting boundaries of rival packs.

And what about injuries? Maybe players have to deal with injuries from time to time (from bears/cougars/ fighting elk) that go away after a while and in the meantime you have to live off hares and live life as a scavenger (maybe from coyotes).
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Quikke » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:46 pm

Weather conditions, or spontaneous spawns of npc animals of various status, could perhaps serve as separate missions. There could also be certain locationary related missions, that you can only do at certain times of the day, in certain areas of the map.

It could give the actual map we can pull up in the game with the M key use? Perhaps as a callback to the way legacy wolfquest had the hunting grounds, there could be time alloted "zones" that appear at certain times to serve as areas of interest for the player to go to. It'll pop up on the compass too, but the map will show the general zone. They can be weather, seasonal or spontaneous, and it would be up to the player to investigate, and discover what it is!

You would still rely rather much on the new scent system but since it can be time allotted, or a rare occurrance you might not easily find, the map can point you into the right direction, so that you are not aimless and never find what you are looking for.

> Severely injured animals normally impossible to take down on their own (moose, bull elk, etc), ready for you to make the kill
> If you scattered an elk herd or group of deer, a regional marker could appear, and investigating the area around it could lead to a fawn that was separated from the herd during the chaos
> Another pack of wolves made a kill and you can try to sneak in to scavange off of it at the risk of being chased away yourself
> Another predator makes a kill. Harrass the predator in an attempt to steal it from them
> Unusual influx of hare spawns, though you'd still have to locate them in the area (it'd just be an area where they would be more easily and frequently found)

Minor collectibles! That you can find and add to a fictional inventory or Field Guide book, to further enrich people's knowledge of the flora and wildlife the wolves live with in Yellowstone. Tree leaves, berries, seeds or branches, mushrooms, flowers, insects, animal skulls. All hidden across the map. It'd give a much more passive reason to explore the whole of the maps in attempt to find them all.

Stuff potentially added in the future, like other prey animals (large or small) could also have their own mission scenarios, as their own spontaneous events. An example, Elk are the staple wolf diet, and are always found on the map, are a usual target, but if a marker or notification on the map or radar points to the potential presence of something like bison, or more deer than normal, they'd be a much more interesting thing to investigate, especially if it doesn't happen that often (but not at a rate where it's frustratingly rare).
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Polynesia » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:07 pm

loboLoco wrote:And it’s fun to think about an orphaned pup that needs you to escort it through dangerous territory to find its relatives, but….yeah, that just doesn’t happen with real wolves.


This sounds really fun and I think it could be converted into a realistic search-and-rescue mission... The set-up for the mission might be that you and your mate return from a hunting trip and find that one of your puppies is missing! You have to find him, and your mate will accompany you while the other puppies stay at the den. There are different ways you can track the puppy, by looking for the scent, or by howling and listening for a response. Maybe wolves have a specific contact call for lost puppies, like a bark or something.

I think I suggested this before but to make sound tracking a thing, (it would be so very useful and fun!) there could be some kind of sonic radar (a small, round compass in the corner of the screen somewhere) which lets you track the direction a sound is coming from. Or, to make it even easier for kids to read, it could simply be an arrow pointing in the direction of the sound, with text underneath that tells you what animal it is. It would let you track elk bugles, cougar screams, moose calls, and wolf howling. It might also track the sounds of a hunt, if you want to scavenge from another predator, or push them off their kill if you're brave enough.

(An example of sonic radar: https://rog.asus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ROG-Sonic-Radar.png)

Anyway, you have until nightfall to find the lost puppy, at which point he becomes vulnerable to predators. That's not to say there's a 100% chance he'll be killed in the night, but if a predator does happen to stumble upon him, well.. you get the picture. If the game senses you are struggling to find the puppy before nightfall, your mate will start dropping clues, like showing an interest in a particular direction. He might even splinter off without you, which brings me to a super interesting thought:

What if your mate (the AI) doesn't know where the puppy is either, and is programmed to search for it independently, just as you are doing. He might howl and listen for a response, or sniff around for the scent, and if he finds a clue to the puppy's location he'll split up from you and investigate. He would be programmed not to look in the same place twice (because to make the mission easier for little kids, the puppy should be programmed to stay in one place) and if he finds the puppy, he'll lead it back to you.

Once you find the puppy, who will automatically follow you once he's been found, you and your mate will escort him back to the den, defending him from dangers along the way!

The setting for this mission could be during a storm, or a storm on the hard settings and clear weather on the easy settings. It definitely would encourage you to explore your territory range, and is also a chance to give puppies independent personalities. The puppy that gets lost could be the one who often wanders further than his litter-mates, probably prompting you to keep a close eye on him. Your mate's AI might even adjust to be extra watchful of that puppy!

In practice, this mission is quite simple; chances are, if you've hunted before, you know how to track. Your mate will be a big help, as well as pop-up texts advising you on what to do. I don't think it would be hard for little kids to grasp. The mission would take around 10 minutes depending on your luck and tracking ability.

I think this would also make a very fun group activity in multiplayer. Imagine an expedition of wolves searching for one bold little puppy, like explorers in a jungle or something, haha. :)

The lost puppy: https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/howling-wolf-pup-konrad-wothe.jpg
Last edited by Polynesia on Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:20 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Shiverdam » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:18 pm

Wolvencall wrote:Destroy the coyote den? Defend your mate against other potential mates. You could have a mates trial period where if you don't get certain things completed such as bringing down an elk with them, then they're more likely to stop pursuing in interest of you.


I like this idea. Perhaps before you can progress to having pups, you have to retain your mate's faith in your strength and capability as a good partner. Stuff like successfully tracking prey, hunting together, defending yourselves from potential threats. Perhaps other AI wolves will try to swoop in and steal your mate and you have to fight them off successfully.
Rather than exp, there could be a "heart" system like is in the game now, wherein choosing the correct responses (or in this case, the correct course of action) will earn you a heart, and you need 3 hearts to progress to the next stage: 1st successful hunt, 1st successful defense against a predator (like guarding your kill from a bear), and 1st successful defense against a competing wolf. If you fail any of these, like if you abandon a hunt or die to a predator, or the opposing wolf defeats you, then you lose a heart or lose your mate, depending on how many hearts you had gained. One failure = loss of a heart, so if you have 0 hearts left, you lose your mate. But once you gain all 3 hearts, you cannot lose them.

Once you advance to Slough Creek, you still need 2 more hearts yet. One more successful hunt on the new map, and then finding a den. This brings the total to 5 hearts in order to have puppies, and also encourages people to explore the map.

However, what if your current mate dies? If you lose your mate after you have puppies, a new mate shouldn't "cost" as much as the original. Maybe then, only 3 hearts are required, but this time along with hunting and defending your kill, you have to defend the pups from predators rather than fighting off an opposing wolf like before.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Phasoli » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:38 pm

The only idea for a side mission that comes to mind right now is a sort of "get to know" stage between the player and the mate. Perhaps this mini mission could entail establishing bonds with your partner and learning to bond with them, seeing as mates will now have personalities. I'm not sure if mate AI is adaptable enough for this, but perhaps mates can learn to cooperate with the player as well, learn what they like based on what they do often (for example, a player who interacts with their mate with emotes a lot will allow their partner to learn that they like that sort of thing), and work to ultimately please the player by repeating that action. In this way, they could probably learn what the player dislikes as well, all within the bounds of this mini mission.

I feel like achievements serve as nice side missions already. I simply have no more ideas, haha.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby KasaiHope » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:49 pm

For a tutorial, maybe a minimap (about the size of the cattle ranch but a teensy bit bigger) where it spawns various tutorial things (elk, fox, coyote, etc) and it slowly gets bigger as the tutorial goes on before teleporting you to AM/LR? And it'd do it for every new game (so if you load a saved game you go right in) and only with tutorials on? For a pup tutorial, though, idk. Maybe just showing you actions with pups or leave it up to the player? Or a side mission where a human/scientist is involved?
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby Polynesia » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:52 pm

Wolvencall wrote:try to escape the biologist airplane in the winter when they usually tranq. Wolves but if you are caught your mate will act wary or you'll have some sort of side effect like decreased stats for awhile


This is a really fun concept for a multiplayer side game! When you hear the aeroplane coming you and the other players have to run for the forest. It would discourage you to hang out in the middle of the open meadow, and encourage you to avoid signs of human activity (wolves in real life, I think, are shy and evasive of people). If you don't make it to the trees in time and get tranqed, your screen will fade (the way it does when your wolf goes to sleep) and when it fades back in your wolf will have a radio collar for the rest of that game!

It's not something which would happen often. (A maximum of once per game, if it happens at all.) It would be a looming possibility throughout the game. And it wouldn't happen during "sensitive" moments, e.g., when a puppy is in danger, or when the puppies are being escorted to the rendezvous point.
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby LeighNotLeah » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:17 pm

Maybe some sort of mission to find hidden areas/objects? Say, an albino elk, or a hidden den in the perfect spot for hunting. Maybe even collecting elk bones to give to your pups. Maybe there could be a hidden field perfect for teaching your pups how to hunt? Just some suggestions and any variations would be appreciated!
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Re: Mission Simpossible

Postby 0927CanisLupus0927 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:19 pm

-Competing for a mate (Amethyst).
-Playing with pups
-Add extra dominance (become a subordinate)
-Save pups from and oncoming herd of elk (racing away from another pack of wolves)
-Wolf pack infiltration
-Dig a den (takes a while)
-Escape a wildfire while saving pups (relocate)
-(saving pups from a flood??)
-Protect your family
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