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Flock Around the Clock

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

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Flock Around the Clock

Postby loboLoco » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:11 pm


Video link: https://youtu.be/spG2xAEVyj0

WolfQuest bills itself as a wildlife simulation, but of course it's first and foremost a game, and as with any game, we design the simulation to support the gameplay, rather than building a complete simulation for its own sake. When it comes to NPC (Non-Player Character) animals, we've always done the minimal level of simulation necessary – partly because of time, budget, and technology constraints, but also to streamline the gameplay and keep it simple enough to be fun for a wide variety of players. With WolfQuest 3: Anniversary Edition, we're raising the bar on that simulation, so our NPC animals will have more fully-fledged behaviors as they go about their days. This week’s video shows the 24-hour cycle of behaviors that we’ve set up for elk, coyotes and cougars, with typical crepuscular habits (active at dawn and dusk, resting during the day and night). Stranger wolf packs are next!

We really like the idea of having a full range of wildlife, just out there living their lives in the WolfQuest world, but as we think about how the level of detail and fidelity of each species’ behaviors, we ask ourselves:

• Would real wolves see a particular behavior often enough — and how interested would they be in it?
• How would that NPC fit into the gameplay? How would it enrich the WQ wolves’ lives?
• Which animals and behaviors would provide the most bang for the buck?

Making a game is always about priorities. We don't want to put time and resources into things that don't significantly affect the player's experience, nor anything that misrepresents the behaviors of those animals, so we have to choose the most common animals and behaviors that a wolf would witness. For example, we've decided not to show calves and fawns nursing because we decided that if wolves are the area, all elk would be on alert. Tree-dwelling animals would provide some great ambience, but they’re mostly out of sight and out of reach of the wolves. Cougar babies are rarely seen in real life, so even though they would be adorable, they’re far down our wish list.

Yellowstone is full of wildlife, but most of those animals live hidden lives most of the time -- especially smaller animals that fear being preyed upon by the larger carnivores. In our hikes around the park in September, we saw evidence of ground squirrels, badgers, and beavers, but we never spotted any of those animals themselves. Wolves of course have lighter footsteps, but they're also more direct threats to these animals, so it would behoove them to remain undetected. We do want to add more of these smaller animals to the game, but they'll remain somewhat rare to spot.

We’ve got a few animals in mind to add to WQ 3, but we’re always curious what players would like to see. Post your ideas below — and be sure to explain what that animal would add to the game experience! (We know that bison is much-desired, and we agree, so no need to mention that.)
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby chillwerewolf » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:55 pm

This is awesome!
I remember laughing when the elk used to panic and run in to trees, running on the spot for quite some time until I finally killed them. This is definitely an improvement, and one that is going to make the game feel full of life and even more realistic. Good job, team! Can't wait to see it! :raven:
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Ecliptic » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:03 pm

One idea would be fish (even though they aren't a primary source of prey for wolves, a grizzly bear could be hunting salmon leaping out of the river). I don't really know much else that would be good to add, but maybe signs of the certain prey animals? You said that they might leave behind trails, so what if there were holes in trees from woodpeckers and empty nuts on the ground?
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby NoyaTusk » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:05 pm

it's going to be nice to see different animals being active at different times of the day.
I really love the laying down animation that the elks have, it's so smooth and looks super realistic. I'm loving how the game's looking, keep up the great work !!
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Weylenn » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:14 pm

The coyotes shown in the video-- What do they look like now? It looked like the model was quite smoothed out. O:

Secondly, have you seen this study/observation on mountain lions having a type of social group? https://news.nationalgeographic.com/201 ... s-animals/ it's very fascinating.

As for animals to add, I think it would be valuable to add bighorn sheep. They'd likely be easier to hunt (at least the ewes/weaker rams/kids) than deer, moose, elk, but be harder than hares and be more rewarding in terms the of effort/food ratio. It would also add wildlife to the more harsh cliffs where other types of ruminants aren't found. There would be some interesting mechanics with regards to not getting bashed in the side by a very angry ram trying to protect it's ewes as well.

Also, here's some evidence of wolves pursuing bighorns. I don't know if this occurs in Yellowstone but I wouldn't be surprised. Typical NatGeo stuff ahead, sheep gets hunted, so if you're a little sensitive to that be warned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjo94EOgoC4
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby roguemoon » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:17 pm

This is so cool to see! Thank you for sharing Dave. Each developers post makes me more excited for the updates.

I think beavers would be a really cool thing to add, especially in Lost River. After all, players already hear them and there are several signs of beaver in the area. It would be cool to see them sitting on their dams or perhaps even paddling about. Personally, I was very confused when I first heard the beavers in LR and it took me a little while to figure out what the strange sound was. I think players would love to see beavers, and I know they are occasionally hunted by wolves in real life, though it is quite a challenge. If beavers were made huntable (?) in the game, it would be a fun challenge that could be worth a decent amount of EXP.
We already have eagles in the game, why not expand upon that? Wolves and eagles do compete over carcasses, and I have heard of eagles chasing lone wolves off a carcass, so I think having eagles as in-game competitors would be interesting. Achievements could be added for spotting an eagle flying about, perching on a cliff ledge, and for chasing one off of a kill.
It would be cool to find evidence of other animals, like you said- tracks, burrows, scent trails would all be interesting things to stumble upon and add amore depth to the game. They could even be added to the achievements list.
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby SolitaryHowl » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:39 pm

That's very cool. Great work.

My suggestions (other than bison):

- Beavers - > You can already hear them in Lost River, and wolves do sometimes hunt them. It would be interesting to try to hunt prey that primarily prefers water habitat as well, it provides variety for the player. Plus, another small prey (similar in size to the hare) would be nice to have.

- Eagles -> Like rougemoon has already said, expanding upon the eagles would be nice.

- Squirrels, mice, and other rodents - > Even if adult wolves IRL wouldn't bother with them, they would provide ambiance. Also, would pups try to hunt them?

- A greater variety of birds (woodpeckers, waterfowl, cranes, etc) - > This will just provide greater ambiance. Yellowstone has a large and varied bird population, and it would be interesting to encounter them in the game. Also could be fun in multiplayer - players could go birdwatching and try to count/identify how many birds they see.
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Phasoli » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:50 pm

Amazing work! Those coyotes had a beautiful makeover.

As far as adding animals go, a Lynx or Bobcat could possibly act as a rarely seen animal in game. Badgers, Wolverines, and Otters would also make for interesting animals to witness, but I'm not sure how a wolf would go about interacting with them.

If I were to expand from mammals, I would suggest the addition of fish in Creeks and ponds. While they may not be able to be hunted, they can surely act as great ambiance animals.

Expanding upon the Eagle's appearance in-game would be a great addition too! I agree with adding a greater variety of birds to the game. Like, ambient birds that reside in the grass or near water that could serve as fun creatures to chase into flight. (Similar to the way birds appear in the game Nintendogs.)
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby loboLoco » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:00 pm

Weylenn wrote:The coyotes shown in the video-- What do they look like now? It looked like the model was quite smoothed out. O:


It's a totally new model. They're just coyotes, but they deserved it.
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Weylenn » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:22 pm

loboLoco wrote:
Weylenn wrote:The coyotes shown in the video-- What do they look like now? It looked like the model was quite smoothed out. O:


It's a totally new model. They're just coyotes, but they deserved it.

Care to upload a turntable/picture of the new model? O:
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Silverheart98 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:23 pm

OOH great <3 ! Coyotes look awesome now! And the whole timed behaviour etc is amazing! I can't waittt!

Also if I wanted something to be added....hmm...

First; I agree with the big horn sheep, birds, small mammals and fish as just a small add on. Also as rare to spot ones, weasels?

Have you thought about adding random animal skulls (moose, elk, deer etc...) like dropped/left around the map to find?

I would love to see owls at night! Also if it'd be easier to spot, maybe bats? Could you hear bats?

And in later updates, I love white tailed deer! They are awesome and I have photoshot them in wild for long time. Also roe deer? (There are roe deer in yellowstone right?) Roe deer is so smol it would make as quick/agile but easy to kill target! ( But difficult to spot, I know from experience x.x)

If you ever do something to LR too, theres a stray cat. What about a stray dog?

What I have come alot up to in my photographing journeys is actually animal tracks. Paths for deer and moose, since they do like to travel same paths to same areas. It's easy to find them that way for me too! That's actually the reason why I know where to go to wait them! But if it's difficult to add in the game or something I understand. It's just a suggestion! c:

Well theres something that came into my mind. yeah I know many of these might be already thought of. x3

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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby roguemoon » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:26 pm

Phasoli wrote:Expanding upon the Eagle's appearance in-game would be a great addition too! I agree with adding a greater variety of birds to the game. Like, ambient birds that reside in the grass or near water that could serve as fun creatures to chase into flight. (Similar to the way birds appear in the game Nintendogs.)


I never even considered the thought of birds flying away as you approach, I love that.
Forgot to add this to my previous post, but I think it would be awesome to add Trumpeter Swans to the game. They are a big presence in Yellowstone as they migrate there every year in winter. As they are a huge part of Yellowstone ecology (and tourism!) it would be really cool to see them in the game. Players could witness the swans flying to and from their winter breeding grounds in autumn and spring, and during winter and early spring even view them swimming in ponds and shallow water.
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Weylenn » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:56 pm

Silverheart98 wrote:
Also roe deer? (There are roe deer in yellowstone right?) Roe deer is so smol it would make as quick/agile but easy to kill target! ( But difficult to spot, I know from experience x.x)


Seems roe deer are only found in Europe. :P http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/naturelibrary/i ... er_map.gif
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Lebron BMT » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:28 pm

As long as the ambient animals have believeable lives with a good variety of animations and responses to different stimuli when they react with not only the player but also with each other (inter-species and intra-species), then we can't ask for anything more. Things like cougars hunting elk, fight scavenging coyotes, bears, and even stranger wolf packs, coyotes chasing foxes/hunting hares, variety in coyote/wolf/elk pack sizes, and all of this happening independent of the player and thereby allowing player wolves to encounter these scenes and participate in them is the best case scenario. As long as the results are randomized (cougars/stranger wolves/coyotes/ not always being successful in their hunts for example, and different predator encounters are without predetermined results) plus enough variety in ambient animal animations, the world of Wolfquest will look and feel real.

Well-animated showdowns and randomized results between bears and cougars would be amazing to witness and be a part of as well.
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Re: Flock Around the Clock

Postby Polynesia » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:42 pm

The coyote models look great. (: I have a question about stranger wolf packs. In the game they have this kind of mirroring technique where they will always mirror your movements from across the border. Will it be different in WQ 3? For example, will they move up and down their borders at different times during the day?

Anyway, I made a list of some animals and how they would affect WQ's experience. (:

Rats and rodents - puppies would use them as early hunting practice, before they move on to fawns and calves, so that would be nice to see. There could be a small mission where you have to demonstrate to them and catch a rat. You could limit rodents to ground-dwelling animals, so that they're more accessible and common than squirrels. They would also be a small source of food for new players, who don't yet know how to hunt elk, especially since hunting large animals is going to be more challenging in WQ 3 and need practice.

Rabbits - for the same reason as above, to introduce more sources of food for new players. I still think that hares in the game are too easy to catch. Hares are supposed to be very quick and agile (snowshoe hares can apparently cover 10 ft in one bound.) Introducing rabbits would let you ramp up the challenge of catching a hare, while catching rabbits could remain the same as catching a 2.7 hare.

Black bear - black bears are great swimmers (they often swim for pleasure) and it would be fun to see them swimming and fishing in the rivers, or foraging for bushes and climbing up trees. Another interesting thing is that it would be a location restricted animal; If they live in an area where grizzly bears are present, they tend to stay in the dense forest for safety. It would be cool to have another intermediate predator, and the relationship between wolves and black bears seems like it's really interesting. To quote from wikipedia:

Despite the black bear being more powerful on a one-to-one basis, packs of wolves have been recorded to kill black bears on numerous occasions without eating them. Unlike brown bears, black bears frequently lose against wolves in disputes over kills.[99] Wolf packs typically kill black bears when the large animals are in their hibernation cycle.


(So, the difficulty of killing a black bear would be seasonal. Black bears would be another cool source of EXP, which would make them fun to have in the game.) There is something else which would make black bears fun to experience:

Despite their name, black bears show a great deal of color variation. Individual coat colors can range from white, blond, cinnamon, or light brown to dark chocolate brown or to jet black, with many intermediate variations existing.
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