New courtship gameplay for WolfQuest 3
Watch the video: https://youtu.be/x5zKz_MSyaQ
Not long after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, researchers witnessed — for the first time ever — a lone dispersal wolf joining a pack to become a breeder and pack leader. This encounter lasted many hours and involved a great deal of howling, tail wagging, playbowing, and other social interactions before the lone wolf was accepted into the pack. While that encounter involved a dispersal joining an existing pack, it provides a good guide to how dispersal wolves likely meet and interact when deciding whether to form a pack. So we drew on this knowledge when crafting the “social arena” in WolfQuest back in 2007, which we designed as a stylized turn-based encounter that emphasizes the communicative aspects of certain social behaviors.
We’re drawing again on that seminal 2002 paper about the Yellowstone wolves, but as with every aspect of WolfQuest 3: Anniversary Edition, we’re going bigger with the new social arena. We wanted to make this new courtship gameplay more naturalistic, giving every wolf freedom of movement to create a more dynamic situation. We also wanted to let each wolf’s personality shine through. But the biggest fundamental decision was to discard the quiz-structure of the old social arena. Instead of requiring a correct sequence of emotes, many different emotes (from a subset appropriate for courtship) can boost a potential mate’s level of interest. But then what’s the gameplay? Aha — it’s not IF you can persuade another wolf to be your mate, it’s if you can successfully persuade the wolf you WANT to be your mate.
So instead of the old stylized 2D turn-based encounter, courtship in WQ3 will involve the free-roaming player and one — or more — other wolves who might become your mate. Yes, our science advisors tell us that it’s common for dispersal wolves to roam with siblings, so you’re just as likely to meet a pair of wolves, or perhaps even three — each of whom might be interested in finding a mate for themselves. (Not all wolves you encounter will be so friendly, of course, but we’ll talk about that in another blog post.) Some of these wolves will respond more readily to your courting. So as you interact with them, you can get a sense of their personality from their actions, to help you decide which (if any) you’d like to have as a mate. Furthermore, you should also evaluate their genetic diversity to avoid picking a mate that is too closely related to you or would make a bad genetic combination with you (see our Genetics video: https://youtu.be/wV-Dd_ror8g).
Once you do persuade another wolf by filling their heart-meter, you and your potential mate can proceed into the second phase of courtship, to further evaluate each other before making your final decision. We’ll talk about that a future blog post.
A couple notes:
- We’re still polishing the wolf movement — it’s pretty good but not as smooth as we are aiming for in the final game.
- Currently the potential mates do not do any contact emotes (chin rest, lick muzzle, sniff noses) — we hope to add that, but it’s a bit tricky.
- Though you can meet many more potential mates than before, wolves are monogamous so you have to choose just one.
- We do hope to add the possibility of your mate dying — so you then need to find a new mate — but most likely will add it in an update next year.