Games

Hunter developer creating digital dogs using motion capture

The Hunter: Call of the Wild developers recently introduced a new DLC that brings hunting dogs to the game for the first time. Hunting dogs have been used for a very long time to track and recover animals, and for field support and dating. In fact, the history of humans and dogs working together dates back thousands of years.

Dogs are one of the most requested features of players and are now in the game as part of the $ 4 Bloodhound DLC pack for PC and console hunting games with millions of players.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to developer Expandive Worlds about Bloodhound DLC and more. Game designer Arshak Ardeshir explained where the idea came from, whether dogs can die (I think it’s a dark question), and if more dogs could come to the game in the future. ..

Bloodhound dogs seen in hunters move and behave incredibly thanks to the extensive motion capture process in which the studio brings in multiple dogs, straps the motion capture suit and records its movements. To do.

Dogs are known to be obedient if trained, but they still cannot be commanded to behave like humans.

“Unlike human actors, it was difficult to plan and perform motion capture. You can’t tell the dog to do it again, but stop on your left foot first,” Ardeshir said. .. “This made it difficult to predict how momentary behavior would progress, but in many cases you would get what you needed in an unexpected place, and it would look simple. Has never happened .. “

With Bloodhound on your side, dogs with 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses can help pick up lost blood stains, find killings, and track prey even when they stop bleeding. In addition, dogs help determine when an animal is likely to be creepy. Not only that, having a dog companion beside you in the wilderness makes natural loneliness a more shared experience. Hunter dogs have 30 companion levels and 15 tracker levels, so the longer you hunt together, the more advanced your hunter can be.

According to Ardeshir, Bloodhound DLC appeared in The Hunter in late March and has already proven to be popular.

“Frankly, I’m overwhelmed by all the positive feedback surrounding the game’s first dog companion!” He said. “It’s great to see people having a lot of fun because of the long-standing demands of players. Our focus is to keep an eye on feedback and address issues that players may experience. I’m working on doing it. “

You can see a full interview with GameSpot’s Ardeshir below. It also discusses the challenges of using motion capture for dogs, the most important thing in dog research in the studio, and the resurgence of dog popularity. game.

“We are pleased to raise the bar even further in how every cycle of digital dogs can be as lively and affectionate as real dogs,” Ardeshir said.

And because we’ve made it clear in advance, your little dog friend can’t die.

“No, dogs can’t die,” Aldecyl said. “Lost your dog forever is too much loss and it will be annoying if it is incapacitated for a period of time.”

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The Hunter: Call of the Wild is now available on consoles and PCs. The Xbox edition is free with the Xbox Game Pass.

What is Bloodhound DLC for those who have just caught up?

Bloodhound is Hunter: The first dog companion in the wild call. It takes the player to hunt and brings a wide selection of useful skills to the table, including being able to detect when an animal is likely to be creepy, picking up blood stains, and finding a harvest. ..

What was your inspiration for releasing this Bloodhound DLC and using a real dog for motion capture? Why did you decide to use a real dog instead of creating a dog entirely from scratch on your computer?

It is important for us that The Hunter: Call of the Wild provides an immersive experience that represents the “great outdoors.” Beautiful nature, diverse wildlife, and the joy of exploration. When players visit one of the game’s reserves, we want them to really feel like they are there.

This spirit also applies to Bloodhound. We wanted to capture all the subtle movements, actions, and behaviors that dogs perform in everyday situations and convert them into game animations. Motion capture is one of the best ways to do this. However, animators still need a lot of work to make the raw recorded data available to the engine.

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What can your dog do and help you in the game?

Bloodhound has some tricks on the foot. First of all, it’s a great companion, someone who takes you on a long hunt. From a hunting perspective, there are many benefits as well. For example, you can detect when an animal is about to spook, pick up lost blood stains, find harvests, and keep track of prey that no longer drops visible blood clues.

What were some of the most important factors you wanted to get right when taking your dog to the game?

Realistic movements, sounds, and the appearance of the dog are very important factors in making it fun to interact with the dog. The art and sound team worked hard to make these areas feel right. When it comes to companions, we’ve also focused on making Bloodhound behave like a dog when it’s not doing anything special. Deciding what to do when you are not giving a command is just as important as how to execute a particular command.

From a game design perspective, we focused on dog ease of use, both in terms of interacting with the dog, the tasks it can perform, and its effectiveness in performing those tasks. I quickly realized that in order for players to use dogs and continue to use them over time, they need to be unobtrusive, easy to use, and useful in situations where players with different skills struggle.

What makes a virtual dog look and behave realistically?

It provides access to reliable animation and technology that makes dogs more responsive to players and the environment (such as the “Look at” system), and the gaming world and animation system using the underlying AI system. It is a combination of communicating with. A smart way.

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Can you explain the challenges of creating a digital dog and the work you have done to do it right?

There are many challenges, many of which are unique to different areas of our team. After all, communicating and ensuring that the solution works synergistically produces good end results. There are obvious overlaps, but what makes our digital dogs work is not the same as dogs in other games. It’s what our dogs need to do and what emotions we want from our players.

Since game design spans multiple domains, one of the challenges we faced is getting the dog to work properly with respect to the decision-making AI linked to the command it wants to execute, while overlapping with the dog’s readability. did. We wanted to have a clear line of communication between the player and the dog so that each other could understand what the other was trying to do. As with many parts of game development, it’s about researching, creating designs, testing the designs by players, and adjusting and redesigning until you get the desired response.

What kind of research did you do for the game? What is the most important thing?

Not surprisingly, the dog from the previous title, The Hunter Classic, served as an inspiration to help us learn what can be improved and rationalized for The Hunter: Call of the Wild. By reading books and watching video material, we investigated how Bloodhound is used in real-life hunting and pursuit situations. Of course, we also looked at how other games implement dog buddies, both in terms of ease of use, movement, and AI.

What were some of the challenges associated with using motion capture for dogs? And how did you overcome them?

It was difficult to plan and perform motion capture. Unlike a human actor, you can’t tell a dog, “Please try again. Stop with your left foot first.” This made it difficult to predict how the action would proceed from moment to moment. But quite often, we got what we needed in unexpected places, and sometimes something that looked simple wasn’t happening.

It was also the first time to work with motion-captured animals, which was a fun challenge for the animation team, both technically and from an animation perspective. Motion capture requires a different approach than creating manual animation. This is so that you can subtly edit the data so that you can do what you need while keeping the underlying motion intact.

“No, dogs can’t die. I don’t think it brings enough gameplay value. Losing your dog forever is too much loss.”-Ardeshir

Perhaps the most interesting task was to create a dog-player interaction. This was something we hadn’t done before, so there were many technical hurdles to aligning and synchronizing multiple characters. The motion-captured dog was much smaller than the dog in the engine, which made the readjustment process more interesting. I think it worked in the end.

Sorry for the dark question … can a dog die?

No, dogs can’t die. I don’t think it adds enough gameplay value. Losing your dog forever is too much loss and it will be annoying if it is incapacitated for a period of time. To counter this, dogs need layers of information and control to help them avoid threats. This is a task that players face and I find it undesirable. But who knows, our approach to this may change over time.

Can you tell us about the friendship you feel in the game if you keep your puppy by your side?

There is a natural bond between humans and dogs. I can imagine that it stems from the shared 10,000-year history of friendship and codependence. Our goal was to ensure that the justice of its history was carried out by reviving dogs that we felt were right for our games and players.

Recently, there was a small resurrection of dogs in video games in many titles-what do you think about it?

Like most other areas, game trends have a cyclical nature. The timing of this DLC was more closely related to what players felt they wanted and our plan to develop The Hunter: Call of the Wild into the future. I’m happy that every cycle of digital dogs raises the bar even further in terms of how lively and affectionate they can be compared to real dogs.

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It’s been a while since the dog DLC ​​came out, what are you hearing from your fans?

Frankly, we are overwhelmed by all the positive feedback surrounding the game’s first dog companion! It has been a long-standing request from players, so I think some of you will enjoy it. Our current focus is to continue to monitor feedback and address issues that players may experience.

Do you have any plans to introduce more dog companions in the future?

I can’t talk about specific plans, but to meet and surprise players, we’re always thinking about and evaluating how we can evolve and improve the game. We are fortunate to have a very passionate community. This will help you decide which content to focus on to move forward.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-hunter-dev-on-using-motion-capture-to-create-digital-dogs/1100-6489968/?ftag=CAD-01-10abi2f

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