Changes to Wolf and Other Animal Behaviour


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The thing I would most love to see added in the Long Dark, would be more realistic wolf behaviour. I do recognize the artistic speculation of such significant coronal mass ejections somehow increasing aggression and/or lowering inhibitions regarding self preservation in the wolves, but I do think there is another way to do it with minimal additions to the wolf AI. I would only suggest this as an option in the custom settings so that Hinterlands original vision can be maintained (it's their game after all).

I find the Timber Wolf behaviour as far more realistic. I am in fact re-watching a documentary as I write this that shows very plainly the hit and run tactics that wolves use to harass and steal food from brown bears. Hinterland has modelled this very well in the Timber Wolves. My first encounter with them in the game reminded me very much of this documentary and others where I have seen the same behaviour. Even the running away as you focus your attention on one wolf, while others come in from behind. Seriously excellent work Hinterland!

My proposal for a new behaviour option would remove the non-aurora CME mind-altering effects on the wildlife, allowing them to be more wary of humans, which remember, have been killing wolves in large numbers for thousands of years. This has had a great effect on these social learning creatures. It would draw from the complex behaviour we already see in the Timber Wolves. I will reference my in game experience to explain.

In the Bleak Inlet region, I have sadly killed a number of Timber Wolves in self defense rather than for food. Since this has happened, I've noticed the remaining wolf of the cannery pack will turn and run (without barking or whimpering) whenever it sees me, which looks very much like my observations of wolves and other dogs. Likewise, shooting a member, or near a member of the pack reduces their 'morale', making a withdrawal occur.

For my proposed option I would extend Timber Wolf morale lowering actions to include throwing torches and flares of any kind. I would also love to see morale and memory extended to bears and lone wolves if it is not already. I have not encountered bears as frequently as wolves and Timber Wolves, so it may have this already. For the lone wolves, I would love to see them use the same 'nip and run' attacks to politely encourage you to drop some food decoys. I would really prefer this to the current tackle and bite attack, which seems more like a predatory behaviour (something I suspect would be more likely used if attacking dear or human children for example, something smaller than an adult in thick clothing). The dodging, weaving and flanking behaviours we see the in game Timber Wolves use would be a welcome substitution to lone wolf attack, as this would mirror the tactics real life lone wolves use to harass bears as I mentioned above. I would continue to allow lone wolves to be deterred by the same tactics they are now, as a lone wolf is very aware of its loneliness, and adjusts accordingly. If the memory like behaviour I've observed in the above mentioned lone Timber Wolf survivor could be added to the lone wolves that would be a further improvement. In my current custom settings, I've noticed lone wolves will be scared off from a flung torch, withdraw, then once the withdrawal distance or time is met, it smells me and comes right back. While this is possible, it is less likely, and even a very hungry wolf will be wary to come right back. Remember these are pattern recognising predators of great renown, specialising in noting prey and predator behaviours.

To sum up the rather long-winded reasoning behind my ideas; a new custom option that...
-Makes lone wolves use 'nip and run' attacks like Timber Wolves.
-All wolves to be deterred by more items (packs still having more 'morale').
-Individual lone wolves remembering you are a threat, remaining wary and fleeing when they encounter you, as the lone Timber Wolf survivor seems to. Dependent on their morale.
Secondary suggestion: Fleeing wolves not necessarily whimpering, but running with tail between legs. I've heard this described as a somewhat involuntary action of acquiesance or submission, possibly even fear. They for sure do this as a sign to other wolves even when running at great speeds. I am not positive wolves do this to other animals, but many big cats do (Leopards use relaxed tail positioning to put prey items at ease). It is worth considering.

I suggest these as a custom game option to preserve the continuity of the default difficulty settings.

Related idea: craftable item that deters all animals, except maybe Moose in rut. A noisemaker made with line, recycled cans, and tools (to punch a hole in the cans). The cans bang together, either when worn as an accessory or held like an item. The item can also be placed on objects to disturb wolves or bears that disturb them. My inspiration are bear bells that you put on your pack to warn bears that you are near. An obvious downside is this also warns your prey animals that you are near.

I did not include Moose in my analysis as I don't know much about them, other than don't hang out with males during the rut. As I'm new, I also want to state clearly that none of this is meant to be critical of Hinterland or their vision for the game. I think they've done a wonderful job (especially on the Timber Wolf behaviour) and am very much enjoying the game.

Stay healthy everyone.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I think predators that are more wary would increase difficulty in one area. Their current aggression makes them much more likely to be killed by you, generating frequent sources of food. The options that increase their awareness of you certainly makes attacks more likely, but that has the side effect of you getting more food. Hence my idea as a custom option that reduces the animal attack difficulty, but increases the food availability difficulty.

Edited by Dodo
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They should make the black wolves not immediately run at you when they see you, instead they should quietly run away and observe you from a distance and stalk you. That is if they're alone. If there are others around they will adopt a similar pack behavior to the Timberwolves. 

When one is scared and running away, they shouldn't just run around aimlessly. They shouldn't just run back in your direction. Their AI should specialize the best path to escape which won't get them cornered. But if they do get cornered by you, they attack you again. 

Deer should do the same thing, they shouldn't aimlessly run around. And there was once a feature where if a deer ran into you it would knock you down. Why'd they remove it?

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/15/2020 at 5:57 PM, Fuarian said:

If there are others around they will adopt a similar pack behavior to the Timberwolves. 

Deer should do the same thing, they shouldn't aimlessly run around. And there was once a feature where if a deer ran into you it would knock you down. Why'd they remove it?

The black wolves cooperating if they are nearby would be a great addition. I believe that would be called a coalition and I do believe there is precedence for that in the wild. I suspect the challenge to get rid of the aimless appearance they have running away is the AI reassessing where it should go. I don't have too much firsthand knowledge on AI path finding behaviour but from what I have learned I suspect this is a tricky proposition, that has the opportunity to become very memory intensive.


On 5/16/2020 at 5:30 PM, ManicManiac said:

I think the wolf behavior in the game now is vast improved from what it once was... and I think it's fine the way it is now.


No doubt it's come a long way. I'm still very new to the game but I've played other games from alpha and beta stages. It's always fun seeing the game improve and evolve first hand, isn't it? I do find though with increasing the animal's awareness setting (which I really like because it makes hunting deer and rabbits more difficult) it causes these weird bugs of the wolves running away, then coming back less than ten seconds later. In a way this makes hunting them easier simply because they are more likely to be within range (though of course you are also in range). I do think these would be best utilized as custom settings so we maintain the old behaviour as well. As evidenced by you, people like it too.

I did notice in the Fearless Navigator update that the wolves seem to flee with their tail between their hind legs (can't confirm yet as they've always been far away enough to not be certain). If this is the case, I'd love to hear if the developers also had this idea for a while or if they were inspired by my suggestion (I'm SURE I've inspired them in general 😉).

I've also noted a few oddities with the wolves seeming to freeze in the standing position since the patch. It seemed like they might have been interrupted when about to howl as they did a couple whimpers and barks, then broke out into the howl. I think I saw them glide in this standing position while doing this as well, but I wasn't paying enough attention so I don't know if there is a bug or my eyes were just playing tricks on me. If there is, perhaps it's a glitch brought on by new behaviour that's in development for the lone wolves. If anyone else has noted this sort of thing, maybe we can put together a proper bug report. Just do so with caution, I've been tackled twice trying to get it to happen again.

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