Animals have been talked about before, and community member opinion on those have been quite different, some, favouring animals with simple AI, and others (me included) considering animals could play a bigger role.
In this topic, I will cover dogs as an example and elaborate on how I see some of those being implemented in Unturned II, and maybe provide some ideas that could apply for animals. Maybe I will eventually expand on livestock or other categories of animals.
Behaviour (AI) & Body
My first take for animals is separating the AI from the animal, with each animal behaviour AI having an ID which could then be applied to a body (which would have a model, animations, a texture, maybe some unique sounds and statistics but no AI.), allowing for potentially more diversity for animals, perhaps different breeds which would share a common AI.
The AI would indicate if the animal is tameable, how the process of taming would work, its behaviour to other animals (territorial, aggressive or passive), turned or humans and what unique functionalities an animal could get, such as producing milk or eggs over time, being able to “guard” or “patrol” an area or pretty much anything else that can be coded. It could also allow to have different (or overlapping) detections methods for animals, which could really make it interesting. Perhaps some could also have their own skill sets but we will come to that later.
Once the groundwork is done and the AI is set-up, the statistics would simply edit the values, for example, at which range does the territorial animal feels threatened, how much eggs or milk does the animal produce as well as basic values such as the efficiency of the smell, of the sight, the speed, the stamina, or the health.
The Example of Dogs
Breeds Categories & Tasks
My take on dogs would be having separate categories for the purposes they were bred to fulfil in real life, that is, hunting , working and herding dog, plus a separate category for dogs that do not really suit in those categories, with each category having a unique behaviour and a separate skill set.
Different breeds in those categories would share the behaviour of their category and would only be different in appearance and in statistics. This would also encourage players to have specialised dogs for some tasks or to be ready to take the burden of feeding a lot of them.
«Hunting dogs» would include all dogs that can provide an upper hand at hunting, by hunting small preys, retrieving birds the player shot or helping the player track a larger prey such as a deer.
«Working dogs» would include dogs that can guard a property, assist a player in a task or other purposes such as rescuing, those could have special functionalities such as “guarding” or “patrolling” a position or pulling a knocked-out player.
«Herding dogs» are a category of dog that I find underrated but with the potential of being a great tool for the player, as they could be used to help the player protect the livestock.
«House dogs» would comprise dogs that are not made to fulfil the 3 tasks at the bottom, and which would be more suited to entertain the player and would mostly include smaller dogs that do not need as many foods, they could however get some basic training.
Taming & skills
The process of taming a dog (as well as other animals such as cats or livestock) would be the same for most animals and would-be kind of similar on how passive taming could work in Ark, with the exception of different categories of animals needing different kind & amount of food (although perhaps we can envision mods with unique taming functionalities).
The taming process would be relatively easy, as you would only need to find the dog in question, and then gradually give him treats until he decides to trust you enough to follow you.
Training & Skills
My take on skills would not be to have each animals having different skills, instead, my belief is that the player should possess some kind of “training skills”, unlocked just like other skills (or perhaps as a gift for interacting with animals), which allow to train some categories of animals. Once a skill is researched, animals that are tamed by the player and affected by this skill get instantly upgraded and can now use that skill.
Just like cars, tools or plants, animals would require upkeep, and while it would be simple to upkeep some basic animals such as chickens and tardigrades (I mean why not ? can someone make a mod out of that ?), larger ones such as sheep, dogs or cows would require more food and water, and would eventually die out if not taken care of.
Perhaps some kind of interaction such as “playing” could also have a very small chance to grant a free skill in the training skill tree, which would make it even more valuable to interact with an animal (and reduce your interaction as you waste hours training a virtual doggo).
However, dying would not be a fatality for all animals, as some could be tied to a respawn point (because we are cruel enough to kill mankind but doggos don’t deserve to die).
As an example, our dog, once tamed, could be tied to a dog basket, which, in the case our best friend dies, would allow him to respawn, where he would wait for his owner to come back, however, if the bed is destroyed and the dog die, he dies for good and the player will need to find a new one.
So we have covered basic, universal interactions that all tamed animals can share, but how would complex interactions such as “patrolling” or “attack” work ? The player would first of all, have to select the animal, and then, with the help of an action wheel, select an action, with what follows depending on the chosen action, “patrolling” let you choose waypoints where your dog will patrol while “attack” would let you select an animal to attack or “find” allow to find an animal or a player.
Of course, those are ideas are purely suggestions, and reflect some of my ideas on how animals could work, ideas that are not yet a priority for the game, although they could serve as an idea for an eventual “animals update”.
The objective of this topic was mainly to quickly explain some ideas I had that make animals interesting while not too hard to understand (or at least according to me). It also push, just like for player skills, for more specialised animals, and not for a jack of all trade animal that can slaughter all the turned in the world and rebuild civilisation all by himself.
I also initially wanted to add some pictures but I realised that it would be counterproductive as my drawing skills are equal to the ability of tardigrades to build nuclear power plants so I instead added a couple draft I made with pdn that could maybe help explain a bit more my ideas.
Feel free to post more suggestions or to ask questions if you didn’t understand well my topic.