How i see animals being implemented : The example of dogs [Mega-post]

Introductions

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.

Unturned_Dog_Concept_Data

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
Taming
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.

Unturned_Dog_Concept_SkillTree

Basic Interactions
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.

Complex interactions
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.

Unturned_Dog_Concept_ActionWheel

Conclusion
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.

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(Note that i’ll eventually try to replace those draft with better pictures)

I think that adding animal companions in Unturned II is is a huge departure of the original game’s concept. This feature works wonders in a sandbox game like Far Cry, but i really don’t see this as a good addition to a multiplayer survival-centric game. And if you have all the breeds and the different skills and different uses for differently trained dogs is just a lot of stuff for 1 concept. It’s addition is going to be extremely complex and it doesn’t take a degree in AI Engineering to get that.

Having wild animals around with herd/flock behaviors and individually designed AI (different AI for different animals, unlike the wolves and bears that share the same AI currently) is, in my opinion, where the game should stop with the animal features.

The work and focus that would take for your suggestion is going to be put to a much better use for zombies and bandits in the game, which are obviously planned from the very start. There’s much more potential there, than in animal companions.

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I can get behind things like horses, but yeah, I don’t think taming pets really fits with the games concept, besides, I’m sure we all remember just how OP a massive army of dogs is in minecraft. I would leave it up to mods.

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Props to you for making a well explained post with a bunch of different ideas. They all sound cool but maybe a little too complex for an Unturned like game. Being able to have a pet animal similar to minecraft might be cool for the game, but having full on breeds/types sounds more like something a modder would implement. To add on to the guy above me, a limit on the number you can have would probably be a good thing to have.

Also, pretty sure cows and sheep can just eat grass lol

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I feel like it’s a good idea but if Nelson were to add this maybe just the basics of dog ai like guarding. I think dogs would fit into the game as a companion, especially in single player. It fits into the survival genre because a dog can help you survive and give you a friend to pass the time.

I agree with some things…however for the most part I think I disagree.
While a pet may be something that fits nicely into the survival theme, I think this should be more like a mental support, something that follows you around, that attacks your attackers. Something like Minecraft.
But when you turn your pet into an attack machine, it’s completely out of the game.
Could you have 20 dogs and scatter them all over a city? It doesn’t make sense.

I’ll start with some points that I find bad for the game and would break the balance.

  • The ability to, as you say, program your “pet” to patrol, attack, search, hunt. How long would you have to train your pet to do this? Besides, if you have an army of patrolling dogs, what will you do? nothing? This would need a lot of balance and would center all the tematic of the game on the dogs.

  • A few shots would be enough to kill a dog ( as sad as it sounds ) So in the end, if you turn them into a robot that patrols for you without a soul, you will simply be sending them to die.

  • Using dogs to patrol, although unrealistic for a standard person, sounds interesting… however, how would you balance the fact that a dog is an alarm to detect intruders wherever you want.

  • And finally, leaving aside all the complexity of this and what would make the game go from Unturned to PetsVSzombies…
    You talk about this “interaction wheel” so that the dog goes to a place, patrols, attacks, etc… When I, in a supposed case select to move, or patrol, what would my character do? a gesture? would he communicate telepathically with the canine? and ok… let’s say it’s a gesture, what gesture would it be, how would the dog understand that you tell him to go to another city? I find it very little detailed, besides very complicated.


My final opinion

I sincerely think that DOMESTIC animals should be reserved more for home or expeditions, that they follow you, that you can pet them and so on, and that if someone attacks you, they will attack. And that you can make them come back with a whistle. I think this is simpler but at the same time it fits even more in Unturned 2.

I imagine something like leaving my dog at home, with his food so that he is nourished, and going to a city to get loot, then coming back and being encouraged to go out and explore with my dog this time. I could go through a city full of zombies and have my dog attack the zombies that I damage or that have damaged me.
Go out hunting wild animals like bears and such.
But keeping the simple mechanic of:
I follow you wherever you go, I stand still wherever you let me, your enemies are my enemies.
That’s what I think. Anyone else agree?

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I very much like this concept. I feel like having a sort of companion system in a Survival Open world esc game, mostly due to the fact that some people may get lonely, don’t have friends to play with, or just need someone/something to have around. I don’t know about anyone else but when I play survival open world games I always want someone or something else there with me so I don’t get lonely, plus it may just be that little extra boost of help that you need when fighting a boss or a horde.

It’s even better because it’s not just one animal that can do anything you can think of and save the world with 2 pieces of meat, instead it’s a multitude of different breeds that ALL do something different. I feel like if this was implemented it should be insanely difficult to get certain breeds so that people don’t abuse it and create an entire army of German Shepherds so they can go to the big city and kill practically everything in sight within 5 min to then go loot freely, I’d rather have one dog or something that follows me around and incase I don’t hear an enemy coming up behind me, the dog tackles them so I have enough time to turn around, react and shoot the lil fucker that tried sneaking up on me.

If there was to be a multitude of different breeds of dog, I feel like there absolutely have to all have different abilities/skills. I don’t want to see a wiener dog tackling and ripping the jugular out of a Zombie while I stand behind it in horror as it waddles away from the corpse. I want something along the lines of a Husky that could maybe sniff out food in a town or maybe warm me up in a blizzard, or maybe take care of a zombie that I can’t get to at that exact time because I’m tied up fighting other zombies 3 feet away.

Also, I know people are gonna say “wHaT aBoUt HuMaN nPcS tHeY cOuLd Be VeRy UsEfUl” Yes. They could be. But not if they are AI (IMO) I feel like AI Humans that could be companions would just not work out in the long run, they could very easily get in the way and stop you from doing certain actions. From past games that have human companions, 98% of the time the only thing they are useful for is a distraction. They don’t kill thing’s worth shit, they don’t help you find anything, they aren’t adorable like dogs, they’re just self-aware backpacks so you don’t have to carry everything.

And TBH, I’m probably just not thinking hard enough but I feel like I’ve never seen a successful survival game where it’s YOU+1 NPC. The concept of 1 player controlled character and 1 Ai controlled NPC throughout the whole game + zombies/creatures or whatever enemy just doesn’t sit right with me, they are just a disappointment in the long run.

Basically, in short - I love this idea.

If we’re worried about multiplayer being an issue, I think there’s nothing wrong limiting certain features to be singleplayer only like NPC companions.

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