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Saurian DevLog #4

To start off our DevLog this week: RJ received a pair of meter tall, 30 kilogram boxes of replica Dakotaraptor claws that a large selection of our backers will be receiving as a reward. They look amazing, even better than we expected, as you can see above. Big thanks to Robert DePalma for sorting these out for us, that was great of him to do. These are the first set of replicas of this animal’s claws ever produced so the backers who pledged for this are receiving something really special. I need to note here that while we have the claws now, these will not be shipping out immediately. All rewards will be sent out together some time in the future.

After the unveiling of the new Psittacosaurus model we decided to take another look at our Pachycephalosaurus. When taking another look at my Pachy concept art it was very clear that it needed significant updating, not to mention our model has the orbit in the wrong place (stupid Jake). So I spent a lot of time reworking my Pachy concept art, including paying extra close attention to the osteoderms and ossified scales on the skull to make it far more accurate. I also added a keratin covering to the dome as opposed to the crocodilian-like face skin it had before. All of the proportions have been altered to be more accurate, including an unfortunate slimming of the tail. I’ll be working on the younger Pachycephalosaurus designs now that the adult has been properly updated.

Concept art of Pachycephalosaurus by RJ Palmer.


Chris M.
There are over 20 species of plants to be recreated in Saurian’s Hell Creek ecosystem, and each one must be differentiated from the others not only by its overall shape, but also from elements such as their bark, and leaf shape/structure. Now that the concept art is done, I’m creating the textures that the New Chris will work with for the 3D models.

Leaf and bark textures for a selection of Hell Creek plants by Chris Masna

One of the coolest programming developments to come from the last month is courtesy of our resident bird-wizard, Xane, with his Vitas, Biota, and Praeda systems for representing information related to bodies, combat, and more. This has allowed us to begin the (long!) process of fleshing out combat in Saurian to the degree that we’d like to. With these systems, animal bodies are represented as collections of body parts, each with their own external layers (scales, feathers, osteoderms, etc.) and internal layers (flesh and bone) that constitute to the overall injury level of the animal. When you attack a specific body part, you degrade its external layers until they are destroyed, at which point you can damage its internal layers. This makes the targeting of your attacks very important during combat. Different external layers also have different types of interactions with different types of attacks, too–for example, a bite may be more effective against feathers, but less effective against osteoderms.

Screenshot showing the Vitas system.

Using all of this, I’ve been able to start doing some pretty cool stuff with AI combat behaviors, such as making animals strategically choose body parts on other animals to attack rather than just attacking in their general direction. I’ve also been working quite a bit on writing and balancing combat behaviors (charging, retreating, circling, etc) and when they are engaged by AIs, and am happy to see them starting to look much more natural than they have been thus far. While I don’t have time to summarize any of the other tasks I’ve been working on, here’s a little something extra from the last few days:

Some untextured birds taking flight to evade a Dakotaraptor. Note: Dakotaraptor‘s AI doesn’t exactly know how to handle hunting a bird in flight. Yet. Please ignore Jake and Nick’s mindless dribble in the background.

While these birds may not have the largest role in Saurian’s ecosystem, writing their AI has given me a base to introduce other volant species with, including Quetzalcoatlus sp. Get hype!

  • Kirara on October 2, 2016

    Hadn’t even considered attack placement and integument as something that would be in the game and now my mind is blown once again by the insane attention to detail and realism you all are planning. I live for these devlogs!

    • nonavian on October 9, 2016

      I agree… it’s so cool that it will be a part of the game, whereas most games are just “Bite or attack in the general area where enemy is standing”. I’m also really loving how the Dakotaraptor in the video acted, looked so curious. =)

  • Super Raptor Dude on October 1, 2016

    Super excited for this! Especially because it will be compatible with Mac. Will make and female dinosaurs have realistic differences? Eg. Different coloration, body size changes, etc.?

  • Falcolf on October 1, 2016

    Love it, this is so exciting!! 😀

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2016

    Wonderful! I have some questions, and I hope someone can answer them when they have time
    I hope I’m not annoying you.
    1. I read that when dromeosaurs extended their arms, their hands would supinate (rotate to face upward). Is this true and will that be featured for Dakotaraptor and Acheroraptor?
    2. So, at least a few small ornithischians had a uropatagium? Why? In modern animals, only flying or gliding animals seem to have them.
    3. I read that Tarbosaurus had a Jacobson’s/ Vomeralnasal organ. Will that be in game for Tyrannosaurus, maybe for detecting pheromones during mating season?
    4. Will the Brodavis have teeth? It was a hesperornithiform after all. (But the teeth and the hard part of the beak should not overlap
    5. And also, did Brodavis have an alula? It an important part of bird flight.
    6. Atmospheric animals (like Brodavis), will we be able to eat them?
    7. Will there be air scents or only ground scents (like sniffing and tracking a scent on the ground, and from the air)?
    8. Will some animals have enhanced hearing and will this affect gameplay?
    9. Will the reptiles (including dinosaurs/birds) have nictitating membranes?
    10. So in the final version of the game, we will be able to customize our animal’s color. Is this hereditary? Can any babies we have inherit our colors/hues/markings/albinism etc?
    11. Will we be able to give our dinosaur character a name?
    12. Can you recognize other dinosaurs? Like if you mate and have babies, could you name the mate and babies and if we live long enough, maybe see them again? (We could reunite with our virtual dinosaur families…and it could be heartwarming…or disastrous…)
    13. Will we have wounds/scarring? If another animal bites/scratches us, will it leave a mark? Can we break out arms/legs? There will be collisions right? (If you run into a tree, rock or animal, you will get hurt and not just pass through it right)?
    14. I read some things about Dakotaraptor: that it’s arms were more adapted for grabbing than flapping, that it basically sacrificed grasping for running (could not grasp as well as other dromeosaurs because it’s feet were more adapted to run, so it couldn’t use raptor prey restraint as well as its relatives). Thoughts? Will these be in game?
    15. Gameplay footage shows Dakotaraptor jumping from a tree and falling to the ground. Wouldn’t this actually hurt it?
    16. Will theropods have a lot of stamina because of their avian respiratory systems? Maybe if they couldn’t catch up or ambush their prey, they could simply follow it until it is too tired to go on.
    17. Will we have to sleep, or else get too tired to go on?
    18. Will we be able to test our own hypothesis about dinosaur behavior in game?
    19. Will their be risk of overheating or freezing to death? What about drowning? Can you dig a hole? Will mammals and lizards run into burrows to try to avoid predators?
    20. Will there be frogs in game? Insects? Parasites?
    21. Will the dinosaurs show different body language in response to different things? Will at least some of this body la gauge be based on birds (neck feathers raised in aggression, eye pinning due to excitement, etc.)?
    Thank you for working hard on this game. Have a nice day.

    • Eda on October 3, 2016

      I’ll attempt to answer a few, even though I’m not on the dev team and don’t ultimately know what they decide on/know about that I currently don’t as far as paleontological studies go.

      2. The uropatagia might serve some thermoregulatory function like that of a rhino or elephant, although I’m more inclined to think that it might just be one of those neutral traits that just sort of exist ‘because they can’ and aren’t selected against because they don’t hinder survival rates.
      4. _Brodavis_ probably had teeth, being an ancestral hesperornithine as you mentioned.
      5. As far as I’m aware, _Brodavis_ is known from only a bunch of footbones, so we don’t know what its wings were like. The authors on the only paper I’ve seen discussing it comment on the lesser degree of bone thickening that you see in more aquatic hesperornithines and infer that _Brodavis_ might’ve thus been capable of limited flight. However, if more complete genera are any indication, I wouldn’t place too much weight on the idea that _Brodavis_ was doing a lot of flying, so the alula may have been absent if not reduced.
      6. We will be able to eat “atmospheric animals”. The video of the _Dakotaraptor_ chasing after that flock of birds should be confirmation of this.
      15. Above a certain height it would probably be detrimental to the animal’s health. If I recall correctly, this is something the devs were talking about as they were animating _Dakotaraptor_’s arboreal stuff, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be factored into the gameplay somehow.
      17. I’m pretty sure the devs have said that sleep will feature in the game, although I don’t think it has been determined exactly how that will work in practice, i.e. how long you’d have to sleep.
      18. Playing as a certain dinosaur and interacting with the other creatures in the environment will probably be the most testing you’d get to do within Saurian. As the animals are programmed to behave more or less a certain way, the game seems fairly conservative in that regard; you won’t be able to toggle behavioral attributes.
      19. I think temperature may have some effect on gameplay, like smaller animals may need more food to keep warm during cooler periods, and large animals may show reduced activity during the hotter parts of the day and year. This hasn’t really been explicitly discussed by the devs though. I’m pretty sure drowning will be a thing; being swept away during a flash flood/hurricane (both of which will feature in the game) will probably be the main risk posed by these weather events. Depending on how proficient of a swimmer your dinosaur is, the risk of drowning in deep water would probably limit your movement across the maps – apparently ceratopsians would’ve been kinda screwed if they went into water deeper than they could stand because of the weight of their heads and how their skulls and nostrils are oriented. I expect some dinosaurs will be digging if nothing else than to create a shallow nest; in terms of burrowing, probably not save for _Thescelosaurus_. Lizards and mammals, depending on their size and type, will probably seek shelter wherever they can when pursued.

      • Anonymous on October 4, 2016

        Thank you! Have a nice day.

    • Chef Dinosaur on October 6, 2016

      As for #15, I believe falling damage will not be implemented in this scenario. I believe I read a developer state that Dakotaraptor cannot and will not climb trees as an adult; the Kickstarter video was done before a functional young Dakotaraptor model was in the game so they showed the mechanic with an adult. Very young ones would probably be able to handle such falls, especially with the description of Dakotaraptor on the Kickstarter page saying that young juveniles possessed a very limited flight capability.

      • Eda on October 7, 2016

        That makes sense; I was finding the climbing adult Dakotaraptor kind of weird and probably more of an anomaly than anything else.

  • Turtledragon on September 30, 2016

    Aw man soo excited!! Everything looks fantastic, I can’t wait to play! And that combat system defiantly beats the Isle’s. ;D I could rant about how awesome this looks, but I don’t want to take up a whole page haha.

  • Peridot on September 30, 2016

    Im curious after reading rhis devlog, will this system be built to allow sctatter behavior in herds? I seem to recall a trackway from Austrailia that depicts small herbivorous dinosaurs using different tactics when startled by no doubt an ambush. Some went one way, others another, some went toward the danger to attempt to escape. I think there were some skipping steps involved. Will the normal flock and flock panic behavior desintegrate when prey are caught off guard? Or i guess basically I am asking if an individual’s herding instincts can be overidden by sheer panic? Also, how will mutiple species herds react as opposed to homogenous groups?

  • DiscordRaptor on September 30, 2016

    The new pachycephalosaurus looks (dare I say it) potentially better than the original! It is a shame the tail had to get thinned, as I had never seen that kind of speculation with anything else, but the slimmer build fits the overall animal well. The Dakotaraptor claws are nice, and have an old, “fossil-y” look to them. I can speak for everyone when I say that clip has restored hype in us. The assets move and look so real! I love how the Dakotaraptor looks almost curiously up at the birds. These DevLogs are what keeps me going, and I can’t wait for the game to come out. Then again, I bet everyone says that. Nevertheless, please keep up the great work. You guys rock!

    Keep calm, and Montanaspinus isn’t real.

    -A fellow Paleomaniac

  • NathB$ on September 30, 2016

    I was very impressed by the way all the birds progressively flew away Whalen they saw Dakotaraptor. They move just like real birds! And the new pachy is awesome!

  • Hunter1324 on September 30, 2016

    Amazing work. Glad to see the update on Pachycephalosaurus and the work on the animal’s AI and health system.

  • Kolin Schofield on September 30, 2016

    These DevLogs just make me more excited for Saurian. The Vitas system looks quite fascinating. I wonder what Biota and Praeda are like. Any chance to get a peek at those two systems?

  • Chef Dinosaur on September 30, 2016

    The hype train ran out of tracks several weeks ago, plowed off the end and has just kept going by force of will. Only the coming of January and the fulfillment of my pre-order can end my suffering.

    • Turtledragon on September 30, 2016

      Haha, well put!

  • Andrew Stuck on September 30, 2016

    I assume the comments about damaging external layers before inner layers applies only to tooth & claw attacks. Blunt force trauma inflicted by a Pachy or ankylosaur or even a well-placed whack from a hadrosaur would skip straight to the good stuff.

  • Estemmenosuchus on September 30, 2016

    Could we see all the previous and secret stream after the Saurian is released?

  • mrplcole on September 30, 2016

    The new pachy actually looks better than I expected, maybe even better than the previous versions.
    I still miss the rhino skin though V_V

  • MD on September 30, 2016

    Thanks so much for these updates! Everything is looking so amazing. I really love the detail and thought you’re putting into the plants!

  • Jeff on September 30, 2016

    Great job devs! Is the trike getting an update in light of the Psittacosaurus discoveries?

  • Raptormimus456 on September 29, 2016

    Great to see the combat mechanics will be a lot deeper then most other games where you play as a dinosaur!
    That will certainly add to the realism of Saurian, and will make it much more engaging to fight the A.I and other players then a lot of games.

    It could have been very interesting to see those deep combat mechanics in tandem with the learning A.I, but if I had to take one or the other, I suppose having better combat is probably the best option.

    • Garrus on September 30, 2016

      If we kept working on the AI, Trikenet would have become self aware and taken over the world. And it would not have been so gentle a ruler as Skynet. It is for the best that Henry shelved the learning AI until we figure out how we can properly secure and contain Trikenet. On a more serious note, the trikes really were murdering everything.

  • HunterStrait on September 29, 2016

    The development of this game is going way past my expectations.
    Its making me really excited.
    Unbearably excited.
    Keep it up!

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