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Saurian DevLog #7

It is DevLog time again. Last week everyone returned home from the Saurian house and it was back to business as usual. Erin and Chris made some massive progress on the game world, and the programmers have some awesome developments in combat but that is not quite ready to show yet. In the meantime we’ve got some more neat sound and art for you, and Henry programs the patriarchy. What does that mean? Read on.

Most of the past couple of weeks were spent collecting sounds from the closest living relatives to the known frog species that inhabited the Hell Creek ecosystem, namely painted frogs, midwife toads (Alytidae/Discoglossidae) and jungle toads (Bombinatoridae). Amongst a painfully amount of time filtering unnecessary audio trash from the individual files, many of the collected sounds had either to be discarded (because of poor audio quality) or had to undergo severe hum removal techniques. Once the final sounds were chosen, I mashed them up together onto what I like to call frogscapes, including all the aforementioned species, as well as individual audio files to be played randomly, giving an extra variety to these scapes while the player is exploring the dangerous marshes of Hell Creek. I even managed to include some cute salamander squeaks! In order to keep all of these sounds consistent, since they came from many different sources, I designed a really neat reverb preset with 2C’s Aether that glued them altogether perfectly in the end.

Frogscape sample (with musical effects) by Francisco Godinho

Most of the feeding sounds for both the carnivore and herbivore fauna are also wrapped up and I will be focusing next on creating juicy combat impact sounds.
“I hate frogs” – Francisco Godinho, 2016

Chris M.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been working on the concepts for the Anatosaurus growth stages. This animal is not playable, but its younger stages are an important part of the ecosystem so we need to make them anyway. I made a couple of different colour options for the baby for the team to pick from. The design is meant to be colourful to prevent the adults from stepping on them, and camouflage is not as important when you have giant adults protecting you. I always thought the blue one was the best one, and luckily the team agreed. Well not RJ, but who cares about that.

Anatosaurus growth series concept by Chris Masna.

Recently I’ve focused on an initial framework for hierarchical social behaviour in Saurian’s animal AI. Social interactions are a very important aspect of Saurian’s design, and I want to make sure that we design our social mechanics with as much respect to paleontology and biology as possible. I wrote a little about family dynamics in an earlier devlog, but I’ve recently been focusing on writing a system for emergent social groups that can be configured differently for each species. Though there’s not much evidence in the fossil record about the intricacies of dinosaur grouping behavior, there are a few amazing instances of dinosaur groups dying and fossilizing together (one was just described this last month!).

These finds suggest that some dinosaurs had age-segregated social groups–perhaps unsurprising given knowledge from modern ecology, but an amazing thing to find support for in the fossil record! In addition to this, I’ve looked to modern animals with analogous physiologies and ecological niches for inspiration, and am incorporating sexual segregation as a feature of some species’ social systems. I’ve been testing the waters with sexual segregation in Triceratops, which I have modelled to mimic white rhinos. Adult white rhinos differ in their social preferences — males prefer to stay solitary and tend to be aggressive towards other males, while females may form pairs (R. Norman Owen-Smith 1974) or small groups (Metrione et al 2007). Males also seem to assert control over females at times, though not nearly to the degree that some other animals exhibit matriarchal or patriarchal tendencies in their social groups. As it stands, I have Triceratops forming groups where multiple females are allowed but only one male is, and if a male is present then it will assume the role of leader. The members of the herd will not stray too far from the leader, and the leader is in control of who joins the group. So, if a male-female group runs into another male, only one male can be in a group with the female at once, and a challenge or fight is the only way to change this. Anyway, here’s a video:

In this video you can see the process of some Triceratops (a male and 3 females) perceiving each other and settling on a leader for their group (the little blue vertical line going up into the sky from the Triceratops‘ torso shows who the leader is; the one it settles on here is a male due to the settings I specified). Then you see them moving around a little bit before heading off in the same direction. This is an attempt on the part of the Triceratops to avoid running into each other as they move — something that we take for granted with our own intelligence, but which is actually a tricky problem to solve for AI. Luckily, the fine folks over at Apex Game Tools have made some wonderful assets (Apex Path & Steer) that have made solving this problem much easier, though I’m not quite finished with it yet. Anyway, at a certain point in the video, I drag one of the females away from the group, and you immediately see it change its target from the water to the herd leader and try to return to the group. This is one of the more trivial behaviors that a follower might do in response to their leader or group, but it demonstrates that the social structure is in place. There is still tons of fleshing out left to be done for social group dynamics in Saurian, and I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near done, this is a solid foundation to build from. Also, using the same system I was able to write a proper flocking system for our birds, so you’ll have that to look forward to when you look up from time to time. The next aspect of this social system I plan to work on is age-segregation, which, though not present in Dakotaraptor, will be seen in some AI species and possibly playables. However, for the moment my work on social systems is on hold while I tend to some more pressing tasks (which aren’t quite ready to show off in a devlog yet). And that’s the way the news goes!

  • prashanth on June 29, 2017

    I hope there will be some way for the players to know whether another NPC dinosaur is male or female…
    This information will be useful to the player as male and female behave differently
    Amazing game so far!!!!

  • Anonymous on November 19, 2016

    Will the animals exhibit play behavior towards each other? It is not exclusive to mammals. Hawks will drop and catch leaves, fish chase each other, crocodiles play with balls. Maybe family members and mates could play with each other? Play fighting, chasing, etc.?
    Play behavior in reptiles

  • Mamenchi on November 19, 2016

    I know this question is a little too much, but I want to ask anyway. If the wind blows, will some leaves from the trees detach and fall on the ground? If yes, will these leaves be able to be used as extra food for the dinosaurs? Or even as a hideout for small animals or even better as building material for nests? Also will the leaves decompose with time or float on the water ( if they fall on water)?

    I’ve also recently acknowledged that the african secretary bird is another of those birds that doesn’t tweet, but it produces sounds like those of the ratites. You should listen to his “roar” during mating season and territory patrol! Just in case you are looking for an inspiration to complete the dinosaurs’ sounds….

  • NathB$ on November 18, 2016

    I really love what you are doing but I would like to know if, after you release the final version, you would work on the two medicine formation stretch goal. It would be cool to have different environments with different creatures.

  • Asa Unger on November 16, 2016

    I am not sure if ‘blue’ is the best color for the baby Anatosaurus. From what I can recall I don’t think there has ever been found a blue pigment used in animals. Blue colors found in animals are usually structurally blue. Feathers, keratin or scales are structured with ‘tiny holes’ in a way that scatters blue light and absorbs red/green light. This structure would be hard to change over the lifespan of an animal. The only way I could see the transform from Blue to Green is if Anatosaurus ingested yellow pigments through its diet. (yellow + blue = green).

    If the blue is kept it would be nice to see the consequences of this structural coloring. For instance corpses of Anatosaurus would turn blue after awhile, as the pigments in the skin would decompose leaving only the structural color. Also at night the blue ‘babies’ would look more grey/brown and be darker due to less light around to scatter.

    • NublarRex on November 17, 2016

      Perhaps they’re blue so they’re harder to see in shade or at night

    • slimeywoodchip on November 19, 2016

      cassowaries are naturally blue…
      Birds are the closest living relatives. If a bird can have blue skin a dinosaur can too

    • thehartless on November 21, 2016

      This would be pretty cool to see implemented… the corpses slowly fading to blue I mean… Really dig that idea loads.

  • Suchomimus on November 15, 2016

    Hi! So I have a question about the email. If I sent an email to the SAURIAN email, then will it just appear in my inbox like any other email?

  • slimeywoodchip on November 12, 2016

    Would the female triceratopses put their lives on the line to save the male? Or would it be like herds today where they would just straight up leave if one of the members were dying?

  • Suchomimus on November 11, 2016

    I have a question pertaining to this. If an adult tyrannosaur were to, say, find a juvenile Anatosaur, could it pick it up in it’s jaws?
    Just a thought.

  • Suchomimus on November 11, 2016

    That is the most Adorable dinosaur I have ever seen. Excellent work.

  • NublarRex on November 11, 2016

    Would you be planning to make more animals playable or is Ankylosaurus and Anzu it.

    • Garrus on November 13, 2016

      Consider playable Denversaurus and the Ornithomimid dead in the water. There is a very, very slim chance we’ll make Anatosaurus playable in the future. But don’t hold your breath.

      • NublarRex on November 14, 2016

        Well ya I keep up the the blog pretty often, I would love playable quetz, mosa, or a crocodilian but I understand if you cannot or will not implement them. I don’t want to make you job harder and will be satisfied with the finished product.

  • Estemmenosuchus on November 11, 2016

    Every time I see anatosaurus from Saurian, I cry… very hard… much salt. Salt very real.

  • FruchtIce on November 11, 2016

    why ist the anato not playable :c

    • Garrus on November 13, 2016

      Because it did not win the vote.

  • Inti on November 11, 2016

    What happens when the leader of a pack dies?

    • NublarRex on November 11, 2016

      Possibly the strongest will fight for control and the winner is the pack leader

      • Inti on November 12, 2016

        But there can only be one male per pack,.. So the females will fight over leadership?

        • NublarRex on November 14, 2016

          Usually in nature the strongest male dominates the herd/pack whatever I doubt the females will have any part in leadership other than mating and caring for young.

  • DiscordRaptor on November 11, 2016

    Is that a grayed-out ‘AI_Montanaspinus’ I see, just below the ‘AI_Trike’ and above the ‘Plants’ in the hierarchy tab?

    • Pryftan213 on November 13, 2016

      Yes, it’s the ornithurine shown in a previous devlog. It’s just an inside joke between the devs.

    • Garrus on November 13, 2016

      Yes. It is the internal codename for the unnamed ornithurine bird.

  • Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus on November 11, 2016

    That frog-scape sounds excellent, and the ai-target mapping makes a lot of sense to me, looking forward to seeing myself sometime 🙂

  • slimeywoodchip on November 11, 2016

    The baby anatosaurus looks like a blueberry :3 Great job!!

  • Falcolf on November 11, 2016

    Ooooh, that would be SO cool, seeing two males fight! I hope the Dakotaraptors will pack together like wolves!

    • Pryftan213 on November 13, 2016

      Dakotaraptor will not hunt in packs in the manner wolves do, as that doesn’t seem to be something that dromaeosaurs (“raptors”) were doing. In fact they seem to have been highly aggressive towards each other, even cannibalistic. This is going to be shown in Saurian, as is Komodo dragon-like mobbing behaviour, as stated in the playable animals section (

    • Garrus on November 13, 2016

      Nope, they won’t. That is a tired and overused trope, and unlikely when we compare living relatives and the fossil evidence. We’re not going down that road. They will be like komodo dragons- solitary, but mobbing up to feed on carcasses or large prey. No real organization besides bigger eats first. And the babies? Pretty much on their own. Better learn to climb fast, because you are on the adults’ menu.

  • Turtledragon on November 11, 2016

    Man that frogscape is incredible, so calming and beautiful. It sounds like something you’d hear out of Spore or the Shelter game series. Awesome job!! And I’m loving those Anatosaurus growth stages. (Why couldn’t we have both Anky AND Anato win? I wish we could’ve played as ALL the candidates… ;-;) Anyway I also am digging that social structure, can’t wait to see it in action when we can play! 😀

  • nonavian on November 11, 2016

    This is so awesome, I can’t wait until they are made to behave like complex animals! So, does this mean that you might witness a trike fight, with them charging into one another and locking horns? How would it work?

    • Garrus on November 13, 2016

      Bit 2Soon2Tell at this point. Also, we’re not going to reveal everything before release. We want there to be some magic and mystery of the unknown while you’re exploring Hell Creek.

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