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Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed the wolf’s bright pink eyes in last week’s video. That’s because the eye shader broke when we upgraded the game project to the latest version of Unity. But now we’ve got another eye shader, and it not only looks as good as the old one, but instead of requiring premade textures, it lets us give players control over eye color, choosing from a gradient just like the coat tint!

That gradient covers the range of accurate eye colors in wild wolves, from gray to yellow (with the palest of yellow-green) to gold to brown. Now, we know that many players would love to give their wolves blue or green eyes (or even purple or red), so why don’t we allow that?

To answer that, let me digress: Recently I read "Blood, Sweat, and Pixels," a thoroughly entertaining book by Jason Schreier which examines the development of ten recent videogames. Perhaps my perspective is biased, but I couldn’t help noticing that every single one of those games, whether made by a single person or a team of hundreds, took longer to develop than expected. (The solo developer of Stardew Valley thought it would be done “in a few months.” — and kept thinking this for four years.) So that made me feel a little better about the pace of our development of WolfQuest 3.

Something else that stuck with me was one chapter which talked about the game’s “pillars” — a game-dev term for the foundations, the core characteristics of the game that will create a unique experience for the player. I’ve been living and breathing WolfQuest for so long that it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone knows what the game’s pillars are. I think they truly are captured by our tagline: Live the live of a wild wolf. That is, WolfQuest should:

• Encourage players to think like a wolf: Through gameplay choices and actions, players will succeed by thinking and acting as wolves do. This is especially relevant in multiplayer, where we want to create situations and incentives that help players act and react as real wolves would. • Immerse players in a real wilderness ecosystem: Players inhabit environments based on actual Yellowstone locations, populated with realistic animals behaving in realistic ways, both wonderful and mundane. • Make errors of omission not commission: We can never create a fully accurate model of wolf ecology (for both budget and gameplay constraints), so the game is certainly a greatly simplified version of reality — but we very much want to avoid creating false impressions of wolf life.

So back to the question: why won’t we allow blue or green? While unrealistic eye colors are a relatively minor transgression against these pillars, they would be fantastical. Most games involve fantasy elements of some kind — and that’s truly is one of the great things that games can do. But we think WolfQuest should offer a different kind of fantasy: the chance to experience life as another animal — a real animal, in the real world. When we started this project way back in 2005, we did not know if there was an audience for such a game. The fact that we’re still here, working on WolfQuest 3, proves that there is (much to our surprise — if you haven’t watched our documentary about making the original game, check it out in our Wildest Dreams playlist here on YouTube.)

So while we recognize that many people enjoy injecting their own fantastical scenarios into the game (just look at the incredible range of game names in the multiplayer lobby), we passionately believe that we should keep the game itself as realistic as we can. Whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea is in the eye of the beholder.

So despite some requests, WolfQuest wolves will NOT have: • Blue eyes for adult wolves. Pups have gray-blue eyes that turn to gold-brown in the summer. • Red eyes which would be caused by albinism because there has never been a reported case of a true albino wolf. • Heterochromia (two different eye colors) because that condition does not occur in gray wolves.

But back to the cool part: When you are customizing your wolf in WolfQuest 3: Anniversary Edition, you will get to use a gradient tool to get the exact (realistic) wolf eye color that you like! And as we’ve mentioned before, you can have multiple body customizations (e.g. bent ear + radio collar). We won’t be adding new coat colors for the initial release of WQ 3 but you will still have tint control. Stay tuned for more about wolf customization features.

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