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The strength of the wolf is the pack — but a nice big chunk of territory helps too. When designing the original game, we intentionally made the player’s territory quite small, because we worried that the tedium of maintaining a large territory would discourage people from playing the game. In the years since then, we’ve (hopefully) learned a bit more about gameplay design, and we’ve also learned how devoted players can be to WolfQuest. So in WolfQuest 3, we’re amping up the territories.

But how, exactly? We had long discussions about accuracy, complexity, usability, and fun. We definitely wanted to model the dynamic nature of wolf territories — they change over time as packs grow and shrink, expand and contract. (This will be especially important in Tower Fall, when we add pack vs. pack.) We also want to vary the territory configurations, so it’s not always the same each time you play the game. So, taking a cue from how strategy games handle territory, we’ve created a hex-grid system which covers the entire map, with most if not all hexes being claimed by a wolf pack. Wolves (both players and NPCs) must maintain their territory by visiting, marking, and howling. The opacity of each hex tile indicates the territory strength. With this system, the world is divided into small chunks of turf, and ownership of each one depends on the pack’s effort. The weaker their claim, the more likely another pack will try to take it over.

As a lone dispersal wolf in Amethyst, you’ll have only a small area of unclaimed turf which you can explore safely. But unlike in WQ 2.7, you’ll be able to venture into stranger wolf territories — at your own risk. While you can minimize the risk by paying attention to their scent markings, you never know when you’ll encounter strangers, who won’t look kindly on your intrusion. Yet entering stranger pack territory will often be necessary in order to find a mate, who might be a dispersal or might be part of another pack but open to persuasion to leave it and start a new pack with you.Then, once you reach Slough Creek, you’ll have to establish and maintain your own territory, with all the trade-offs of size vs security that come with real territory management.

We still worry that these territories will be too big and sprawling for players to happily maintain and we expect to tweak and tune them once we get into playtesting. We also may tweak the visual style of these hexes. But we do believe that this new territory system will change the game experience in exciting ways — even in simple setups like Amethyst, but especially as we look ahead to subsequent episodes.

One note about the map: It’s rotated 90 degrees so north is to the right. Got to fix that.

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