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Yellowstone wolves must know a lot of things to survive, but perhaps the most important is: Where are the elk?

Unlike the elk currently in WolfQuest, elk in Yellowstone wander through the wilderness, always looking for good grass to graze on. Finding — and keeping track of — a herd is always a top priority for a wolf.

To make the game match this reality, we are designing a new animal roaming system. Elk will no longer be confined to a small “elk hunting ground” where you can always reliably find a herd. Instead, elk will be wherever elk might realistically be — which usually means where there’s good grass to eat, often roaming from one tasty spot to the next, which makes them a moving target for predators.

Along with the new scent system that I wrote about in an earlier post, we think that this new roaming system will transform the player’s experience. Finding a herd — and keeping track of its location — will be a constant need. In games without pups, players can simply follow the herd to keep an eye on it, but once pups arrive, you’ll have to use all your wits and senses to know where to find food.

This video gives you a peek at the new system, which uses a color-coded habitat map to mark ideal grazing areas along with tolerable and forbidden areas (such as steep slopes and cliffs). Elk herds will wander as they eat, always looking for good grazing areas and avoiding forbidden areas. And we’ll soon be extending this system to stranger wolf packs and all the other animals in the game, so all the denizens of the game will move about the game-world more naturalistically.

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