Wildlife-Themed Game: Interest Check and Questions


#1

So lately, I have been watching Big Cat Diary and other old Animal Planet shows, and I was thinking about making a game about the life of a wild animal. I want it to be both entertaining and educational. This is just a side project, and I don’t want to stress out about it too much, so it will be short and simple. If a miracle happens and I actually manage to finish and publish it, I will probably make it available for free since it won’t be long enough to justify charging people for it.

Before I start writing, however, I have a few questions…

  1. Would anyone be interested in playing such a game?
  2. Should I include spoken dialogue? That would obviously be unrealistic, but I’m concerned that the story would be too dry without it. If I do not use traditional dialogue, I will instead describe the ways that animals communicate and use that in place of spoken lines.
  3. Are there any animals you would prefer to see? I want the game to be about a social animal, since that will provide more drama. It can be either a predator, prey, or scavenger. I originally envisioned this as a game about lions, but I am also considering wolves, hyenas, wild horses, dolphins, birds, and other creatures.

Anddddd if you have anything else to say, feel free to say it. :slight_smile:


WiP Idea: "Snake in the Grass" (MC is a snake)
#2

I’d enjoy a game of this nature. Others have done games like this for Wolves and migrating birds.

The wolf game involved no talking, only making survival choices, like leaving your pups alone for 10 hours to go farther in your hunt to bring them food…

A true book you might want to base your game off of is Watership Down… I love that story for multiple reasons. The animals in that story talked.


#3

I’d be interested in not only playing it, but playing it with curious children who want to learn about wildlife.

I’d prefer describing the way that animals think and communicate, rather than actual dialogue. I picture a very different perspective that way, one which might be much deeper (in this instance) and very imaginative than using human language paradigms.

Any animal would interest me, although I’m personally fond of dolphins (and there’s a lot of research done on their communication which is easy enough to access)…although my favourite are bats. So fascinating.

On the other hand, there is a reason that books about horses have always done exceptionally well, and of course there are entire series about horses. Those usually involve humans as well, but still.

So yes, I think it sounds intriguing and I’d be very interested, especially if it’s well-grounded in research.


#4

Sounds like it could be interesting; I’d second @Zolataya’s recommendation for Watership Down, which manages to give its protagonists a suitably “animal”, and somewhat alien, way of looking at the world (like when they find their new home, and then remember that they forgot to bring any females).


#5

I’ve heard of that one. I think the same guy wrote Plague Dogs. I’ll look into it. :slight_smile: Also, if you like Watership Down, I would recommend you watch Felidae.

I think interactive fiction has great potential for educational children’s games, and it makes me sad to see that potential unused. However, I’m not sure how child-friendly this particular game would be. Nature is pretty cruel. Personally, I’m ok with letting kids watch violence in nature (it’s more child-friendly than Grand Theft Auto), but I know some people are not.

I love dolphins, too. :dolphin: I read an article about how they actually have “names” for each other and how complex their language actually is.

Haha you know, I read an article the other day abput scientists trying to figure out whether animals understand that sex makes babies.


#6

I absolutely loved those sorts of books when I was younger. Watership Down, White Fang and Call of the Wild, The Incredible Journey, so much stories by Colin Dann, and a huge list of other books beyond that.

I liked the stories where the animals acted like animals, for the most part, and not so much the ones where they wore clothes and such like. (And I had a strong dislike of Tarka the Otter I found utterly unreadable, despite reading almost everything in the house.)

  1. Yes

  2. It’s up to you. How strong is your descriptive abilities? I loved Watership Down which had spoken dialogue. I could enjoy a story without though.

  3. I think the most important thing is to write a game about an animal you’re passionate about, that you love, that you find utterly fascinating and want to write about. But which also you have plenty of resources to do your research on. I think that would make a really vivid story. If you just write about what someone suggests it might not be as good.

So I’ll turn the question on you. Which animals do you like best?

I’ve already read on wikipedia that Watership Down’s “descriptions of wild rabbit behaviour were based on The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964), by British naturalist Ronald Lockley.” So you might find it useful to do some non-fiction reading and documentary watching.


#7

I love the concept! Other than Choice of Dragon there isn’t any animal choice games (as far as I know of) and since I love being animals that are ruled by instinct instead of morals and such, this definitely caught my attention.

However a couple of question:

How many animals do you plan on making?

Will it be based in the sky (birds) or the ground or the sea or will you include choice for all 3?

Will there be interspecies interaction other than prey and predators? (I’d seen a documentary where a mongoose acts as a bodyguard for meerkats, I think, against snakes)

That’s it for now. Really hope you make this!


#8

I’d say best to be one species and focus on it with a really narrow view. Think about antagonists, and other troubles the animals could have, and some goals they’d have.

It’d seem to make sense start as a young animal with your family. Then TRAGEDY STRIKES!!! Or perhaps you’re just kicked out. Try and make it on your own, undergoing the trials that a member of your animal species would undergo on their own. Find a mate, make a family/pack, work on protecting said family/pack, perhaps be forced to move territory because of some natural or man-made disaster. Worry about the scarcity of food and needing to compete with others for it. Decide whether you’re going to protect the weak members of your pack or just leave them to die.

And ideally grow old and die with your legacy left behind.

Incidentally here’s a Homosexuality In Animals documentary that I was watching last week. https://youtu.be/oYdcvRe7ox8

I thought that Meerkats were perfectly capable of dealing with snakes on their own.

I used to really enjoy the Meerkat programmes. (Actually a lot of David Attenburgh’s shows. He’s so good.)


#9

With the track record animal researchers have had maybe trying to be educational about it might not be the best idea.

Well knowledge on what an animal body can do is probably safe territory.


#10

I’d like to see games like this. One of my WIP’s sitting on my computer partially written is coming at it from a different angle but involves playing different types of animals in day to day survival situations. I was hoping to make something entertaining but still lightly educational I guess. Yeah I’d say go for it- something like big cat diary could work well :slight_smile:

(By the way Watership down scarred me as a child. (I think it got put into the “it’s a kids movie” category due to being a cartoon.) I’ve seen the intro of plague dogs but no way I’d watch it, looks seriously messed up! (Yes it is written by the same person). Runs away)


#11

This sounds like it’d be really interesting. Not sure what animal would be best for it but as long as you know a decent amount about them and feel a connection with them then it should end up great :smile:


#12

I’m interested. And to the books recommended so far, I can add Duncton Wood and its sequels – doorstop books about the lives of British moles, like Watership Down in terms of giving the animals a language, history and mythology, but the Duncton blend of pagan, Buddhist, and Christian mysticism is (for my money) even more fascinating than Frith, Inle, and El-Ahraihrah.


#13

It might not be meerkats and be some other forms of rodents living underground. But the documentary said how the mongoose have some immunities against snake poison and the other rodents don’t which is why the mongoose is the resident snake wrangler.
I agree that narrowing the scope is important but I’m afraid that will lead to no choice in selecting the animal we want to be. Maybe just giving an option between a predator animal and prey animal would be nice? Because if it is just about one animal, that animal have to be astoudingly awesome to attract and keep readers engage.


#14

Well, this is interesting. I hope that you can be a wolf because it’s my favourite animal, but I have to recomend the hyena, they have a unexpected social life very diferent of the popular telling of the bad of the savana, they are very careful with their pups and have a great social organitzation more “ethical” to our standards than the lions. Sorry for my english, it’s not my original lenguage.


#15

animal themed books can go two ways in my opinion.

  1. they can go really well and turn into a great novel.
  2. They can not come out as expected meaning that it will not be seen as an “ideal” animal book (but I highly doubt that it can become like that depending on the persons writing.)
    but anyway I would LOVE to see more animal base books but like I said before it would depend on the writing :smile:.

#16

Gods, please make a wildlife-themed game. I remember reading the Warriors series as a child, and those books were honestly my obsession. Seeing the world from another species’ viewpoint is really quite interesting, especially their perception of things that seem mundane in our lives (i.e cars, clothing). If you decide to make this game, I advise doing it over a species that you’re comfortable with. You’re probably going to need to do some research regardless, but if you’re more knowledgable on platypuses than panthers, then go for the former. Writing about something you’re confident in will make your story that much more eloquent. As a last word of advice, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and have fun writing ^^


#17

An animal based game DOES sound interesting, though whether it’s within my tastes or not is a whole other story.

Still, you could do a lot of things with wildlife, depending on how you stretch the definitions. The way I see it, you could either make a game that has the suspension of disbelief like The Lion King does, or something on an instinctual level: find food, stay away from predators (if applicable), ensure that my offspring survive (or just jave as many of them survive as possible, for some animals). Even if you don’t include spoken dialogue, you can still give hints.

(You look at your little offspring, and it seems to be nudging you for something. What do you think it wants?)

(Food!)

All-in-all, there are pieces that are there if you do go through with this, and your taking it casually could be helpful too, as there are some WIPs that have been put on hiatus due to the authors not having the time to work on them.


#18

@Jacic
Watership Down is a children’s movie, based on a children’s book. Admittedly it’s probably for older children, but it’s still definitely for them.

The Animals of Farthing (oops almost missed that h) Wood was a tv show for children here too, and it’s much along the same lines in regards to the amount of deaths. Here’s a supercut of all the death scenes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pypyDDPmIQ

@Amrel_Archer

I think there should be no choice of animal. That the choice is in whether to play the game or not. In Choice of the Dragon you can’t choose to play a unicorn after all, and in most games you can’t choose not to be human. I think in this sort of game you need the very narrow focus, otherwise you risk the game being too generic and you end up writing far too much differentiating between the various possible species, instead of focusing on the story.


#19

I’d stay with one animal; convincing world-building for it will be complicated as it is. If everything goes well and you decide you want to add a sequel or more such stories to your writing, you can then do stories from another animal’s perspective and once your experience and skills justify a more complex project, then and only then would I recommend multiple animal species.


#20

I like games from an animal perspective. There are many documentary style animal shows like Meerkat Manor, Big Cat Diary, and Orangutan Island. The animals don’t speak, but the narrator informs the watchers on what’s happening and the different relationships. I think a game could be great with or without dialogue because animals must communicate in some way if they all work, eat, hunt, and travel in a group. I do think that the choices should be detailed so maybe put greet the new dog instead of just sniff its but as a choice so the player knows what each action means.

Any animal would be fine.