We recently let you know about a new title, The Hunter, in which you are placed in one of the most authentic scenarios to bag yourself a buck. A deer, that is.
Due to the overwhelming response to our article, we’ve lobbed a few questions over to the developers at Avalanche Studios and Emote Games who were gracious enough to let us delve a little deeper into how the game was conceived.
Read the full Q&A, exclusive to Gamer Limit, after the jump!
Gamer Limit: First of all, thank you for talking to us about TheHunter. Could you please introduce yourself and what you do for the company?
DA: My name is Doru Apreotesei. I work as Lead Game Designer for Avalanche Studios. My job consists of shaping and communicating the vision of theHunter to the team, and to assist them in making the best hunting game ever.
DS: I’m Dan Seamans, Producer at Emote Games. I manage the development team, working with our designers, artists and coders to shape and create theHunter.
GL: Please tell us about your respective studios.
DA: Avalanche Studios is a privately owned developer specializing in massive open worlds and original IP. Apart from theHunter, Avalanche Studios has made Just Cause and is currently working on the sequel, Just Cause 2.
DS: Emote Games was founded in 2006 by former Directors of iFone and Eidos, formed to combine social gaming, online delivery and the highest production values. theHunter is Emote Games first game, but the team comprises many years of industry experience.
GL: What made you guys decide to create a game like this one?
DA: Avalanche Studios had wanted to make a hunting game for a long time, in part because our engine is so good at rendering environments where people would want to hunt. So when our partner Emote Games suggested that we made a realistic hunting game with high production values together, we were thrilled. It felt like a perfect fit for us.
DS: Absolutely, putting the expertise of both teams together has really paid dividends. An amazing hunting environment combined with a social network on which to share hunting stories, make friends, upload pictures and much more. And as an online title we continue to develop and update it.
GL: What propelled you to choose a free-to-play system over a traditional pay-to-play system?
DS: The expectations of players have changed rapidly over recent years but so have the opportunities to reach those players, and both of those are critical to our decision-making. Players expect high quality and great value so the challenge for us is delivering that and, given the financial climate, doing so in such a way that we don’t risk everything on one title.
As such theHunter is about options. The free to play experience is really cool and is already being enjoyed by thousands of players, but a player can choose to enhance the experience by becoming a member. Additionally both members and free players will soon be able to take advantage of the item store we’re working on. This will feature firearms, licenses and much more so the overall game experience becomes quite personalised. You can choose what to hunt and how you want to hunt it.
GL:How have you managed to fit such a full featured graphics set into such a small package?
DA: No magician worth his salt would ever explain how his magic works. But it’s one of those things where, if we’d tell you, you’d go “oh, of course, I could’ve thought of that”.
GL: And to follow on, is the engine an in-house development, if so what difficulties did you have developing the engine?
DA: The engine we are using is our own in-house Avalanche Engine 2.0. We use the same engine to power Just Cause 2, and as such we’ve been in a good position to make theHunter a true AAA title. That said, we’ve had a few challenges along the way, including making the game look as good as it possibly can even on less competent computers. We feel like we’ve struck a good balance between quality and performance.
GL: What research or observations did you do to emulate such an authentic hunting environment?
DS: Attention to detail on all aspects of hunting was and is paramount to everything the team does. From day one we’ve had input from real-life hunters on everything from animal behaviour to the ethics of hunting. The result is that from the moment you log in theHunter breathes believability.
DA: A lot of time has been spent trying to emulate the whole of the experience of hunting. No aspect was deemed unimportant, and although our animals are the stars of the show, the environment and ambiance was important as well. Most of the time, the player will be out looking for the animals, and because of the low-paced, dynamic experience, it was imperative that the player truly felt “inside” the game world. We feel that we’ve done a better job with this than any other hunting game. I mean, how many hunting game developers strap microphones to their sound director and have him run around in the woods to capture ambient clothing and vegetation sounds?
GL: How did you develop the AI that allows the animals to react to your movements or actions?
DA: We felt early on that not only did the AI have to be advanced, and have distinct senses such as smell, hearing and vision, but it also needed to be visibly sophisticated. It was and remains important that players understand just how clever the AI is and that they understand that their different senses are in effect. So we’ve spent a lot of time animating proper reactions to certain stimuli; animals will make it apparent whether they are seeing, hearing or smelling you and that helps in creating immersion.
GL: You mentioned future advancements down the track. What MMO-type elements are you planning on adding to the game?
DA: A lot of this stuff is in development and as such we’re reluctant to say too much about it. Nobody who already likes the game needs to fear disappointment however. We feel like we’ve set a high level of quality, and we mean to stick to it.
DS: We ensure the community is kept up to speed on the most imminent features via www.thehunter.com. Right now we’re focused on our next content release which delivers, amongst other things, the much anticipated Roosevelt Elk. However the plans stretch far ahead and fans of theHunter definitely have a lot to look forward to.
GL: Will people who purchase a subscription get a significant advantage overthose who do not?
DS: Not an advantage, but they do get an even richer hunting experience. Becoming a member is an option that will suit some players as it provides additional firearms alongside licenses to hunt more animal species. Members also have missions to go with those additional animals. However if you choose to play for free you can still go out and hunt in the same amazing environment, and you still get all the same functionality within the social network, posting your scores on the leaderboards, writing journal entries, uploading pictures of your hunt and so on. Either way is cool, you just pick the option that’s right for you.
GL: What do you think is in line for your next project?
DA: Our teams’ next project is the new and even better update for theHunter. The game is updated continuously, and there’s always something new around the corner for fans and new players alike. We plan to keep improving the game as long as people keep playing it.
DS: We’re committed to theHunter with many great enhancements planned for the coming months. Emote Games has several other irons in the fire, but that’s all very ‘hush hush’ right now.
GL: And lastly, any plans for melee combat?
DA: It’s already in, didn’t you notice? You need to get really close though, when they’re sleeping, and then perform the special choke-hold move by pressing alt+f4.
DS: Deer Wrestling Online? Hmm, I’ll have to think about that one.
Many thanks to Emma, Doru and Dan, along with the teams at Avalanche and Emote for their time and great insight into TheHunter. You can jump straight into the hunt here, plus stay tuned for our review over the coming weeks.