Action - Hunting

I’ve been working on the specs for hunting for my WIP, and I’d like some feedback. Full simulation is not really a possibility, but that still leaves a lot of options. Hunting is an optional part of the game, and one that I don’t intend to be a main focus of the gameplay - that is, most PCs will hunt occasionally, but it’ll be a relatively small amount.

The front running option A is a menu-driven system - sort of like a CYOA mini-game, where the player is given a couple choices, followed by outcomes and a couple choices. (The major downside is that I have no idea where to even begin programming such a thing, but I’m sure there’s some appropriate extension thing I can muddle in. If anyone knows of one, please give it a shout out.)

Option B would give an update for each segment of time - that is, what does the PC accomplish in an hour? - with an option to continue or quit.

Option C would just spit out a report, ending the expedition after success or a certain period of time has passed.

I have no idea whether people would find combat at the end entertaining or just sort of irritating. I’m not sure that a full-on ATTACK type implementation is worth it, although I’m not adverse to including one. (There could be other uses for such a system.) Another option to spice up the report-based options would be to include some random events - maybe about 20% of the time, the PC encounters some special thing of interest that dumps them out of the cut scene.

I know things can sound boring and be fun and vice versa, but if you were playing an IF with a mini-game of hunting, how would you want it to go?

(If you like things to consider: What options would you be looking for? What bits of awesome would make your day and/or spoil it completely? Is it adequate to auto-select the best weapon you’re carrying, or do you want to be able to HUNT WITH [specific weapon]? HUNT [specific animal]? HUNT [for specific purpose], ie HUNT FOR FOOD/FUR/PREDATORS? HUNT FOR [specific amount of time]? How many turns would you want an action to run? Are there ways to increase interactivity for players that want that while keeping things simple for players that really just want to catch a rabbit for dinner?)

I think I might like something like “Hunter, In Darkness” – ah, I guess I should spoiler-tag this, though I’m not even sure my memories of the game are accurate:

A procedurally generated description of the forest (assuming it’s a forest) with some clues tossed in, at least some of the time, as to which direction to go to catch the prey. The better you follow the clues, the better the outcome is – the quicker you catch it or something. Maybe you could have different appropriate reactions for different kinds of prey; there are some were when you get close you have to hide behind something that’s mentioned in the description, or something.

I suspect that this is more or less exactly what you said wasn’t an option. Otherwise, I guess A? Definitely prefer B to C; the interactivity would be important.

I was just reading about the original Oregon Trail and its hunting minigame–at that stage, the game was text-only and you played on a teletype. To shoot an animal, you typed BANG–the speed and accuracy of your typing determined your success…

Anyway, I like Matt’s idea. Of course, it does sound like a lot more work than any of the originally mentioned options! Also, there are multiple types of hunting: do you set up a blind and wait, lay out traps and bait them, range over the landscape looking for herds, band together with others and drive animals into a net or over a cliff…? The chase scenario described by Matt really covers only one of these options. That may be OK, since it’s also probably the most fun option. But a CYOA might let players try more styles of hunting with less work on your part, and could also be tactical or strategic–e.g., different choices are better at different times of day or in different habitats.

As for option A: How about combining it with Option B, and offering the CYOA alongside the standard command set, rather than in place of it. E.g., when you enter hunting mode, you could open a subsidiary text window with hyperlinked hunting options. If the player clicks on one of these, he goes hunting (for an hour, or whatever), and gets a report–maybe you even give a couple of different randomized reports, separated by keypresses, before ending the segment. But if the player decides to type a standard command at the keyboard, he can do anything else that he wants. (There are any number of possible UIs, of course, you don’t need hyperlinked options or a separate window. The main thing is that the hunting is clearly differentiated from other activity, yet doesn’t pull the player too far away from the standard command line interface.)


I’m not opposed to Matt’s suggestion per se. I’m a little concerned about providing adequate content, though. Do you think it would remain fun after the player had learned the basic clue and play types? I found the appeal of Hunter to lie in figuring out rather than performing the mechanism. (Not that there’s anything particularly exciting about choosing an action from a menu.) I’m sure there’s ways to keep things fresh, but it’s not immediately obvious what those would be. For full implementation, I was thinking more along the lines of constantly tracking herds and groups and things, and placing markers in the normal game world, to be followed up. So, say the game’s resident rabbits visited the pond in the morning; the game would add rabbit tracks that the PC could spot later that day, which might allow the PC to find the rabbits if she followed them, etc. There were going to be dens and territory and all kinds of stuff. Then I started looking at the insane quantities of implementation for what was ultimately a pretty minor feature, had myself a stiff drink, and decided it just wasn’t currently possible with my skill set, and I didn’t want it so badly that I wanted to figure it out. (Worse, the pseudo-prototype was boring.) Some of that could be possible procedurally generated; having it come on player demand means a lot of things can be fudged.

Erik, I like the idea of some sort of differentiation of hunting vs. regular play, and a window would be a neat way of doing that. Out of curiosity, do you know if there’s a way of doing that that makes it appropriate for people who are just using keyboards, such as using tab to switch focal windows?

It’s a good point about types of hunting, and one I haven’t fully figured out yet. Trapping was on my list, but only in a “figure this out!” kind of way.

Ah, Oregon Trail. “Grandma has been bitten by a rattlesnake.” Good times.

One thing you could do is implement it for the first few times, and then after the player had developed sufficient skill – unlocked some sort of achievement – give them the option to automate it. So you could just type “Hunt for x” and it’d give you a report “You hunted for this long and this happened.”

I think most if not all interpreters use tab to move focus between windows. I’m not sure whether any interpreters let you move between hyperlinks within a window using the keyboard. Of course, you could use keypress input in the subsidiary window for CYOA menu items instead of/in addition to hyperlinks.


I’ve thought about including hunting in a game, but I have to say I haven’t come up with very much.

I would like share my inspirations, though, maybe they’ll give you some ideas:

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan - there’s a very interesting discussion of the hunter’s state of mind. It made me think that there might be something you could do in the game to increase your focus and improve your chance of success.

“Born to Run” by Chris McDougall - He describes how to succeed at “persistence hunting” - literally running an animal to death. He says it’s tricky and takes teamwork - you have to keep the animal separated from the herd.

If hunting isn’t the main focus of the game, keeping it simple sounds like a good idea. You didn’t give much information about the rest of the game, but I would imagine that it would make a big difference on what sort of implementation would fit in.

Thanks, capmikee. I’ll add those to the pot. I’ve been doing a fair amount with physical states, but hadn’t considered emotional ones. Is Born to Run the book by the guy who went down to Mexico to run down deer with the native tribes there? I think I read that one years ago.

More or less. The Tarahumara of Mexico’s Copper Canyon have only run down deer in legends. But the Kalahari Bushmen still do it.