Pet Spotlight: Wolf

Pet Spotlight: Wolf

These wolves aren’t so much pets as fosters. In an effort to keep the wolf population settled and thriving, without infringing on humans, an educational program takes the pups around to be cared for and made used to humans (as friends, not food) before they are released back into the wild. All paws and curious noses, they get into as much trouble as they get out of. Wolf pups are available in every district, though you’ll have to catch the program as it cycles through, but they cannot be tamed or caught in the wild or purchased in a shop.

Wolf pups take a lot of work, including a specialized diet that would mimic what their mothers would provide for them. Their heightened sense of smell and hearing means they have a high play drive like a puppy… they just aren’t nearly as obedient. They’ll want to examine anything new they encounter. This could be running off at any time or it may mean chewing on something they aren’t supposed to, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on your friend.

The education group fosters pups out for six months. After that, it’s important for the pups to be returned to the group so they can continue with their work to integrate the pup back into a pack and allow it to manage a territory without infringing on farmlands or being threatened by humans. Very rarely, someone will have a pup for longer, but that’s usually because of either a health issue with the pup that is still being treated or because the pup was orphaned and the program is figuring out the best placement.

As cute as they are, it’s important to remember that these are wolves, not dogs, so they are still wild animals. They are meant to be temporary friends at best, but they will teach you so much about the instincts of nature. Oh wait, you’re a cat person instead? No worries, the wolf education program has a sister-program that may be right up your alley.

(AS A NOTE: Ginny and Becca are offering a wolf option to appeal to players in a way that is at least making a nod to the true situations of wolves and wolf-dogs, who are in desperate need of sanctuary as people don’t know how to raise them and many hate them illogically on sight, even when they haven’t done anything to livestock. Wolves have a place in our ecosystems, not in our homes, which is why wolves aren’t a pet you can keep in the game. Exact mechanics are up for debate with a programmer…when we get one.)

Roses, Vineyards, and…River Otters?

Roses, Vineyards, and…River Otters?

So one of the big things that both Ginny and I want to feature in our world is nature for the sake of nature. Almost always, flowers or birds or really any other type of animal is included in a game only if it is tied to a quest. Sometimes they might appear in a cutscene (despite not being in the area normally), but for the most part, aside from pets and mounts, it’s pretty much trees, grass, bushes, and dirt. When we were building Astranar, we came up with other plants and animals besides the horses and pets to see as you are riding around. So when you are riding through a forest path, you’ll see a bird flutter off or see a undergrowth of flowers where logically they would be, rather than just waiting for a quest.

When it comes to the variety, though, and to some things that were created specifically for this country, we wanted to tie them to at least a little bit of a side quest. This way the programmers would get to do something with all of this flora and fauna that was being created, and the player could actually interact with some of it. While pets are great, and we obviously love our mounts, there’s more to the world and the player should get to experience it. As well as learn how things we take for granted either need to change, or are different than media portrays them as.

One of the characters that we hope to introduce you to is the source of the rose species of Astranar, from a creative stand point, because she named all of her horses after the breeds! (Trust me, there was a lot of digging around to figure out how to name her horses and thus the roses.) There’s one of every general color, plus an extra species of white, and they are highly prized in any Astranar noble’s garden. While most roses aren’t hardy enough to survive in the wild, thanks to Astranar’s weather patterns, some vines can escape the towns to try and grow on their own.

Speaking of vines, Astranar vineyards and their rivalry are near-legendary, at least among locals. Each district has their own specialty, and they are the pride of the district. Each year, a bottle of the year’s harvest is given to the royal family to go sit and age in their wine cellar, and then the rest is opened up to the locals…and the collectors. (I’m not saying certain vintages are rare and fought over between one particular baroness and three-quarters of the nobility and upper merchant class types… but yes, yes I am saying it.) They also get downright competitive about whose is really better. Sometimes it’s easier to just nod and walk away…

Farms will have all sorts of livestock, from cows and goats and sheep…to alpacas and black chickens. (We’re weird, you’ll get used to it.) And it isn’t just the mentors and the players that have such variety! Who do you think they bought their animals from? The local farmers and ranchers have a wide variety of animals to pick from for your main character’s farm, and sometimes need help with managing their stocks and crops. They can give helpful recipes or even teach about rare plants or animals that are attracted to them.

But outside of livestock, what other animals are you going to see? Much like in other parts of the world, there are wild cats and wolves that are endangered, and so there are education programs about them. You’ll also hearing some crazy fishing stories around the docks, encounter several types of birds and owls among the trees, and all sorts of creatures. (Though watch out for swans, they are protective and mean as much as they are pretty.) There are deer and big cat sanctuaries in Citrine and Sphalerite, respectively, to offer some specialty homes to a wide variety of species.

There are two animal homes however that are a bit more controversial, so they tend to have quests tied to them as the player explores the areas involved. Sapphire district has a bull fighting arena that is considered traditional, and getting them to consider closing it is going to probably cause a minor war with the older generation. Right now, the younger ones are hoping they can quietly let it die in a decade or two, but some are a lot more impatient and want to carry something out now. Navigating around that landmine may take some serious work for the player…unless they decide to get involved anyway, which could be a new mess.

The second animal home, your main character has less of a choice about getting involved. The mentor of Emerald (again, who I hope to introduce you as we get further along and have artwork) has gotten a bee in her bonnet over the zoo. It is home to several animals, from the old falconry birds and peacocks that the royal family donated to wild animals that were considered endangered, like the river otters…that are nothing like the cute little ones you probably think of. These are giant river otters from Emerald, and they are huge, fierce…and desperately craving watermelon, despite hating the taste. The conditions of the zoo don’t meet her standards at all, and she wants it burned to the ground. But there’s a new director of the zoo who wants to turn the whole thing into a conservation program, he just needs time. Sounds like they need a mediator, and fast!

Okay, anyone who follows the twitter for this game concept (and if you aren’t, why aren’t you, you are missing out!), you know that this is a total bait and switch. So I promise next week I will talk about the Diamond Media Complex and their stars, including a very special rose.