A brief disclaimer of sorts before we get into your questions:
We've received a wealth of feature requests and questions about potential future content, ranging from a dog to new perks, trophy poses, camo, muzzleloaders, blinds, night optics, a multi-save option, waterfowl hunting improvements, baiting stations, and much more. While we share your enthusiasm and ambition for these additions, it's crucial that we stick to our plan and only talk about planned content that we are ready to talk about. Please understand that this is not due to a lack of interest or desire on our part. On the contrary, many of the features you've suggested are already on our own wishlist.
However, our commitment is to stick to the roadmap we've shown a little while ago and keep moving forward one step at a time. This includes delivering two new maps, additional animals, an update to the binoculars, hunting tripod stands, and more. We assure you that these updates are designed to enhance your gaming experience significantly. And as we've done before, we'll talk about content for the future beyond the current roadmap when the time is right and - we know it's frustrating - no sooner.
We're constantly evaluating your feedback and requests to understand better what you need and desire. Our goal is always to deliver the best content possible while being realistic about our production capabilities. We won't make promises we can't keep; ensuring that what we do commit to is delivered with the quality you expect is our top priority.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support. We feel very lucky to have an engaged community of players who constantly ask us curious questions and expect detailed answers. We hear you, and we're excited about the future possibilities for our game.
With all that out of the way, you've been waiting for answers to your questions long enough so let's get into it, in no particular order.
Can you elaborate on the workflow involved in developing animals for players to hunt in the game?
Good question! Here is a simplified order of operation, although many of these steps tend to overlap during production:
1. Designers suggest a long list of animals (typically for a new map),
2. Leads and producers meet to evaluate how difficult each animal would be to produce and weigh that against how important/iconic it is for the map, and how it would fit in the roster. They also make high-level considerations for possible additional work involved such as new trophies, fur, behavior, or animation.
3. Designers do in-depth research on each approved animal and they put together a lot of documentation and references - images, videos, sound recordings, measurements, details on behavior, trophies, and much more.
4. 3D artists create models, animators "rig" those models in order to move limbs and joints, while others set up their internal organs, 3D model trophies and their variations, set up the fur, etc.
5. Designers and engineers set up their behavior (or create new behaviors, such as aggressive charging), damage model, and work them into the animal economy by placing their various need zones around the map and setting up their life cycle.
6. We review and test throughout, and after everything is done.
7. Home stretch means finishing touches - minor physical aspects may still be receiving tweaks, and we complete things such as Encyclopedia info so that we can get everything localized into all the supported languages.
Are there any plans for a dynamic weather or season system, introducing features like snowstorms that transform the landscape temporarily?
Sounds like a massive feature! We totally understand the appeal of dynamic seasons but doing it well would take a lot of resources that could not be spent enhancing the hunting experience.
Why is there no walking speed adjustment, dynamic tracks system, and why are hills transparent to detection?
Current walking speeds are tailored for moment-to-moment gameplay comfort, to balance the time needed to cover longer distances on foot, and to maintain a good flow. We see the feedback and requests from those of you who would prefer different speeds or fully variable speed and we have decided not to do it because we ultimately assigned higher priority to other items and feedback. It is not in our current plans but we will keep it in mind. As for dynamic tracking, not doing it was a collective design decision as we do not find it particularly compelling in gameplay. However, as was evident in the results of a player survey we did a while back, the current track system is not living up to its potential, so we recognize the room for improvement and it's on our minds. To your third point, the terrain is, in fact, designed to serve as an obstruction for animal senses and we have seen player reports that would indicate the contrary. We have been analyzing player feedback to our stealth system since release, making tweaks and fixes over time in direct response, and we'll continue to do so. Thus far, we have not been able to pinpoint a bug that would cause animal senses to disregard terrain and although we'll continue to look for issues, it appears to be rare enough to be very hard to reproduce. We also often find that on-screen information as it is presented to the player can sometimes mislead and lead to incorrect conclusions, so we are considering that as well.
Will we get a lodge DLC anytime soon?
We are not planning that at the moment but we have seen your feedback about wanting more space for taxidermies and we can tell you one thing - the lodge in the soon upcoming DLC map is going to be our biggest yet.
Will there be more adjustments to age cycles or a mode where players spawn into fresh spawns every time, catering to those with limited time for extended play sessions?
We currently do not have any plans to introduce new game modes. However, with the Tikamoon Plains DLC, we did bring in a fresh mode called "Free Hunt" for those who enjoy a more relaxed hunting experience without the constraints of completing the story or having specific locations locked. If you'd like to start with fresh herds every time, you can do so by creating a private lobby in multiplayer, and enjoy it solo.
Are there plans for adding more diverse animals, such as rhinos, cheetahs, elephants, alligators, mountain lions, tigers, leopards, coyotes, panthers, cougars, oxen, and polar bears?
Sorry, we really cannot say. However, we are actively working on introducing new animals with the upcoming DLC maps.
Are there plans to introduce more fur types for animals like bears and wolves?
We've got plans to expand the rare fur options by introducing more albino and melanistic types. Additionally, we're fine-tuning the rareness settings to ensure a more balanced and enjoyable gameplay experience. As for the details on which animals, we're keeping that under wraps for now.
How do animals age? How many hours do you really have to play for an animal to get older?
Animals age 1 year when three in-game days pass. We put safeguards in place to prevent players from just sleeping for several days in a row by setting a minimum of time played per in-game day in order for it to count. Though we understand that us skipping this detail may be frustrating to some of you, confirming the exact amount of time needed to make a day "count" would make it quite easy to "game the system", which, while ultimately up to the discretion of each player, is not something we wish to encourage.
Is the development team considering the addition of a spotting scope with extended range capabilities for players?
Sorry, this is one of the highly requested items that we have decided not to do. We understand why you want a scope with up to 60x magnification but the performance considerations for such a scope are extremely severe. Having large maps and long draw distances is one of our favorite aspects of WOTH but it's simultaneously quite demanding on your hardware. A spotting scope would exacerbate that very significantly if you would look through it at a point that is potentially several kilometers away. You would want to see something far away at a reasonable level of rendering detail, pan around freely, and we would like to give that to you. However, the unfortunate reality is that it would not be possible while using our technology, at a satisfying level of detail, and with no loading screens, without seriously distracting texture pop-in, or other concessions.
Any plans to add more items for the 'gear' slot of the character, and if so, what items are being considered for future additions?
Yes, indeed. We're just putting the finishing touches on the elevated stands, which will soon be filling up those gear slots.
Will we get variable zoom binoculars added to the game?
We've been thinking about it. Never say never!
Will the game consider partnerships with different gun manufacturers like Blaser, Tikka, or Mauser? Is there any possibility of partnering with Česká Zbrojovka for potential in-game content? When is the anticipated release of Weatherby rifles in the game?
We like having firearms and gear from real brands in WOTH and we know that there is a long list of manufacturers that you would like to see added. New partnerships is a constantly ongoing effort for us but we can't overstate how involved and time-consuming of a road it is from establishing a relationship to "sealing the deal", doing all the necessary production and approval work, and shipping new firearms to you - the players. So, will we consider them? Sure. Maybe we already have. But new licensed firearms are definitely not a one-sided decision. :)
Will there be different bullet weights and types introduced in future updates?
In short, yes. We have plans to introduce different ammo types, and while we can't delve into specifics at the moment, we do intend to incorporate varying weights for the upcoming ammunition alternatives.
Are there plans for an expansion set in Australia in the near future?
Typically, we don't unveil details about future DLCs until a short period before release. Stay tuned, as the announcement for our next DLC map is coming soon!
How many new maps could we expect to see in 2024? How many new associated species on them?
We are planning to release two new maps in 2024 and while we cannot discuss any specifics as to their locations or animal rosters, we can say that both maps will have a healthy combination of new and old species.
Have you considered implementing a 40fps mode specifically tailored for 120Hz screens, providing a smoother experience than the current unlocked 60fps option?
We have not but it's a compelling proposition that we may explore in the future.
Could you elaborate on the reasons behind the decision to not implement official mod support in the game?
The primary reason is simple - the time and resources it would take to implement. We view every feature through the lens of opportunity cost. Working on something inevitably means not working on something else and implementing modding support would be quite time-consuming. If we decided on implementing official modding support, it would most certainly be at the expense of some other awesome feature that's already planned.
Is there ongoing work on optimizing the game's performance, as it still faces challenges on mid-range PCs?
Yes, there is ongoing work on optimization. However, we should also concede that you will most likely not see huge performance gains on PC with your existing setup. We will continue to make improvements wherever possible to bring a smoother and more stable experience to all players but there are limits to what we can achieve in that regard. Between the size of our maps (144km2 definitely puts us up there among the largest maps in UE4), the amount of background simulation of all the animal movement or behavior, drawing distance, and much more of what you see or don't see on the screen, WOTH can only run so well on older hardware while staying true to what it is.
Is there consideration for implementing AMD FSR (or Intel Xess) in future updates?
While we don't have plans for it now, we appreciate your suggestion and we'll definitely keep it in mind for the future.
Is it possible to add cross-platform play functionality in the future?
Unfortunately, the game will not offer cross-platform multiplayer.
Will we get proper HDR or auto HDR support?
Right now, it's not something we have on our radar.
Are there plans to fix multiplayer issues in the game?
Yes, we have every intention of making the multiplayer experience as smooth as it can be. We know that it's been bumpy for many players and we apologize for that. But we have been working on fixes and improvements and we were happy to see that things have improved significantly for many of you after the latest update. We are also keenly aware of the fact that our console players have been *very* patient, as some of you have had difficulties getting multiplayer working at all for quite a while now. We're relieved to say that after analyzing save files from those of you who have graciously sent them to us, we have made good progress and we hope to be able to release a fix soon.
Will the lobby size for the Xbox be increased?
No plans for that, unfortunately. Lower memory on the Series S does not allow us to increase player count without a significant rework.
Do you have any plans to upgrade graphics to a higher version of Unreal engine? Maybe to ver 5?
No, we do not. Of course, Unreal Engine 5 is exciting new tech so we have taken a look at it out of sheer curiosity. However, improvements would only be visible if we were to remake or remaster most of the game's assets, which would be a substantial, time-consuming effort likely full of hard-to-predict issues. Although UE5 has some amazing technology, we will definitely be sticking with the more mature, and (to us) reliable UE4 for the foreseeable future.
Could you provide a detailed timeframe for the long-term support of Way of the Hunter, specifying when content creation and support will cease?
At the start, we saw Way of the Hunter as a long-term project, under the condition that players show up, buy our game, and support us over time. It brings us a lot of joy that you did turn up, and that you do keep supporting us. For 2024, we have more to announce in addition to what you already know about from the roadmap, but we will only be able to talk some of these closer to their releases due to ongoing talks with potential partners. So for the mid-term, you can look forward to a nice mix of free and paid content, including a few surprises. As for the longer term, the plans are being outlined, but will always depend on what makes sense at the time. And since details can sometimes change, we'll hold off on the specifics until we are ready.
What are the plans for the implementation of the Brazilian-Portuguese language in the game?
Unfortunately, PT-BR localization is not planned for the foreseeable future.
Can you explain herd management to us?
First of all, what we all refer to as "herd management" would be more accurately called "habitat management" as the habitat (e.g. grassland) of a species (e.g. mule deer) is the driving factor of fitness of deer within it. At the start of a new in-game year, new mule deer will usually spawn in place of those that died in the previous year. The fitness of new spawns is determined by the average fitness of grassland mule deer at the turn of the year. The higher the average fitness, the higher the chance (it's not a sure thing!) that new spawns will have high fitness. It's an abstraction of removing animals from the gene pool so that they cannot reproduce while leaving the remaining animal population to do so. That's why you should target and cull lower-than-average fitness animals if you want to increase the average fitness in the habitat and have a higher chance of high-fitness animals in the following year. Figuring out which animals to cull is a major decision-making part of the gameplay in WOTH but the safest and most common method that our players tend to go for is targeting 1* matures, which most certainly have fairly low fitness. Using low-fitness calls can also help. Field-judging species with antlers based on their size and symmetry relative to their age is another method popular among those who play slowly with little to no help from UI and hunter sense. One point that we would like to drive home is that culling in just one or two herds will have some effect but it will be very slow and may initially produce what will seem like random results. That's because your new spawn is a product of several herds, not just the one you targeted. If you'd like to manage the genetics of your animals effectively, we strongly recommend that you keep track of most, and ideally all, herds of your chosen species within one habitat, and cull in as many as you can. If you do that, it will not take too many in-game years to produce some impressive trophy bucks. There is a lot more detail that we could go into (and we may do so someday) but these two principles will not let you down: 1. take low-fitness animals across the habitat, 2. allow time to pass. Patience is the real key!
How will you balance player expectations and demands with your own road map and intentions for the game if they are not the same? E.g. many requests here for night vision, high-power rifle scopes and spotting scopes, pistols, dogs, and a lot of the paraphernalia from theHunter and COTW. Will popular demand be the deciding factor, and if not, why not?
We are fully aware of all the possible options to enhance a hunting game. Almost every kind of map, animal, firearm, equipment, or feature that would make sense in a hunting game is something that we have discussed internally at one point or another. But at our relatively modest team size of less than 60 people, it's all the more important for us to weigh every decision carefully. We think about how time-consuming it would be to do something (and to do it well), how much it would enhance the gameplay, and how much the community is interested in it. When we see overwhelming demand for something that's relatively quick and easy to do and it's in line with our vision for the game, we try to move quickly if our plans allow it. When we make longer-term plans for bigger features, we look at the list of features that we have always wanted in the game, the list of features that our community is clamoring for, and then see where the two meet. If the resulting items are in our production capabilities, they tend to get a bump in priority. When there is a community-requested feature that goes against our vision (e.g. non-hunting game systems such as survival mechanics, fishing, or hunting approaches that seriously violate ethical methods), we usually make a fairly quick decision not to pursue it. Similarly, if there are serious technical reasons not to do something (e.g. spotting scopes), the final decision is simple to make. As much as we hate disappointing our players, we need to prioritize spending development time on viable features that we are confident will add to the game, and that you will enjoy.
Once again, thank you for the deluge of questions, and sorry to anyone whose inquiry we did not address exhaustively. There will be more opportunities!
We wish you awesome remaining moments of the year and we can't wait to get the ball rolling once we are back from the winter break.
See you soon, hunters!