From speedy hedgehogs to barrel-throwing apes, there’s no shortage of playable animal characters when it comes to video games. And while domesticated critters tend to rule the roost when it comes to virtual pets and animal simulators, developers often turn to wilder creatures for other genres.
Some of these titles take a more fantasy-oriented approach, like Ecco the Dolphin or the recent Ape Out, while others like Wolf Quest and Shelter present more realistic depictions of their wild protagonists.
For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed games in which players control wild animals. Here are our top picks!
HUE Lorène, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Monkey's Match (see page 2)
Nathan Gabriel, Game Development Student at PUCPR (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná), BeeThrive (see page 3)
CARLIEZ Camille, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Untitled (see page 4)
Lindsey Ward, Game Design Student at The University of Montevallo, Paratroop Pack (see page 5)
Whitney Thorpe, Game Design Student at The University of Montevallo, Journey to the Herd (see page 6)
HUE Lorène, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Monkey's Match
Monkeys Match is a tiles-matching and real-time puzzle game. Platform : Mobile. Inspirations: Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble, Candy Crush, and the mobile game 10000000.
Synopsis: You play Enos, a chimpanzee separated from his natural habitat and his family to live in a laboratory with many other monkeys. Enos and his three friends escape from their cages, and explore the corridors of the building in order to escape to find their home. However the group will have to sum up obstacles and enemies.
The group is compose to 3 members at the beginning, after that the player recruit his first member to has 4 members.
Each member of the group has an independent health bar.
The group will be confronted with several locked gates separating the parts of the building. Enos will have to solve a puzzle at each of the doors, to open the way.
Fruits: Each puzzle is a match-tiles with 5 different fruits. The player will have to match the identical fruits in order to make fall the key of the door which is hidden in the grid of the puzzle.
Each of the 5 fruits can specifically heal one member of the group of monkeys. Whenever the player matches a combination of fruits, one of the monkeys will regain a few points of life, depending on the number of fruits matched.
Green Apple: Heal the white monkey.
Yellow Banana: Heal the brown monkey.
Red Watermelon: Heal the red monkey.
Purple Graps: Heal the black monkey.
Brown Kiwi: Heal all monkeys.
Score: Match fruit together earns points that add to the score. The more the player matches fruit in one shot, the more points the game gives points. If the player succeeds in making several matches in a short time, he creates combos that earn more points.
Bonus: Special bonuses have effects directly on the fruits or the score. For example, each monkey posses a jauge in his little icon, when the jauge is full, an effect is activate. This effect once destroys all the fruits of the color of the monkey, and adds equal score to the match of all these fruits.
Group: The fighting also takes place in tiles-matching, but in the manner of Yo-Kai Watch.
In a circle are grouped full of small heads with the effigy of the monkeys of the group. The player must connect the heads together to merge them. When he taps on them, they explode and cause damage to enemies.
The more players who put heads together, the more points they will earn, and the more damage they will do to their opponents.
Specials: Each monkey has a special attack that inflicts more damage. This one is activated when the small gauge of the monkey is full, having tapped enough small heads to his effigy.
If a monkey on the team dies, he will not be able to come back to life, no repawn, no KO.
Enemies: Enemies can be scientists or other monkeys. These can inflict damage on monkeys allied to the group.
Score: Match heads together earns points that add to the score.
Game Over: If the entire team or Enos dies, it's game over.
Other: A special bonus comes into play when a match gauge is full. It fills according to the matches made by the player. The bonus temporarily grants more points during each match.
Some enemies are other monkeys. If the player wins a fight against a monkey, he can recruit him to add him to his combat group at the place of a dead member.
Like in Candy Crush or Yo-Kai Watch, characters navigate from puzzle to puzzle aligned on a line, and the player can choose from branch lines. The bottom of the level represents corridors and rooms.
The player can not advance in the puzzles without having solved the previous one.
Nathan Gabriel, Game Development Student at PUCPR (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná), BeeThrive
BeeThrive is a simulation and strategy game where the player controls a beehive.
The objective of the game is to have a huge honeycomb and large population in it. You lose the game when your queen dies and you stay 15 days without a queen, when the honey production ends and there's not enough bees to produce more or when the beehive is destroyed completely.
To guide you honeycomb to success you can:
- Assign bees to work in honey production, pollination, construction, etc.
- Control the population in matter of reproduction (or death) by defining capsules to store larvaes.
- Build more sections of the honeycomb in new places (Those places can be dangerous, colder, etc)
- Control de quality of the honey and its proportion to royal jelly.
- Plan what to do in different seasons, daytimes and when accidents happen (people messing with the comb, diseases, etc)
The game interface allows you to do the above in four panels:
The control panel:
In this section the player will receive the real time information of what is happening or he does in the honeycomb. Here you can control and watch the bees that leave to pollinate flowers and also see if some special event is happening (a bear is attacking the comb/people are trying to mess with it/the bees got a disease).
The comb panel:
Here is the place where the player can control the size and dimensions of the honeycomb, here you can build more parts of the comb, taking care to build it in secure places, away from dangerous conditions and close to the queen (it's good to remember that you have to build more things so you hive can progress).
The Honey production panel:
The players have to produce food to keep the bees and the queen alive, here you can control this process so the honey will no be over or underproduced, you also have to mix the right quantities of enzymes and sugars to make a good and filling honey (and royal jelly)
The Stats panel:
This is the panel where you can look at general information about the bees and the hive, here you can see static information about the comb (the information in the Control panel are dynamic, like a newsfeed).
When you begin the game you can choose the ambient conditions of the place the hive will be built, this helps to control the difficulty of the game, the player can choose the temperature, the population (of other animals), the available space and the disposibility of resources, the player can also choose a random place to begin the honeycomb.
CARLIEZ Camille, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Untitled
My game is a Tactical RPG where Défis Nature meets Heroes of Might and Magic, enhanced by card game deck building with a pixel art Artistic Direction
You play as a lion, the king of animals, who wants to liberate the world from human. You travel from Africa until North America passing threw Europe and Asia recruiting new animals in your crew with their own abilities and statistics.
1) Level selection
The world map is split in several zone, each of them contains levels. Reward are indicated on the current level, it can be new animals for your crew, money or trinkets. Information are also displayed like the difficulty, the type and number of enemies that can be encounter, the ground type (rock field, sea, mountain, tundra...) and the climate.
2) Team composition
Before or after selecting a level, you must create a team of animals. Each animals have basic statistics like their attack range/type, damage, speed, weight, the number of square that they can move on and also their life points.
Each animal got also a passive and an active skills related to their natural competence. For example, Wolves have bonuses when they are close to each other, Honey Badger is immune to poison, Mole dig holes and tunnels on command and Boa Constrictor prevent enemies to move by strangulate them.
The last point is that each animals have the information of their diet (carnivorous, omnivorous, herbivorous) and their living place (mountains, desert, sea, jungle...)
After deploying your team in the level, you face humans enemies or domesticate animals. Depending on where you are in the world you will face different enemies with different equipment and weapon to kill you like spears, poison, rifles, tanks, swords, smoke grenade and more.
In the grid, if you place a carnivorous on an adjacent square than a herbivorous you got an ecosystem bonus because you create a stable ecosystem. The bonus is applied on the attack stat, reduced damage taken and enhanced skills.
The bonus amount depends on the living environment of your units, if they live on the same environment, the bonus will be greater. Placing an omnivorous near to a carnivorous or a herbivorous grants the bonus but less powerful. If a carnivorous is near to two herbivorous the bonus will not apply, it must be balanced. But, you can do a chain alternating carnivorous and herbivorous, the longer the chain is, the better the bonus will be.
You can also push any character one square further if the unit who hit is way heavier than the unit who receive the hit.
Finishing levels gives you money and sometime trinket. With those resources, you can upgrade the Lion by buying skills in the skill tree, granting bonuses for certain animals or type of, increasing ecosystem bonus, reducing climate malus or enhancing your team capacity. Equipping trinkets grant extra bonuses like increasing critical chance.
Lindsey Ward, Game Design Student at The University of Montevallo, Paratroop Pack
You are a wolf, who's been uprooted from your packs usual territory. Humans have caught your pack in a trap of some sort and the next thing you remember is blackness. Brief flashes of being carried onto a metal container, the noise and shaking coming through the haze.
Eventually you awaken on a strange unfamiliar island, cut off from the mainland by a large body of water, you as the Alpha of this pack must ensure their survival. An unfamiliar howl pierces the quiet and you realize that you're going to have to fight for this new territory.
In this game you play as the Alpha of a Grey Wolf pack. It is based around the repopulation efforts of Canadien conservationists who airdropped wolves in to help bolster the native packs and to help control the Moose population.
The gameplay would have elements of a turn based strategy game in that you would have to decide whether to try and take the island for yourself and either incorporate the other wolves living there or become the sole pack. It would also have the survival elements of keeping track of your pack's health, hunger, thirst, age, and population.
Whitney Thorpe, Game Design Student at The University of Montevallo, Journey to the Herd
For this game I am choosing to do an online survival RPG type game. The player will be playing as a baby Elephant who has recently lost its herd and is on an adventure to find them.
Movement is done by using the W, S, A, D keys. The player will start off in the Congo Rainforest with a starting task or hint with regards to the direction of the herd. There will be different check points the player will need to go to in order to get closer to its main destination.
The player will also be in charge of the Elephant's health. For example, if the elephant is hungry it must find plants, small bushes, fruit, or tree bark. Some of this food can be stored in the players inventory for later use.
If the Elephant is fatigued, the player must make the Elephant sleep for at least 20 seconds. The user will be able to talk to diverse animals in the forest to get tasks from and to receive information of the whereabouts of the herd. Some NPC's will tell you the information they know automatically, and other NPC's will have you do a task for them before they tell you any information.
As you travel you must be aware of the certain animal dangers like Lions, Cheetahs, and Hyenas. If you initiate an attack or they choose to attack you, then you must fend them off in order to continue on to your journey. The Attack buttons will be the keys 1-4 on your keyboard.
The ultimate goal of the player is to find the Elephant's herd and they win the game once that is completed.