We have had the honour of talking about Hunting Simulator 2 with Filip Hautekeete, the technical director at Neopica, and Raphaël Isnard, the game's product manager at Nacon.
After the success of the original title, it was only logical for developer Neopica to dip a toe back into the wilderness and take things up a notch.
With a much wider variety of environments, and the instant win of including a dog companion, the second game is clearly shooting (sorry) for bigger and better things.
With such open environments, what's your process for optimising performance for a game of this scale? Is it a case of prioritising certain visual flourishes over others, or is frame rate more important?
We used a procedural approach to generate these large environments. We tried to find a balance between visual quality and frame rate. Overall, it is an iterative and work-intensive process. First, the art team tries to get the visuals and atmosphere right, without compromising on visual fidelity.
In subsequent steps, we create several levels of detail for the vegetation and props. Lower levels of detail are gradually applied for distant elements to improve rendering performance. Then the environments are fine-tuned before being polished manually. In the last iterations, the rendering bottlenecks are identified and optimizations are performed. Here trade-offs are made and visual complexity is reduced to achieve the target framerate. Because Hunting Simulator 2 targets multiple target platforms additional tweaking is performed as a final step.
The dog hunting companions are a fantastic addition. What made you decide on those three specific breeds?
It took a few brainstorming sessions to define the three breeds as beagle, Labrador retriever, and German shorthaired pointer. We wanted to make sure to include dogs that everyone is familiar with but are also known for their hunting skills.
The Labrador retriever is a friendly companion and an excellent working dog because of his will to please. The beagle possesses a great sense of smell and is gifted with superior tracking instincts. Last but not least there is the pointer which is a versatile hunting dog with an iconic point stance. A few other species were on the shortlist and we would have loved to add them to the game too.
What was the driving force behind focusing on a single player experience over co-op support in this sequel?
We wanted to focus on the principal hunting experience. We opted for a slow-paced game where players can explore their surroundings. It takes time and patience to trail prey in real life and we wanted the game to reflect that. Hunting Simulator 2 is not meant to be an arcade-style game where you pick up a gun and shoot anything in sight.
Do you have a roadmap for ongoing DLC support, or is Hunting Simulator 2 designed to be a standalone experience?
The game is not designed to be a standalone experience. In addition to patches with various improvements and bug fixes, new DLC packages will be released in due time. There is no predetermined roadmap as we want to listen to the community and find out what they are looking forward to.
Are there any plans to iterate and expand upon the narrative in future instalments, or does gameplay take precedence?
The main focus will remain gameplay but we may add new themed game modes that offer variations on the existing gameplay to deepen the experience. Some players have indicated they would like to see a mission-based approach, while others would like to see a story mode to increase the immersion. So, to answer the question: yes, there are plans to add new game modes to the current game. And even better, some are already in the development pipeline...
Does Hunting Simulator 2 actually take place on Captain Kirk's family farm in Iowa? And if so, can we go hunting for Klingon Targ's? (question answered by the game’s Product Manager at Nacon, Raphaël Isnard)
There are two questions to answer. First, Iowa is not one of the states we reproduced in-game but you can still enjoy the beautiful nature and the calm in Colorado!
Secondly, Kah’less once said that there is no victory without combat. Even if hunting with a Bat'leth is not allowed in Hunting Simulator 2, all Klingons can enjoy hunting with powder powered rifles. They can find boars in European forests, which are very similar to the Klingon targ.
A big thank you to Filip and Raphaël for taking the time for this interview, and to Jay Tee from thatHITBOX for helping set everything up.