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Video Game / Saurian

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Lunch on the Beach by Chris Masna

Saurian is a dinosaur-themed simulation game taking place in the Hell Creek formation, located in what is now South Dakota, during the Late Cretaceous.

Upon full release you can play as either Dakotaraptor note , Triceratopsnote , Tyrannosaurus rex, Pachycephalosaurus, Anzu, or Ankylosaurus note  as you grow from hatchling to adult, looking for food and avoiding predators.

The game aims to be as accurate and up to date as possible, doing its best to debunk many dinosaur stereotypes.

The game's Facebook page can be found here, their Twitter page can be found here, their tumblr here, and their YouTube channel here. The (successful) Kickstarter page can be found here

The game went into Early Access on Steam on August 2nd, 2017. The pre-release demo was released for backers only on June 8th. There are presently no plans to port it to consoles.

Saurian provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The player's parents often end up killing their offspring, usually by accident, but other times not.
  • After the End: There will be a Post-Impact Survival mode separate from the main game that has your dinosaur attempt to survive the aftermath of the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub meteor impact.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It’s quite sad to find a dead Mosasaurus washed up on the beach, the biggest and most powerful predator of the ocean, now reduced to a lifeless carcass on the shore. Unless you’re a hungry carnivore…
  • Always a Bigger Fish: It doesn't matter if you're even a massive T. rex, trying to go up against an underwater apex predator like the Mosasaurus in its natural territory ends predictably...
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Some dinosaurs have notably colorful scales or plumage. The yellow spots and white-and-red striped crest of Triceratops, the bright blue and aquamarine feathers of the male Anzu, and the rainbow of colors on the head and neck of "Anatosaurus" (a.k.a Edmontosaurus annectens) stand out most in this regard.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: With the exception of the horseshoe crab Casterolimulus and the most recent T. rex design, all of the animals lack a cloaca/anus/genitals in cases where they'd be visible in real life.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: When near prey, a carnivorous dinosaur's head will point in the direction of the prey item, even if the player cannot see the animal. This is very useful during the hatchling phase, where your primary food sources are easily hidden in the underbrush.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • In general the creatures of Hell Creek are programmed to act like actual animals.
    • In combat, animals aim for specific body parts like the player can.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Dakotaraptor parents are common sources of food for hatchlings because more often than not, the Dakotaraptor will find a Pachycephalosaurus or Borealosuchus, attempt to bite it to death (where biting is far, far less effective than Raptor Prey Restraint), and get headbutted or bitten to death in return.
    • Early access pathfinding bugs are to be expected, leading to Dakotaraptor and Acheroraptor swimming around in a pond, trying to catch a fish that can't be caught (as the two raptors can't attack while in water), or Triceratops and T. rex standing still as they try to decide if they should charge the player, or keep going on their merry way.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: For the most part, the developers strive to avoid this, though this hasn't stopped speculative (if not necessarily inaccurate) attributes being given to some of the game's animals. For example:
    • Anzu will have the ability to mimic other dinosaur calls to lure prey or ward off predators despite no such evidence for voice mimicry.
    • The T. rex designs go back and fourth between "fully feathered" and "scaly" as paleontology trends argue over whether or not T. rex was fully feathered, partially feathered, or fully scalynote .
    • Anatosaurus/Edmontosaurus annectens has webbing between the ridges along its back, when these were separate structures.
    • Champsosaurus is depicted with ridges and no webbed feet. This partly based on Lazarussuchus'... a much smaller and "basal" choristodere. The actual animal was specialised to a fully aquatic lifestyle and other derived choristoderes have small, non-overlapping scales.
    • Didelphodon is mostly accurate, but is portrayed a terrestrial predator when in reality it ranks among semi-aquatic mammals.
  • Ass-Kicking Pose: You can perform threat displays at other creatures. How effective (and intimidating) they are depends on your age; hatchlings will look adorable when doing a threat display, but an adult's attempts will actually be menacing.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Albinism will be one of the available genetic variant skins, and while an albino Tyrannosaurus does look really cool, it will also make it harder to camouflage, and thus harder to catch prey and avoid predators.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • Again, within the limits of predators being big bads, Acheroraptor, Quetzalcoatlus, Palaeosaniwa, Didelphodon, Brachychampsa, Thoracosaurus, and Borealosuchus will all separately be among the most serious threats in the hatchling stage of the game, seeing as all of them are baby eaters.
    • During the late stages of life, Tyrannosaurus is the primary threat to the player, assuming you aren't playing as one.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Ankylosaurus' primary means of defense, besides its thick armored plating.
  • Border Patrol: Mosasaurus operates as this, patrolling the deep ocean for prey stupid enough to wander into its underwater domain. It's quite similar to the Ghost Leviathan from Subnautica, being an independent creature that spawns in a certain area if the player goes too deep into the ocean.
  • Butt-Monkey: Chamops, the "DePalma's ornithuran", and Didelphodon are the main source of food for young carnivores and are quite literally at the bottom of the food chain, being snacked on by all other carnivores.
  • Continuing is Painful: If you die in Realistic mode, you have to start the game over as a hatchling. This may also happen in Casual and Normal modes if you somehow don't save the game (specifically if you die before sleeping or reaching the next growth stage in a single session).
  • Character Customization: Aside from the default coloration, you can [once implemented] give your dinosaur an albino, melanistic (all black) or piebald (normal with random patches lacking coloration) coloration, each with their own unique effects on gameplay. Your dinosaur can also have wholly cosmetic features such as different body morphs, birth marks, and hues, albeit within realistic parameters. On top of this, a handful of Kickstarter backers (who donated a certain amount) will get unique self-designed skins to use in their own game for the playable species of their choice.
  • Cosmetic Award: Because this is a Steam game, there is an Achievement System. However, none of these achievements are listed in-game for the player to see and by themselves are irrelevant to actual gameplay, mostly documenting basic first-time accomplishments (like eating or reaching a certain age) or more specific non-essential tasks like reaching a specific location on the map or successfully killing a unusual prey item.
  • Doomed Protagonist: Your dinosaur in the Post-Impact Survival mode of the game (at least according to Word of God). Sure, you can try to keep it alive for as long as possible, but in the end it's just as screwed as every other non-avian dinosaur left in Hell Creek.
  • Eats Babies:
    • Among the non-player species, Acheroraptor, Quetzalcoatlus, Borealosuchus, Didelphodon, Brachychampsa, Thoracosaurus and Palaeosaniwa will all be major threats during the hatchling stage. There's also the egg-eating Anzu.
    • Assuming they live long enough to reach their adolescent stage, players who choose T. rex, Dakotaraptor or Anzu will also have the opportunity to consume hatchlings themselves. The devs have even recommended players do this, since it will be one way to keep potential rivals from growing big enough to compete with you later on.
  • Early Game Hell: As a hatchling you are small and vulnerable, and all the predators (including your own kind if you're a predator) will be taking advantage of this. Compounding this is the fact that, as a hatchling carnivore, the only animals you can eat are small lizards, birds, fish, and mammals, while quite literally everything else can kill you in one hit. That being said, the Early Game Hell for hatchling carnivores has gradually been downplayed due to the introduction of various small creatures to eat, in particular Didelphodon (which, for reference, is not only small enough to eat but pathetically slow, meaning you can easily run it down and kill it).
  • Education Mama: Downplayed, as whilst the player's parents do try to impart basic survival strategies to their young, they do a poor job at it, and they're far more concerned with their own interests.
  • Edutainment Game: If you didn't know much about dinosaurs before playing this game, you will afterwards.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Word of God has confirmed that the Post-Impact Survival mode will still end in the player character's death.
  • Feathered Fiend: Acheroraptor, Dakotaraptor and Anzu. All feathered, all predatory and all dangerous at some stage or another of your life cycle.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The end result of the extinction event, which is the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Dakotaraptor and Ankylosaurus all start out as adorable hatchlings, before each growing up to be quite formidable.
  • Giant Flyer: Quetzalcoatlus, though the species featured in Saurian is a good deal less big then it's more famous cousin. It's still really big, and very terrifying.
  • Grapple Move: Once they becomes juveniles,Dakotaraptor can use raptor prey restraint by jumping on enemies. This causes them to latch onto the prey animal, letting them attack it without fear of retaliation. However, you need to keep flapping to stay on, otherwise you will be thrown off.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • Think feathers make T. rex less scary? Think again.
    • The Dakotaraptor noises are also rather eerie.
    • The sounds made by Quetzalcoatlus combine the deep growling of ratite bird with a stork like squawking noise. The result is rather frightening.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Subverted or wholly averted entirely, depending on the species. All herbivorous dinosaurs will fight back if they are attacked by predators up to a similar size as themselves, with Pachycephalosaurus being the standout example in that it actively attacks predators like Borealosuchus and Dakotaraptor for simply being in its general vicinity. Ankylosaurus is another example, being highly territorial towards both its species and other herbivores.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Anzu males tower over females of the species.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The game devs have confirmed that the adult Dakotaraptor and Tyrannosaurus are cannibalistic and, in a similar manner to modern Komodo dragons, won't hesitate to eat youngsters of the same species. Hatchlings can also kill and eat their own siblings (Steam even has an achievement for it!) and if the Dakos at least get lucky, they can eat one of their parents in the event one kills the other.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The game encourages to player to hunt prey that's already wounded, for a much easier kill.
  • Mama Bear: Mostly Averted, but some dinosaur parents like Pachycephalosaurus, Denversaurus, Anatosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus fathers are very protective of their young.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Averted for the most part. The sauropod Alamosaurus was originally going to be featured as seen in concept art, but was removed after the devs decided to focus exclusively on Hell Creek (the nearest that it gets to the Hell Creek region is Utah). Downplayed with the Mosasaurus which hasn't been found in Hell Creek due to the marine tongue only preserving invertebrates, but a skull was found in the nearby Fox Hill formation, which was enough for the devs to justify its appearance in the game.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters
    • The Anzu has been described by many as a "turkey-parrot-emu".
    • The Palaeosaniwa resembles a Komodo dragon, but is given the coloration of a Gila monster. Justified Trope , as it is actually more closely related to Gila monsters and beaded lizards than to monitor lizards.
    • The bird "Styginetta" looks like a duck (being a relative of that family) with the proportions of a flamingo.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Borealosuchus (an extinct crocodylomorph) and fossil alligatoroid Brachychampsa (ironically Hell Creek's only "true" crocodilian) are present as a waterside threats, with the former existing in the initial public build of the game. The incoming Thoracosaurus, an extinct crocodylomorph resembling a giant gharial, was initially confirmed during a livestream and its model has been revealed. Generally, while slow and unwieldy on land, they become much more dangerous in their watery domain and are a potential threat even to mid-large animals who go swimming. There's also Champsosaurus, which is not a crocodylomorph at all but similar in appearance.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Design-wise, it's pretty clear that they were going for this kind of thing with the Dakotaraptor and Acheroraptor — the two look similar to an osprey and a lammergeier respectively. The original design of the T. rex has been compared to an owl by fans.
  • Nobody Poops: Anything relating to defecation is explicitly not going to be included in the game, largely due to the devs fearing that any such systems will be abused by immature players.
  • No Name Given: A number of species have not been formally classified as of the game's release and are thus unnamed, including the ornithomimid (although that one has been nicknamed O. minutusnote ) and a rail-like bird know simply as the "Bone Butte bird"/DePalma's ornithuran (in reference to the scientist who first described it in an overview of the game's Bone Butte site).
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Any carnivorous dino in the game, as they're mainly just trying to survive. Most notably the two player carnivores, T. rex and Dakotaraptor. Other carnivorous animals such as Quetzalcoatlus and Borealosuchus will play this as well.
  • Predators Are Mean: Averted. Unless they are hunting or protecting their territory, the predatory animals will mostly keep to themselves.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Averted. The dinosaurs and other creatures in the game are all depicted as normal animals that wouldn't appear out of place in a nature documentary.
  • Raptor Attack: Both Acheroraptor and Dakotaraptor will be in the game (the latter being playable), and both will be properly feathered.
  • Real Is Brown: Played with. Many of the game's creatures are relatively drab colored during at least part of their life, sometimes contrasting with brighter schemes at other points in life:
    • T. rex and Denversaurus are both depicted with reddish brown colors to keep them camouflaged (the latter being evidenced from a close relative).
    • The ornithomimid and the now scrapped Trierarchuncus are mostly a drab brown-tan like many modern ratites.
    • Female Triceratops and Anzu and their offspring (save for the former's hatchlings) are various shades of brown.
    • Young Pachycephalosaurus, Thescelosaurus, and Dakotaraptor both have largely brown/grey and white patterning.
    • Quetzalcoatlus and Acheroraptor are mostly black.
    • However, adult male Triceratops has a vibrantly colored and patterned frill and body; the head and neck of adult Pachycephalosaurus are rust red; adult Dakotaraptor has a lively black and white pattern; the male Anzu has bright blue and green feathers on his head, wings, and tail; male Edmontosaurus/Anatosaurus has a rainbow pattern on its neck and a bright red and purple nasal sack; the Ankylosaurus has a light orange pattern on its head, scutes, and club tail; and the adult Thescelosaurus has a blue wattle and a red striped tail. The unused concepts for Alamosaurus and the mosasaurs are also quite vividly colored.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Tyrannosaurus's original Prehistoric Monster-esque design featured these, before it was redesigned to look more like an actual animal. Played straight with the Dakotaraptor, but thankfully they look a lot more natural.
  • Red Shirt: The Thescelosaurus will fill this role, being small weaponless creatures that will be easy prey for creatures like Tyrannosaurus and Dakotaraptor. Other creatures that may fill this role for the hatchling stage include the lizard Chamops and the salamander Habrosaurus.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The hatchlings of most of the playable dinosaur species qualify (albeit with a few arguably veering more towards Ugly Cute).
  • Rule of Cool:
    • Despite the focus on accuracy, some of the more speculative parts of the game fall into this, most notably the Voice Changeling Anzu.
    • One could also make a case for the barbed tail of the Pachycephalosaurus, which isn't currently supported by direct fossil evidence (of course, there's no existing evidence against it either).
    • Many, including the devs, believe this is the reason so many people voted for Ankylosaurus as the new playable herbivore, as most commenters on Kickstarter thought the gameplay for Anatosaurus would have been more fun, but Ankylosaurus is a popular and well-known dinosaur that the majority of mainstream gamers are familiar with. It's worth pointing out though that playing as Anatosaurus would have involved migrating, which would have been a nightmare to program.
  • Sea Monster: The terrifying, and rather large, Mosasaurus, which haunts the depths of the coast and is able to kill a Tyrannosaurus rex with little effort. Even the larger species can tread water decently, but it isn't wise to do in the sea due to aquatic predators. Smaller than the Mosasaurus, but no less threatening, is the 30-foot-long ocean-going crocodile Thoracosaurus.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The dinosaurs are all accurately reconstructed as of the time of release, with appropriate body coverings depending on the species.
    • They have also made a point to only include animals that were present in the Hell Creek formation, thus averting both Anachronism Stew and Misplaced Wildlife.
    • This dedication to accuracy even extends to the environment; the geography, the vegetation and even seasonal weather patterns all match what we know about Hell Creek.
  • Subsystem Damage:
    • In Saurian's combat system, each dinosaur's body is represented as a collection of body parts with their own external layers (scales, feathers, osteoderms, etc.) and internal layers (flesh and bone) that show the overall injury level of the animal. When attacking a specific body part, you have to damage the external layers until they're destroyed, before you can attack the internal layers for even greater damage. As a result, targeting specific body parts is very important during combat.
    • How well you can damage an opponent is also based on the type of attack. For instance, biting works well against feathers, but not as well against osteoderms.
  • Survival Mode: Post-Impact Survival mode will have progressively less resources as it goes on due to the fallout and ash following the meteor impact, and the other animals will become more and more aggressive as it progresses as they become more desperate.
  • Survival Sandbox: Your dinosaur will have separate hunger, thirst, and stamina meters that need to be maintained.
  • Take That, Audience!: The infamous "Montanaspinus" prank, which was a response to the constantly demanding fans who wanted Spinosaurus in the game. See Trolling Creator under trivia for more details.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • Trying to drink salt water from the ocean or the saltwater marsh will deplete your dinosaur's thirst meter.
    • Killing an animal significantly smaller than you while playing as a carnivore will result in you swallowing it whole. This won't provide nearly as much food as attacking an animal within your size range.
    • Just like in real life, rain washes away smells, so your dinosaur's scent radius is decreased by 25% while it's raining.
  • Voice Changeling: Anzu is given the (completely speculative) ability to mimic other dinosaur's calls.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The entire Hell creek area is fully explorable by your dinosaur, complete with dynamic weather conditions.
  • Xenofiction: The dinosaurs and other animals aren't anthropomorphized one bit.
  • Zerg Rush: Ornithomimus travel in flocks and may occasionally use this behavior to turn the tables on potential predators (the smaller ones, at least).