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A better Zoo Tycoon - how would you improve it?

Discussion in 'Zoo & Wildlife Games, Simulators & Quizzes' started by HJoe, 20 Feb 2015.

  1. HJoe

    HJoe Member

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    The Zoo Tycoon series and its brother-and-sister games like Zoo Mania, etc. are all good fun, but surely for us zoo enthusiasts there's a lot missing from them. They all seem very base level - making simple paddocks and pens for large mammals and maybe a handful of birds and reptiles. In terms of designing the zoos and exhibits so much more could be offered to us in these games. Taking inspiration from zoos all around the world, an enormous variety of design features could be offered to us that the existing games in this genre just barely skim the surface of.

    How would you go about planning your own zoo-creation game? What are some particular features you would expand, improve upon, or introduce to the genre?

    One thing I always felt was missing from these sorts of games was the ability to develop exhibit buildings in detail, as opposed to simply outdoor enclosures. In some games they can be included, but never are you able to so much as look inside, no less tinker with the interior itself. Imagine being able to plan your own reptile or bird house down to the very last enclosure! Large immersion-type exhibits like rainforest or desert domes would also be a lot of fun to play with. Maybe it could even be extended to aquariums. The possibilities!
     
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  2. Mr_Patton

    Mr_Patton New Member

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    I know this post is a bit old, but I'll toss in some thoughts:

    1. First, and foremost, I'd like to see a more realistic simulation of animal breeding. Pregnancies happen too often and are over too quickly. My first exhibit is typically a peafowl enclosure, and my starting 3-5 peafowl become 15 by the time my next two exhibits are complete. Additionally, there is more to breeding animals then just sticking a pair in an enclosure and keeping them alive. Some part of that would be nice to see in the game.

    2. A wider variety of animals. It's understandable that the game would limit itself to the better-known species for the sake of time and resources, but I'd like to have hundreds of species to choose from.

    3. More birds! Tropical bird exhibits, aviaries, the ability to reliably have peafowl free-range in your zoo and so on.

    4. More landscaping options. Zoos aren't just paths and enclosures. After visiting the zoos in Hawaii I am inspired to create a truly beautiful zoo. Unfortunately, the options for doing so are limited.
     
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  3. premierfong

    premierfong Active Member

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    1.Everything from the above posts.

    2. Indoor exhibit options and indoor animal holding areas.

    3. Different species of similar animals. Like Sumatran Rhino, and white Rhino or Asian Lion and African Lion. ETC

    4. Aviary, aquarium, terrium building tools.

    5. Real life financials to enhance the business aspect.

    6. No more dinosaurs, that is Jurassic world game already.

    7. Take out space requirement. For example, some zoo is more packed.

    If I have money I seriously will develop one.
     
  4. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    1. Make maps in acres units (size of maps to build on would be anywhere from five to 80,000 acres)

    2. Greater amount of tree and plant species for decoration and greater amount of horticulture.

    3. Reduction of biomes. The biomes that I would allow would be:
    Tropical Rainforest
    Savannah
    Grassland
    Coastal Ocean
    Deep Ocean
    Desert
    Temperate Forest
    Alpine
    Wetlands
    Taiga
    Tundra

    4. Rarer animal species included in the first game.

    5. More animal species in the first game. I'll set my sites for 50 proposed species.

    6. Means of getting animals. You can get rescues or exchange and receive animals in studbooks. Some will only be lent out to you such as pandas, while species such as cetaceans will have to be wild-caught. Extinct animals such as dinosaurs will have to be brought back to life suing means similar to Jurassic Park.

    7. Accreditation to a zoo organization would be allowable in the game.

    8. More realistic select ability of maps based and located in real-world locations where there is an actual zoo or animal park.
     
  5. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Oh, boy, you're gonna go down the rabbit hole with me! I made like, an eight page document on my dream zoo simulator game, ha ha. (here, if you're interested)

    I always wanted to see a greater variety of exhibit types. Instead of just fence and tank walls, how about aviaries? Aviaries would open up flying animals as an option. Sea pens would be kind of neat. How about acrylic tunnels that allow guests to walk through exhibits, including aquatic ones? I always thought it would be nice to have the ability to create small exhibits, and buildings for them, too. Like you could design an aquarium building and design a bunch of small aquariums for it. And there could be a special gate/door that allows guests to enter exhibits and walk around. Great for an aviary full of lorikeets, but not recommended for the tiger exhibit! Also, biome would be more flexible. Rather than having "rainforest" and "desert" and "tundra" paint tools, you'd have different types of terrain, and fresh and salt water. And maybe certain animals, like peafowl, could have a free-roaming mode.

    Customization in general would be increased, like, you could design the logo of your place and it would appear on souvenirs and signs. When you place food and souvenir stands, water fountains, other stuff like that, there would be more themes to choose from. For retail stands, the theme can change the merchandise that gets sold. (like, an Africa drink stand might sell lion souvenir bottles while the Ocean one will have bottlenose dolphins) When you create buildings, you could choose different types of walls and flooring and staircases.

    And of course, more animals! A modern zoo game with a decent budget should be able to offer a lot of animals even just as the base. If there can be over 700 Pokemon, I'm sure 100 zoo animals wouldn't be a big problem, right? That allows for all of the "stock" zoo animals along with a lot of obscure species. Expansion packs and DLC could allow for nearly endless options that players can pick and choose. Plus, any DLC packs that cost money could have a portion of their proceeds go to conservation. Speaking of DLC, it would also be cool if the game developers teamed up with a real life zoo or aquarium to release a DLC pack. Say they did it with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you download it and now you can add structures and animals found at MBA.

    More complex gameplay would be nice too. Doesn't have to get crazy difficult or anything, but just some stuff to add new challenge. One aspect I made right away was an accreditation mechanic. If your zoo meets the requirements, it can get accredited, which comes with pros and cons. There's also an animal personality feature that affects the needs of the animal, and can also affect whether or not they're suitable for things like shows and interaction programs. (an orca attacking a trainer or a sea lion attacking a guest make for very bad PR!) Breeding would also be a bit more complicated, you could choose to put animals on birth control or sterilize them completely. Genetic traits, including color morphs, could be passed down. Inbreeding animals could cause negative traits to appear. Hybrid animals such as ligers and wholphins could be bred. In game, there would be other facilities you could contact to do breeding loans and AI with.

    Obtaining animals would also be a little different. Rather than just buying animals outright in one marketplace, there would be different animals available at different times, from different sources. (and some sources are nicer than others) Rather than all members of one species costing the same, the cost can vary depending on the age, source, personality, training, and reproductive status of an animal. Animals can be obtained through purchase, trade, and rescue. Zoos with a high rating have more options (both with species and sources) to choose from. (though in Sandbox mode, you can just pick any species and choose the personality)

    Some kind of online functionality would be nice. Like getting to enter guest mode to walk through a zoo your friend makes, or uploading zoos that other people can download and share. The biggest online feature would be the ability to create a "network" of zoos. When you create a network, you choose which types of zoo lots are available and you choose how much money new players start with. There could even be the option to set limits, like "extinct animals only" or "rescue animals only", if you want to create a themed network. You can chat with other players who have zoos in the network and work together to do things like loans, trades, and breeding. (though I guess you wouldn't be able to receive animals if it's on an EP or DLC you don't have)
     
  6. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    Many of these are good points, and I too have thought about this recently.

    Definitely a wider range of species would be preferable. Additionally, it would be nice if the species selections were more realistic (for example, Indian rhino instead of Javan and Amur tiger instead of Bengal). The lack of giant anteaters, one of my personal mammal favorites, has always peeved me and I have considered installing mods just to have it.

    Indoor houses and enclosures that are easier to design would be great as well, although I think we could cap the size and species limits on those (no need to design tanks the size of shoeboxes, or to choose from 200 species of tropical bird!)

    Holding areas would make the game more realistic.

    I, too, am sick and tired of dinosaurs. But that's a personal preference and I don't think that should necessarily be taken into account.

    I think there should still be space requirements, but they should be lowered, and also specified so you know how big to make the enclosure before you build it (that always happens to me, where I find out the enclosure I just built is not big enough and I've already landscaped around it. Very frustrating).

    An idea that I thought of is having something called Conservation Points. You can gain CPs by acquiring and breeding endangered species, by opening up educational exhibits, and by choosing to donate some of your revenue to in situ conservation efforts. The more CPs you get, the more popular and prestigious your zoo becomes and the more options you have for species.

    I'd also like to see more complex exhibit design than just fences. Mock rock walls would be a nice touch, although I know you can sort of do that with the terrain tool (but you still have to completely fence the perimeter or the animal will escape).

    More realistic time frames on building, possibly? I'm on the fence with that one.
     
  7. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    As a modder of both Zoo Tycoon games and longtime fandom member for over ten years now, I'm pretty pragmatic about this stuff and try to take a minimalist approach to improvements. I'll post some detailed ideas in the future, maybe.

    A lot of the tough conflicts come between realism and fun. Using only animals most AZA-acredited facilities use or allowing more fantastic and charismatic species as well. This topic alone kind of illustrates this. You don't want to restrain players too much but obviously too much freedom can make the game less challenging. I advocate limited options in one mode and free options in another, sort of like Zoo Tycoon 2's 'Challenge Mode' and 'Freeform Mode', although the challenges still left some to be desired.

    I should note that for experienced ZT2 players, it is possible to create and customize indoor exhibits with a little work, using the existing bridge system from the Endangered Species expansion and/or the tank pieces from Marine Mania ;)

    (I'm aware that's not as nice as an integrated feature, but I still thought I'd share.)
     
  8. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Ooooh, I should try that next time!

    Personally I like seeing some less realistic options because for me, part of the fun of a zoo game is getting the opportunity to make a fantasy, dream zoo, and that sometimes consists of things that haven't been done yet. Another reason I like having obscure/unrealistic options is because it adds another layer of education to the game. A big part of enjoying the ZT series for me was getting to learn about some more obscure animals. There are lots of animals I first heard about in the ZT series, something you're not gonna get as much of if you stick with animals that are seen a lot in zoos. (though that's not to say zoos don't have variety) Though I do agree that the base game should prioritize realistic options over fantastic ones. Then with the expansion packs and DLC, you can go crazy! :D

    Having multiple modes such as challenge and sandbox are pretty much a given in tycoon games at this point.
     
  9. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    @TheMightOrca I largely feel the same. I think the best examples are orcas and pandas, both of which are iconic animals that are extremely rare in captivity, but no doubt we would miss if they were excluded. And I would definitely chalk up my love of those games as a big reason I became as big of a zoo fanatic as I am today :)

    I do understand why people are meh on dinosaurs, although I didn't feel the integration of extinct species in either main zoo game interfered with regular zoo-building for the most part.

    The usual strategy in ZT2 is to build an elevated path over an existing exhibit and part of a path way, delete the fences on the elevated path to make it roof like, and then use tank walls (make sure to leave one spot as a regular fence with a gate so n owater fills) to make walls. It's imperfect, but some user-made tank walls and elevated paths can make a much more pleasing and realistic design.
     
  10. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    @TheMightOrca I largely feel the same. I think the best examples are orcas and pandas, both of which are iconic animals that are extremely rare in captivity, but no doubt we would miss if they were excluded. And I would definitely chalk up my love of those games as a big reason I became as big of a zoo fanatic as I am today :)

    I do understand why people are meh on dinosaurs, although I didn't feel the integration of extinct species in either main zoo game interfered with regular zoo-building for the most part.

    The usual strategy in ZT2 is to build an elevated path over an existing exhibit and part of a path way, delete the fences on the elevated path to make it roof like, and then use tank walls (make sure to leave one spot as a regular fence with a gate so n owater fills) to make walls. It's imperfect, but some user-made tank walls and elevated paths can make a much more pleasing and realistic design.
     
  11. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Oh, totally, some "iconic" zoo animals are actually fairly rare in captivity, but people would still want to see them in a zoo game.

    I'm in the same situation as you, the games got me interested in zoo design and management. I was already a big animal lover, which is why I got the games in the first place, but it was still really awesome to learn about some of the more obscure species that you don't see very often in other media. If I made a zoo game, I'd definitely try to include beaked whales in an expansion pack or DLC, ha ha. (SERIOUSLY THERE ARE NINE SEASONS OF FINDING BIGFOOT AND I STILL CAN'T EVEN FIND A DOCUMENTARY ON BEAKED WHALES)
     
  12. Elephas Maximus

    Elephas Maximus Well-Known Member

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    And there are several ways to make exhibits and even rooms directly on elevated paths.
    Multi-level indoor exhibits
     
  13. tigris115

    tigris115 Well-Known Member

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  14. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I like it! The campaign ideas are very good. I tried making a list of campaigns but had a creative block so my list is garbage. I should try again. Would there be rewards for completing campaigns? That's all I have to recommend for the campaigns, you know, give players a way to show off that they beat it.

    I love how "zoo nerds" are their own classification of guest. If this game had a feature where you can see their thoughts, I would want them to be excessively nitpicky. I also like the different size options for zoos.

    Personally I would also add some marine-themed campaigns and buildings, since your animal list does feature many marine species. I like being able to build aquatic areas, or even full-on aquariums. Perhaps a "make an aquarium" challenge?
     
  15. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Regarding dinosaurs and other extinct animals, I actually like having them as options. Yeah, there are dinosaur zoo games, but not a lot of in-depth ones, and most of those don't have much scientific accuracy and they don't deviate much from the stock species. If you're making an in-depth zoo game, well, dinosaurs can just be added on as an expansion pack, easier than making a whole separate game. And anyone who doesn't want them can just opt not to buy the expansion pack, save space for the stuff they do want.
     
  16. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    One other idea... A great zoo game would have a first person mode where the player can walk around and do stuff, or just observe. Since virtual reality is getting population, it would be kind of cool if a zoo game had VR support even just for looking around. Then you can REALLY immerse yourself in your dream zoo, ha ha.
     
  17. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I'd add more options to animal reproductive science, it'd be good to be able to:

    - Put females on contraceptive, and choose the time they were on contraceptive
    - Castrate or vasectomise males
    - Spey or sterilise females
    - Observe variation in litter size (possibility of 1-6 cubs for lions etc.)

    Animal lifespans should have more variation. If a lioness has a litter of cubs, they shouldn't all live for 2 Zoo Tycoon years and then die. To make it more realistic, 1 might die at two weeks, another at four weeks, one at six months, one at adulthood and one of old age. There should be a range of ailments with the option of conducting a post mortem and solving a puzzle to determine the cause of death.

    As already mentioned in this thread, there should be the option of loaning animals to and from your zoo, preferably working with a Studbook.

    In a real zoo, you don't just put a male and female tiger together. Introductions take time, and can end in the death of one of the tigers. Scenarios like this should be replicated.

    I'd also like to see an animal hierachy, especially in animals like lions, elephants and chimpanzee, which have a hierachy in real life.
     
  18. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I like those ideas! I would definitely want a zoo simulator to be more complex when it comes to the breeding aspect. The ZT games made it too easy and too boring. In my document, animals will breed with family members if they have no other option, and inbred animals will often be unhealthy (and if you're accredited, the organization will definitely go after you for allowing it!) so you'd really have to keep track of breeding statuses and the like.

    Unrelated to this, one other small idea I've had is offering animal obtaining bonuses for doing certain things. Like, a player who rescues lots of marine mammals is more likely to see rare marine mammals like leopard seals, orca, and minke whale show up in the "rescue" tab. A player who displays a certain amount of bird species may be able to obtain something like a Spix's macaw earlier than normal. Players who breed lots of endangered animals will get more breeding loan offers, that kind of thing. The idea is that your zoo is proving itself in certain fields, so you get things related to those fields more often.
     
  19. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I really like your plans on breeding programmes. Although the game prevents inbreeding between parents and offspring and full siblings, it allows inbreeding between half siblings which annoys me. I always try to prevent it in my zoo. If I have large groups, such as a mandrill troop or a giraffe herd, a common formula I use is to import a male and three or more females, then export all male offspring and retain enough female offspring to breed with a new imported male. This can result in adult daughters complaining on the message screen: Mandrill 236 would like to reproduce but cannot find a mate, which is annoying. Occasionally, a male may mature and go unnoticed until a message comes up that his halff sister is now pregnant to him. I always write IB (Inbred) after the mother's name and then adopt out the baby as soon as it's born.

    Hyenas are a particular challenge as the only female combinations that won't kill each other are mother/daughter and sister/sister. I often bring in a breeding pair and keep all offspring. Ideally they will have 5 x litters of male pups (10 males), and then I will import a single female to breed with one of the males in the 5th litter. Then any females born to that pair have to be prevented from breeding with their uncles. The same scenario arises if the original pair have multiple daughters (all which can live together) and then one of them is paired with an unrelate male. Any male pups born to this pair then have to be prevented from breeding with their aunts!

    I especially like your idea of their being consequences for allowing inbreeding in your zoo. Just like there would be in real life.
     
  20. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'd love for a zoo game to acknowledge relations beyond sibling, parent, and grandparent.


    My ideal zoo game would have more consequences in general for lots of things, you know, add more of a challenge along with more realism. Your accreditation would be threatened if you obtain animals from questionable sources. And even if you don't care about accreditation, it could result in bad PR. If nothing else, animals from questionable sources would be more likely to have issues. Krazy Karen's Discount Exotic Animal Warehouse may offer tigers at a low, low price, but there's a high chance the tigers would be sickly or inbred. When you use certain types of animals in shows or interaction programs, (riding horses or elephants, swimming with dolphins, training sea lions, that kind of thing) if the animals are unhappy there would be a risk of the animals attacking someone, and that would be a PR disaster. (hey, it's not a good simulator game if there's no potential to hurt people!)