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Planet Zoo

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posted on Sep, 22 2019 @ 11:38 AM
The Open Beta starts this Tuesday and runs until Oct. 8 for anyone who ponied up for the Deluxe version. Yeah ... I admit it. I did. I played the heck out of the original Zoo Tycoon, and I've been watching this thing for a while, including live streams on all the things you will be able to do with this once it gets released.

They're taking the piece-by-piece construction aspects of Planet Coaster and incorporating them into both exhibit design and zoo design. Below, I've added an admittedly long livestream of a Gamescom play where they built a walkthrough, indoor Tropical Jungle exhibit incorporating two glass terrariums in a small cave and free-roaming ringtail lemurs. I believe they also show off how the weather systems look when it rains and snows outside as opposed to it still being steamy tropics inside.

Keep in mind this is an alpha build that's being worked with and it already looks and works pretty good.

There is already a long, long list of confirmed animals in the game, including species like the okapi, both Indian and African elephants, they just confirmed red pandas yesterday, chimps and orangs, a host of African antelope species, Cape buffalo, gharials and salties, pronghorn, timber wolves, and two species of bear so far. And that's leaving plenty unrevealed in just the base game along with those I know about I didn't mention.

They have three game modes: campaign mode, franchise mode, and sandbox.

The campaign mode is what you would think - a mission progression type thing with a sort of tutorial built in.

The franchise mode is the one I'm looking forward to. You start with one small zoo, and work to build your resources by making a profitable zoo that expands into a linked chain of zoos across the world gradually unlocking species as you go. The interesting angle of this one is the conservation one. Just like real zoos, you have to manage your animals' genetics and stud book. You can't just get one male/female pair and let them breed, and then their offspring breed forever. You'll get inbreeding problems, so you have to constantly bring in new blood by trading with other zoos either in your franchise in between the franchises of other players online.

You get either more money or more conservation points by breeding better, stronger, more genetically diverse animals and either trading/selling them to other zoos or releasing them back to the wild. Either form of currency can help you in various ways to achieve various goals. Then it becomes a strategic decisions beyond just having to keep your guests happy, which is also important, of course.

And sandbox is an open, fully unlocked mode where you can freely mess around from day 1.

Just like Planet Coaster, there will be full Steam support for uploading and sharing what you and other players create in terms of buildings and exhibits which is most likely why the sandbox will be freely available -- for those who live to create and build more than play.

Since I bought in for the Deluxe because I wanted Komodo dragons and pygmy hippos and Thompson's gazelles are gravy, I'll be able to start messing with this In a few days. Beta will only have access to campaign scenario 1 and franchise modes, and we may or may not have access to the full roster of animals. I think they're primarily testing how the franchise works with live players along with testing the base systems for bugs they may not have missed.

posted on Sep, 22 2019 @ 01:49 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

As a Roller Coaster and Zoo tycoon I'm definitely interested , I think I'll wait for the finished product rather than splash the cash early though.

Keep us updated when you get it.

posted on Sep, 22 2019 @ 09:54 PM
I'll try, but if it really sucks me in, I might simply disappear for a while.

I love a game that can scratch as many itches as this one is aiming for: the management aspect, the breeding/conservation aspect, animals!, and the creative/building aspect. Just about the time one facet is wearing thin, a new one will grab at me. It's one of the reasons I used to love The Sims games so much, they could incorporate a lot of the things I mentioned and had a story-telling aspect mixed in.

So, yeah, I caved and pre-ordered because I wanted to try the Beta and I wanted access to the Komodo dragon especially.

I also have some serious upgrading that my computer needs before Cyberpunk this spring, and while I will be able to run this on my current build, the Beta will let me see how important certain aspects of my upgrade (video card) are going to be and whether I need or will be wanting to plug it in before the full game drops in November if possible. I can handle compromised appearance and performance ... up to a point, but only a point.

posted on Sep, 27 2019 @ 04:26 PM
So after a few days, here are my thoughts:

1. This is a beta, but it runs as well as some release versions we get these days. So it's basically doing pretty well.

2. They've been diligently listening and updating and keeping track of what they find.

3. We do not have full versions of the game with all the bells and whistles. They are mainly testing the franchise mode systems to get an idea of what they didn't find in alpha and where they need to tweak and improve.

I am working against a double whammy here. The construction systems and camera systems are straight out of Planet Coaster. I suspect the people management aspects are as well. I have no experience at all with these, so I spending large amounts of time getting my camera stuck in the ground, for example. I am slowly getting better at it. The construction is much easier in some aspects, but it took me two hours to figure out how to raise a fence uniformly along its length on day 1 for example. Once I figured out, it's a simple thing to do, but figuring out what I needed to do wasn't that simple for me; however, I suspect old hands at Planet Coaster knew exactly what to do.

However, as I am starting to get into it, you can do wonderful things with placing and shaping and making exactly what you want in your exhibits and with your buildings. I suspect as I practice and get more adept with the cameras and systems, I will only get better and enjoy this angle more.

Now on the zoo management ...

It's obvious they are still tweaking the balance. I decided to start and work with Common Warthogs. You know ... makin' bacon.

They're cheap, readily available on the market and highly prolific.

... and my first pair died. See, I was having pathing issues with the Keeper who refused to feed them in a timely manner.

My second pair lasted long enough to pop out a huge litter of very, very cute piglets ... that proceeded to eat the last of the food and starve while rooting around in their poo because the Keeper couldn't be bothered to figure out how to feed them and the mechanic couldn't be bothered to fix their fences and the angry protestors scared off all the other guests over my factory farming practices.

So, I went to the discussions to see if my Keepers' idiocy was my ineptitude or a known issue. It seems people are going back and forth on this, but I went back to trouble shoot, and I now have working staff. And I have kept a successful warthog exhibit through its third generation, so I am branching out. I am going to see if the social stats are accurate to the animal AI and try keeping a bachelor group of warthogs in an exhibit with antelope.

See, one thing they are discovering with their animal trade market is that many animals are harem breeders, so the females get bought up very quickly and at a premium for even sub-standard genetic specimens while males, even nice ones, will sit around forever. So I am thinking that since African animals are "enriched" by sharing space with other African species, I might as well see if my warthog males can live in bachelor groups with other animals and then I can rotate males in or out of my warthog breeding project as needed.

This may be what I end up doing with my African animals since it seems most can form bachelor groups. I may have an all male Savannah Exhibit sort of like you form an all male cichlid display tank as an aquarium hobbyist.

And I am still parsing out if the Keeper issue is actually buggy or just player ineptitude. Right now, I am leaning possibly mostly player ineptitude on this point. I think a lot of people thought early access was with a finished game. They skipped over the "beta" part.

That said, there are things I would like to see changed or fixed in the month they have:

1. I have not discovered if paths are allowed to build right angles or snap to winder widths than the game pre-set of 10m. I would like to pave plaza areas and my dream is to build an indoor walk-through rainforest with elevated walkways that go around the inside of the wall with the animals below that patrons can look down over. I'm not sure how well this will work if the paths only allow for curved turns.

2. It's very hard to manage large numbers of animals at their current level of fecundity. When your warthogs pop out 8 piglets at a go and other animals can be similarly prolific and you start having larger zoos ... you can quickly lose track of who has babies, and without knowing when your babies have matured, you then have animals beating the crap out of each in dominance battles. My warthogs did this once already and I only had them to keep an eye on.

3. The player market will be tough if they don't have a way for players to balance teh gender ratio of available animals. Way too many males currently and not enough female. If you're trying to build a breeding group of say ... sable antelope, you only need 1 male but as many as 9 females while all your offspring are a roughly 50/50 ratio, as they should be. This will need to be addressed in some way.

posted on Sep, 28 2019 @ 12:25 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

So I am seeing animal personality now. It does exist.

I started a group of bachelor warthogs in with my sable antelope. I started out with two half brothers - Sello and Chydie - both of my own breeding and fairly nice specimens with the idea I might rotate them in to breed at some point. They get along very well.

I decided that my resident breeding male Ghahiji needed to be retired and a new male brought in, so I moved him in with my two bachelors (and his sons). He fights with them constantly and gets sent to the vet. I may have to separate him out, but he's elderly, so I am at a loss.

posted on Oct, 4 2019 @ 05:05 PM
More from the world of Planet Zoo beta.

How franchise mode works:

There are two forms of currency: regular dollars and conservation points (represented by a leaf symbol). You need regular money to manage the construction and people aspects of your park like paying and training employees and building exhibits and guest attractions, etc.

You need conservation leafs for the animal side of things like bringing in animals and starting a new zoo. You generate them by breeding animals and trading them to other zoos/players on the market. You get to set your price for them making this a free market system. There is already a fair bit of whining about how players are price gouging as you only start with 100CP making some animals like lions and elephants and other rare or hard to breed or highly desirable critters unobtainable for a starting out player.

But, what you do is watch the market. Animals that are highly prolific are pretty easy to obtain for your starting CP in a breeding group. Once you have that, you build your exhibit, bring in your guests, and start rocking out offspring to sell or release to the wild for more CP and save up for your next animal and exhibit and go from there.

The other thing you have to do is watch your genetics. You may not be able to jump in on gold tier breeding stock, but with a little forethought, you can take lesser animals and build a respectable breeding program without a whole lot of effort. I took a trio of less than genetically stellar female sable antelopes and a bronze tier male, and slowly built my herd up to all silver and gold tier animals. It took generations, but I managed it with time and patience.

For those who do not want to engage in filthy capitalism or have issues playing online, Frontier will be releasing an offline version of the franchise mode along with the sandbox and campaign modes.

I also thought I'd upload some pictures to give you an idea of what can be done with the construction.

This a rocky mountainside backdrop I built for my timber wolves. You can't see it in the picture, but there is a mist special effect in the small pool at the base of the mountain. Mist rises up over the water like it would on a cool, mountain morning. It's pretty cool.

All the rest of these will be various shots of my new peacock garden. They patched the game this morning and nerfed animal fertility rates a little too hard. So I spent the morning playing with construction hoping they'd drop a hot fix. Guests to my new franchise zoo will be able to walk through a garden with a trellis that has wisteria hanging off and a pond. There is a small plaza with benches where they can sit and enjoy the free roaming peacocks.

These two are my trellis in various stages of construction.

This is the pond and part of the plaza with a group of guests.

This is the other side of the plaza. You can see the peacocks' brick coop in the background complete with climbing ivy. The mist you see there is a cooler that the peacocks need in order to be happy in their exhibit. The open, flat terrain you see behind the fence is the basic terrain we have to work with. It's what there was for the mountainside too.

Excuse the blurriness. These are phone pics. I couldn't get my screen shot working. This the backside of the trellis in the finished exhibit complete with peacock.

This is a better view of the completed pond.

Everything in the peacocks' exhibit was done piece by piece (so was the mountainside). You can add pieces together to make bigger pieces for building purposes if you wish. Parts of the trellis and the peacocks' coop were done this way. All the plants and trees and rocks were individually layered, rotated, etc., to produce exactly the look I wanted. And I could spend way more time on this if I weren't aware I was in the midst of a two week beta.

Now the bad ... there are some persistent bugs that they've been working on that have not yet been hammered out. None of them are game breaking, but they have been persistent. They're also having trouble tweaking animal fertility right where they want it to balance out the player market. Just this morning, they released a patch that more or less broke the breeding system. I spent my morning building because I've been hoping for a hot fix. Not even my warthogs want to breed ... and that's bad! Another problem is the AI is currently wanting to mark even animals with 100% fertility as infertile.

So some things are still rough, but there's a month.

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