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.