Welcome to the June Development Update!
In today’s blog post, the team shares what is the longest dev diary in quite some time. We’re talking animals, gameplay, pretty pictures, a painfully long word count, the whole shebang. There’s so much to get through that we’ve just gotta get right into it!
Where We’re At
If you’ve been keeping up with our dev diaries over the last few months, you’ll know that the team’s been tackling a bunch of updates at the same time. While the next release continues to receive much of our focus (Update 8), we’ve been able to start pre-production for quite a few more updates.
The team’s been laying the groundwork for a number of exciting future additions, most notably breakouts, animal ontogeny and the much requested paleoflora! With scientific advisory and original concepts by Tom Parker, one of our 2D artists, Ida has painted custom leaf textures for over 10 species of paleoflora so far. These textures will be used to dress the 3D models of our foliage.
Being one of the less celebrated aspects of prehistoric ecosystems, we hope to bring a new appreciation of paleoflora to the wider public once paleobotany releases down the line.
Assorted leaf textures for 4 paleo plants!
In other news, we’ve been carefully reviewing the main gameplay loop and will be working to address some pain points over the next few updates. Whether it’s a system that feels too disconnected or one that’s potentially more hidden than we’d like, we’ve been drafting up alternate design plans that we believe will make the game more fun and rewarding to play.
Later in this dev diary, you’ll get a better glimpse at one of these changes coming in Update 9; the Produce Station. For now though, let’s focus on what’s coming next in Update 8!
The animal overhaul has been going really well! Our test dummy, the Protoceratops, has a brand new AI brain that directs it towards a random point. The completely rebuilt animation controller drives the animal procedurally, strafing, turning, reversing and moving at variable speeds to get to its destination.
The locomotion system just came online at the time of writing, so we’ll be providing you with a super early look at some development footage of the Proto navigating from point to point. Apologies for the presentation!
There are a number of things here we’d like to polish over the next month (e.g. stopping jitter, correcting animation movement speeds, improving pathfinding accuracy), but the overall potential for authentic and dynamic looking animals is totally there, and with further development, it’s going to look so good.
Now that we can get the animals moving, we can continue building everything that sits on top of that. Their needs, interactions for eating/drinking, we essentially need to reintroduce elements from the current game in a smarter way that contributes to the organic and procedural goals of this rework.
One of our other key pillars with the animal overhaul was to make them run fast. Not physically, but computationally! Where possible, these new underlying systems are all multi-threaded, meaning they are much more performant and optimized for modern processors.
There’s a lot more work to be done before the animals are completely ready to ship, but we are incredibly happy with where they’re headed and can’t wait to finish them up for you. Making an AI movement system this sophisticated requires a lot of time and research, so we thank you for being patient with us!
It’s small, it’s speedy, you know it, you love it - it’s the Velociraptor!
Making a glorious return to Prehistoric Kingdom, this feathery fossil has been restored with a dashing retractable mohawk and a variety of bird-like calls. Having once roamed the Cretaceous landscapes of Mongolia, everyone’s favorite 3 foot turkey will be the next animal arriving in Update 8!
This animal comes with 3 different skins (Dust Devil, Mirage and Oasis) and each has a fun little design detail!
Oasis: no scales on the snout
Mirage: includes iridescence and sexual dimorphism
Dust Devil: inspired by roadrunners
The team had a lot of fun working on this animal. The raptors have a lot of personality and despite only being a 2 star creature due to its size, it’ll always be 5 in our hearts.
Tropical Biome Update
Humid air, sunny skies? Yep, the tropical biome is getting a TOTAL makeover in Update 8! Including 34 foliage items, the environment team have truly given our oldest biome some new life.
In addition to all these plants, we’ve made some changes to the biome itself! The Tropical dirt has now become a lovely leaf litter, and the Samanea tree has been moved to gardening as it no longer fits the biome’s aesthetic.
With all of these improvements, the tropical biome looks absolutely gorgeous. All the assets have been updated to better resemble their real life counterparts, so do keep in mind that existing parks might look a bit different depending on how you used the original plants.
Gameplay: Park Beauty
Previously known as land value, Park Beauty is a new mechanic that factors how attractive your zoo is into the park rating, looking at guest accessible areas to calculate what’s bad and what’s good.
Since the last dev diary, Park Beauty now interacts with dung piles and the score of an exhibit, positively illuminating healthy habitats or marking poorly managed, stinky enclosures as bad.
By constructing gardens, statues, decorated structures and placing foliage near your buildings, you’ll quickly begin to cultivate high Park Beauty in the surrounding areas. If an area is pretty, guests are much more likely to use donation boxes and help give the park an economic boost!
Park by Magnanimous_Matt
On the other side of the spectrum, modules like power generators are a source of ugliness. Using walls, fences or foliage, players in Challenge Mode will have to think about how they build their park to best obstruct the view from guests.
Park by Magnanimous_Matt
What’s in the Pipeline?
Jumping over to Update 9, we’d like to discuss one of the upcoming changes to the gameplay loop.
With Park Beauty becoming a more central mechanic for Challenge Mode, the team’s very keen to introduce more modules that provide a function or service for the park. Recently it’s become quite a big goal of ours to bring some management aspects out of the menus and back into the world, contextualizing the infrastructure Prehistoric Kingdom might need to operate.
And with that, here’s our first change.
Gameplay: Produce Stations
Produce Stations are a large, customizable module that passively provide food for the park’s animal feeders.
Placing a Produce Station in the park will have it automatically begin generating a single piece of stock every few seconds, cycling through one diet at a time. This means you’d get 1 plant, then 1 fruit, then 1 fish etc. over the course of a minute before the cycle repeats.
However, a Produce Station can also be specialized to only produce a certain diet. If you have a lot of herbivores in the early game, it might be worth setting the Produce Station to only generate plants!
You’re now getting way more plants, but you‘ll soon need a second Produce Station if you have something like carnivores to support.
Luckily with enough funds to support the upkeep, you can build a whole set of specialized Produce Stations to capitalize on the extra efficiency. Changing the diet specialization of a Produce Station will also change its exterior farm area, so you’ll always know what it’s making at a glance. Players can specialize in plants, fruit, meat, fish or insects.
Gameplay: Produce Storage
To better manage the park’s food supply, we suggest researching some Produce Storage modules. These crates add to the global storage capacity, allowing you to generate and hold more food.
Anytime a feeder is resupplied out in the park, the required amount will be automatically taken out of storage. And on the off chance that you’re making more food than your capacity allows, the excess produce will be sold off for a small profit!
And that’s it! These two modules will eventually replace the shipping mechanic used in the current game. By bringing food production out of the menu and into the park itself, we hope to give the player more agency and choice in not only the speed of their food production, but where in the zoo they’ll place them.
For us as developers, it also opens up opportunities for things like storms, power outages, and facilities breaking down to impact a system that was previously untouchable. The team looks forward to developing this idea and bringing it to you in Update 9.
Created by carlos200022.
Created by gemini98.
Created by luci257.
Thank you for reading June’s dev diary!
As development on Update 8 continues into July, we get a little bit closer to finally handing this update off to the public. There’s quite a bit left to do on the animal side of things, but as mentioned, the team’s very optimistic and we are all looking forward to seeing it finished.
Once we’re happy and confident about hitting a specific release window, you’ll know via our socials or in a dev diary. Until then, thank you very much and we’ll see you next time!
- The PK Team
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