We went behind closed doors with the guys at Frontier Developments to see what’s been cooking ahead of the release of Jurassic World Evolution.
Jurassic World Evolution is a new park management game from the creators of Rollercoaster Tycoon. You get to manage your very own Jurassic Park, and get right down into the nitty-gritty of running a theme park. We sat down with a couple of the devs and let them walk us through how the game works, throwing a few questions at them as we went.
First off, when you begin the game, you’re definitely not just thrown into the deep end. You end up with six islands to play with, and you begin with a small amount of them built to get you started. You have a lot of areas to expand into though, too. One of the islands even starts off with a thunderstorm, which means you have to fix everything up after it’s been damaged. The main story takes you through Las Cinco Muertes – the five islands from the films – plus the main sixth island. On the final island, there are no monetary restrictions, so you can build however you want; it’s a sandbox island.
It wouldn’t really be an entry into the Jurassic Park universe without Dr Ian Malcolm, and the dev team even got Jeff Goldblum in to record dialogue for the game. He’s there “to remind you this has always been a bad idea,” and will usually pop in from time to time to rub it in when something goes wrong. And go wrong things will – the devs we spoke to like to call it ‘plate spinning’l; when something goes wrong, chances are heaps of other things will go wrong at the same time.
The story of the game is set inside the Hammond Foundation. Within the foundation, there are three divisions that each wish the park to succeed for different reasons, and of course you have to try and please all of them. One, for example, wants to simply learn about dinosaurs as a species, and another wants them for military power. You complete contracts for each division head to build up trust and reputation with them, which can unlock things like new dinosaurs.
Teams of Rangers within your park can be assigned to certain tasks, for example making sure dinosaurs are medicated or keeping them fed. You can assign tasks to Rangers and watch them drive over to where they’ve been sent, or simply take control of the Jeep and steer it yourself. This lends itself to the fact that the team wanted to create dinosaurs realistic to those represented in the films – and they’ve done an excellent job, mind you.
As for the dinosaurs themselves, well, don’t expect to just find some roaming around your park if you leave it long enough. You’ll first have to commission a helicopter to go out to archaeological dig sites, dig up fossils, and bring them back to your park. Once you get back, you can take them to the Fossil Center, where they are then queued up to have the DNA extracted. You’ll need multiple fossils to end up with an entire strand of DNA for a particular type of dino, though; some fossils may have better quality DNA than others. Once you’ve got enough fossils to build up a complete genome (at least 50 per cent, but higher if you want a more perfect dinosaur), you can plug the gaps in the DNA with DNA of other animals – like they do with frogs in the movies, only you can use whichever animal you like.
Using different types of animal DNA will give your dinosaur different stats, which will affect its life in the wild. We’re talking things like attack and defence, which come into play when your dinosaurs may get into struggles in the park. Also, if your dinosaur kills another dinosaur, it will inherit some of its stats. Having powerful dinos in your park will increase the number of guests that want to attend, as they want to see these powerful beasts for themselves.
And yes, before you ask, you can nickname the dinosaurs. Naming the dinosaurs gives it a personal touch, but this also means that you can name the buildings and gates too, which can be useful when you’re looking for a certain one in a certain area. It also makes it sadder when the dinos pass away, because it will say something along the lines of “Susan the Dinosaur has died.” Aw.
Dinosaurs within your park need to be kept happy and healthy in order for guests to keep coming. If they’re unhappy or uncomfortable in their environment, they’re going to try and escape. They need to have enough grass, area for them to play in, food, and the population needs to be right. All of this information for each species is listed, so you simply need to pay attention to each dinosaur’s likes and dislikes. Oh, and if a carnivorous dino escapes its pen, you bet the guests better watch out.
You’ll be able to explore the park in a gyrosphere as well as on a monorail, so you’re going to want to build a park that you yourself enjoy. In the end, it’s about keeping everyone happy; the gusts, the division heads, but most importantly the dinosaurs. Life has found a way in this new simulator.