Back in 2004, an eight-year-old me found a copy of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis in PC World’s ‘two for a fiver’ bin and promptly asked his parents for a pocket money advance. I didn’t get off that game until 2006 at the very least. I was, and still am, a huge dinosaur nerd and I think I have JPOG to blame for it.
Then 2015 came and with the release of Jurassic World the demand for an Operation Genesis sequel was higher than ever. The franchise heard the prayers of the public and in May 2015 came Lucida’s officially licenced ‘Jurassic World: The Game’. The only problem was that it was a generic, cookie-cutter IOS game with minimum customisation and an emphasis on turn-based battling. This was like praying for the return of a dead relative and instead of receiving a hamster with the relative’s name scrawled on its back in sharpie. We can’t really complain, but we expected a lot more.
It's times like these I’m thankful for Kickstarter.
Namely, Mesozoica (mez-uh-zoh-ik-ah). The prehistoric zoo building tycoon that some, including the devs, are describing as the spiritual successor to Operation Genesis.
Honestly, I was going to say something about difficult to pronounce name, but I’m just glad they didn’t go for some kind of generic JP rip off name like Triassic Gardens or Cambrian fucking Arboretum.
I started following Mesozoica around a year ago since then I’ve been checking in regularly. Watching it develop eagerly like a fat kid watching an ice cream truck on the horizon.
During this time I’ve noticed a few things.
Firstly, the Facebook page mainly posts AI demonstrations and dinosaur skin sets, showing an emphasis on customisation. I found the demonstrations to be one part impressive and two parts heart-warming as in many of the clips you can hear the team laughing excitedly in the background.
Secondly, the game’s original score is KICK ASS. Props to Nicholas Rivera for creating an awesome soundtrack.
It’s clear that a lot of effort has been going into Mesozoica, the team have even been to an Alligator Farm to record dinosaur sound effects!
But alas, it’s one year later and still no ice cream.
In order to learn a bit more, I spoke to Max Wood of the Mesozoica team.
Max emphasised the work that's gone into making Mesozoica’s Mesozoic inhabitants so impressive.
He said, “I would say our animals are top of the line and something we really feel proud of. From the models to the animations, to the AI.”
…And that’s probably exactly what John Hammond said right before he started building Jurassic Park.
A recent update on the Kickstarter page voiced the team’s concern with overhyping the game. I can understand this, just look at other crowdfunded games that were released this year. Mighty No.9 and No Man’s Sky were both highly anticipated games which, when released were met with quiet disappointment from backers as they tried to justify spending £100 to have their names put in the credits.
But for Mesozoica, development doesn’t stop after release. It uses a special modular system which will allow the team to quickly and easily add new creatures to the game once it’s hit the Steam store.
Max said, “Our modular system ensures our addition of content is not only ensured but easy from the development side,”
“Our AI is based off of our animations. So instead of modelling and then creating individual AI based of the animations, we pair the AI we have set up with the animations to any animals that have those animations.”
I once heard someone say that the greatest remedy for anger is delay. This quote probably does apply to quite a lot of situations but it seems like the gaming community has taken this quote and re-arranged it as their new number one rule. It being, the greatest remedy for delay is anger. Mesozoica is no exception from this rule, with its Kickstarter comments page littered with backers inquiring about the games release and some backers asking if the game will even be released.
When asked about this Max said, “Because we rather have people angry at us for delaying than be mad at us for releasing a bad game.”
“People don't realize how attached we are to Mesozoica it's very much like a child to us. One we have to protect till it's ready.”
Despite the delays Max’s message was clear and simple: Mesozoica is coming.
To stay up-to-date with Mesozoica follow them on facebook.
Article by Mickey Evans