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Zoo Tycoon Gold
Dev Dairies: Conservation Areas
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An interview with: Charles Miles
Title: Senior Designer
Responsible For: Scenarios and Challenges, New Content, Conservation Areas


What are “Conservation Areas” and how do they impact the gameplay in Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species?

Conservation areas are protected areas on the zoo map that are enclosed by a conservation fence. Special rules apply inside these environmentally sensitive areas—you can’t go in and just flatten everything with a bulldozer! In a conservation area you cannot destroy foliage or rocks, raise or lower terrain, or place buildings on the protected terrain.

There’s still a lot you can still do with a conservation area. You can put animals inside it, for example, so with a little ingenuity you can turn a conservation area into a great animal exhibit. As a bonus your guests will donate slightly more to your zoo if they view the appropriate animals inside a conservation area.


What was the inspiration for Conservation Areas?

Conservation areas came up while we were brainstorming for the expansion pack. We knew we wanted to reinforce the game’s endangered animals theme, and we also knew we wanted to add new twists to the building side of the game. When conservation areas were suggested we realized they would allow us to do both things at once.

Many of the animals in the game are endangered because of loss of habitat, so conservation areas help remind you that there’s more to saving endangered species than just the animals—you have to preserve their habitats as well. For example, one scenario begins with the discovery of a pair of Baird’s tapirs near a small Central American town. The town decides the best way to help the tapirs is to create a conservation area for them and then build a small zoo around the conservation area.

On the building side you really have to adjust your strategy when you can’t alter every piece of terrain. Instead of just flattening everything in sight you have to stop and think, “How will I make this conservation area fit in with the rest of my zoo?” It adds a little dash of extra challenge.


Can players create their own conservation areas? If so, how? Are conservation areas available in all game modes?

Conservation areas are available in all game modes. Players can’t create their own conservation areas, but conservation areas can be found in most of the scenarios. We’ve also added a full set of new maps that include conservation areas so that you can use one of those maps if you want to play a challenge or free-form game that includes conservation areas. There’s a new map for each biome and each map has an appropriately themed conservation area. The new boreal biome map, for example, features a grove of majestic giant sequoias, while the new desert map has a protected oasis.


What are some creative ways that players can use Conservation Areas in their Zoos?

While you can’t build most things inside conservation areas, you can build the new elevated paths and sky tram tours over conservation areas. That gives you a lot of new building options.

If you’re using the conservation areas as exhibits you can use elevated paths and sky trams to give your guests a better view of the animals inside. Since you can place things like benches, buildings, and roads on top of elevated paths, you can create pretty elaborate viewing areas. If the conservation area is a mountain range or some other obstacle, then the challenge is figuring out how to get your guests over the obstacle.


What is your favorite aspect of this new feature?

I like the way conservation areas add a new challenge while at the same time making the game feel more real. One of the new scenarios has a huge savannah conservation area that’s big enough to hold a couple of dozen animals. The scenario has you build a sky tram tour, and one time after building the tour I was riding in the sky tram looking down at the conservation area at sunset. I could see four or five different species of animal drinking from the river and running around in this very natural-looking landscape. It really looked like twilight in Africa!

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