Five easily-made animals

A lot of animals in Planet Zoo are often quite similar to one another, either by being rather closely-related species (Indian and African elephants; chimpanzees and bonobos; Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises) or being subspecies (Bengal and Siberian tigers; grey and arctic wolves). I think it may be quite likely that future DLC will try and repurpose existing animals where possible to add new animals without as much effort as would be required to make brand new models. As such, I have made a list of five new animals that could easily be repurposed from existing animals that I think would add something to the game (I have only chosen species rather than subspecies of existing animals). I also thought of three new 'models' that could suit multiple different species:

1) Arabian oryx - While it is essentially just a recolour of the gemsbok, this would be the first species of Asian antelope in the game which also has higher conservation priority and also has a long history of conservation in zoos.

2) European bison - This is actually the species on my list that would differ most from its original model (the American bison), with a quite different body shape; however it would add the first European exclusive animal and one that zoos are actively breeding for reintroduction into the wild in real life.

3) Asian tapir - This would add a charismatic Southeast Asian tropical species with only some minor tweaking required from the Baird's tapir; they are probably also the most widely-kept tapir in zoos worldwide.

4) Lemurs - There are several lemurs that could be repurposed from the existing two species - I would choose one species of Eulemur (such as the crowned, red-bellied, mongoose or my personal favourite, the Sclater's lemur) and also the greater bamboo lemur.

5) Argentine giant tegu - This could quite easily be repurposed from the Nile monitor, requiring some changing of the head shape but otherwise would be a simple new species that would add another new reptile and a new South American species.

As for the three newer models that could cover a range of species:
1) Medium-small ungulate - This could encompass both small antelope (namely the duikers, native to tropical Africa) and deer (the brockets from tropical Central/South America and the muntjacs from temperate Asia); I would probably choose the Reeve's muntjac as the original and make at least a species of duiker from that.

2) Long-tailed colobine monkey - This could include both African colobus (I would choose the white-thighed colobus for its critically endangered status and the fact it has directly been stated that the species should be bred in European zoos) and Asian langurs (such as red-shanked douc, Francois' langur and Gee's golden langur); I would choose the white-thighed colobus as the original and make at least one Asian langur using the colobus model.

3) Medium-small cat - These would require some tweaking between models - I would start with a relatively basic species like the ocelot, which could then be remade into other species such as the fishing cat (similar in shape, but with higher water demands), the Temminck's golden cat (larger and with a longer tail) and a species of wildcat (smaller but with a comparatively longer tail).
 
You don't actually know what "easy" means in this regard. Yes it is easier, but it's not as simple as applying a new skin and being done with it. Even the polar bear, a "repurposed" bear, includes new animations and behaviours that need to be programmed. I read somewhere that a new rig (the animal's digital skeleton) takes up to 70 days to make or more. That's for a single brand new animal. It takes less time to make a new monitor lizard or tortoise or something, but that's relative - the 70 days is just for the rig, not the skin, the animations, the AI, and so on.
 
I'd also like to add that even though an animal might be easy to add, that doesn't mean they should be added when it comes to interest :p

I'm all for smaller cats because I love cats, I also love ungulates because you can often make large herds so I can always do with more of those. But another tapir, another bison, another lemur, another monitor? Meh on those. Easy to make, yes, but not very interesting imo.

However, due to them being easy to make, clones like another tapir/lemur/bison/ etcetera are likely to be in future DLCs according to many people on these forums that have knowledge on game development. So who knows :)
 
However, due to them being easy to make, clones like another tapir/lemur/bison/ etcetera are likely to be in future DLCs according to many people on these forums that have knowledge on game development. So who knows :)
I'm one of the people that believes that, but I don't have knowledge of game development - it's more a recognition of a pattern.

Based on the secondhand knowledge of how long an animal takes to create, and the kinds of animals we got in the base game and the Arctic Pack, it seems pretty clear that the majority of new content will be clone animals purely because it makes sense from a business standpoint. If they can get away with making animals different enough that they appear new (like the reindeer, and the Dall sheep, or even the polar bear) then they can minimise complaints while also knowing they won't be able to please everyone. This way they know people will still buy the DLC, so they still get their pay day, but they didn't have to pour all of their resources into creating it.

In the base game, we were told there would be enormous variety in animals (not just on an individual level, but in terms of species). There are two points of contention here:

- Exhibit animals are lower-scale. They exist on a fixed position and their animations are looped from that fixed position. Movement is at a minimum. While they do use unique models for the most part, the need to create unique models is not such a big deal because in terms of AI the animal really doesn't need any attention. It's more like a decoration than an actual animal, as its needs are centred around the exhibit itself. A lot of the biodiversity in the base game came from these exhibit animals.

- We got a lot of clones in the base game. Some were obvious (Himalayan brown bear, two giant tortoises, two tigers), some were less so (Komodo dragon, other bears, and so on). The thing is, we can accept that most of the animals are based on the rigs of other animals because they come from a similar family (hoofed animals, bears, big cats) as long as they have different animations and AI (the Bactrian camel was based off of the zebra, I think, but you wouldn't know it). In other cases it's more of a problem (the pronghorn is not a true antelope, and cannot jump, but it can in the game and behaves like a gazelle).

I think the biggest culprits are the brown bears, tortoises, and tigers. Almost everything else gets a pass because they are unique enough. The tigers probably get a pass because some zoos actually display both subpopulations anyway, or at least more than one subpopulation if it isn't specifically the Bengal and the Siberian, and both subpopulations have very different biomes.

Then we get to the Arctic DLC. It's the same thing again - the reindeer and dall sheep look like whole new animals, so that's fine, but the bear and wolf are obvious clones. The polar bear was in high demand, and is again different enough from the existing bears that people won't complain too loudly, but the wolf was a big mistake. It's a beautiful animal and they doubtless worked hard on it, but it was not in the slightest what the community wanted and it felt like a "wasted slot". It also adds a new issue of consistency in how species are represented, because the base game already had the timber wolf, which was the species as a whole (i.e. not a specific subspecies, so technically we already had the Arctic wolf).

I'm not here to rag on Frontier of course, even if it sounds like I am. I personally don't mind 'clone' animals (though I will confess that the Arctic wolf was at the bottom of my list, and the fact that they didn't change and haven't changed the timber wolf into a specific subspecies makes both unusable to me), and I honestly do hope for more in the future (I'd love the Sumatran tiger, for example), but not at the expense of more unique animals.

My biggest concern is for the eventual Australian DLC we receive. Most Australian animals would require brand new rigs, then brand new animations and AI. There's nothing in the game that could be translated over to a kangaroo or a koala or even a Tasmanian devil. The emu is really the only 'unique' Australian animal that can be partially cloned from another animal (the ostrich). Of course, Australia is also home to the dingo, the freshwater crocodile, and the perentie (a wolf, a crocodile, and a monitor lizard), which could all be "easily" copied from existing animals in the game. So what I worry about is that they'll make a kangaroo (they'll have to, they wouldn't get away with it if they didn't for an Australian DLC), and then give us a new crocodile or monitor lizard instead of something more unique, like the Tasmanian devil. In this case I don't think it's justified - it's like the Arctic wolf all over again.

To illustrate that point, since before launch Frontier knew we wanted some kind of fox in the game, people asked about it in interviews and it was heavily discussed. There was no fox in the base game, which is fine, most foxes aren't exactly 'common' in zoos anyway, but then they dropped the Arctic DLC and instead of an Arctic fox (a perfect example of the Arctic that we didn't already have, and that Frontier was aware we wanted) they gave us the wolf. Odds are good the Arctic Pack was already deep into development since before the game even launched, so you can't fault them too much, but there's also the point to consider that the chosen release schedule for the pack was Christmas - marketing strategy. Frame it like a gift, rake in that Christmas shopping money. So was the Arctic wolf added with consideration in mind, or was it added last minute to justify the pricetag?

Anyway at this point I'm rambling. To refocus, I don't know about game development, but I know about human nature, and I'm good at recognising patterns. The TL;DR version of this post is that we are likely to get more clone animals in the future because Frontier has already given us a ton of them anyway and it seems to be their modus operandi in terms of deciding what animals to add to the game.
 
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