The most important management points of the game relies on false mechanics (or no mechanics at all).

This game is very disapointing.
I came to play to Planet Zoo despite the bad reputation of the previous frontiers games because this opus appears to have good review on the management side.
But after playing several dozen of hours, I finally figure out that a BIG portion of the management system is simply based on very bad, or even false, mechanics.

Let's take some example to illustrate the level of falseness of certains point of the game.

The (sad) story of the little safari rail :

Imagine you build a Safari system in your park, based on a rail system with several stop. Like in the safari park scenario of the career mode.
You make the most beautifull safari, which travel around all your enclosure, you create special glass panel for the passenger to see the inside or nearby enclosure. You test and open the system, well, you are very proud of it.
But don't get too happy, it's a sad story remembers ? :devilish:

In fact you decide to follow some guests to see if all is good with the view of animals from the train and to admire the beautifull result of your hard work on guests satisfaction and ....
and it don't exist, at all....
During the trip, guests didn't raise any thoughts about whatever they see, the level of hapiness don't change at all... it's not visitors that are in your safari system, it's just 3D undead model. You have made all of that for ... nothing ...

In fact the all attraction system seems to be a not so nice copy-paste of the Planet Coaster system but without any modification to make it fit in the Planet Zoo. The attraction is certainly affected by a hiden quality system due to it's size and other parameters and it permit to have an entry price linked to the attraction "quality", but the visitor simply don't exist on this attraction, they don't visit the zoo and if one of them want to see a giraf and the attraction is stuck during a day by a giraf it will eventually leave the park very unhappy ... to not have seen any giraf ....

Well, the all system is broken ....

But wait, it's not the only problem of this category. Let's explore a little more.

The (sad) story of the guests hapiness :

You construct a park, a beautifull park, with all that a human being need, baloon, a lot of baloon of course, but also food, drink, and fancy toilet. Regulary spaced with spectacular sign to indicate to the guests where to find one, you are proud of all of that. And, as you assume that it will let the guests happyier that before, you decide to follow a guest. And well, at this point you are happy, because the thoughts of the guest seems to be OK with all of that. But well, as the number of visit didn't raise a lot and as the enjoyement of the parc didn't change a lot, you decide to make a scientific test.

You decide to isolate a group of guests on a cut path for months and you wait. As a result of the needs of the visitors fall in red (in 4 years ! It needs 4 gently caressing years to have a guests toilet need to go to red o_O) BUT the hapiness didn't move at all.
So well, very surprised by that, because wait, it's the base on this kind of game no ? To have guests hapiness be affected by what they do, need etc... , i decide to replicate the experiment with a lot of extreme measures.

I picked a group of guests and isolate them on a cut section of the path, circled by employees building and i pick a pick-pocket that i luckily catch at the entrance of my parc to drop him among them.
I could have not set a worse environnement, and after several years all the needs of the visitors are red and all the Though of the visitors are red too, they had their monney stolen, their need are minimal, they hate the building around them. It's the perfect test environnement.

And guess what ? the hapiness system seems to don't care of all of that .... all the group is happy, and finally when i let them go back to the entrance, they leave very happy without seing any animals, with their needs at minimal and their though all on the red....

Conclusion : All the guests needs system are false, the visitors don't really care of their needs and in fact all relies on the roleplay of the player and not of gameplay mechanics of the game ...

This is disapointing...

The (sad) story of the guests hapiness, retaliation :
But what drive exactly the guests hapiness ? We can make a quick test : if you observe visitors at the entrance of your park you will see that the hapiness indicator drop a little for each meter during the visitors walk. Yes it simply that : the system is very dumb, the enjoyement simply drop linearly with the distance... o_O

There is no disappointmement system, no seing an animal or not system, there is no needs system that drive the enjoyement low, it's simply the distance. All of the mechanic of enjoyement in construct like that. The result is simple : make a very little park and the guests will ALWAYS leave happy. Always... More extreme : make a park with no animals (an animal is needed to begin the visitors flow, but you can simply put it in inaccessible location) ---> and observe, the guests will come, and return to their home happy, simply because the enjoyement have no time to fall. :cautious:

You can see how this system is very bad with this simple exemple ... Visitors which have paid and seen no animals are just very happy in an empty park, and leave happy.
The other side of this very bad system is that a park with distance between attraction will surely drive the visitors mad.

The (sad) story of the guests numbers :
But as we have seen in the two last story, the guests system are mainly false, bad, or, at least, very artificial.
But well, what drive the number of visitors that come to your park is the main system that could judge of that is broken ?

answer : it's mainly fixed. I have made park with long alley to drive visitors mad and test the asumption and it didn't change the numbers of guests in years.
I have also make a park with no animals (one inaccessible) and the fact to see or not to see animals are no indirect or direct impact of the visitors numbers in 4 years. At the last years of the test, guests suddenly drops to 0 in one day, i assume that there is a control script that check all the 4 years that your park have animal whick can be seen. But well, it's a very late security, and it's more a security that a game mechanics that change the gameplay ...

Conclusion :

All the guests need and hapiness system are broken and are no impact on the gameplay. And a lot of that relies on false mechanics. The hapiness of the visitors don't drop with their needs or other parameters, but mainly with the distance, which create a gameplay system with a lot of pitfall. The enjoyement, thoughts and the fact to see animals or not also don't seems to change noticeably the number of guests, which seems to simply be related to the number of animal in the park.

The all thing made the game very bad and artificial on the management side, because it's simply not a game anymore if anything that you create in the park as no real direct impact on the visitors side, or very indirectly ...

And i am troubled, Frontiers : you own the old licence of Roller Coaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon, which have, in my memory, a very good system of guest hapiness, needs, and of the impact of all of that on the number of guest that come, and more.... Why didn't you just copy-paste that ? Because currently, the all need system is at the level of an alpha branch, and i a am nice here ...
 
That’s a very interesting experiment! It’s true that guest AI is currently very weird, both with guests that are happy no matter what and guests that get angry immediately for the tiniest thing (see refunds problem). But I feel that the basics are there, it just needs more work. Planet Coaster guests are we irking fine on my opinion and these are the same after all. It just needs to be twitched correctly.

6 months-1 year from now they will work perfectly, I think.
 
That’s a very interesting experiment! It’s true that guest AI is currently very weird, both with guests that are happy no matter what and guests that get angry immediately for the tiniest thing (see refunds problem). But I feel that the basics are there, it just needs more work. Planet Coaster guests are we irking fine on my opinion and these are the same after all. It just needs to be twitched correctly.

6 months-1 year from now they will work perfectly, I think.
In fact it seems that the problem of guest unhappy is absolutly related. If my asumption is true after these experiments, the more walk you have in your park (mainly in big park) and the more chance you have to drive your guest mad. And of course, it will be frustrating because you will not understand why they are mad exactly and you will try figure this out by watching their thoughts : but it's a bad move, because negative thoughts seems to not be connected to the hapiness, so it will mislead you and you will think that guest are unhappy because of bad thoughts that have too much impact in the low hapiness. But it's a mistake, an optical effect.

I am not so positive about the fact that "all the mechanics is here but not tuned", if my asumption is true, the current mechanics are verrrryyyyyyyyy sparse and very basics, it is not impossible to implement from scratch good mechanics for guest AI, but i guess this will need a rework of the balance of the game, and well, we also know that frontier are not good for reworking key feature like AI, so i have very little hope about that ...
 
My animals are happy and I'm making a glorious profit. The visitors don't know what they want, and I don't care.
It's a point of view, but making profit in frontiers game are always be the PROBLEM. Because you make profit two easily and this achieve to turn the game in a simple lego game with good animation ...
Personaly i think that frontier can do beter than that ...
 
Here's a bump because this topic warrants discussion.

In your experiments, while negative thoughts did not impact the guests happiness, did positive ones? If someone buys a food or drink from a fully trained vendor with proper staff room trait does it increase that guest's happiness? I know that viewing animals does, but have been mostly ignoring their needs myself. I only run into issues, like you suggested, in larger zoos that are more spread out.

So my thought is that shops are implemented as little booster shots of happiness that you can put between habitats across larger distances to make sure the guests are staying happy. But...if even that isn't true then there is literally no point to them at all. Can't really test very well right now with the state of the game, so thought I'd ask.

Also, I's suggest a simpler title to draw more people's attention to this.
 
In your experiments, while negative thoughts did not impact the guests happiness, did positive ones? If someone buys a food or drink from a fully trained vendor with proper staff room trait does it increase that guest's happiness?
I know that viewing animals does, but have been mostly ignoring their needs myself. I only run into issues, like you suggested, in larger zoos that are more spread out.
No it seems to not doing anything. It raise a green though, but seems to not trigger a modification on the hapiness level. At least i didn't manage to see it, maybe this is by very very little amount, but i don't believe that.
It seems though are completly disconnected from hapiness except for seing animals.

At this point it seems needs only act as a potential cash generator as you can make monney by selling thing, but that's all. Which is kind of weird AI for this type of game imho.

So my thought is that shops are implemented as little booster shots of happiness that you can put between habitats across larger distances to make sure the guests are staying happy. But...if even that isn't true then there is literally no point to them at all. Can't really test very well right now with the state of the game, so thought I'd ask.
I don't think that's the case with my test, i think vivarium have this kind of role but that's all. But it should require better testing to be sure.

Also, I's suggest a simpler title to draw more people's attention to this.
Good point, i will think about a best title.
 
It might be down to every visitor just being simulated once when entering. Like having some sort of average calculation of distance to travel vs amenities available. Try plonking down stuff like toilets and happyness buildings to see if that raises the happiness. Don't bother putting them in sensible locations. Just down in some corner. Maybe space them out in case there is a malus for spamming multiple buildings of same type close to each other. That path experiment might have shown that the guest isn't really tracked while wandering the park so see if you can game that system.
 
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