The DNA of Jurassic World Evolution
Frontier opens the doors to its stunning Jurassic Park
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Frontier, developer of Elite Dangerous, has been chosen to create Jurassic World Evolution. The dev has a pedigree for creating realistic animal animation and advanced AI systems – its PC hit Planet Coaster has garnered over a million players in a year – so a game in which you create and manage your own Jurassic Park is a natural fit.
On a personal level it’s about working on projects the dev loves. “At Frontier we’re known for making games about spaceships, roller coasters, and dinosaurs; it’s my toy box,” says chief creative officer Jonny Watts.
It’s a throwaway comment that overshadows the studio’s commitment to realism, detail, and depth of content. “I believe in authenticity and Frontier games do too. Everything we do is based in science fact,” continues Watts, who as a zoology graduate knows a thing or two about animal science.
“We’re going to recreate Jurassic World in a game,” states Watts boldly.
Part of achieving this is tapping into Universal and Industrial Light & Magic’s wealth of art and research. For example, the dinosaurs in the game are based on the same models created for the films. “When they came through we had them laid out in a scene and we were all geeking out over it, and scrutinising them,” says an excited Nick Rodgers, head of animation.
Visual accuracy is important to bringing Jurassic Park to consoles – after all, management sims aren’t big news on PlayStation 4, so we need a reason to be invested.
“It’s really important for me that the game revives how people thought and felt when they watched the film. There’s a real emotional investment people found in the films; to get those key moments across, to get people feeling how they did about the film is important,” says Rodgers.
TO GET PEOPLE FEELING HOW THEY DID ABOUT THE FILM IS IMPORTANT.
LORE OF NATURE
Your enjoyment of Jurassic World Evolution will depend on how immersed in the film’s lore Frontier can make you feel. This will come from being in the hot seat and
creating a park that fits your personality. There will be three elements that underpin your park: science, entertainment, and security. Do you go full John Hammond and create pure entertainment, or opt for a science-focused park, or take your guidance from the new ‘World’ films and make pure killing machines? Or a little of everything?
To do this you’ll first need to send out research parties across the world to dig sites, finding fossils and bones to draw DNA from. Back in the lab your teams can splice-and-dice to create dinosaurs for the park. As you make progress you’ll unlock InGen Database entries and ‘classic’ Jurassic Park moments.
This is the core idea, but layered throughout are nuances and decisions to be made, from how to treat the dinosaurs to how to build and maintain a functioning, profitable theme park. You can build it and they will come, and making money from visitors will mean more funds for research and more dinos.
There’s a complex ecosystem at work too. Dinosaurs will react differently to different ‘species’; flora and fauna can poison or promote healthy beasts; and herd AI will determine how they move about the islands. There will be six islands in total, including the film’s Isla Nubla, and each will have a unique habitat, weather system, and challenges. You’ll eventually manage all six as a going concern, ensuring scope for plenty of crisis management… which is, of course, really why we all want a Jurassic Park game.
Watts says: “Life finds a way and calamity strikes. There is an important message in there even going back to the Michael Crichton book – nature is a force and always finds a way. So how will you deal with it?” No doubt with a lot of frenzied menu surfing, coupled with beautiful shots of rampaging dinosaurs and terrified customers running for their lives. We can’t wait. Jurassic World Evolution will release summer 2018, just in time for the film.
The dinosaurs will react to their environment, moving in herds or attacking rivals.
Storms and random events will cause havoc at your smoothly run park.
The T-rex will feature in the game. But will you fiddle with its DNA?