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Feature: 'Postmortem: Blue Fang's Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania'

No project goes entirely according to plan, and even Marine Mania - the third expansion pack for Blue Fang's Zoo Tycoon 2 - was not without its lessons lear...
No project goes entirely according to plan, and even Marine Mania - the third expansion pack for Blue Fang's Zoo Tycoon 2 - was not without its lessons learned. In today's exclusive Gamasutra postmortem, producer Linda Currie reminisces about the ups and downs of this unique project. In this excerpt, Currie explains that despite the heavy amount of planning that had gone into the expansion, features and unforeseen circumstances still fell through the cracks: "We had actually done a lot of design work on Marine while Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species was still in development. In fact we delivered our first Marine milestone, which was all of our documentation (functional spec, tech spec, schedule, etc…) to Microsoft within four weeks of delivering Endangered Species to manufacturing. Needless to say there’s a lot of work in creating these documents and a few things were overlooked. For instance, although our initial schedule accounted for the fact that we needed to create animations for the guests sitting in the grandstands to react to marine shows, we overlooked the fact that the young guests needed their own specific animations for these actions as they would be unable to share those adult size animations. Oops! The technical spec and the schedule were probably the most impacted by this and fortunately we were able to revise our plans and absorb the things that fell through the cracks relatively painlessly (notice I did not say “pain-free”). We also underestimated some of the difficulty in transitioning to 3D movement through water. We knew it would be hard of course but it proved to be even more challenging than we expected. A lot of time was spent in this area to smooth out the pops, deal with obstacle avoidance, transition between land and water, etc. We expected it, we just didn’t expect quite as much of it." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, with more from Currie on the importance of Wiki, the studio's special relationship with Microsoft, and what to do when a system change requires an edit of 1700 files (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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