FISH FISH FISH FISH! Oh goodness, I have zero chill when it comes to fish. That is going to make writing about Megaquarium [official site] - a theme park management game from Big Pharma creator Tim Wicksteed, where you run your own aquarium - difficult because mostly I just want to tell you everything I think about fish at any given moment. I will try to rein it in so I can get this news post up efficiently.
The game build at Rezzed was early on, so the tools were quite bare-bones and placing rooms was a bit finickity BUT the core of the game was there, so I was placing tanks, populating them with fish and decorations, hiring aquarium staff, welcoming visitors and all of that good stuff.
As per the background info:
"The possibilities for gameplay depth are endless once you start to consider all the wide-ranging requirements of the various aquatic lifeforms. Some fish like to have an anemone host to hide in. Others will bully or eat any fish smaller than them. Some like to nibble plants while others sift for tasty morsels from the substrate."
There were also the hints of how the game will grow, with options to place some of the less attractive bits of the aquarium (like filter systems) behind the scenes, hidden from visitors using the gating mechanism of staff-only doors. You unlock more fish, tanks, decorations... by accumulating science and ecology points when people come to visit and then spending your cash to actually acquire them for the aquarium.
Speaking to the lead developer, Tim Wicksteed, he's also working out things like how you evaluate whether the aquarium is a good visitor experience and how you balance that with fish wellbeing (do they have enough hiding spots, for example). He's also looking into how you might breed fish and the trade-offs between representing how real fish behave/how real aquaria work versus fun game systems.
Essentially there's a lot to be determined but the basics are in place and you have no idea how excited I was about all of this. I think we chatted for a good half hour about everything from seahorse breeding at the Bristol aquarium to the current requirements in jellyfish tanks - Berlin has a brilliant jellyfish breeding program, by the way. I visited the aquarium there when I had a bit of downtime before a League of Legends World Championship final a couple of years ago.
There's also this great post which excerpts bits from a paper on the moon jellyfish life cycle authored by biologists at the Horniman Museum. I can't find the text online but I remember one aquarium offering information about how round tanks were useful for jellyfish keeping because of how the jellies don't get stuck in corners if anything goes wrong with the current in the tank.
I'm doing it again, aren't I? Going off on tangents about underwater creatures. BECAUSE THEY ARE SO INTERESTING.
Anyway, I played the demo until a little coral hind called Flash I'd been nurturing (it's a type of spotty grouper) was happy and well-fed enough that he grew bigger.
Megaquarium is expected towards the beginning of next year. This will be the longest year of all the years.