In Fall 2009 we were privileged enough to have the opportunity to meet with the BlueFang staff, creators of the Zoo Tycoon and World of Zoo series. The day proved just how inspiring a team of high quality game enthusiasts can be!
Scott Triola, Chief Operating Officer of BlueFang, explained that the studio had been around for 11 years. Their first product was Zoo Tycoon, long a favorite game in our household. He explained that BlueFang had built their expertise around the modeling and knowledge of the animal kingdom. They soon moved on to Zoo Tycoon 2, and with it they set the bar high for any competitors. I know - I've been addicted to this game for quite a while.
This is a labor of love for the team members. As Scott explained "We've had people contact us and come to us because of our focus." Where other companies might draw in applicants because the commute is short, at BlueFang people seek them out because the company's goals and family-friendly atmosphere are a perfect fit.
Where many games come out strong when they launch, and then fade away as people get bored with their offering, with the BlueFang games the products sell strong year after year. There is always an interest in learning more about animals and the environments they live in, about helping to save wild tigers from extinction, and creating a better world to live in. This game goes beyond the typical "kill-em" mentality seen in most other games. You are learning real life knowledge, becoming involved in saving animals, and you can translate that in-game passion to a real world commitment.
Part of the BlueFang games' appeal is that they can be played by a variety of gamers. Strategists enjoy the placement of the cage systems, the layout of the amusements, and monitoring the park's visitors. Wildlife enthusiasts love getting each cage area just right so the animals are as happy as possible. These aren't just "gameplay tricks" - you really do want your penguins, your tigers, and your kangaroos to have the perfect combination of soil, plants, and water to thrive! The facts you learn are real life and educational. Of course there are also players who thrive on beauty and want to decorate their zoo world with fountains, benches, and shrubbery. Who knows, they might learn something about endangered animals along the way.
BlueFang's amazing product line didn't just happen by accident. Surely many other companies have set out to create high-sales products and failed. BlueFang focused on real world knowledge - and they also took care of their staff. Their office is set up in cross-disciplinary areas so that artists can talk with coders and share insights. Collaboration and discussion are hallmarks of the environment. They use the Agile development process, to focus on two weeks worth of effort, and celebrate those small victories along the way. They bring in young testers to ensure their game is fun not only for adults but also for the young ones. Their in-house sound studio ensures they get every animal's roar and squeak just right.
Testing is a key part of their cycle. They don't want a child to get stuck on a bug in the software! They resolve around 15,000 bugs in a given game, ensuring that no tiny glitch will hang up their gameplay.
BlueFang is seeing success with their model in PC, console, mobile phone, and social networking areas. Whatever type of system a user enjoys working with, BlueFang is there to provide a relaxing, thought-provoking, educational activity to help them learn and grow.
Out of the various game companies I've interviewed, BlueFang was definitely one of my favorites. Be sure to check out the BlueFang product line, and give them thanks for focusing on educational, family-friendly game fare!
BlueFang Gaming Company