Freelance game, tech and movie journalist from the Netherlands.
“this is the game we’ve always wanted to make – and now we can”
As a kid, you might have fallen in love with the mighty creatures from the prehistoric era. Be it through weeping with Little Foot in The Land Before Time or when Dr. Grant had to make his escape from the terrifying T. Rex in the first Jurassic Park film, the once dead dinosaurs have found new life within pop culture. They have even invaded the video game space with titles such as Turok, Dino Crisis and this year’s Jurassic World Evolution. And while those big titles aim to replicate the thrills of man vs Dino, our current look at indie game Parkasaurus is sure to fill you with delight and whimsy. This is the story of Chris McQuinn and Mayuran Thurairatnam, ex-developers of Drinkbox Studios and Guacamelee-fame, and how they decided to start Washbear Studio; all to create a new prehistoric experience.
Colorful and Zany Dinosaurs in Parkasaurus
Both guys recently worked on Parkasaurus, which can be best described as a light-hearted approach to the tycoon management genre using colorful and zany dinosaurs. In Parkasaurus your dinosaurs are seen as best friends, and players are presented with unique mechanics to create exhibits and the overall design of their park to maximize their happiness. The game heavily reminds me of games like classic park management simulators such as Zoo Tycoon and Jurassic World Evolution which released this year.
Before they started working on Parkasaurus, they prototyped a lot of other ideas like a kayak game, and a tactile turn-based combat simulator. Only after turning the ideas from the binder into a fully working prototype, did their love for dinosaurs help them decide on what to do next.
Chris, what inspired you to make this game?
“Truthfully the inspiration of the game came from a fancy design binder that was made by Mayuran’s wife. She had this vision for a cool dinosaur tycoon game, drew out all the ideas, and put them in this amazing decorated binder which sat on a shelf for some time.
I always loved dinosaurs. I grew up wanting to be a paleontologist as a kid. The Stegosaurus – I’m very vanilla in my favorite dinosaur species – was always my favorite. The Stego to me is incredibly iconic and distinguished and has evolved to prefer defense over offense, which sort of suits my personality.“
Don’t you think people will compare the game to Triple AAA’s like Jurassic World Evolution?
“I think at first glance it is impossible for people to not make the comparison with Jurassic World Evolution, but after playing the game we hope people will immediately see the differences. There is a lot of ideas and features in Parkasaurus that we think is (sic) unique and will provide a fresh experience for those who love dinosaurs and tycoon management games.
I love both AAA and Indie games. For me Indie games – and I use this term loosely – Indie games tend to take more risks or try newer ideas. For Parkasaurus we can try ideas that everyone might not like, and that’s ok. We have more flexibility to not follow the rules of what is expected from a genre. This is what I like most about Indie games.”
Have you guys had any struggles during development?
“We are fairly familiar with the traditional development struggles but what did catch us off guard was the challenge to not work all the hours of the day on the Parkasaurus. Truth be told we still spend almost every hour of the day making this game because we were highly motivated doing so.
Our motivation really comes from the fact this is the game we’ve always wanted to make – and now we can. This is a very liberating feeling, and exciting. Also scary. Seeing Parkasaurus transform itself into our original vision (with differences) keeps us going.”
What helped you decide which platform this game should be released on?
“Our decision on the platform really came down to what was practical at the time. Since our team is only 2 members making Parkasaurus for Steam initially made the most sense. Each platform and OS after that requires additional weeks of development so, for now, we’re taking small steps to ensure the company is sustainable.
Our future goal is to go back to genres we loved growing up and to put a new spin on them, both from a design perspective and artistic perspective.“
You can start your own prehistoric theme park on September 25th, 2018. Currently, this game is in Early Access on Steam, so a few people are already taking care of their own dinosaurs.