Zoo Tycoon






     The community for this game has been one of the friendliest I have seen. To me, these traits are what keep the game alive and allow the community itself to flourish.


     One thing that has always struck me amazing was the amount of times forums and site were reinstalled and/or wiped clean. This is why there are very few traces of the community's history, and what remains are missing pieces and incomplete. What exasperates this is people were so secretive with their online identities during the early 2000s that it's virtually impossible to go back and find any way to contact anyone even with Wayback Machine.

     As I mentioned before, part of what drew me in was the great design community. The specific site I was a part of was Zoo Admin run by Loewenfrau and Aussie Koala. I took it for granted at the time that everyone I met online seemed to have programming or graphic design skills and were all learning to mod games no matter how young or old; you could just scroll through the game development discussion in the Forums or check out all the Downloads created by other people. Forum games were also common - just random add-a-word stories or make-believe battles by posting what you imagined you were doing. We even would play Canasta regularly on Yahoo Games, which is where I was first introduced to and became addicted to that card game. I also did not realize this until almost a decade later, but virtually everyone I spent my time with online was actually from another country - Aussie Koala from Australia, Loewenfrau from Germany, Casey from Canada, Pixigger from Germany... There were senior programmers, biologists, composers, even someone who triple-majored in computer science, physics, and biology. At the time, I thought it was normal and that the rest of the world was similarly full amazing people no matter where you went. This was partially reinforced by the fact I knew Roller Coaster Tycoon was created entirely by one guy Chris Sawyer - the graphics, music, programming, everything, and that was what I considered normal. After about half a year of learning and creating custom content for the game, I became a member of the site's Designers team. There was even a secret forum only for designers, which made this all the more exciting. When I arrived, most of the community's older members had already left, but the few who really stood out from what I can recall were Markbell, Casey, Pixigger.

     Markbell was not really active, in a way already gone when I had arrived. However, he wrote one of the few building creation tutorials, which if it weren't for him, many buildings would probably have never been made. A building in Zoo Tycoon actually required some programming with .dll files, something which very few in the community knew how to do.

     Casey was one of the few who were actual programmers in real life. He, in a way, picked up where Markbell left off and was often the one to refer to for help with buildings, scenarios, and other more complicated projects. He slowly started distancing from the community after an unfortunate car accident. At the time of this writing, I do not think he has left yet, but he does not seem to visit the community as often now.

     Pixigger arguably achieved the furthest in designing and was one of the most helpful in the community. I do not recall anything he could not create for Zoo Tycoon, and he and Casey were the only two to understand fully how to create custom scenarios. During his leave, he unfortunately became caught up in the Zoo Admin vs. Zoo Tek feud and his reputation suffered somewhat a decline. The two sites have always hated each other for some reason, leading to constant bickering and accusations (aka flame wars), to the point there were rules about not mentioning the other site. It is rather sad that the last mentions of him would be remnants a flame war, rather than that of his countless achievements (or even just his farewell letter).

     I myself was caught up in that same flame war that marked the end of Pixigger's career; arguably it also marked my leave out of the community and onto Age of Mythology. At some point, it became known that I was only 12 years old, and accusations started that I must have been stealing code from the best of Zoo Tek, as no 12-year-old could have created all the things I did or come up with all the tricks/hacks for the game. Most of it surrounded the fact I figured out how to implement teleportation and tunnels in Zoo Tycoon, something for years thought impossible in the game; it just so happened that no one in the years before me thought to set the entry/exit coordinates of a building to something much farther than the building itself (hence the illusion of telportation or traveling through a tunnel). However, because so few people actually knew how to mod buildings in Zoo Tycoon, it was made out to be an extremely difficult accomplishment, to the point that even to this day, it's still described in phrases like "discovered programming," something that required knowing "4 computer languages" and working for "11 months" rather than just simply setting the exit coordinates to whatever numbers you desired. Shortly after my own work was released, I would be accused of stealing this "secret" from others on the opposing site who happened to release something similar around the same time. The smears got pretty crazy, including a whole thread going as far as saying, "imagine what a f-king terrible person that kid will become if he's already such a stealing and lying piece of s-- at 12."

Fun Stuff

     Alot of interesting things cropped up during my time in the community. Much of it perhaps was not Zoo Tycoon related at all, but it is great to look back at these. Fortunately I archived a number of these, for much if it no longer exists online.


  • Major Sites:
    • Zoo Admin - One of the oldest Zoo Tycoon fansites and one of the most popular as well. This was the site I associated with and designed for. The site is no longer up, but you can find it on the Wayback Machine, which ironically I found out about from the Zoo Admin community. My first profile online ever can be found here: Flamethrower.
    • ZooTek - Although once an 'enemy' of Zoo Admin, it seems to be getting along quite fine now and is also one of the most popular and oldest fansites.
    • Pixigger's Encyclopaedia of Zoo Tycoon - Pixigger's site containing not only his works but much useful information and resources as well.
    • Markbell's Site - Markbell's site, often linked to for his information and guides on creating buildings.
    • Wisco's Zoo Tycoon - A database of information and statistics relating to the game. Extremely useful reference site.
  • Smaller Fansites:
    • Savahna Secrets - Not an actual site for Zoo Tycoon, but it was a fun site created by a number of the Zoo Tycoon community and was quite active at one point.
    • Zoo People - A now-dead site. At one point it was somewhat active.
- Zoo Tycoon is a game by Bluefang and Microsoft Game Studios.
The pages in this particular part of the site are based on the old Zoo Admin. -