View Full Version : Mapping a Fantasy Zoo

05-05-2012, 07:29 PM
I have another game-related map project on the go, but this time of a nature I don't see very often: mapping a zoo.

I did a fair bit of research before I started this project, and it struck me that there aren't very many *good* maps of zoos around. A lot of parks and zoos seem to forego readability and clear layouts in favour of 'funky' fonts and some hastily-pasted images of the animals on show. My aesthetic disappointment is by-the-by though, as in a practical sense I felt that unlike with transit maps, star charts and street maps, there wasn't any kind of rule set to grasp onto; no Harry Beck or Jean Roque to navigate by. I hope that's where we might get some communal discussion going, if you're game!

What I'm drawing is something between concept art and a game environment. The zoo appears on screen as part of the game interface, and it's interactive insofar as the player can tap an enclosure to see information about its inhabitants, but that's where interactivity ends. Thus, I won't be drawing on icons for toilet facilities and picnic areas, but I will be marking each enclosure in some fashion. The map is shown to the player at a raised perspective, sort of like that employed by theme parks (whose map layouts have proven to be much more useful reference material). It's also worth saying that it isn't a particularly realistic zoo, as the habitats are recreated almost authentically - because it's prettier, and it's easier to communicate to the player.

So far I have a few rough sketches and a 2D map, drawn in Illustrator. I was getting bogged down in matters of perspective rather than focusing on the actual layout when I was sketching, so I decided to get it all laid down somewhere flat, just to free up parts of my brain or whatever:


At this point I was mainly focusing on getting blocks down in a way which should be visible from a lower angle. The volcanic enclosure looms over the desert, which is visible as it pokes out from behind the mountainous area, and so on. All of it should be nicely visible as the player scrolls around.

I'll be working on the actual graphics once I've slept on it, and seen this concept map afresh. I'd really value your input if you have any, though!

05-06-2012, 10:37 AM
Ooh, what a neat concept! I *love* going to the zoo! Concept looks good, I think. What kind of scale are you thinking?

05-06-2012, 12:53 PM
That's tricky to pin down, as half the reason for my sketching bits of it over and over is to work out what sort of scale will it properly onto a mobile or tablet screen. It's likely that scale will be a little skewed, despite what I said in the leading post; something of an architectural caricature, perhaps. The trick also lays in drawing something which will look reasonably good at 960px wide, or 426px.

I've quickly come to dislike this aspect of the project. :P

05-06-2012, 11:07 PM
Actually I meant how big is the zoo?

05-07-2012, 08:45 AM
Ah! Er, not sure I know that, either. In terms of capacity, some 300-400 creatures - TARDIS levels of storage. The dimensions if it existed in the real world.. something like 300m across, but again that depends on whatever scale would best fit a mobile device. That figure also keeps changing the more I discover just how small places like the ZSL London Zoo are (at 75m across). Maddening.

05-07-2012, 09:19 AM
Well you can make just about any size zoo fit the device. I went to the Detroit Zoo a week or so ago, and they have a mobile app with a map (I of course shelled out the $2 for it and then used the paper anyway). They're a pretty tiny zoo as well, but the map is rather huge. There was a lot of panning and zooming involved ;)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

05-08-2012, 06:45 PM
I don't know if this qualifies as a map any more, since I decided to go more illustrative with it and do an isometric viewpoint.. but in case it's of any interest, I'll (eventually) be laying some information over something like this:


I suppose I've often wondered - when *does* a map cease to be a map? Just an idle musing, since zoo and theme park maps tend to be the main cuplrits. :)

05-08-2012, 07:30 PM
Here is Webster's take on "map"

"Definition of MAP
1a : a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area
b : a representation of the celestial sphere or a part of it "

If it shows locations of an area it is a MAP. Yours is just one showing those locations in a three dimensional view. And looking good at it to boot :D

Tony N Sheena Devito
01-08-2014, 06:37 AM
Hello. My name is Tony and I'm developing a project for my Kindergarten class where we are turning our classroom into a zoo. One of the activities we will be doing is generating zoo layouts and then voting on one to serve as our official Zoo park map. Given their age, we will be using a template of the room I will make, and then the students will have the freedom to move the desks around and decide where exhibits, storage, etc. will go. I googled zoo designs and came upon your posts about zoo's. I also saw the date, so if this passion has came and went, it's understandable. I was just curious what ever came of your Zoo "game" and if you would be willing to share any of your map-making ideas pertaining to zoos with me :). Do you have any ideas that would make this activity more accessible to young children? Thanks. - Tony

01-15-2014, 04:23 AM
Zoos or menageries have been around since ancient times. They all have the same logistical issues and the same draw, no matter when in time they have existed.