Microsoft's Zoo unveiled - screens of canned Xbox sim are Viva Pinata with Avatars

Care of Kinectimals dev Frontier Developments

Once upon a time, Frontier Developments of Kinectimals and "David Braben hates pre-owned" fame was working on a reboot of Zoo Tycoon for Xbox, known as Microsoft Zoo. That's according to former lead artist and UI team leader Anil Glendinning, who has posted a number of screenshots on his personal site.

"Part zoo creation and part animal interaction, this 3rd person adventure was all charm and lay the groundwork for what would eventually become Kinectimals," Glendinning recalls. "I was the senior GUI artist on Zoo and was responsible for designing the look and feel of the user interface. I created GUI art assets including concept art, motion pre-visuals and flash animations.


"Zoo was also the first game in Frontier to use the then relatively new Scaleform SDK for its GUI development. I worked closely with the GUI programming team to develop a new production pipeline that saw us through concept art to final in-game GUI.

"Zoo was aimed as a family product and the art style of the UI was designed to target the game's key demographics of families and children "tweens". Coming from a marketing background and having worked the similarly targeted brands of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, I wanted to design a GUI that was fun and inviting to use for kids and adults alike.

"For the look of the GUI I took inspiration from junior arts, paper-craft and imaginary journals that could be kept by characters from adventures such as Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn and Tarzan. Using mainly earthy hues, saturated colours and combined with hand drawn illustrations and woodcut style prints, I aimed to create a rich and colourful interface that matched the vibrancy and charm of the Zoo game world."

Eurogamer reports that the game was eventually binned because Microsoft wanted to focus on Kinect projects. It looks rather complete in the shots, doesn't it? Would you have played it?