Home Behind The Scenes Interview: Talking Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Malta Expansion With Game Director Rich Newbold

Interview: Talking Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Malta Expansion With Game Director Rich Newbold

by Dave Elliott

Interview: Talking Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Malta Expansion With Game Director Rich Newbold

Frontier Developments recently released their new DLC to the already excellent Jurassic World Evolution 2, titled the Dominion Malta Expansion, which brings with it some brand new gameplay elements, updated buildings, and, of course, some new dinosaurs!

For those of you unfamiliar with ‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’, it is a dinosaur park management sim which builds on the success of the original 2018 release. It’s your job to build a profitable park, whilst also making sure the dinos are happy… and don’t break out and eat the guests!

In what has become something of a yearly event here at Geektown, we had the chance to have a quick sit down with Game Director Rich Newbold to talk through this new expansion, and what it brings to the game.

Geektown: Do you want to just quickly explain what the expansion is?

Rich: So the Dominion Malta Expansion is our second expansion. This one is a DLC that’s comprised of a narrative. It has a campaign set in and around the Malta scenes that you saw in Jurassic World Dominion. It’s that middle part of the film where there’s a dinosaur black market and some kind of shady dealings going on now that dinosaurs are out in the world in the film.

And we’ve also included some amazing new dinosaur species from the Malta scene. So we’ve got the Atrociraptors and we have the Lystrosaurus, the Oviraptor and we have some new variants as well. So there’s a narrative, some dinosaurs and we also have a new building set for players to use for their sandbox parks and their parks that are in a theme that’s around like the Mediterranean Malta feeling.

So we have lots of new content for players to enjoy as part of this expansion as well as an original narrative that we put together for players to experience in the campaign as well.

Geektown: I played through the campaign yesterday, I actually finished it last night and really, really enjoyed it. The new building models are great, there’s sort of a dilapidated feel to it. It’s an interesting change from all the shininess of the original stuff. You’ve also got the dinosaur exchange which is a new feature. Do you want to just explain a little bit about what that is?

Rich: Sure, so the dinosaur exchange is a way for the player to work with two different agencies. We have the underground and the authorities and you build trust with those two factions and depending on your trust value of those two factions, you can have access to different things in the dinosaur exchange. So the exchange allows you to get access to dinosaurs, to genomes, and to eggs, for different dinosaur species, but also allows you to trade your dinosaurs onto the exchange and fulfil requests that might come in from people as part of the exchange.

So it’s been a really great gameplay mechanic to add to Jurassic World Evolution 2. It’s really changed the way that dinosaur acquisition is done and it’s a really fun way of leaning into that kind of shadier aspect that you saw in Jurassic World Dominion of this black market of brokers like Soyona Santos trading dinosaurs between different parties and we thought it’d be a great way to do that.

And it’s got some really fun elements in as well. As you have the different sellers that have different seller ratings and they might not always give you what you’ve asked for. We’ve had some very fun moments in the team where I’ve asked for 10 Lystrosaurus and instead I got 10 Brachiosaurus sent to me instead!

It’s a completely different problem I was looking to solve but it’s really brought up some really cool fun moments for players to enjoy as well as a new way of getting all these new dinosaur species.

Geektown: Yeah, I’ve been very much enjoying playing around with that. When it came to developing the DLC, how much interaction do you have with Universal or the filmmakers? Because this is a completely original story. Are they involved at all?

Rich: Yeah, heavily. It’s been great working with them. They’re a really amazing partner. The process journey involves myself and the team identifying types of narratives and stories that we think are really interesting set in and around Jurassic or Dominion. So with the two expansions we have, I’ve wanted to set a story around the Biosyn elements from the film as part of the Biosyn expansion in the summer and with the Malta expansion this month… last month… within the last few weeks, whenever it was… [Laughs] I found that part of the film really exciting and had a great opportunity to write something new and explore characters that seemed to have a really interesting position in the franchise. So we approached Universal, we talked to the filmmakers about how we think a story could weave together, whether we can really feed into how Barry and Santos, their interactions in the movie, could work in the narrative.

So we work with them to make sure that the narrative is true to those characters and true to their motivations and narrative within the film. And with this one, I felt that we could do something set just before the film so we can bring someone like Dodgson into play as well because it’s set before the events of Jurassic or Dominion.

He’s around and he’s got that interaction with Santos in the movie and I thought that’d be a great way to really connect a narrative and new gameplay elements together in an interesting way and really bring in those characters that are key parts of the franchise, like Barry Sembene and Dodgson, that are key parts of Jurassic World and the franchise of those dinosaurs and bringing them together and I think it was a really great opportunity to put those things together.

Geektown: You have got a number of the actors back to do the voices. Do you plan way in advance for that and get a whole bunch of stuff recorded beforehand, or is it done separately for each expansion?

Rich: It’s a bit of both. If we’ve planned far enough in advance, we can sometimes batch stuff together, but we generally write for the immediate needs. It’s much better to get all of the characters together and work in calibration on the same script. So we record all the actors within a few weeks so that there is an interaction or a collaboration as we’re recording those moments so they can really bring through their depth of knowledge of playing those characters and really bring them together in the VO sessions and put them together as part of Jurassic World Evolution 2. So it’s generally we do it on an immediate need.

Geektown: How do you go about deciding which dinosaurs you’re going to put into the expansion? Because, I mean, there’s an awful lot to choose from the movies!

Rich: Jurassic World Dominion had so many amazing dinosaur species and we tried to get that balance of community requests and dinosaurs that felt they were appropriate for each expansion, whether it’s ones that set around the Biosyn or the Malta scene. So something like the Atrociraptor, they only appeared in the Malta scenes in Jurassic World Dominion so they were a perfect fit to be in this expansion and part of the roster of these dinosaurs. So that’s generally how we do it. We’re always trying to choose ones which could fit just well with the narrative that we want to tell.

Geektown: There’s one dinosaur which has been missing, which Reddit has been very vocal about… and I know you listen to a lot to the community… The Microceratus. Are there any plans to put that in at some point?

Rich: We’ve been really excited about the expansion and, at the minute, we’re not going to talk about anything in the future, but there are many reasons why certain species aren’t included in the expansion of the DLC or the base game. I would love to bring every species that ever existed, but sometimes it’s just not practically possible.
But the dinosaurs and the species that we’ve put in this expansion have been really exciting. We’ve added some great behaviours and that’s been great to bring them to life.

Oviraptor (aka “murder chicken”)

Geektown: Well avoided [Laughs]. I had to ask that because the amount of people that ask that question is ridiculous. But in terms of the new behaviours, what sort of stuff have you been putting in? You’ve got feathered dinosaurs going in this time as well. There is one which I described the “murder chicken”.

Rich: The Oviraptor! So in this expansion, we’ve added things like the Oviraptor and the Lystrosaurus, which is a very small dinosaur; we call them a “tiny dinosaur”. What we’ve done with this expansion is the Oviraptor’s an omnivore so that’s one of the first species that will eat from carnivore feeders or the paleo plants. But we’ve also added interactions for things like the Moros Intrepidus, which is a tiny dinosaur, that will now group attack smaller prey like goats or guests, because they are small carnivores.

But we use this as an opportunity to add that behaviour to our other tiny carnivores as well. So things like the Compsognathus will have that behaviour as well. So the dinosaurs we included as part of this expansion have allowed us to add a bit more depth to some of our existing dinosaurs because now we have more of them we can make a meaningful impact with those kinds of behaviours.

Geektown: Weren’t some dinosaurs previously that you had which were omnivores as well? Have you gone back and altered those?

Rich: No, so with the new dinosaur we can do it, but going back and changing an existing dinosaur in that way. It’s because of the complexity of how things like the territory system and the behaviour systems are connected. We try to avoid making changes to existing dinosaurs that might have a negative impact on someone’s park or safe game.

I don’t want somebody to load up the game six months, twelve months’ time and what was a functioning park is now not doing well because of changes that we’ve made. So the changes we generally make to existing systems are to make things more flexible rather than adding any other changes that might negatively impact an existing ecosystem that is finely balanced.

Geektown: Yes, I get that. One of the other things you’ve added in this one is natural lagoons. Is there any thought of going back to existing maps or adding more maps that have the natural lagoon feature?

Rich: Again, it’s hard to go back and change something that already exists but with the new maps that we added as part of this expansion, I thought it was a great opportunity to have a map that had a natural lagoon built in. All of these parts of this part of the world are island based and we already have that sea around it. So I thought this is a great opportunity to add a natural lagoon as part of the environments that it’s already built in. So it’s been really exciting to add that and I think it really adds a unique thing to the level that we have such a natural lagoon.

Geektown: It’s a really nice different addition. So one last question. In terms of the dinosaurs you add to the game, is there any sort of “temporal limit” in terms of the time period you are allowed to use? Have Universal given you guidelines, as you started off with things that were Mesozoic and then you’ve moved into Paleozoic?

Rich: We try and stay true to what Jurassic World and Jurassic Park have in the films. We’re an extension of that universe so we always try and use species and dinosaurs that you see in that movie series. We have predominantly Jurassic or Triassic or Cretaceous dinosaurs because those are the dinosaur species that you see in the films.

But also using the non-film franchise places where possible for inspiration. So going to Camp Cretaceous, Battle at Big Rock as well, and adding some new species. So we generally use the dinosaur eras that come from the films first.

The Dimetrodon wasn’t from the films and has been really exciting to add one of those, but predominantly we stay true to the dinosaur eras that you see in the movies as part of Jurassic World.

The Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Malta Expansion is out now for £15.99. It requires the Jurassic World Evolution 2 base game to download and play, and is available on PC via Steam, Epic Games Store and GeForce Now, and also on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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