Zoo Tycoon Volcano (known colloquially as ZTV) is a Zoo Tycoon 2 fansite and one of the most successful and famous in the community's history. It has been best known for its exclusive downloads and its emphasis on content related to dinosaurs, prehistoric life and extinct animals in general. It is also well-known for containing some mild mature content, aiming itself more at teenage and adult players.
The site was started on July 16, 2006 by Zooasaurus Rex. As of January 18th, 2018, the site had 4,855 members.
After the Zoo Tycoon Official Forums ended, many "evacuees" were forced to move to other forums and so Zoo Tycoon Volcano (among other sites) received a host of members.
The site was founded on July 16th, 2006 by designer Zooasaurus Rex, at the suggestion of fellow member Catc. The site was not initially successful, and early co-admins Mint and Zebu played a role in its early development. Then an active designer, Zooasaurus, alongside King Hoopla and Angilas44, created a number of downloads, particularly those based on prehistoric creatures, that began to attract outside attention, including some of the first user-made dinosaurs. The relative lax rules, focus on prehistory, growing download database, and a number of role-playing games strongly contrasted with the then-popular Zoo Admin.
On March 2rd, 2008, a hacking group called the g00ns hacked the main InvisionFree site and the .NET domain accounts of several InvisionFree sites, replacing them with a vulgar message. Zoo Tycoon Volcano had primarily been accessed by visitors from the domain www.zootycoonvolcano.net, which was affected, and in the resulting confusion, many visitors lost access to the site for an extended period, though its InvisionFree subdomain remained accessible. Although it is now known the g00ns targeted InvisionFree in general, and not ZTV specifically, the hackers still maintain a fierce, ominous reputation in the site's collective consciousness. It is common, for example, for a ZTV-themed story to feature g00ns as the villains.
The site was virtually destroyed roughly a year later, although details around this incident are largely unavailable today. The staff migrated users to a backup site that had been created for such an emergency, and things settled back to normal for roughly five months. In this interim, a conflict emerged between multiple administrators, such as ZooMaster and FelixPrismus, who were both removed from the site's staff as a result.
The site was eventually cracked again. Visitors to the site were met with the phrase "They giveth, they taketh away", as well as an oddly disturbing banner of a golden masked face with two laser red and pupiless eyes, courtesy of ex-admin King Hoopla, who had been allowed back into the administration panel. Therizinosaur went to the demoted admin Incinerox for assistance as the event unfolded but they were unable to prevent the crack.
"Welcome to an empty fortress A mighty wreck that once was proud Ate alive by oxidation Abandoned by a crew of cowards Navigation systems failed Computers crashed and they all fall down Possibly I've seen too much Z-T-V I know too much"
This passage is a modified passage of the Megadeth song, Return To Hangar. Directly under the passage is an image of a DNA helix interrupted by an altered version of the infamous skull and crossbones, emanating a sickly green glow.
The staff once again migrated active users to a backup site created in advance due to previous incidents, with sinosauropteryx Chongsheng becoming the sites mascot and representation of the forum's rebirth. The staff remained in an ongoing conflict with a group of users known as the Ch0des for an extended period, however, eventually inviting a few into the staff. Some of them provided useful input and suggestions, but they were eventually removed from the staff after further negative repercussions, and have since left the community.
Due to the popularity of ZTV's MineCraft server around this time, they initially dropped the Zoo Tycoon 2 motif and instead opted to advertise as a general gaming/hangout website, and focused on social aspects of the forum, and came to represent itself as a more mature community, in comparison to the more family-friendly Northern Skies, Tesara, and Gaia during this period. The site also moved to ZetaBoards, enabling a number of new features previously unavailable throughout its history.
ZTV has remained relatively peaceful and moderately active since this time, although it has never returned to it's "golden era". Its standing in the community has slowly stabilized, although it retains an infamy for its more mature atmosphere, including a tendency for profanity and a low tolerance for some.
Notable Staff Members
The following have been notable staff members of ZTV:
- Zooasaurus Rex - The founder and a noted designer, he produced much of the early content that attracted users to the site and came to define it over its existence. His interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric life was the spark that made the site unique compared to other Zoo Tycoon sites.
- King Hoopla - A noted designer who played a key role in the site's early development, who was among the first designers to discover meshing. His early collaborations with Zooa resulted in some of the site's finest downloads to date.
- Incinerox - A noted designer who remains one of the site's most active staff members, DG is well-known for a self-cultivated reputation as a strict admin fond of 'incinerating' his opponents, though he is actually relatively calm if approached.
- Shaz - A former admin for several years, Shaz is often best remembered for her lax demeanor and her activity in the role-playing section of the forums.
- JVM / John - The main download manager and briefly a controversial admin. He is mostly known today for constantly promising to finish restoring the download database.
- Bizkit - A former admin who became known for his advocacy that the site integrate itself around general gaming concepts, his innapropriate sense of humor, and his association with the notorious ch0des.
- FelixPrismus - Briefly an admin and a longtime moderator, FP was noted for his memetic sense of humor and his conservative political views. He hosted the The Weekly Update with FelixPrismus in the Volcanic Channel.
Chat boxes, often called "C-Boxes" and usually hosted on Xat, became very popular among members of ZTV. These chats were popular for allowing members the ability to instant message both publicly and privately, as well as to share video and doodles in real time, and were initially shared by individual users with friends, with some boxes becoming larger and gaining popularity, including among staff members. As the events of these chats started to be referenced on the forum, and became the source of forum memes such as the iconic 'un' emoticon, often used to express skepticism, more users began to join or inquire about them.
An official chat box was added due to popular request and while successful at first, exposed the many flaws inherent to Xat's chat system - banned members frequently rejoined as Xat's ban system was not robust, and many abused the box to flame other users or break rules. The official box was removed, but an unofficial ZTV box was distributed via private messaging. However, references and memes from actions on boxes continued, therefore attracting attention back to them. Controversy erupted within staff circles when staff decisions were made on the boxes for a period.
A running problem was the relationship between side-boxes and ZTV itself - while official rules generally suggested these were off-site and not taken into consideration for enforcing rules, abuse of them for such rules, such as attacking other users or even plotting against the site, lead to action occasionally being taken against members for actions within the boxes.
Throughout the early history of the Zoo Tycoon community, there were often forum users who claimed that they were not humans in real life, claiming instead to be animals, relic dinosaurs, or even extraterrestrial beings. These claims were initially met humorously, with even staff members playing along by creating exaggerating claims about their identities. At one point, over half of the ZTV membership claimed to be non-human. As the joke became widespread however, some members began to find amusement instead in challenging, questioning and therefore undermining these users' stated backgrounds, and exposing them as human. While some users happily admitted the truth, others became upset and felt attacked.
From June to September 2008, a rule was passed to prevent harassing non-human users, but many users refused to abide and were suspended, and the rule was repealed. A general discussion topic particularly focused on veteran staff member Fennec Nichov, who had claimed to be a wild fennec fox, and the topic escalated when his data on other sites, such as Wikipedia, was used against him. As the debate became heated, the topic was locked by another staff member. A unification forum seeking to "end" the conflict proved ineffective, and the adminship made a rule asking members not to declare themselves as any species. Most non-human users left the site or disappeared, including Fennec Nichov.
It was later revealed that a "secret society" was formed solely for the purpose of harassing and undermining non-human users due to their 'protected' status, lead by FelixPrismus and known as the "Sons of Liberty", an allusion to the American revolutionary movement. This included many members that had been trusted by some of the supposed non-human users, and they coordinated via private messaging and even phone calls. Non-human users have largely been turned away since, and the concept has faded into obscurity.
During 2008, the site was engulfed in a site-wild civil conflict between staff members, leading to repeated promotions and demotions, with each group lead by a main moderator. The 'Purple Box' faction, lead by Mint and FelixPrismus, opposed the 'Orange Ribbon' faction, lead by ZooMaster and Simba. While the orange ribbions initially had the support of most of the staff, some members (i.e. Flames, Wildcat, etc.) switched sides in the conflict, with the non-human user conflict a key issue. ZooMaster eventually resigned as administrator and left due to a sense the site was "perverted" and focusing too much on adult topics, while FP left shortly after as well, and after returning, was blocked from returning to his administrative position.
Two main schools of thought emerged from the conflict - the orange ribbons represented traditionalists, who supported a kid-friendly site, strict rules, and did not mind non-human users, while the purple box users represented a more rebellious group who preferred leniency on the rules, less focus on Zoo Tycoon 2, more mature discussion, swearing, and removing non-human users. FelixPrismus, Flames the Dragon, Mint, Panda King, and Wildcat were among these users. Even as staff shifts continued through the site's history, the same essential conflict between a more family-friendly atmosphere and a more mature one continued.
This initial conflict, however, had a negative impact on the site's reputation, creating a repute for a lawless and corrupt atmosphere, where staff members were too busy fighting amongst each other to actually enforce rules. As certain members became uncomfortable with the site's direction and left to other fansites, such as Zoo Tycoon River, many remaining members took advantage of the absence to promote a more adult environment. Staff gave up trying to enforce a traditional image and embraced the more mature image, and swearing was allowed, non-human users curtailed, and rules significantly relaxed. The essense of this ideological conflict would continue, however.
In mid-August 2008, after the strict ZooMaster exited the staff with a message calling the site 'perverted', a number of users joked about a 'Teenage Forum' for discussing more mature topics, and Shaz, with support from Spino, Flames and JVM, started a Teenage Forum for members thirteen and older to discuss these innapropriate topics. The forum was initially intended as a joke, or a possible compromise to allow the rest of the forum to remain friendly, with early topics only focused on dating or religion, but topics with innapropriate jokes caused it to develop a reputation as being about adult (18+) content.
A separate controversy began due to a small 'Teen Role Plays' section which contained a few roleplays, one of which contained explicit content, entitled "If...", where members played fictionalized versions of themselves in a large house that represented the forum. The controversy became worse when a few underaged users were allowed in, including a member whose father e-mailed site staff claiming to be a member of the United States government. While the threat was not believed, the forum and topics were still permanently deleted.
Members who did not participate in the forum felt that it lead to the prevalence of swearing and explicit topics throughout the rest of the board and continued to blame it for several years for the site's later image, but many argue that this did not become the case until the forum was removed. A small fraction of members and staff attempted to bring it back, but the staff were decidedly against it. The later Debates section, which infamously focused on issues like Religion, Creationism, Abortion, and Politics, has largely filled a similar role, absorbing controversial topics so the rest of the forum did not have to.
There were many alleged incidents of flaming between staff and other members, stories that were often spread to other sites, with mainy claiming these staff were not punished for their actions, and that many of these topics were deleted, or took place privately. As these stories became prevalent, staff member JVM announced that if any such actions took place, he could be contacted for it to be dealt with, and the controversy largely folded. Some of these incidents proved true, and virtually all of the staff members accused of these actions are no longer with the site. Nonetheless, the stories are sometimes mistakenely attributed to the current staff team.
Zoo Tycoon Volcano has maintained relationships with other sites throughout its history, and had a particularly close relationship with Zoo Tycoon Hideout, where they shared multiple staff members and have largely shared their download databases with one another. They also came to maintain close ties with Tesara and looser ties with Gaia, allowing members of those sites into their staff room as ambassadors.
Their relationships with some sites were trickier. Fansites such as Zoo Admin and ZooMania respected the quality of the designers' work but often felt the website had a more childish culture, and some members of ZTV attacked members of Artifex due to their secretive nature. Strong tensions existed between ZTV and Caldera Unlimited, but these eventually cooled down as they began to share staff members, and the former currently hosts Caldera's former downloads. They also experienced tension with Environ, which was openly critical of ZTV.
ZTV had an especially difficult relationship with ZKHIV in the past, but they have since settled their differences, despite repeated attacks from now former ZTV members, though these have dwindled down through 2015.
DownloadsZTV was well-known for its constant production of new content in high-quality downloads and even user expansions, with a wide variety of downloads including the earliest prehistoric content ever made for the game, primarily by its founder, designer Zooasaurus Rex, such as using the ingame Secretary Bird as a base for avian dinosaurs before the release of Dino Danger or Extinct Animals offered dinosaur models or animations. This steady stream of exclusive content soon attracted interest from users in other parts of the community,
Zoo Tycoon Volcano became the birthplace of many user expansion teams, including the Mysterious Map Marvels, Marine Designers United, Cryptid Creators, Designers to Tha Max and Earths Creatures Reinvisioned, among others. The website had an official "ZTV" expansion team, named Xplosive Design Studios, which had made such creatures as the Humpback Whale and Frilled Shark, in addition to the then-upcoming Formidable Seas, but it later collapsed when it's model artists joined the emerging Aurora Designs.
After re-branding itself as a non-Zoo Tycoon site, the downloads were moved elsewhere, including Zoo Tycoon Hideout, but they are steadily being re-released. There are plans to eventually clean up Formidable Seas for release.