There’s an emotion associated with amusement parks. It’s difficult to fully articulate or put into words, but it’s a good one. It’s carefree and fun. There’s nothing to stress over outside of what to do next or how to read the map (unless you’re terrified of rides your friends want to try*). While there’s much more to it than that, I can say with some confidence that RollerCoaster Tycoon emulated a similar feeling.

To be clear, I’m not comparing the rush of riding a roller coaster to theme park building simulators. More specifically, I’m comparing it to the mindset of being around one for a day. How is this possible when by nature, a simulator like this involves mostly work?

RollerCoaster Tycoon succeeded by making you enjoy all aspects of park management – from building coasters to choosing an entrance fee. It also benefited from being a game set in a place that people already associate with strong feelings of fun and nostalgia.

The graphics of the first two games didn’t need to be amazing. They were charming because they weren’t overly stylized and they stayed out of the way. The fantastic sound design is what really put you into your park. Coaster trains roll by and guests scream as some goofy song of your choice thumps along in the background.

 

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RollerCoaster Tycoon’s strong sense of accomplishment in creating a successful park combined with the allure of just spending time in its world are what made it such a classic. I’ve spent hours upon hours designing parks for those hordes of computer controlled characters to enjoy.

RCT World is getting close, and it has an opportunity to reclaim its former glory. The dev team is making an effort to be transparent and listen to fans. It just needs to do a few things really well.

Make coaster creation a priority.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3’s coaster building tool left something to be desired. For RCT World to be successful, it’s going to need to make building them fun and accessible. I always felt some shame if picked a pre-created coaster and plopped it down into my park. The process should be challenging, but approachable. For me, dreaming up roller coasters that tread a thin line between fun and terrifying is almost as fun as riding a real one. To their credit, the team has stressed that coaster creation is important to them. The validation feature intended to help us build ridable tracks is VERY welcome.

Explore multiplayer in a meaningful way, don’t just tack it on.

Multiplayer in RCT is a touchy subject for some folks. There are those that believe it isn’t necessary at all. I disagree, but it’s important to handle it in a way that doesn’t feel like a cheap afterthought. Good multiplayer features will ultimately determine my personal replay value. There are plenty of opportunities for both competitive and cooperative gameplay. Let’s brainstorm a little bit.

Competitive:

  • Battle for the highest rating and population count
  • Create the most infamous and talked about roller coaster
  • Invest in ad campaigns and new technologies to gain an edge over your rival

Cooperative:

  • Share resources and allow loans
  • Allow your friends to enter and explore your park
  • Work on the same park as co-owners

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Use what we’ve learned from Minecraft to your advantage.

RCT could improve by allowing more freedom of creativity. They’ve already announced that the path system is getting an overhaul and that’s great start. There are a lot of lessons that can be taken from Minecraft’s success. There needs to be a focus on breaking down the rigid, linear systems that confined us in previous versions. In the same way that Minecraft makes us feel like with have the freedom to build most anything, RCT World should make us feel like we can build any park. It should be possible to recreate any given theme park and do it justice (minus licensed scenery, of course). Powerful landscaping tools are a must.

Also consider for a moment the fact that Minecraft allows players to jump in and out of servers and coordinate on builds, projects, and activities. Perhaps allowing several players to coordinate in managing one park simultaneously isn’t such a stretch.

A concept like RollerCoaster Tycoon shouldn’t be held down by the limitations of its past. It should remember what worked and use that experience to evolve into something much more vast and memorable.

Get the graphics right.

The RCTW team seems eager to prove themselves after the trailer they released a while back caused a negative stir in the gaming community. They’ve dropped regular updates on their progress and outlined what they’re doing to ensure things feel more believable and aligned with the current generation. Graphics are tricky with RCT because the 2D originals were so beloved. Avoid overtly cartoonish art styles that too closely resemble cheap free-to-play mobile fodder and we’ll be fine.

Please give extra love to sky boxes and weather effects as well. Beautifully made skies and lighting effects go a long way in covering for other graphical inadequacies.

Generate more spontaneous drama and events for players to be concerned with.

The “peeps” of RCT have always been a little too predictable. It would be fun to have situations arise that bring them to life in positive and negative ways. Maybe one of them is being a jerk and a fight breaks out. You need to send security in to deal with it and perhaps the security staff demands better pay as a result of the incident.

There could be public relations nightmares that present themselves after an attraction breaks down and causes an accident. Players could be presented with the choice of how to deal with PR and their decisions would effect the general opinion of the park.

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Here’s hoping that RollerCoaster Tycoon World proves itself to be a lasting breath of fresh air and returns the series back to form – a familiar place that’s full of possibility.

 

*I’m not. I’m a CHAMPION rollercoaster rider.

About The Author

John

John is a full-time web developer who writes and streams for multitoad.com. He started Multitoad with Luke "Yogzula" VanTrieste. John loves multiplayer gaming, his wife (known around the site as Queenie), his dog (Marble), horror movies, and sitting down with a nice craft beer. If you want to contact the author of this post, feel free to do so on the community forums.

One Response

  1. Whitemoon
    Whitemoon

    As long as it has:

    1. Ability for rides to not have an end point (crash into stuff).
    2. Ability to put make food free, put price tags on bathrooms and then delete exits.

    I will be excited.

    Reply

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