Planet Coaster

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Planet Coaster
Planet coaster box.png
Developer(s) Frontier Developments
Publisher(s) Frontier Developments
Director(s) James Dixon
Producer(s)
  • Richard Newbold
  • Steve Wilkins
Designer(s) Andrew Fletcher
Programmer(s) Oscar Cooper
Artist(s)
  • John Laws
  • Matthew Preece
  • Marc Cox
  • Sam Denney
Composer(s)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release
  • WW: 17 November 2016
Genre(s) Construction and management simulation
Mode(s) Single-player

Planet Coaster is a construction and management simulation video game developed and published by Frontier Developments for Microsoft Windows. It was released worldwide on 17 November 2016. Frontier had previously worked in the amusement park construction and management genre with RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (to which Planet Coaster is a spiritual successor), Thrillville, Thrillville: Off the Rails, and Zoo Tycoon.

There are three different modes in the game, namely Sandbox, Challenge, and Career. In the career mode, players assume the role of a theme park manager, and must complete tasks such as constructing unfinished roller coasters or hiring janitors. In Sandbox mode, players are tasked to construct their own theme park on an empty plot of land. The challenge mode is similar to the sandbox mode, but with added difficulty, as players need to take funds into account.

Originally called Coaster Park Tycoon, the game was revealed on 29 January 2015 and was renamed during E3 2015. Planet Coaster is Frontier's second self-published franchise, following Elite: Dangerous. Frontier organized multiple alpha and beta testings before launching in November 2016. The game was supported with free post-release downloadable content upon launch. The title received positive reviews upon release, with critics praising the game's sandbox mode and creation tools. Criticisms were mainly directed to the game's career mode. It was a commercial success, with more than 400,000 copies sold in its first month of release.

Gameplay[edit]

Promotional image of guests riding a pirate ship ride.

Planet Coaster is a construction and management simulation video game. Similar to its spiritual predecessor, the game allows players to build different theme park rides and roller-coasters. These player-created attractions can be shared through a mechanic called "global village".[1] The game also comes with ten mascots.[2]

Before starting the game, the player must create their own avatar. Afterwards, the player is able to choose between three game modes: sandbox, challenge, and career.

Similar to Frontier's previous game, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, the Sandbox Mode enables players to construct their own theme park on an empty plot of land. In Sandbox Mode, all features and rides of the game are unlocked and your funds are unlimited. This is the mode most players use to create items (parks, coasters, scenery, etc.) and then post them to Steam's Planet Coaster Workshop.[3]

In the Challenge Mode, the player must construct an amusement park on an empty lot (similar to Sandbox Mode) but with limited funds and research depending on chosen difficulty—Easy, Medium, or Hard. As the player develops their park, the game presents the player with challenges that the player must accept or decline. Upon completion of a challenge, the player is given a reward such as a park rating boost or a sum of money.

In the Career Mode, the player must complete objectives such as constructing roller coasters, achieving park ratings or hiring janitors.[4] Similar to Frontier's previous game, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, Career Mode allows players to progress by completing scenarios with objectives in different difficulties.

First unveiled at EGX 2016, the game also features a dedicated mode called the "crash mode" which allows players to construct incomplete coasters and let them crash into the park's visitors.[5]

On 26 April 2017, Frontier revealed the existence of several cheat codes that were previously undiscovered on their official forums. These included the ability to ride go-karts and the ability for security guards to plough through guests similarly to a bulldozer.[6][7]

Development[edit]

Concept art of an animatronic redcoat.

Before the development of Planet Coaster, Frontier Developments had developed several other construction and management simulation video games, including 2004's commercial and critical success RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, which sold over 10 million copies.[8] Planet Coaster serves only as a spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 instead of a direct sequel, as the company considered the use of the brand Tycoon "didn’t carry the cachet anymore" due to the releases of mainly poorly-received Tycoon games in recent years.[9][10] In a December 2016 interview with Cambridge News, David Walsh (the Chief Operating Officer of Frontier Developments) said that the success of Elite: Dangerous enabled the company "to bring Planet Coaster to the market, which is highly significant as it demonstrates we are not a single game company”.[11] Frontier Developments spent £6 million on the game's development and an additional £1.5 million on marketing.[12]

The game was announced on 29 January 2015 by Frontier Developments.[13] Originally called Coaster Park Tycoon, the game was renamed into Planet Coaster on 16 June 2015 during the PC Gaming Show at E3 2015.[14] Frontier Developments aimed to turn the game into the company's second self-published franchise, along with the Elite series.[15] The game uses an advanced version of Cobra Engine, which is an in-house proprietary engine developed by Frontier previously used by games like Elite Dangerous and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.[8] Features confirmed for the game include a hybrid spline/piece-by-piece coaster builder, modular structure building, a voxel terrain editor among others detailed through Q&A's and "Dev Diaries."[16] On the second live stream, the release date of the alpha was announced. Released on 22 March 2016, the alpha emphasized on modular building and paths. The alpha contained two themes: "Planet Coaster" and "Pirate". Although disabled by default, Coaster Building was included in the first alpha through a cheat code.[17]

On 24 May 2016, Frontier released the second alpha build. This build included finances, terrain tools, improved path building, and the official release of a coaster builder.[18] Also, on 25 August, Frontier discontinued further alpha purchases.[19] On 24 September, Frontier announced at EGX 2016 that players who had pre-ordered the "Thrillseeker Edition" would be able to test the game that October.[5][20] At Gamescom 2016, Frontier announced that the game would be released on 17 November 2016.[21] The game was released with Denuvo's anti-tamper technology.[22][23]

To record the audio for the game, sound designer Watson Wu took over the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana to record the sounds of various attractions.[24] Guests in the park and park staff speak their own fictional language, known as "Planco".[16][25] According to James Stant, Frontier's senior audio designer, the language contains about 7,000 words.[26] After the game's release, Frontier Developments released an official Planco dictionary.[26]

Soundtrack[edit]

Planet Coaster features a dynamic soundtrack composed by Jim Guthrie and JJ Ipsen, released under the album titled You, Me & Gravity: The Music of Planet Coaster.[27][28] Additionally, players may upload their own sound files to use in their parks.

Downloadable content[edit]

On 21 July 2017, Frontier launched paid DLC for the game featuring props inspired by Back to the Future, Knight Rider, and The Munsters.[29]

In August 2017, Frontier partnered with the Cedar Point amusement park to provide an in-game version of the park's upcoming Steel Vengeance roller coaster before the ride officially opened in 2018.[30]

Name Release date Description
Winter Update 15 December 2016 The "Winter Update" added new rides, blueprints, stores, and staff features.[31][32] One of the newly added rides, the "Collider", was determined by a community vote.[31][33]
Spring Update April 2017 The "Spring Update" added new rides and a crime system.[34] The Spring Update was later released in April 2017.[35]
Summer Update 27 June 2017 The "Summer Update" added the ability to create firework shows, such as for the American Independence Day, New Year's Day, and Bonfire Night. Furthermore, the fireworks can be triggered by other events in the park and can be synced to custom music.[36] The summer update also added the ability to add customizable images and video into the game.[36][37]
Spooky Pack 25 September 2017 The "Spooky Pack" included over 200 new building and scenery pieces as well as two new tracked ride types. The first ride type is the Huntsman, a trackless multi-motion dark ride vehicle. The second ride type in this pack is the Hoax, a free-spinning haunted house ride with the smallest track pieces in the game. The final addition is a new entertainer called "King Ghoster," a character dressed as a ghost that "glows in the dark" with the same face as King Coaster.[38]
Anniversary Update 22 November 2017 The free Anniversary update included several new rides and roller coasters in addition to picnic benches and a custom scenario editor - other smaller features allow for interchangeable coaster cars and relaxed track restrictions. More management features were also introduced including more control over vendors and staff rooms for tired employees.[39]
Adventure Pack 18 December 2017 The "Adventure Pack" is a paid DLC pack that includes new water boat rides, a swinging mine train roller coaster and 320 new scenery and building pieces in addition to a new entertainer "Renee Feu".[40]
Studios Pack 27 March 2018 The Studios Pack is a paid DLC pack inspired by movie studios theme parks such as Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios. This pack includes new scenery, animatronics and 3 dark ride systems. This was released alongside a free update containing hotels, glass walls and path tunneling.[41]
Vintage Pack 10 July 2018 The Vintage Pack is a paid DLC pack inspired by classic amusement parks. It includes new coasters, rides, scenery and audio.[42]This was released alongside a free update containing a wild mouse coaster, vending machines, camera effects, scenery grouping, and custom staff uniform coloring.[43]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic84/100[44]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid7.5/10[45]
Edge8/10[46]
Game Informer8.25/10[48]
Game Revolution4.5/5 stars[47]
GameSpot9/10[49]
IGN8.5/10[50]
PC Gamer (US)75/100[51]

Pre-release[edit]

The game was met with praise upon release of the alpha. Andy Kelly of PC Gamer commented that Frontier was "off to a tremendous start", adding that creating buildings with the creation tools hinted at "immense possibilities".[52] However, Mark Walton of Ars Technica noted several small flaws including the "hard to navigate" menus and the lack of custom built roller coasters.[53] On 27 April 2016, about a month after the release of the alpha, Frontier announced that Planet Coaster had grossed nearly two million dollars.[54]

Release[edit]

Matt Wales of Eurogamer recommended the game, concluding that the game is "the finest simulator yet".[55] Meanwhile, Ben Reeves of Game Informer praised the game for its creative mode but criticized the game's career mode, referring it to as "boring" and "tedious".[48] TJ Hafer of IGN compared the game's integration of Steam Workshop to Minecraft and Second Life.[50] Edmond Tran of GameSpot praised the game for its accessible creative tools and for its evocative tone.[49] Jonathan Leack of Game Revolution claimed that the game "resurrected the [theme park simulation] genre".[47] In a critical review of the game, Jody Macgregor of PC Gamer praised the game's challenge mode but criticized the game for not innovating enough from RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. The original score (70/100) was retracted due to miscommunication between Frontier Developments and PC Gamer with the game version they received; its reevaluated score is 75/100.[51] Patrick Hancock of Destructoid noted that the game suffers frame rate issues in larger parks.[45] Furthermore, Edge noted that the game's "fiddly" camera makes some actions harder.[46]

Sales[edit]

Upon release, the game topped the Steam "top sellers" charts.[11] The game sold over 400,000 copies in the first month of its release.[56] Despite being released later in the year, Planet Coaster was featured on Steam's "Top 100 Best Sellers of 2016" chart as a "silver tier" title.[57] In August 2017, the game has sold over one million copies.[58] In July 2018, a leak in Valve’s API revealed that over 1.68 million Steam users owned Planet Coaster.[59]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2017 13th British Academy Games Awards British Game Nominated [60]
Develop Industry Excellence Awards Animation Nominated [61]
Music Design Nominated
New Games IP Nominated
Sound Design Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Livingston, Christopher (25 November 2016). "The Planet Coaster mascots ranked from worst to best". PC Gamer. Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Forward, Jordan (19 May 2017). "The best Planet Coaster creations". PCGamesN. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Harker, Clover (19 November 2016). "Gamereactor UK". www.gamereactor.eu. Retrieved 23 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Minotti, Mike (24 September 2016). "Planet Coaster announces a mode dedicated to crashes". VentureBeat. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
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  7. ^ Wales, Matt (26 April 2017). "There's a Cheat Code That Turns Planet Coaster into a Mini Racer". Kotaku UK. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
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  28. ^ Slingerland, Calum (18 October 2016). "Jim Guthrie & JJ Ipsen to Release Score for 'Planet Coaster' Videogame". Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
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  43. ^ https://steamcommunity.com/games/493340/announcements/detail/1679162920025522396
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  57. ^ Williams, Mike (3 January 2017). "GTA 5 and Civilization 6 Top Steam Best-Sellers of 2016". USgamer. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
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External links[edit]