RollerCoaster Tycoon (video game)
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|Developer(s)||Chris Sawyer Productions|
|Genre(s)||Construction and management simulation|
RollerCoaster Tycoon is a construction and management simulation video game that simulates amusement park management. Developed by Chris Sawyer Productions and published by MicroProse, the game was released for Microsoft Windows in 1999 and was later ported to the Xbox by Infogrames in 2003. It is the first game in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series.
RollerCoaster Tycoon received two expansion packs: Added Attractions (released in the US as Corkscrew Follies) in 1999, and Loopy Landscapes in 2000. Two special editions were released: RollerCoaster Tycoon Gold/Totally Roller Coaster in 2002, which contained the original game, Added Attractions/Corkscrew Follies, and Loopy Landscapes; and RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe in 2003, which contained the content in Gold plus more designs for the different customizable rides.
The premise of the game is to complete a series of preset scenarios by successfully building and maintaining amusement parks through business ownership as a theme park entrepreneur. The key to any park is building a large amount and diverse range of rides for the visitors. Players can choose from dozens of roller coaster types and can also build log flumes, carousels, bumper cars, haunted houses, go karts, ferris wheels, and swinging ships, among other rides. The intensity and type of rides must be balanced, as visitors' preferences vary significantly from person to person. For example, some guests prefer exciting rides and have high nausea tolerance levels, while other guests are just the opposite.
Park maintenance is important to keeping visitors satisfied. The player may hire handymen to sweep paths, empty garbage cans, water flowers and mow lawns; mechanics to inspect and fix rides; security guards to prevent vandalism within the park; and entertainers to entertain the guests. The player must also balance their budget by managing the park staff and ride operation costs, as well as setting prices for park entry, rides, and food items.
The geography and landscaping of the park can be modified, allowing the player to lower/raise terrain and add water to improve the park's attractiveness, as well as to allow rides to fit into their surroundings more easily. Tracked rides (such as roller coasters) and pathways may be constructed underground, either partially or entirely. Players must also balance the needs of the visitors by strategically placing food stalls, concession stands, bathrooms, and information kiosks. Pathways must be added to connect the attractions and must be done efficiently so that the visitors do not get lost and become unhappy. If there is no pathway leading from the exit of a ride to the park's main pathway, the guests will wander around until they find a pathway. Unless they are saved by the player, guests may also drown if the exit is placed over water without a pathway. They can also disappear if the exit is placed underground and has no underground pathway leading from it.
Adding items such as garbage cans, benches, lights, and various thematic elements and forms of architecture will help improve the visual quality of the park. Not only can this be done to the player's discretion or desire, placement of these items also pleases park guests and increases the park's approval rating. Garbage cans and benches also serve practical purposes; for example, guests can rest on benches after strenuous rides, reducing their risk of vomiting on the paths.
The player also has the option of building their own roller coaster designs as well as other rides by laying out individual track pieces, choosing the direction, height, and steepness, and adding such elements as zero g rolls, corkscrews, vertical loops, and even on-ride photos, using a tile-based construction system. Custom-designed roller coasters and thrill rides must be designed carefully so that the ratings are within the desire of the guests (i.e.: the excitement ratings should be as high, and the intensity and nausea ratings should be as low, as possible). The rides must be designed and operated to minimize the risk of a crash, as well. It is advisable to hire mechanics that can repair broken rides and inspect them to minimize their malfunction. Continuous, closed circuit coasters that use multiple vehicles are susceptible to a collision in the event of a station brakes failure. If one vehicle strikes another on-track at high speed, the colliding vehicle or train will be destroyed instantly. Open circuit and special kinds of roller coasters run the risk of the vehicle(s) flying off the tracks and crashing if designed improperly. If a vehicle on a ride crashes, any guests within will be killed. Ride crashes that kill guests will drastically decrease the park rating, which is detrimental to your objective. A ride that remains unmodified following a crash can cause the guests to turn it down in fear for their life.
There are 21 scenarios included with RollerCoaster Tycoon, as well as 30 more in the Corkscrew Follies expansion pack, and another 30 in the Loopy Landscapes expansion pack, totaling to 81 scenarios if the whole set is installed. There are also 3 promotional scenarios released with magazines and 11 official scenarios created by Hasbro for competitions, as well as 3 real amusement parks and 1 extra park that are available in the Deluxe edition. Some scenarios afford the player empty tracts of land on which to build the park from scratch, but most place the player in control of an operational park that is usually underdeveloped, dilapidated, or suffering from poor planning. If the player deems the park undersized for his needs or desires, they may be able to purchase land for the park, or construction rights allowing them to build on top of the land (but not directly on it).
To complete a scenario and unlock a new one, a certain objective must be met by the player. For most scenarios, the objective is to either have a minimum number of guests, or build the park up to a certain value, by the scenario's deadline of one to four years. Years in the game are only eight months long; from the start of March to the end of October (mirroring the time of year in which real-life theme parks located in the northern hemisphere operate). Objectives in a scenario can generally be achieved by building your park up and maintaining it well. Scenarios in the Loopy Landscapes expansion pack are usually unique and contain winning conditions that are extremely different from those in the rest of the game.
There is also a built-in tutorial that can be accessed from the main menu. It takes place in Forest Frontiers, the first scenario. It shows the player how to build a carousel, open the amusement park, build a custom roller coaster, hire a mechanic, and exit the game. The player can take control of the tutorial and play it as a normal game at any time by clicking or pressing a keyboard button.
Guests are the visitors to the amusement park. They have specific tastes in rides, such as rides with an intensity rating "above 4" or "between 2 and 6". Their nausea tolerance levels vary from "none" to "high". In the first game, guests had ID numbers instead of names (e.g. "Guest 212"). In Roller coaster Tycoon 2 and 3, the guests were given names. Giving guests specific names can unlock Easter eggs and/or cheats. Guests only vary in clothing colors, but otherwise look exactly the same. Each visitor brings a variable amount of money with them into the park, and will pay to enter the amusement park if there is an entrance fee, as long as they have enough money and it is not too expensive.
RollerCoaster Tycoon features 22 scenarios, with the first five open from the start. Successfully completing a scenario will unlock the next one. Additionally, Mega Park is unlocked when all 21 scenarios are completed. This scenario has no objective (except "Have Fun!"), but allows the player to build on nearly the entire map, and eventually has all attractions available to build. This is the closest to a "sandbox" park, except the player does not have an unlimited amount of money to work with, only a $50,000 loan.
Some scenarios are based on real parks. For example, 'Katie's Dreamland' (Katie's World in the US Version) is based on Lightwater Valley, complete with that park's signature The Ultimate roller coaster (The Storm).
There were two official scenarios available for download from Atari's website: Fort Anachronism and Alton Towers. Alton Towers was included with the Loopy Landscapes expansion with Heide-Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach and was updated to take advantage of the new game components. Both scenarios are also included as part of RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe. The UK edition of RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe contained Blackpool Pleasure Beach in place of Fort Anachronism.
Scottish game designer Chris Sawyer hated rollercoasters before he began work on RollerCoaster Tycoon. He originally wanted to create a sequel to his highly successful Transport Tycoon. However, he later instead decided to make RollerCoaster Tycoon as an excuse to ride on, or "research", rollercoasters, which he enjoyed doing and became obsessed with. The game was to be called White Knuckle for the majority of the game's development. However, to follow the tradition of the Tycoon titles, the game was renamed accordingly.
The game was developed in a small village near Dunblane over the course of two years. Sawyer wrote 99% of the code for RollerCoaster Tycoon in x86 assembly language, with the remaining one percent written in C. The graphics were designed by artist Simon Foster using several 3D modeling, rendering, and paint programs.
For his efforts, Sawyer made around $30 million in revenue.
GameSpot's Alan Dunkin called it "another fun management simulation from the mind of Chris Sawyer." His praises included the custom naming of everything in the park and position-accurate, real-life sound effects. However, he disliked the limited speed of the game, reasoning that "when you're trying to manage your newest amusement park, time is ticking by, perhaps faster than you'd like." He also criticized the limited amount of scenarios and the player not being able to make their own. IGN's Jason Bates also called it a fun game. He wrote that making custom rides could take a very long time and be very frustrating at first, and players would have to pay too much cash to tasks such as changing land levels, re-positioning trees and build walkways, while they design their rollercoaster. However, once players mastered doing so, "You'll get a lot of pride out of designing some crazy, twisting corkscrew that winds in and out of lakes and hot dog stands, painting it bright neon pink and orange, and giving it a name like the Vominator. And then when the kids start lining up for those $5 tickets, you'll be ready to start saving up for your next ridiculous extravaganza." Game Revolution's Ben Silverman highlighted the game's graphical style: "The nature of the game just doesn't call for fancy graphics, and thankfully things run smoothly. The detail level is very cool, from the green-faced nauseous guest to the marquee scrolling the name of the ride at the entrance." He also praised the endless amount of possibilities in designing rollercoaster rides, as well as the huge amount of specific detail, such as the location of a food stall, the player should and can focus on of their park, with the only slight criticisms being the "sloppy" interface.
Gary Eng Walk of Entertainment Weekly, who graded the game an A, called it "Quite literally, the thrill ride of the summer", and in 2003, the magazine ranked RollerCoaster Tycoon number 68 on their list of the "100 greatest videogames". Aaron Curtis of Los Angeles Times praised the game, saying that it is "simple enough to enjoy right out of the box but sophisticated enough to keep even the most obsessive park planner happy for weeks."
The Xbox port received mixed ratings due to very little improvement. The only exclusive features are no menu buttons (they were accessed by holding the X and B buttons) and a magnifying glass cursor that can be toggled by clicking the left thumbstick.
According to PC Data, it was the third best-selling PC game on the week of July 25, 1999, and rose to number two the next week. It was the second best-selling PC title that same month, and was the third best-selling of August of that year. It returned to number two on the week of August 29-September 4, as well as taking the number-two spot again for the month of September. On 18 January 2000, RollerCoaster Tycoon was announced the best selling PC game of 1999. Chris Sawyer said in response to the commercial success of the game, "I think everyone is a bit stunned by the sales success of RollerCoaster Tycoon, myself included. I always believed in the game concept myself, but I hadn't expected it to have so much widespread appeal among game players of all types."
There were two expansion packs released for the original RollerCoaster Tycoon game. The first was Added Attractions (known as Corkscrew Follies in the United States), which added additional scenarios, rides, facilities, and themes of scenery. The second expansion pack, Loopy Landscapes added much of the same, but also introduced a wider variety of scenario objectives beyond the park value or visitor number criteria used previously. For example, the player might now be expected to build a set number of roller coasters above a minimum excitement rating, or achieve a certain amount of income from ride tickets. Other scenarios allowed the player an unlimited amount of money to build the park and to hire staff, with failure occurring if the park rating dropped below a fixed minimum. Several sequels would follow RollerCoaster Tycoon and its expansion packs: RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D, RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile and RollerCoaster Tycoon World. The features found in this game (along with RollerCoaster Tycoon 2) were updated for iOS and Android in RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic.
Several user-created rollercoasters received media attention after footage of them were posted on various imageboards and social media. A feature-length movie adaptation was set to begin production, as Sony Pictures Animation pre-emptively picked up rights to the series. Harald Zwart was said to be the film's executive producer.
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Atari's revenue from Mr Sawyer's games, including Transport Tycoon and three versions of Rollercoaster Tycoon, is estimated to be about $180 million. Mr Sawyer received about $30 million in royalties.
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