Keeping Track: Roller Coaster Tycoon 4

Last week’s announcement of Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 for mobile devices caused a great deal of despair in my private headspace. I have fond memories of the first two entries in the series (none at all of the third for some reason) and the trailer for the fourth, which you can see below, didn’t inspire confidence. Speaking to Digital Spy, Atari’s Anthony Chien confirmed that a new PC Roller Coaster Tycoon is also due by the end of the year: “We can’t share that much, but [PC] will definitely be a completely different game…There’s a lot of diehard RC fans that want a PC experience, they want all different sorts of things.” That’s the good news. The (potentially) bad news comes later. The PC version will be an “online multiplayer experience”.

That trailer only covers the mobile versions but I thought you might enjoy shaking your fist at it anyhow, while trying to work out if it’s actually a new game or just a repackaging of an older one. Rest assured, changes have been made and Atari confirmed that in-game currency can be used to hurry along construction of rides and other work.

As for the PC version, all we know is that it will be at least slightly different to the mobile version, and will run online but not through Facebook. I suspect persistent parks, leaderboards and a raft of ‘social’ features will all be included, but my suspicions are those of a weary cynic still waiting for the first coffee of a new week.

52 Comments

  1. Untruth says:

    I’ll eat my hat collection if Sawyer is actually involved in this.

    • MeestaNob says:

      Has anyone verified that he still creates games any more? Is he even still alive???

      That answer to both is surely “no”, and the reason why the world hasn’t been given more Transport Tycoon.

      • SpiceTheCat says:

        Pocket Tactics got hold of Chris Sawyer to ask if he had anything to do with the iOS version, and the answer was “I have no involvement with the creation of Atari’s newly announced RCT games.” Fairly solid ‘no’ then.

        Link here: link to pockettactics.com

        Edit: should have replied to Untruth. The answer to MeestaNob’s second question at least is ‘yes’.

      • grimdanfango says:

        The world *has* been given more Transport Tycoon:
        link to transporttycoon.com

        Unfortunately, it takes the form of Chris repackaging the absymal Locomotion for mobile platforms, rewriting history to pretend the PC release of Locomotion never occured (and certainly wasn’t 10 years ago), and telling everyone “It was Transport Tycoon all along! Honest!”

        If you want a genuinely promising looking spiritual successor, take a look at link to train-fever.com

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        There will always be openTTD, which is a really good continuation of Transport Tycoon in a direction Sawyer would have hated.

        I must own I never understood Locomotion. It felt like for all the steps forward it took it took as many steps back.

        I would love more Sawyer games. Just one man making genius systems for us to play with.

      • searcher8 says:

        If Chris Sawyerr ever actually does become a part of this game, that will be all the more reason for me NOT to buy it. RCT3 was the best game in the series, and that’s because it included a sandbox mode to the game, despite Sawyerr being explicit about how in his eyes, people who want a sandbox mode are playing the game the wrong way, and it should only ever consist of scenarios.

        • Ridnarhtim says:

          You can essentially make yourself a sandbox in RCT2’s scenario editor, and the original RCT basically rewarded you with a giant, endless money park for beating all the scenarios.

          And in fact, I found the sandbox in RCT3 way too small – so I always ended up creating a custom scenario for that purpose anyway.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    I have to say I’m more interested in what, if anything, Chris Sawyer is up to these days. He might have got burnt during his time with Atari, but with the indie moon ascendant, as a bedroom coder with a regular contract artist and composer, the current atmosphere of PC gaming should fit him pretty well.

    Even in the absence of new ideas, somewhere out there lies a hypothetical blend of (Open)TTD and Locomotion; for all the latter’s disappointments (no subsidies; atrocious AI; constant fiddly vehicle replacing in the late game; horrible selection fighting between what’s on the surface south a bit and what’s underground), the actual track building was way better.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Last I heard of him was for TTD iPad : link to gamasutra.com

      • LionsPhil says:

        Ugh, the marketing blurb for it on his homepage:

        A uniquely enthralling game now releasing on the perfect platform – not only do the new touch screen controls allow players to reach out and directly influence their business empires, the game genuinely feels at home on these devices.

        Why, Chris? Why?

        • rikvanoostende says:

          Don’t trust any text that contains more positive adjectives than sentences.

          • jrodman says:

            That seems like a fairly easy to hit threshold. However, if it contains more positive adjectives than nouns, the BS detector does light up for me.

    • RedViv says:

      He was heavily involved with the iOS Transport Tycoon, which I had speculated before release to just be a Locomotion port that would suffer from the hardware limits of the devices rather strongly, and then it turned out the be a slightly enhanced remake of Locomotion that suffered from the hardware limits of the devices rather strongly.

  3. rikvanoostende says:

    If recent ‘sequels’ to popular games taught us one thing, it is this:
    “If you like an old game and are looking for a similar, more recent game, disregard any similarities in the name.”

  4. kororas says:

    ‘ The PC version will be an “online multiplayer experience” ‘

    Oh FFS.

    • BTAxis says:

      That about covers it, yeah.

    • MeestaNob says:

      My exact reaction. No idea why publishers think anyone wants to play these with other people.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Oddly enough, apparently some people do want to play Transport Tycoon multiplayer. I’m not sure how that’d work for theme parks, though, unless it’s collaborative or you all have separate parks.

        (Didn’t find OTTD multiplayer fun myself, even despite doing it in a LAN context. It’s just a very solo game.)

        • draigdrwg says:

          Co-op OTTD (i.e, you’re both building for the same company) is great however. Me and my Granddad worked on some mega networks together over LAN.

        • Doomclown says:

          TTD is a networking game and therefore is awesome multiplayer. RCT is non-networked sandcastle building, so while I can see some fun in cooperating on a park, it’s hard to imagine how a “social” game would be any fun whatsoever beyond screenshot-sharing.

    • vedder says:

      let’s not learn from EA and fall in exactly the same pitfalls!

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      Same reaction. Instantly reduced my interest in the game by 98 fg/d (fucks given per day).

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah I mean, RCT is the last game i want to play in multiplayer mode.

    • bills6693 says:

      100%

      If ‘online multiplayer experience’ means what I think it will mean, I have no interest. I got burned hard enough on SimCity.

      If its just a more modern version of RCT3 and you can visit your friends parks, ride their rides, and have small intereactiosn with them – cool, I could buy into that, it’d be fun! If its a sim-city 5 version of RCT3 then I just… well, I’ll be very upset and save some money.

    • Zarf says:

      Oh, man! I can’t wait to post my ‘chieve’s on The Twitters, so all of my followers can see my creativity as an artist. I’ll post lots of screen shots to The Facebooks too, and on all of The Reddits. I’ll even send my grandma’s cousin (The one who makes, like, a zillion bucks on her laptop) postcards asking her to come visit my park, and to help me out by giving me fertilizer from her Farmville so my grass can be greener, and to rescue the entertainer who got stuck in a tree. Social Network gaming sure is the best thing to happen to PC Computer Video Gaming Multimedia Entertainment since Doom! /astroturfing

    • neonordnance says:

      I want to say a few words about this because it saddens me. The beauty of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is that it is the ultimate “cross-over” title. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer or even own a gaming PC to appreciate it; it’s a game with wide appeal that works on a broad variety of systems. I am absolutely sure that there are many PCs out there with only one game installed, and that game is Roller Coaster Tycoon 3.

      Now RCT is hardly the only cross-over title; other examples of this sort of game include the Sims and Sim-City, most of the older Tycoon games, Theme Hospital, and also games like Minecraft and Terraria which are easy to get in to. That latter part of the genre is doing just fine, so we don’t need to talk about it. What I want to zero in on is the former part, cross-over games with creation aspects. The creation is what truly makes these games great, designing the perfect house or the perfect city or yes, the most absurd roller coaster anyone has ever seen (and then riding it in first-person). The creation side gets the most focus in Minecraft and Terraria and that sort of game, and that’s probably the main reason why they’re doing so well. Yes, there are exploration aspects there too, but who hasn’t built something they are proud of in a game like that? Who doesn’t have a story about the giant floating castle in the sky they meticulously constructed over an entire week?

      And that’s what this section of the genre is lacking: a focus on creativity. If you look at the trajectory of creative options over time, you see that Tycoon and Sim games started fairly narrow in the early 90’s, only to rapidly and vastly expand creativity options as technology improved. This maxed out for 2d games, with games like Sim City 2000 having hundreds of possible building and plenty of interesting disasters. After the jump to 3d, games had a similar trajectory, with early 3d games having limited customization options at first, only slowly growing out over various iterations (and in the case of the Sims 3, too bloody many expansion packs).

      But the weird thing about this trajectory is that unlike 2d games, customization options haven’t been rising. Games like Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 actually demonstrate the peak, not another stepping stone. The coasters in this game offer a huge variety of track pieces, sometimes alternate cars, and always plenty of color options. But did we get more buildings in Sim City (2013) than in Sim City 4? Nope. Are we likely to get more clothing and housing options in the Sims 4 than in Sims 3? Heck no. Many of these options have been relegated to DLC. In an even more cynical move, unscrupulous companies like EA have been pressuring their devs to leave out obvious features and content for future expansion packs. Instead of expansion packs adding more to existing content, now they simply fill in content that should already be in the base game.

      I understand how this might make sense to some cynical executives trying to make a quick buck, but it’s a terrible move in the long run. Those one-game PC’s? Many of them belong to people who would later go on to buy more games, and to explore the rich territory of what PC gaming has to offer. Even if they don’t, you can bet that a lot of them are willing to buy an expansion pack for a game they’ve dropped 200 hours on. If you can see all the content there is in 20 hours, is that going to make you throw more money at the game? Is it going to make you throw more money at games in general? And are they really going to go to the effort of learning how to disable their firewall to play a game that’s always online? Are they going to put up with disconnects and stuttering and lag, things they have never encountered before? It’s going to be a miserable experience and they probably aren’t going to come back.

      Maybe they’ll finally wise up for Roller Coaster Tycoon 5.

  5. Colej_uk says:

    Oh dear, sounds like they’re going to do to RCT what they did to SimCity.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Gonna enjoy watching them fumble about with the mysterious cloud functionality (Because it’s 2014 and we need the cloud and furthermore)

      • rikvanoostende says:

        The Cloud is the new Bluetooth: anything is better with it.

        • bills6693 says:

          Cloud saving? Love that stuff, yes please.

          Cloud anything else? Don’t see any point. I don’t want it connected to an online server all the time, I just want cloud saves when I close the game on steam. Thats nice. Thats useful to me.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            Could Saves are just a glorified Spideroak. If anyone was interested in “The Cloud”, the big players would have already get together and concocted a cross-platform way to choose what to backup in whatever service you have. Alas, they are too busy duplicating existing functionality.

    • secuda says:

      That would be our least worries, if they just make a port from the phone.

  6. secuda says:

    sigh, another classic down the drain.

  7. Shazbut says:

    ‘The PC version will be an “online multiplayer experience”.’

    Either they’re insane, or hundreds of thousands of angry people on the internet doesn’t affect anything

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      They shout out, are suddenly silenced, &c, &c.

    • lomaxgnome says:

      It’s pretty clear that developers see that the hundreds of vocal minority complainers aren’t their target audience which is millions and millions of casual games who don’t buy games any other way now.

  8. Notelpats says:

    Really ? ..

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    So what, a day to make each section of pathway and a week to build each ride (unless you pay real money)?

    Just throwing it out there

  10. draigdrwg says:

    Why would anyone buy into this when the originals are available (since this looks very similar)? Or even the slightly less charming, but more feature packed 3rd..

    • BTAxis says:

      The originals aren’t available for mobile devices. Nor will the PC version of RCT4 look like that (presumably).

  11. SuicideKing says:

    I picked up RCT 1 &3 for some $6 during winter on GoG.

  12. Asrahn says:

    “It’s finally here!” the trailer states.

    Yes, we’ve so looked forward to a watered down facebook clicker on fucking phones and tablets. I sincerely hope the damn PC release is worth anything, but in the worst case scenario, GoG has the old games; and they’re still awesome.

    • bills6693 says:

      RCT3 is also on steam, don’t know about the earlier ones. Bought RCT3 on sale on GoG (and then it went on sale on steam and I was annoyed :P) and love it, not played the earlier ones.

      This is just a massive, massive disappointment.

      • Premium User Badge

        teije says:

        RCT2 is my favourite. Still play that and RCT1 once in awhile.

        But way better (IMHO) is the original Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Still around and still very entertaining. The iPad port is not so great – just too clumsy to manage your sprawling transport network with touch and the small screen. Definitely a PC best game.

        For the best experience, get OpenTTD. Open-source and been lovingly maintained and enhanced over the years.link to openttd.org

  13. Sharongamer978 says:

    Such fun. Very tycoon. Much money.

  14. Cinek says:

    I’m like:

    Wow! It’s back in 2D! Awesome!
    Wait… it’s multiplayer?! WAT?! *rage quits*

  15. sharkh20 says:

    Who sees what happened with SimCity and says to themselves, “We should do that!”?

  16. Jimbo says:

    I’d love this (or Theme Park) on iPad, but it goes without saying that it will be totally trashed by microtransactions and social media nonsense.

  17. Artificial says:

    I think people expecting a Sim City 5 version of RCT are still vastly over rating what this new game will end up like. I have absolutely zero hope and interest in this new RCT, it’s going to be some sort of half arsed social game.

  18. Jake says:

    I love RC3, there is just so much you can do, but it can become quite an obsession and after a while and all those elaborately themed entrance queues can bring the game down to a crawl.

  19. gremmie says:

    Will I be able to attack other people’s theme parks, and raze their cotton candy storage to the ground? … sending in the 50 lost children!