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Park Life: Planet Coaster's Creation Tools

The second developer diary for Frontier’s Planet Coaster [official site] has arrived. It covers the creation tools that will let you modify everything from rollercoasters to individual buildings and rocks. I had zero expectations about the theme park management game but this video, along with the crowd tech in the last diary, is very exciting indeed. It’s almost as if there has been a big SimPark failure that I didn’t spot and this is the Skylines-esque response.

There are times when developers talk about the games they’re working on as if what they’re describing isn’t extraordinary at all. There’s no whooping and hollering, no flashy names for features or snazzily edited videos to crank up of the hype-meter – just perfectly reasonable and realistic explanations of features that are quietly thrilling.

This video is a perfect example of that. From the initial building customisation through to the rollercoaster design, and the knowledge that park visitors will respond to features that they can see even if they’re not directly experiencing those features. The title of the video is “Rewarding Creativity” and if Frontier can manage to do that, Planet Coaster could be phenomenal.

AI characters really struggle with aesthetic judgements. It’s why my Fallout 4 wife insisted I was looking better than ever as I piled on the ugly and why Sims will happily live in a mish-mash colour-clash nightmare of a house as long as every individual component has a high value. It’s why any game that rewards creative endeavours is easy to fool as soon as you learn the rules, whether you’re taking photos during a zombie uprising or trying to sell paintings on the open market.

In Skylines I make my cities functional for the sake of the inhabitants and my bank balance, and make them attractive because I like them to be that way. If Planet Coaster can monitor the effectiveness of layouts and stylistic choices to the degree that the video suggests it might, I’ll be delighted. Anything that causes me to rethink design strategies, long- and short-term, is welcome.

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Adam Smith

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