The last time we wrote about Planet Coaster was back in January, and the folks at Frontier Developments have been working hard on the theme park simulator. At Gamescom, we got a chance to sit down with two members of the team, senior producer Rich Newbold and lead designer Andy Fletcher, who told us about the current state of Planet Coaster. According to the duo, the game is built around three key pillars: creation, management and sharing.
Create Your Imagination
Older simulators allowed huge degrees of creative freedom, but Planet Coaster elevates the idea to a whole new level. When you make a roller coaster, you can opt to import a blueprint of an entire track and edit it, but you can also start from scratch. On each piece of the roller coaster, you can adjust its curve, banking angle, incline and length. You’ll also have access to special pieces, such as the famous loop-the-loop, and you can also send your guests through an underground tunnel.
It seems, then, that you can build any kind of ride from your imagination. You can build a coaster that goes miles above or below ground, upside down for half the trip, or anything commensurately absurd. Nevertheless, you’ll still want to limit the intensity in order to keep the ride balanced between excitement, fear and nausea. Each of those three elements has its own ideal level you’ll want to target for happy guests.
Additionally, Planet Coaster will have a full terrain deformation system that will enable you to make mountains, deep caverns, tunnels and even floating islands. If you’re going to put a ride on top of a tall mountain, though, do be nice to your guests and provide them with some kind of automated transport. Making them walk a steep hill won’t make them happy.
The same freedom applies to buildings, too. Sure, you can import a building from an existing blueprint, but if you want to build something from scratch and manually place the walls, doors, windows and decoration, you’ll be able to create custom structures or even replicate your own house if you’ve got the patience to do so.
You’ve Made The Park, Now Manage It!
Naturally, great roller coasters and other rides will make your guests happy, but if they don’t have a place to pee, they’ll be upset. Factors that affect happiness are cleanliness of the park, distances between rides, availability of food and restrooms, crowdedness, and of course the entertainment level from the rides. Happy customers spend more money, so if you’re wise, you’ll place that boutique gift shop right outside your best roller coaster.
The characters in the game are randomly generated, so you shouldn’t see too many clones. Additionally, each guest has their own stats that show how much money they have, how happy they are, where they’re going next, what’s annoying them, and more. You can look at these specs for clues on how to manage your park, but their expressions will tell you additional information; they can show a whole range of emotions and needs including hunger, nausea, impatience, the need for a toilet and more.
The same concepts of happiness also apply to your employees. For example, if employ too many janitors, your park may be spotless, but the janitors won’t feel useful and may quit. Employ too few, and you’ll be making them work too hard. It’s also important not to assign overqualified people to easy jobs; if you’ve trained a vendor well, he’ll be happy only if his workload matches his level of training.
Show Your Work
Once you’ve made your ideal (or nightmare) park, you’ll want to share it with others. Additionally, you can share the individual roller coasters you’ve made, different buildings, only the terrain mapping, or even entire cutouts of your own theme parks.
The game will have full Steam Workshop integration.
Why Make A Theme Park Simulator?
It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a theme park simulator, which raises the question, why make one now? Newbold and Fletcher pointed out that the public is finally ready for a new theme park simulator, as shown by the popularity of other modern simulators.They explained that it's also a good time to make one technology-wise, as game engines are more flexible, and computer resources are more lavish. Further, they said that under Frontier Developments, they have more creative freedom to turn it into what they want, explaining that larger studios and publishers were not so flexible.
Planet Coaster will be unleashed on November 17, but you’ll be able to pre-order on Steam it starting Thursday, August 25 for $40.99.