(This was featured on Roller Coaster Tycoon original website back in 1999 and has been reposted for your enjoyement)

GAME INFO
THE EVOLUTION OF ROLLERCOASTER TYCOON
(aka The Editing Room Floor)

PART 1
Most people know about the burger stalls and the Panda-costumed entertainers, the corkscrew ride and the simple interface, but very few have seen the items that didn't make it into the game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon has so many great elements that it's easy to forget that all games evolve from the early concepts into something else at the project's end. Many elements make it through without being altered at all but others are altered, updated, merged or dropped completely.

So, read on in the first part of our RollerCoaster Tycoon feature, where we see how the game changed and developed over its two year development period. You'll see what got left out and, in some cases, we think you'll understand why.

Note: Please be aware that the contents of this article must not be copied/reproduced/published elsewhere without permission.
 

 

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06 September 1996
The start of the project. No, this isn't a very early screenshot of RollerCoaster Tycoon - It's actually the bare bones of a sequel to Chris Sawyer's earlier game, Transport Tycoon. However, it was around this time that he thought of adapting it to handle simple roller coasters. So, you could say this was the 'birth' of RollerCoaster Tycoon.


 

 

 

 

 

19 September 1996
The first trial graphics for roller coaster cars. These are a good example of an early item that didn't change too much throughout the project, although you can compare these against some a few months later which are shown below.


 


 

 


 

24 September 1996
The plan for roller coaster track was to have straight track at various angles, which could be plugged into each other to create hills and dips. However, this just wasn't good enough, and these early track graphics were abandoned in favour of smooth slope transitions.


 

 

30 September 1996
The first batch (of thousands) of different angles for the roller coaster cars. Depending on the type of track and inversions, each car can have up to 800 different frames of animation, plus a further 1600 frames for the passengers.


 


 

 


 

08 October 1996
Next to the roller coaster car you can see the first trial 'people' graphics. Also in view are the first incarnations of an inverted coaster car.


 

 

24 October 1996
Modelling the vertical loop took a long time and great deal of calculation, and this early mode shows how NOT to do it. To keep the model simple, Chris had hoped to use a fixed radius for the upper half, and a larger fixed radius for the approaches, but as you can see, it doesn't look right. Most real-life coaster loops have a constantly tightening radius towards the top of the loop (called a 'clothoid' loop), and eventually this is what was created for RollerCoaster Tycoon.


 


 

 


 

27 October 1996
Some strange 'tunnel' graphics. These look more like underground drainage pipes than anything else and they never made it to the final game. Next to them are some early blond-haired passengers in a roller coaster car.


 

 

17 February 1997
The first of many frames of animation for the generic 'guests' in the game start to take shape. Even just one character requires loads of single frames to cater for every frame of his movement and those had to be repeated for every direction they were walking too.

PART 2 on next page.
 


 

 

 

 

05 March 1997

 

Only a few months into the project, and this is the state of RollerCoaster Tycoon. Compared to many other games,

this looks amazingly cohesive already. A variety of different roller coaster types are implemented, along with some of

the control systems and scenery, but no sign of those little people yet.


Size:130Kb 

 

15 March 1997
Some sculpted trees which didn't make it into the final game. Notice how the heads and tails of the birds vary in size as the artist worked on finding the best balance. Working on such a small scale, just a few pixels can make a lot of difference.


 


 

 


 

04 April 1997
Early experimentation with different styles of interface. This changed drastically before the final look was found. In fact, we'll be seeing how this idea for the interface style was developed further in a later example (in part 2 of this feature).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top of Form

 

 


 

07 April 1997
One idea which was dropped later on - Rusty track! The plan was that as rides deteriorated over time, the nice bright paint finish would peel off the steel track to reveal rusty and bare metal, and would require re-painting.


 

 

25 April 1997
One of the most detailed (for it's size) 3D models created for RollerCoaster Tycoon was the steam locomotive for the miniature railway. It's based on 'Northern Rock', a narrow gauge locomotive built for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in England.


 


 

 


 

13 May 1997
After successfully solving all the problems involved in creating vertical loops, a great deal of work went into trying to create corkscrews. This shows some early attempts, which are far from satisfactory!


 

 

15 May 1997
Not content to have only square entrance and exit buildings for rides, these are some trial circular entrance buildings, including a circular name banner which scrolls around the top. However, there were too many problems with entrances of this shape, so they never made it into the final game.


 


 

 

 

24 June 1997
A very strange one this. When asked about it, Chris Sawyer had the following to say, "Errr, I don't know!". (Seriously, his exact words). We're sure you'll agree with him, but to us it will always be affectionately known as "the odd panda-bench-type-thing".


 


 

 



 

13 July 1997 For a short time, the game interface took on a 'woody' look-and-feel - in fact, the ideas for the buttons in this interface took shape a few months earlier and can be seen at the end of part 1 of this feature. It looked great for a few weeks, but had too many drawbacks. It had some nice features though, including buttons at the top of the screen which 'swung' gently back and forth while selected or clicked. However, before long, the game adopted a much cleaner' look which allowed more information to be displayed clearly in more compact windows.

 

 



Size:130Kb 

 



 

04 September 1997

And, here is that 'cleaner' look to the interface and windows. At last, there are little people wandering around and riding the rides too. No sign of much in the way of scenery, or non-roller coaster type rides yet though.

 

 


Size:130Kb 

 

07 November 1997
How about this miltary tank vehicle for the car ride? This never made it into the final game which seems a shame as it looks really cool and chunky.


 


 

 


 

13 November 1997
This item shows one of the 'car' models that were built. This wasn't built for the car ride but was originally intended to be used where public roads and car parks were to appear in the game.


 

 

22 November 1997
Many styles of pavement were experimented with before the final selection was made. You can see a few styles that were not used in this example.


 


 

 

PART 3
 

 


 

01 December 1997
Not only did rides change during development but some were created and never put into the game. Here, we can see a section of a multi-lane slide with steps up the side. (The picture on the right is the same ride viewed from the back.) The ride would have consisted of several of these sections, to create a large slide.


 

 

15 December 1997
More experiments in ride entrance/exit design. In part 2, we saw some alternative designs for ride entrance/exits in the shape of round castle-like turrets, but the shape proved too much of a problem. These later tests were based on the existing square entrance/exit buildings, but with various changes. However, they were never finished.


 


 

 


 

18th January 1998
A rather lazy handyman sitting and eating his lunch. Sadly, this was never used in the game, but knowing how hard everyone works their handymen, it's unlikely they would have much of a chance to eat lunch anyway!


 

 

23rd January 1998
Those ducks - A very detailed animation for its small size. Ever noticed how ducks leave as well as arrive? Rumours of how to drive ducks away from your parks were not true. The real reason? Ducks in RCT migrate for the Winter. It's true.


 


 

 


 

19th March 1998
This great looking robot entertainer costume was never finished. Shame really as it looks great.


 

 

22nd March 1998
A rather explosive idea which didn't make it into the final game. If your ride failed and a car blew-up the track was going to be detroyed too.


 


 

 


 

24th March 1998
More scenery and themed buildings were suggested and experimented with but these never got past the trial stage.


 

 

13th April
A very unusual looking item for a theme park - A town house which was never used in the game. All the houses were actually created for use outside the park, as in Bumbly Beach, to create a 'town' type of scenario.


 


 

 


 

16th April 1998
Early trial graphics for 'Egyptian' themeing. The pyramid was included in the final game but was developed a lot from this early version.


 

 

22nd April 1998
Another house but this time a more complex town house which, like the previous house, didn't make it into the final game.


 


 

 


 

19th May 1998
A bus, which was to bring people to the park in some scenarios. Just like real life, this bus never arrived.


 

 

14th August 1998
And finally, probably the strangest protoypte - the park awards! No, you're not imagining things, some of the awards are body parts of the "sitting on" variety. The reason for this particular theme has been lost in the process (probably a good thing) but, needless to say, it was changed later on.


 


 


 

PLEASE EXIT THIS ARTICLE TAKING ALL YOUR PERSONAL BELONGINGS WITH YOU...
Well, like all good rides, this series of features has been fun but it has come to an end. That's our final look behind-the-scenes at the creation of RollerCoaster Tycoon. We hope you enjoyed it and showed you that for every great item in RollerCoaster Tycoon there are lots of others that do not make it. Furthermore, it demonstrates how a game changes a great deal throughout the development process and the end result is the product of an evolution of ideas. Our thanks to Chris Sawyer for sharing these insights with us.

 

 

COPYRIGHT 1999 Chris Sawyer