Up-To-Date RCT3 Review

I have decided to do a first review of the RCT3 platform at this late date. I know there has been previous reviews from the big magazines, and that they get advanced insight before I do. But we all have our sources of information and what we can write. Mine comes from years of being an RCT fan, programming more flat rides than any other ridemaker in the RCT2 platform, whether people liked them or not, and also being fully dedicated to this platform even when others left it in disgust because of the poorly thought out expansion packs. But I won't go there, because that is as we say in the RCT3 community, from another time and place in the park. What I will do is an honest and open review to the public on this Game platform.

 

So with no further hiddo....Tada!


August 2005

Tunnels you got, Tunnels you could have had.

My oh my, it seems these days everybody’s got to rush their time and keep strict schedules. This perhaps is the cause of more failures than anything else in life and it is even more so in business. While its nice to set a goal and keep a deadline and the reliability one will deliver on time, this can also be a double edged sword in life. In fact more often than not, history has born this to be very true. So unfortunately this can also be applied to the tunneling issue in the latest Atari expansion known as Soaked. Now, before everyone gets their pick axes, shovels and six shooters out and shoots holes in me faster than Jesse James in the wild west, lets look at why the rush to get the expansion out leads to this commentary. Better yet, lets look at what could have been tunneling rather than what we have.

1.) Tunnels require a dead-on square block to enter the side of a mountain or land mass. This was true also in RCT1.

2.) Tunnels have a generic interior and it is squared even in rounded areas.

3.) Tunnels are hit and miss, and still very difficult to create and especially to finish.

4.) In RCT1 there were gray and wood colored beams that applied to tunnel entrances and exits in the underground landscape/paint tool.

In RCT3 which bills itself as a 3D game (which it sadly is currently not entirely). An auto tunnel should be created anywhere. On a flat land mass, a angled hill in any direction. At any angle.

Interior themes for tunnels should be automatic. If its the Ice Age, Mine Themed, Cave Man style, Futuristic, Atlantis themed etc, it should occur inside the tunnel automatically. This is not the case. Instead hit or miss and very difficult, and cheaply programmed I might add, you must place a scenery piece underground or inside the mountain tunnel to line it. This is a gross shortchange to the user that could have been added and fairly easily from what I have been told.

Tunnels have some advantages over the RCT1 version, but not many. They are still time consuming and sometimes frustratingly difficult to create and even harder to finish at that. This could have been made easily by adding a ghosting feature that would draw a simple line through a mountain. Select the entrance and than the exit and poof, you have your straight tunnel to ride through and create. Much less tedious than currently exists.

Exits of tunnels and entrances to tunnels could have been easily added with a selectable themed option rather than fidgeting with scenery pieces which I might add, don’t always line up perfectly and look cheap to boot.

So will there be fixes and enhancements to the tunnels issue or will Frontier just move on and ignore their userbase which seems to be happening more frequently these days? Only time till tell if Tunnels will become the next Time Twisters feature.

 

July 2005

What may be coming and how it affects you in the RCT3 platform.

"Soaked" was the major addition as rumors flew to RCT3. But it may be rather disappointing and here is the insight into why. First lets look at the positive that exists. Than after that, I’ll give you my recommendation on the new product. My recommendation comes as an avid user and someone who has frequented the RCT product line from the very start, so my opinion is not bought, but a very honest and critical one both positively and negatively if its justified.

Soaked adds a new beach scenario, something available in previous RCT series and missing in the initial release of RCT3. It gives you a new H20 Mix master allowing fountains, waterfalls and many other water related event creations. You get a few new coaster ** rides and several new flat rides, some unrelated to anything to do with the title‘s theme, but fun to have anyhow. Long requested, and available in previous RCT versions but lacking in the original release RCT3 you get tunnels, and limited darkness inside the tunnels. There are new scenery items including a parking area and things like car scenery to place on them. You get walkways underwater for sea themed parks. Aside from this though you don’t get much else except a new box design. Now this is not a full fledged game, but an add-on *** and should be accepted as just that. The price is about half of the original RCT3 so it should be easy on the pocketbooks.

Soaked signals a change of strategy on Frontier’s part. I suspect that the tunneling issue forewent the making of many more flatrides we will see released in the 2nd expansion, probably in December, just in time for Christmas shopping season......A rumored Jungle themed expansion codenamed SafariLand???

When you open the new Soaked box what will be missing. Many still requested by the community and ignored popular flatrides are still missing, and fans of such rides will be greatly disappointed. I can‘t even count the hordes of disappointed fans, but I know some of them and believe me they exist. This is where you might want to ask your buddies who insisted on tunnels if it was really worth it. Existing rides still are about where they were in the initial RCT3 expansion pack. But what soaked added were some rides that are not as sea or water amusement park related as for instance "Diving Bells" and what about a "Sea Lion" or "Seal Show"? But lets look at existing rides for instance the Chairlift. No enclosed buckets! In fact this would have been a great time to have added a much requested and sea themed Bubble shaped car for the chairlift including the square buckets normally seen at many current amusement parks, and there are still many tweaks that the Frontier team has neglected on this ride, and that‘s just one existing ride. A oft requested coaster the Chance Toboggan still missing from the entire RCT series regardless of version. What about a single platform station serving dual racing coaster tracks? Missing in action. Darkness in tunnels but not inside buildings. Forget Darkrides!!! Instead of "Laff In The Dark" you will get a "Cry in the Light". They don’t exist in RCT3 and won’t for a very long while. Making buildings is like RCT2, time consuming, tedious and oft frustrating, ask many and they‘ll tell you that a newer approach would have been better. Ever get a building piece stuck at an odd angle inside a building at an odd angle? Removing it is also very tough at times. This is where a Building Generator would have come in very handy. The game still has a 2D alignment grid for paths, buildings and tracked rides or flat ride angle placement. These are all serious issues. In addition the original scenery still is not complete. The tools to allow the RCT public to create its own scenery are still lacking from Frontier/Atari. Thanks to a well known user named Jonwil, we are very lucky got anything at all. Sandbox mode is still not a true sandbox mode, which is why another user developed a Trainer for the game. Another thing that is quite disturbing is the amount of money Atari may be shelling out to license real amusement park rides and names from a few big named theme parks. The money needed to buy licensing right now needs to be better spent on first adding the missing items in this game platform, and this really is a tremendous error in funding by Atari’s Brainiacs if this proves to be the case. The expansion lacks a lot of scenarios to beat, thus leaving it up to the general public. But the worst gamble Atari is banking on is that you must buy every expansion pack before you can use the next one. This is a make it or break it gamble. Because, if enough people don’t want a "rip off" expansion, that could spell doom for Atari’s sales. On the other hand a strong expansion, of course, guarantees that customers will await the next one to follow with great anticipation.

A better Mouse Ride??? Might Atari/Frontier have been better off making the game a plug-in architecture, as far as add-on packs go? Wasn’t this better business and the type of flexibility the RCT consumer would have liked to see? It had certainly been requested and not by just one person, but many. A plug-in architecture in the game would allow users to decide on what expansions they want to purchase. This is the smarter business model that they should consider building into a future update of the RCT3 platform.

Make no mistake about it, soaked marks a possible change in the direction Frontier and Atari are going with the future of the platform. RCT history will bear out whether this was a wise shift or a bad one. Guaranteed, which ever shift has occurred, it will determine the future of this platform, and also whether a super program, or a piece of crap will be released in the RCT4 franchise to follow in a while, if that should happen at all.

So here we are, checkbooks and cash on hand. The big question comes, is this worth the extra bucks its being sold for, and should you continue to support this platform, or consider one of the other alternative 3D amusement park games on the horizon? The answer continues to be a most definite YES! But keep your eyes peeled. There will be several new products that will compete for your money and they plan to start filling the void Atari/Frontier have had to themselves from the very start. Competition spawns innovation, so the RCT community should welcome the competition in the ever growing RCT platform. Hold onto your seats, wild times are ahead.

As always Cheers

** The coaster rides are imaginative but they still are missing several popular coasters in the product line. Chance Toboggan, Carl & Ramagossa Flying Fish, Racing Woodie and single platform station to service it.

*** Add-on means it offers many things but don’t expect a totally new game. Just enhancements for the existing game.

 

June 2005

See the updated Review here ---> Updated Soaked Review

 

May 2005

Imagine the excitement. Rather than make RCT4 we got many expansions first in RCT3. The time has come to weigh in on the future of the Roller Coaster Tycoon Platform. Because other competitors are readying their own amusement park games and some of those games will fix many of the vices that Frontier ignored when it released Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 to the RCT fan base which I might add, deserved much better. Luckily, Frontier followed up and released several patches that fixed many rudimentary bugs. But they left many things missing or undone, like multiple tree planting and others mentioned in previous posts. But let's envision something else. Atari nixes any further expansion packs for RCT3 and foregoes making RCT3 what it could be. Why, because its a user base spurned into a new rct platform for more bucks. But lets say Atari does the right thing and builds on RCT3 first for several more years before making RCT4???

If history is anything to be considered, than the RCT3 community will have been the most hindered community in the world as far as gaming and here is why. You would get 2 expansion packs and not one expansion pack more (at the time of this writing). You have no more ride making ability and the future on the RCT3 platform, as of this writing, indeed looks grim, for ride makers, and animated scenery makers alike. That doesn't mean a brilliant mind or minds can't fix that at a later date. But right now it looks like pulling the plug on RCT3 will probably and sadly happen after the second expansion pack. This could be a fatal mistake for Atari, because if the user base sees that they are getting a game, with two expansions or less, and no real chance to convert existing RCT3 games (parks,scenarios,tracks,peep groups) to RCT4, and the lack of real community contributions like scenery, animation and ride making for RCT3, they might catch on and decide to put their weight behind a competitive company's product line. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened either. But lets say Atari and Frontier continue making expansions and finally RCT4 does come out after several years when RCT3 has run its course. Here is what we might get and be ready to get blown away. If you don't like spoilers than stop reading now. If you liken to seeing a glimpse of the possible gaming in the near future with RCT4, than read on at your own peril...

The RCT4 player has waited a long time. He or she sits down on a chair with a special motion cushion and places goggles over the eyes and ear and mouth pieces over their ear and in front of their mouth. They voice launch the game from their p.c. and instantly they are walking amongst other peeps. The peeps here are so much like real people its like being in a real life park. A device release simulates smells as you walk along a wireless path to your next destination. That means you can smell the cotton candy hot dogs and soda pop or jungle scenery etc. You hop on a ride, sit in a special seat and hold on for dear life. The seat sits in a small frame that is a gyro with air fans, and suddenly on the wireless net, you are spinning in realtime and experiencing the sights and sounds, with the wind of a coaster ride, or air wooshing by on a flatride at your face. You are experiencing movement on this ride. Everything you see is in real vivid color and detail and is photo realistic. Yup, you heard it. This sensation, the wind, the motion, the smells, the people, the rides, the fauna are 3D but they are as close as it gets to the real thing. And yeah, if a coaster crashes the gyro seat has heat elements that blow hot air around you, not scorching but hot enough to let you have a taste of the explosion. But it doesn't stop there...

This goes a step further over the new Internet 2. Yes there is a newer Internet 2 and its much faster than current broadband on the net and cheaper eventually to log into. Over the new net, you and your buddies can visit an amusement park together, build one together, manage it together and share a daily dose of RCT4, all this in realtime and with photorealistic friends that really resemble the real life people and sound similar too. Far fetched, not at all. Games like Call Of Duty by Activision have Internet play, so its only logical that RCT and its competitors will race to offer this first in a photorealistic environment. Will these things come about? Yes. Will they be in RCT4? Only the future imaginations at work in the Frontier wizardry can answer that question! Perhaps Frontier and Atari will offer all the rides in this game and the scenery too. Wouldn't RCT4 be a kick? Now if only we can get several years and many wonderful expansion packs out of RCT3 first before we all have to spend a gazillion dollars for the super computers necessary to run RCT4. The future belongs to the community and the customers and loyal paying fans who have supported it, and Atari is wise to maintain the RCT3 platform for a while before stuff like this comes on the market.

Until next month....."Sail On" Soaked Users and as always Cheers


April 2005

This months article deals with the terain tool, particularly a weak link that can be greatly improved. In RCT2 we had the raising and lowering of land only in the scenario editor. In 2 D it was great. The Frontier wizards greatly improved upon this in RCT3 by miles when they allowed more terrain coloring, blending and rise, dig tools and flattening tools too. But there are currently in RCT3 drawbacks and one of these is shaping cliffs with cracks, gashes, dried creeks, water runoffs etc. Currently the shaping while leaps and bounds over RCT2, lacks behind the quality of the ride models for instance.

Take the "Chairswing" for instance, the detailing. Now look at the hills, plateau, ridge you have created. Even plant the vegetation, but something very serious is missing from it. Its the cracks on the ground and the rock outcroppings. This is another problem, a couple of pieces of scenery of rocks. But what about rocks on a hill, how about a "Rock Generator" to make many different types of rocks and cliff sides and tops that can even be shared amongs users? Why can't the Terrain tools add a Rock Generator, a "Natural Cliff and Mountain Side" Generator? Such features are seriously able to enhance the RCT3 experience and yet with all that is available, these tools are currently missing at the time of this writing.

What happend to Multi-Planting? In RCT versions past, you could, with one mouse click, do multi-planting of trees and other fawna. This is not currently available in the RCT3 version at the time of this writing. I think I can speak for most RCT'ers when I make the statement thjat not only does having to plant trees, shrubbs and other fawna, one at a time, become taxing on the mouse, but it can also become tedious for those needing to theme an area like a forest or outback. Try clicking 500 trees into place and the task absorbs your hours of other creative endeavors. This is why, what is required is for the Frontier Wizards, to add a Multi-Plant tool and make things easier in the planting department. In addition to this, the powers that be need to also add the ability for the user to highlight the area of terrain where the multi-planting will go, or just random if not selecting the area selection tool. 

Until next time Cheers


RCT3 Review by "Mark Paul" sebar

March 8th 2005

Over the years the RCT3 (Roller Coaster Tycoon 3) community has requested numerous features from Infogrames ala. Atari. It appeared things like night lights and 3D would be a myth. But lo and behold the wizards at Frontier created what the community asked for. In fact they went far beyond what the community originally envisioned.

The Frontier wizards in conjunction with Atari's Command Center fabricated what is probably the greatest game to date on the Windows and perhaps, other platforms. They gave us not only 3D and a nightlife in our amusement parks, but they gave us a chance to ride the rides. Imagine that I could make a replica of a long gone coaster and ride it in realtime on my computer screen, and with current digital computer technology and thanks to the Frontier think-tank teams produce a VCD or DVD on my home computer and share it with friends and family, and this doesn't just extend to coasters, but almost all rides, paths and buildings, with sounds. This is a tremendous feat for us all and we should be very grateful for this. Another fun feature not requested in the RCT community was fireworks. This fun feature hit everyone out of left field in a big way. The Frontier wizards gave us fireworks shows and the possibilities are nearly endless. It meant you could watch a fireworks display just like Magic Mountain, Disneyland or any one of a number of other parks around the globe. Add to this Peeps with a high artificial intelligence, Family groups and the ability to create your own peeps and the 29 bucks the game sells for is well worth the price.

But there is an even bigger reason kids and adults will enjoy this game. It doesn't require you to kill other people and objects. Instead it is a fun oriented game that allows you to create as well as play a game. It also promotes common business sense as the main challenge, and I welcome this. We all have seen the games where you have to gun down someone. Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 actually is about building coasters, other tracked rides and amusement parks. Its about hiring and training help, being fiscally responsible, and strategy on how to manage what you build and share with others. It is creativity at its core and no other game comes close to this. Thats why once you try this game you are hooked on it. The ability to create and create and create is endless and always new and fun. Add to this, an entire world wide community where you can visit parks by others and the fun becomes infinitive.

As I write this article tonight, the Frontier support people and folks at Atari have gained a handle on many early bugs in the initial release of the game. But as anyone knows or should know after reading this article, new games always have those bugs that got away. However if a manufacturer is willing to fix what is broken, than I am fine with that. There are however serious issues with the current first release of RCT that bears watching, and I'll go over these points in an honest fashion with you and how they will affect you, some points big and others small.

We must first analyize who you are and how you will use the game platform of RCT3. RCT3 is divided into basically two camps. Those who play scenarios only, and those who use it to create a playable sort of art into which group I also fall myself, as evidenced by my endeavors over the years on this platform.

The first group wants the scenarios by Atari and also the second group, so they can play them as a game. Thats all fine and dandy and I am also obliged to this group, they are enjoying spending their hours on this platform. It is like cotton candy all day long. The thrill of an amusement park is as close as it gets here, and the fun is non stop. Its bright and colorful and the only thing lacking currently is the smell of an amusement park otherwise the experience is as close as it gets to the real thing.

The second group as mentioned goes far beyond the normal platform. They create new amusement parks, scenarios, peep groups, fireworks displays, buildings, coasters etc. They will in the near future as of this writing be creating new scenery thanks to Jonwil and others within the communtiy for their perserverance and great intellect in creating utilities that will make this a reality. So the future just gets brighter as time goes by. So we are agreed that RCT3 platform, so far is a must have and I encourage you even with this review to support Atari's sales with this game, because it is the Real McCoy.

But not everything is perfect and I suspect that many of the things I write tonight in this review will be fixed. Because when you know there is a problem, you can fix it, as the old saying goes, so lets look at the faults that lie in the current RCT3 platform, before "Soaked" the upcoming expansion pack has been released. I will update this page as things change of course.

With all of its great technological gadgets and fun, RCT3 fun lacks certain things that hinder it from being a "Damned good game" to a "Great game." The the things are in order from...

 

1. 3D - The game bills itself as a 3D product and for the most part it does many things very well in this respect except for the most important 3D thing it could do. That is, the construction grid is a 2D grid. What RCT3 lacks is a true 3D construction grid manager of sorts. You cannot build most tracked rides, paths or buildings at any angle and this big and important lacking feature, horribly handicaps the second group of people, the 70% of users who wish to create. Yes they still create, but in a RCT1 and RCT2 fashion. This is a very sad ommission from the game and needs to be something seriously addressed by the Frontier programmers, otherwise RCT3 users and Atari are both being shorted on a better product. I will be mentioning another utility that in conjunction with this blows the doors open in the RCT3 platform.

2. Darkness inside structures - One of the greatest things in an amusement park is to ride their fantasy Dark Rides. This cannot currently be done in RCT3, because the outside light shines through the walls, thus making real Dark Rides, Space Mountain, Haunted House ride only a wish. It takes a major fun part of a park builder's theme away from them and prohibits others who want to experience this type of ride from doing so. It takes away a big part of the gentle magic we all expect from a game that has almost everything else within it. Whether Frontier's wizards will solve this remains to be seen. But we can always hope they do the right thing and that their programmers fix this serious and big issue.

3. Please, Frontier/Atari, no more Wacky Worlds. We need real rides that carry the real ride names. Yes you can have the themed version but first we need the original generic version. An Octopus is an Octopus not a Monster. Skywheels are not skywheels but actually Spacewheels. The confusion needs to slow down and we need you to keep these as accurate to the original. Let the park builders rename them, but give us the real thing. The rides are for the most part awesome and I refer mainly to the flatrides. But they lack several options though not as important as other things, they could use a ride control panel for advanced users. This is going to be appearing in rival games. In addition I think it would be great to also allow the user to have a peep onload and unload sequence closer to the original rides. Just a thought

4. Game Crashes, won't load - Frontier, you can fix this and you must. You need to stabalize this in the game during the load process. Here is my fix for what must be done. Keep a duplicate protected files folder of the original install or patched install files. These are must load files of the game itself, not user constructed items. When a user has created their own park, coaster or other track ride file, a building, fireworks show or even peeps and that file becomes corrupted, the game must still be able to load and not crash. This is a serious issue that must be addressed as mentioned previosuly, but a serious issue that will save Frontier many support hours and costs as well as the frustrations of the users and customers. In addition build in a text report that tells the user what file is in question. This will make the RCT3 experience much more pleasant.

5. The Building Generator - The method by which RCT2 allowed building to be constructed hasn't changed much in RCT3. With a game this grand, there should have been a faster, easier way to make a building and assign its values. The current method of one wall, one roof, one block or accessorie at a time is from RCT2. Isn't this the grand game called RCT3? The Building Generator easily shows the weaknesses of making buildings. Yes, there are those who like the old fashioned method and fine. But many people would like to make stuff faster and position it and assign whether it becomes a shop, restaurant, attraction show etc. . See this article post and see just how important this can be by clicking this page... "Building Generator" or look it up in the Atari forums, if the mods were smart enough to retain it. It explains a lot about what could be added to make the game go far beyond just a game. It would make doing buildings a snap and in seconds could save hours of laborous work for park builders. It is the 21st Century tool for constructing buildings and structures of all kinds.

6. Lack of Scenery - Ok its 3D and I realize it takes time. What Frontier should have done was come out with one less theme and make the scenery packs more complete. Unfortunately in the wall and roof departments, there isn't enough to create the many parks the builders will need. Most packs are in mine and others estimation a third to half complete. Frontier's Scenery wizards must fix this for their customers. I realize there were dealines guys, but this must be fixed, at the time of this writing. Many of you will recognize my comments on these issues previously in the forums, but they must be addressed if RCT3 is to be great. Hopefully they will very soon.

These are a few of the many things that must be fixed in this version. So you ask, "Should I buy and invest in this game platform. By all means yes. You would be missing out on all of the magic, fun and friends I have come to know within the community.

Until next time Cheers

 


Welcome to the new RCT3 review. Here you will find a monthly review of the RCT3 platform and the goings on in the world of RCT3. I decided to post my articles here to forego posting deleted articles in the Atari and many other forums where they are deleted after a determined period of time, or by mean moderators intolerant of free ontopic opinions. This review will be updated monthly and will contain, reviews, ideas and links to other artlces I have published to better inform you. It will give you insight into the Atari RCT3 platform. So hop aboard and get ready for my harshest fair criticisms and articles. And as always Cheers

03-31-2005