Gaming Editor Louis Wright interviews David Lowey, Senior Director and Marketing Communications for RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe

Gaming Editor | ( ̶T̶e̶m̶p̶) Lead Developer | MA Film & Television Research & Production | BSc Computer Science | BurnFM Deputy Station Manager | Generally Epic
Images by Atari - Press Kit

The following are a series of questions asked by Gaming Editor Louis Wright towards RollerCoaster Tycoon Advenutre’s Senior Developer David Lowey conducted over email exchange. Differences between the British English and American English used by interviewer and interviewee have been maintained.

RollerCoaster Tycoon has existed as a franchise since 1999. How did you decide on what made the core of the franchise when creating a new iteration?

There are a few elements that define a RollerCoaster Tycoon game for us. 

Obviously, the ability to create coasters. That has to be there. We couldn’t launch a game that only had preset coasters. Players want to be able to create their own and building an interface for the Switch that allowed them to do that was one of the bigger challenges within Adventures Deluxe. 

Another core element to any RCT is a deep, satisfying simulationthe endless flow of peeps that need to be fed, cared for and entertained. The complexity of that simulation varies – more robust on PC, more casual in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe, but it is always there. 

Lastly, having multiple game modes allows a wide breadth of players to enjoy the game the way they want. In RCT Adventures Deluxe, scenarios challenge players to build and manage their parks strategically to meet very specific objectives. Adventure mode doesn’t have the same constraints as scenario mode, but it does force players to grow and earn before they can unlock all of the attractions. Players tend to use this mode to maximize their profits and other park KPIs over time. It is the most tycoon-ish mode. And finally Sandbox mode is ideal for creative expression. Players use Sandbox mode to create outlandish or highly conceptual parksit is a space that offers total freedom.

In contrast, what are some elements of previous games you saw pertinent to improve upon? How did you make these improvements?

We look at Chris Sawyer’s original titles as sacrosanct, so it’s hard to say we really found areas to “improve” upon them. However, our intention for RCT Adventures Deluxe is to provide a streamlined, more casual entry point into the series, for players who may not be ready for the level of depth of some of those first titles. We have celebrated Chris Sawyer’s original game by adding new rides, attractions, terrain types, park décor, and of course by bringing the games to new players on new devices.

As the series has found its home typically on the PC, how did you find adapting it to the console? What were some challenges faced and opportunities afforded by developing for a different platform?

Development for Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures began in 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, the same year the Switch was first launched. So one challenge was that there was not much precedent for game development in general for the Switch, and certainly none for simulation games. A key focus for the original development team, and the one that updated the game more recently to create the Deluxe version, was adapting the game for use with gamepad controllers. We wanted to streamline the gameplay and controls for a more casual audience. Modifying and streamlining the game so that more casual players, and players that are new to sims, could control everything, and play all the classic modes, with a controller was the largest challenge.

The new release of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is a Deluxe edition. What are some of your favourite new elements introduced? Was there much left on the cutting room floor from the initial release that could be used to streamline further development?

We added 80 new rides and attractions, many of which are based on Atari games and hardware. They are almost like easter eggs, which is very much in the Atari tradition. That is part of the fun. Going forward, we are more likely to start from scratch when we build the next RollerCoaster Tycoon game than start from one of the existing titles.

Were there any real-life inspirations for the rides and roller coasters in the game? If so, how did you conduct your research for these elements of the game?

The coasters in the RCT franchise are based on real, classic coaster types and shapes. Players use the building blocks in the game to build an endless variety of coasters, from exact replicas of actual coasters at theme parks to wild coasters that could never exist in real life.

With an uptick of available theme park simulators, how do you feel RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe stands out against them?

As a casual theme park builder that lives within the unique RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise, Adventures Deluxe delivers on its promises. It is a fun park builder with light simulation and scenarios for players who want to quickly build up parks, complete with a lot of attractions and customization. It is not a hardcore park simulator with layers upon layers of granular control and dozens of scenarios. We wouldn’t compare it to games in that category. It is a different gameplay experience that you will get in RCT Classic or RCT 2, and other core park sims. RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures was released back in December 2018 as a much more casual version of RollerCoaster Tycoon, with a user interface that was designed for consoles and gamepad style controllers. Adventures Deluxe is an updated version of that 2018 game, with more attractions, optimizations, and an updated user interface. 

If you could choose one attraction from the game to ride on, which would it be?

Such a personal question? You ask 100 people that question you might get 100 answers, that is one of the great things about RollerCoaster Tycoon. The Tempest drop tower ride does look like it would be pretty fun though.

If you could build your dream theme park, what would it be like?

Sometimes I build really organized parks with many themed areas, thick with decor and pathways. I put a ton of effort into the design, even if doing so means I don’t maximize park performance. There is something about a neat, logical design”that I find very satisfying. 

Sometimes I like to build more conceptual parks that are unrealistic and kind of untethered, with interlacing coasters, rides and terraincompletely free of constraints. 

That is the beauty of RollerCoater Tycoon, no matter your mood or preference it has something for you.

Read Redbrick’s review of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe here:

Review: RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe

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