“I love the coasters,” says Watts. “But I also like the theming and the layouts, because we’re making a coaster game. I actually don’t like the fast passes because I’ll stand in the queue so I can’t just look at all the theming and figure out where things are placed.
“When we did Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, we worked with a guy called John Wardley who built [Alton Towers’] Nemesis and Oblivion. One of the things he taught me was that whenever people queued up, he’d always make sure the queue was near where people got on the coaster, so they could learn how to put the harnesses on. That meant he got a 10 percent throughput increase, which resulted in millions of extra pounds. That’s the sort of ‘nerdicity’ I’m challenging our designers to put into the game.”
And challenged they are. With each visitor to the park needing to be rendered on-screen, and given some form of AI to lead them around paths and in and out of rides, the development team created an extremely sophisticated path-finding algorithm in order to stop the park from descending into chaos.
Visitors all have unique tastes too, some preferring the gentle rise of a ferris wheel, while others want to experience the mind-numbing thrills of a proper roller coaster. Even how you decorate the park, and what themes you use—so far just “Pirate” and “Planet Coaster” themes have been announced, but more are promised—affects the happiness of visitors.