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RollerCoaster Tycoon Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the first release of “RollerCoaster Tycoon” – arguably one of the most popular simulator games of all time. It also marks a milestone – millions of hours wasted playing the game by it’s combined players…

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon box.

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon box.

Take yourself back a decade and a half…the only true simulator game that was commercially available was “SimCity” – but it’s time on the top was soon to be ended.

An unknown Scottish designer, named Chris Sawyer partnered with artist Simon Foster and composer Allister Brimble to create the game-changing simulator. Famed ride designer, John Wardley was even brought on as a special consultant.

Chris Sawyer developed and worked significantly on both RCT and RCT2.

Scottish developer, Chris Sawyer, developed and worked significantly on both RCT and RCT2.

Like many park fans, I was introduced to this program via a free, downloadable demo, that had a time limit and did not have the ability to save games.

The game allows players to either create an entire amusement park from scratch, or build up and maintain an existing park, within a set of pre-determined parameters.

The cartoony look up front hid the fact that real world physics were at play behind-the-scenes in the code.

The cartoon-like look hid the fact that real world physics were at play behind-the-scenes in the code.

It also featured an easy-to-understand user interface, which allowed even the most novice of players to step immediately into gameplay.

While initially a commercial flop – word spread quickly through the amusement fan community, who in turn told their friends  about the quirky and addictive game, and it soon became a sleeper hit. There are three “versions” of the game, with expansion packs for each one.

Atari recently announced a fourth “sequel” to the original, dubbed “RollerCoaster Tycoon 4.” It will be released for iOS devices in summer, 2014.

The mark of a good game is the length of it’s shelf life. With many people still playing the original version, RollerCoaster Tycoon has stood the test of time – and is still going strong. Even with new rivals popping up, such as NoLimits and Theme Park Studio, RollerCoaster Tycoon continues to hold a significant audience, when many other games gave gone the way of the Dodo.

Heck, there was even a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine – endorsed by the American Coaster Enthusiasts, no less! Not too many brands can brag about that:

In addition, many variants of the “tycoon” style of game have popped up since the initial release of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon. Games such as Prison Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon are among just a few to enter the market. Even SimCity tried to get back into the fray, with the poorly received “Sim Theme Park.”

Special thanks to Lost Parks producer, Nicholas Laschkewitsch for suggesting this post! Got a good post idea? Feel free to send it in!

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Featured on BBC News!

Yes, you read that correctly – I had the honor of being featured in a BBC News video released today about roller coaster technology and the  “plateau” some say we’ve reached. (I don’t think we have, by the way).

BBC Capture

You can view the whole video by clicking here.

Or, you can copy and paste this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24553630

The backstory behind this interview is just as intriguing –

I had already planned to attend Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s “Ghoulish Gathering” VIP event last Friday. When the tram dropped us off at the front entrance, I noticed a OMB (One Man Band) setup, with a man struggling to cope with the sound of the many rides in the area. In hindsight, I should have gone over to offer my assistance – but I digress…

When I asked the Public Relations person at the event about the cameraman, she immediately said, “Oh, he’s with the BBC…I should introduce you to him!”

Pinch me.

After we grabbed a bite to eat at the event, I got to talking with Richard, who quickly found out (and said), “I should interview you…”

You had to ask?

Careful to make sure I didn’t step on any known “land mines” when you do interviews like this, Richard slapped a lav mic on me, and into the sun he pointed me!

Now, it should be noted, that short of begging, I did my best to convince the segment producer to stay longer, so my Lost Parks Producer, American Coaster Enthusiasts Asst. Regional Rep AND all-around quality news source on all things coasters, Nicholas Laschkewitsch could arrive to be interviewed as well – but sadly, Richard had to leave before Nicholas could arrive. Thanks, BART Strike…

But, for now, it’s yet another milestone in my journey to be in the world of television. “Great American Thrills” has officially jumped the pond and gone international…WOW.