RollerCoaster Tycoon (or often abbreviated RCT) is a series of computer games that simulate amusement park management. Each game in the series challenges players with open-ended amusement park management and development, and also allows players to construct and customize their own unique roller coasters.
The first game of the series was developed by designer and programmer Chris Sawyer, artist Simon Foster and composer Allister Brimble. It was published by Hasbro Interactive (which was sold to Infogrames, and is now known as Atari). The game was a sleeper hit. It spawned two sequels and several expansion packs.
The player is given control over an amusement park and is tasked with reaching particular goals, such as improving the park's value, attracting more guests, or getting a higher park rating. Some scenarios in the game provide an empty plot of land and allow the player to build a park from scratch, while others provide a ready-built park which usually suffers from deterioration, bad planning, or underdevelopment. The player must wisely invest the limited amount of money provided.
Most scenarios require that the goals be achieved for a specific in-game date, otherwise the scenario is not 'complete'. Completion of scenarios is a prerequisite for unlocking further scenarios in the first RollerCoaster Tycoon game. In RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 all the scenarios are available for play and the player can complete them in random order.
The game provides extensive customization for all rides, particularly roller coasters, which can take any path the player wishes (subject to game logic). More or less guests will then ride based on the ride's ratings of "excitement", "intensity" and "nausea". Other 'track'-based rides such as log-flumes can be similarly customized.
The player is also responsible for building park infrastructure such as paths, and facilities such as lamp posts, restrooms, garbage bins, benches, and shops. The player must also manage staff, with handymen for cleaning up litter and vomit, mechanics for fixing and inspecting rides, security guards to prevent vandalism, and entertainers to keep guests entertained. Although not usually necessary, players are also given a wide array of tools for landscaping. Players can raise and lower terrain, create lakes, add trees and other scenery objects like fountains or statues, and even control the type of paths in their park.
The guests, who are integral to the gameplay, are treated as separate entities which can each have particular characteristics and be tracked by the player around the park. The game keeps track of how much money they have, what they are carrying, their thoughts, and what their current needs are (thirst, hunger, etc). Each guest also has some unique features such as preferring gentle rides over roller coasters, and their nausea tolerance. Some scenarios are even biased towards a specific guest demographic and require the player to take this into account in designing the park. In RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, the player can create their own guest groups to visit their parks.
Players may also invest in 'research', which unlocks new rides and improvements as time goes on, though it costs money to continue research. Research in a particular area is disabled when all attractions in that category are researched.
Sequels have continually upgraded the number of rides and amount of customization available to the player.
The second game should work fine on computers running Windows 98 or higher, but users should also download its official patch if they encounter problems starting the game; otherwise, the patch is not needed.
The third game, with its increased reliance on DirectX 3D rendering, puts additional strain upon graphics cards and their drivers. Although the distribution CD-ROM comes with updated ATI Technologies drivers, it is possible that users may need to visit their graphics card manufacturer's web site to get the latest drivers and thus ensure maximum system stability.