We at BtT are not ashamed to say that we still occasionally break out an old copy of the Roller Coaster Tycoon on a Friday afternoon for nostalgia purposes. That said, technology has certainly come a long way since the days of “Theme Park” and other titles.
Of course you are certainly welcome to build your own theme park on Facebook, if that is enough for you. Add to that the continuing prevalence of various “sim” games that dabble in theme parks, zoos, etc that are still in the market. With all of this still going strong, we thought we would take a short look back toward the past of themed entertainment games that let our young minds dream of being the net imagineers. Then we will look to the future and see how we can build our own parks in a much more immersive environment.
Ready… Here we go… 1… 2… 3…!
Though other titles may claim to have been around before this, 1994 saw the release of Theme Park for pc/dos. This was the first real theme park related sim title by Bullfrog Productions and was a hit. The purpose, as in most of these titles we will mention was to build and maintain your theme park. As per usual, you would have to build and maintain the rides, grounds and staff to keep both workers and guests happy. Negotiations would occasionally have to be made on wages, pricing, etc.
A well received title, Theme Park was released onto MS-DOS, Amiga, Amiga CD32, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Mega Drive/Genesis, PlayStation, Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari Jaguar, Macintosh, Mega-CD, DS, PlayStation Network. Bullfrog followed up Theme Park’s success with two sequels, Theme World (Sim Theme Park in the certain countries) and Theme Park Inc (SimCoaster).
Just under 5 years later and after many computer related advances, Microprose released Rollercoaster Tycoon (1999) which upped the game idea with a higher caliber of rides and attractions, but this time the focus would be on making a more balanced ride through vehicle, track and landscape customisation. This title became very popular and spawned two expansion packs and 5 sequels including a direct port to Xbox. It retained the idea of “guest experience” but also added in a nausea tolerance levels for guests specific scenarios were rewarded with more items being available, etc.
While sequels and low cost spin off for these titles continue to be pumped out, the demand for them decreased and saw little need for improvement. Fast forward a few years late and we see the development of small flash based games appearing on social media circuits. Building you home, far, or theme park suddenly became possible in a social environment and while the excitement of these have also eased over the years, most anyone on Facebook still gets requests from friends they rarely speak to, asking to “check out my park”.
Recently however we have seen a new phenomenon appearing. Theme parks worldwide are making things less hidden behind the scenes and letting the public get a glimpse of what goes into creating the magic of these immersive worlds. This has spawned a new generation of wannabe theme park designers eager to show the world their ideas. Until recently, this meant getting very adept at 3d programs like Maya, etc. and creating you park from scratch. Other designers have “modded” first person shooter games which allows the character to walk into and sometimes rides theme park rides.
That was in the past, as a new software title has stepped it up yet another notch. Theme Park Studio decided that everyone should be able to build a theme park. From landscaping to ride development, they are hoping to use their title to build a community of builders and if the test forums are any indication… it may just happen.
Want to build your landscape, including creating your own trees and bushes? You can.
Want to create and build your own roller-coasters? You can.
Want to build your own dark rides? You can.
After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Pantera Entertainment is still going strong, pumping out more and more additions and keeping eager fans updated every step of the way. With plans to also create a OSX port, they seem poised to take over the market of not only the casual theme park fan, but with the level of detail it would not come as a surprise if professionals started using this title to “plan out” their next project.
With a phase 2 rollout coming soon, we will be keeping you updated as this develops. Until then, we would recommend grabbing this title while it is still cheaper and start building.
Will this mean we stop busting out Our old school Theme Park? Probably not, but we look forward to seeing what you all build in the future… Keep moving forward!