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The Production Of A God (RCT To Some People)

In the first feature here are RCT Resource, we will look at the evolution of RCT and how it started from a simple model of Transport Tycoon into the game we know and love. Please note that there are a LOT of images on this page, so it may take a while to load on slower connections, but it is worth it to see those pics!

This feature is based upon a similar picture found at the official RCT website, but is re-written.

The Feature

06 September 1996

The start of the project. This is the bare bones of a sequel to Chris Sawyer's earlier game, Transport Tycoon. It was around this time that he thought of adapting it to handle simple roller coasters. So, you could say this was the 'birth' of RollerCoaster Tycoon.

17 September 1996

Some of the earliest trial graphics created for RollerCoaster Tycoon - Wooden track and steel track.




19 September 1996

The first trial graphics for roller coaster cars. These are a good example of an early item that didn't change too much throughout the project.



24 September 1996

The plan for roller coaster track was to have straight track at various angles, which could be plugged into each other to create hills and dips. However, this just wasn't good enough, and these early track graphics were abandoned in favor of smooth slope transitions.



30 September 1996

The first batch (of thousands) of different angles for the roller coaster cars. Depending on the type of track and inversions, each car can have up to 800 different frames of animation, plus a further 1600 frames for the passengers.



08 October 1996

Next to the roller coaster car you can see the first trial 'people' graphics. Also in view are the first incarnations of an inverted coaster car.




24 October 1996

Modeling the vertical loop took a long time and great deal of calculation, and this early mode shows how NOT to do it. To keep the model simple, Chris had hoped to use a fixed radius for the upper half, and a larger fixed radius for the approaches, but as you can see, it doesn't look right. Most real-life coaster loops have a constantly tightening radius towards the top of the loop (called a 'clothoid' loop), and eventually this is what was created for RollerCoaster Tycoon.


27 October 1996

Some strange 'tunnel' graphics. These look more like underground drainage pipes than anything else and they never made it to the final game. Next to them are some early blond-haired passengers in a roller coaster car.



17 February 1997 (Only a little break!)

The first of many frames of animation for the generic 'guests' in the game start to take shape. Even just one character requires loads of single frames to cater for every frame of his movement and those had to be repeated for every direction they were walking too.


05 March 1997

Only a few months into the project, and this is the state of RollerCoaster Tycoon. Compared to many other games, this looks amazingly cohesive already. A variety of different roller coaster types are implemented, along with some of the control systems and scenery, but no sign of those little people yet. If you look really closely at the bottom of this picture, where the messages would appear in the final game, you can see that the game, at this stage was called "White Knuckle"!

15 March 1997

Some sculpted trees which didn't make it into the final game (So says the official site, but I am sure that they are! Just shows how crap the official site is!). Notice how the heads and tails of the birds vary in size as the artist worked on finding the best balance. Working on such a small scale, just a few pixels can make a lot of difference.


04 April 1997

Early experimentation with different styles of interface. This changed drastically before the final look was found. In fact, we'll be seeing how this idea for the interface style was developed further in a later example.



07 April 1997

One idea which was dropped later on (unfortunately!) - Rusty track! The plan was that as rides deteriorated over time, the nice bright paint finish would peel off the steel track to reveal rusty and bare metal, and would require re-painting. I think this would have been good. It would have given you something to do at those boring moments when you are sitting around waiting for something new to be researched.

25 April 1997

One of the most detailed (for it's size) 3D models created for RollerCoaster Tycoon was the steam locomotive for the miniature railway. It's based on 'Northern Rock', a narrow gauge locomotive built for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in England.


13 May 1997

After successfully solving all the problems involved in creating vertical loops, a great deal of work went into trying to create corkscrews. This shows some early attempts, which are far from satisfactory!


15 May 1997

Not content to have only square entrance and exit buildings for rides, these are some trial circular entrance buildings, including a circular name banner which scrolls around the top. However, there were too many problems with entrances of this shape, so they never made it into the final game, but, just wait until Loopy Landscapes!

18 May 1997

Lots of sculptures and statues were created but many didn't make it into the final game. This is just one example of those that were cut out. I can't decide, are they frogs or foxes?



24 June 1997

Erm, I think these are benches in the shape of pandas, but then again, I have really no idea!



13 July 1997

For a short time, the game interface took on a 'woody' look-and-feel - in fact, the ideas for the buttons in this interface took shape a few months earlier, as you saw. It looked great for a few weeks, but had too many drawbacks. It had some nice features though, including buttons at the top of the screen which 'swung' gently back and forth while selected or clicked. However, before long, the game adopted a much 'cleaner' look which allowed more information to be displayed clearly in more compact windows.

04 September 1997

And, here is that 'cleaner' look to the interface and windows. At last, there are little people wandering around and riding the rides too.  Notice that, at this stage, the game is still called "White Knuckle"! You can also see a lift on a roller coaster without a chain! Look closely, you will find it!

07 November 1997 

How about this military tank vehicle for the car ride? This never made it into the final game which seems a shame as it looks really cool and chunky.



13 November 1997

This item shows one of the 'car' models that were built. This wasn't built for the car ride but was originally intended to be used where public roads and car parks were to appear in the game.


22 November 1997

Many styles of pavement were experimented with before the final selection was made. You can see a few styles that were not used in this example. A few new paths do appear in the add-on packs though.



27 November 1997

A guest playing mini-golf. Although this was used in the expansion pack, it didn't make it into the original game. This meant that these graphics sat unused for around 18 months.



01 December 1997

Not only did rides change during development but some were created and never put into the game. Here, we can see a section of a multi-lane slide with steps up the side. (The picture on the right is the same ride viewed from the back.) The ride would have consisted of several of these sections, to create a large slide. I think it was a shame that this wasn't included, it would have been a great creation.


15 December 1997

More experiments in ride entrance/exit design. Earlier, we saw some alternative designs for ride entrance/exits in the shape of round castle-like turrets, but the shape proved too much of a problem. These later tests were based on the existing square entrance/exit buildings, but with various changes. However, they were never finished. But, they are found in Loopy Landscapes, looking a little different to these though!

18th January 1998

A rather lazy handyman sitting and eating his lunch. Sadly, this was never used in the game, but knowing how hard everyone works their handymen, it's unlikely they would have much of a chance to eat lunch anyway!



23rd January 1998

Those ducks - A very detailed animation for its small size. Ever noticed how ducks leave as well as arrive? Rumors of how to drive ducks away from your parks were not true. The real reason? Ducks in RCT migrate for the Winter. It's true.


19th March 1998

This great looking robot entertainer costume was never finished. Shame really as it looks great and would have fitted in really well with a future themed area.



22nd March 1998

One of the best ideas which didn't make it into the final game. If your ride failed and a car blew-up the track was going to be destroyed too.


24th March 1998

More scenery and themed buildings were suggested and experimented with but these never got past the trial stage, thank God! I really don't like the look of these.



13th April

A very unusual looking item for a theme park - A town house which was never used in the game. All the houses were actually created for use outside the park, as in Bumbly Beach, to create a 'town' type of scenario. These sorts of buildings are also seen in the add-on packs as themeing.


16th April 1998

Early trial graphics for 'Egyptian' themeing. The pyramid was included in the final game but was developed a lot from this early version.



22nd April 1998

Another house but this time a more complex town house which, like the previous house, didn't make it into the original game, but it is in the add-ons.



19th May 1998

A bus, which was to bring people to the park in some scenarios. Just like real life, this bus never arrived. I wonder if it was magically going to grow like those in the original Theme Park?!



14th August 1998

And finally, probably the strangest prototype - the park awards! No, you're not imagining things, some of the awards are body parts of the "sitting on" variety. The reason for this particular theme has been lost in the process (oh, not fair!) but, needless to say, it was changed later on.


I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the development of RCT. Look out for a new feature in about two weeks time.

If you have any comments about this feature, or want to suggest a title for a new feature, or even if you want to write one yourself, why not have your say on our message board?