One of the things I decided to do at the start of 2017 is get back into the games I like playing. One of those games is Roller Coaster Tycoon. I bought Roller Coaster Tycoon Deluxe on Steam back in 2015, but never really played much until this year.
I’m currently working on a park in the Loopy Landscapes expansion, Arid Heights, a large desert park with a small portion of a lake to the west available to the park for building. The best perk of this park: no financial burden. Build to your heart’s content. The objective: to have 2,000 guests in the park and not let the park rating fall below 700 at any time. Other than that, with no money problems, the park is a nice, blank slate to work with.
I intend to give an overview, a tour, of my themed Arid Heights park, named Wizarding World. This park is still a work in progress park.
On with the tour!
In our first exhibit of EiURCT, I present my post-game save of Forest Frontiers. The original objective of 250 guests by the end of the 1st year with a Park Rating of 600 or above was met with ease due to a healthy dose of rides and amenities.
Included with this park are five handymen, three which are assigned to grass mowing and garden watering, a pair of mechanics, and a single all-around entertainer; none of the staff are zoned to any section of the park. The park is fitted with a merry-go-round front and center at the entrance of the park, surrounded by a ferris wheel to the right and a transport station to the left. Into the park is a swinging pirate ship, a miniature lake for a boat hire, and a small and simple mini-steel rollercoaster. There’s a modestly sized food court with the only bathroom being located at said food court. Finally, there are three transport stations, each which takes guests to different ends of the park. All of this is bundled with a moderately healthy park rating of 758, alongside a current population of 405 guests.
As for financials, the save has 25,000 spare yen on hand upon load, though the save still has a million yen on loan (which explains the indebted company value of -338,570 yen). The park itself is priced at 2,500 yen for entry; all rides are free except for the transport stations which charge 100 yen per station ride. The food court is relatively inexpensive (100-200 yen for items), as is the information kiosk items (defaults of 60 yen for a map and 250 yen for an umbrella).
The game will run unattended for roughly an hour starting with my lunch break at 12PM PST. This post will be updated with pictures before and after the experiment later today.
After one hour
The short verdict is that the park managed to sustain itself in an hour.
Of the tangible things I’ve observed, the park rating rose to 794, a 36 point increase. Alongside that, I also saw an increase in guests–543 to be specific, which is a 138 guest increase. The park’s yen on hand rose to 430,830 yen, enough to pay just a bit over a quarter of the initial loan. Two of the ten flower beds were completely wilted, and another four were on their way to wilting.
Untouched, the game managed to turn a profit in its first few months from when the save was loaded, but the later months started seeing a slight dip in profits, presumably due to a decrease in park tickets from new attendants. Company value was still in the negatives, though it’s much better off than when I first started off. Park value was at a steady decline, and as mentioned just previously, so were profits.
I have a feeling that if this park were to be unattended for more than an hour, time and park neglect would start to see its toll as rides break down more frequently and the novelty withers away like no one’s business.
After six hours
The short verdict is that the park still managed to sustain itself in six hours, albeit with a lot of debt (876,700 yen in debt, at least for what was on hand).
Of the tangible things I’ve observed, the park rating slightly fell to 755, a 3 point decrease. There were still more guests than before, though, with 470 guests (+65) gracing the park by the 6 hour mark (August, Y8 in-game). The flower beds were at varying degrees of wilt, indicating that the handymen were at least doing their job of watering them whenever they could.
As predicted from my one hour run, profits dipped like no tomorrow. Very few guests were entering the park, and the transport stations were seeing no more business from anyone. Company value was way further into the negatives (1,548,960 yen into the negative, to be exact), though the park value managed to stabilize somewhere in the sub-300k yen range. As a result of dipping company value, I was eventually rewarded with the “Worst Value Park” award, though fortunately it was still sustainable enough to get “Safest Park” and “Tidiest Park” awards as well.
Additional observations were that at some point, the current asking price ended up being too high for those wanting to come into Forest Frontiers (which explains why there were few ticket sales). The transport stations also had significantly more down time than any other ride at 15%; this is only followed up by the ferris wheel with 8% down time. Overall, all rides were breaking down more frequently: about 3-5 rides would break down in a given month.
Recently, I bought the very first Rollercoaster Tycoon (with the Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes expansions) on Steam after seeing GraphiteHelix playing it one weekend on his laptop. This is going to be the first in potentially many experiments in leaving a game of Rollercoaster Tycoon running without any player input. I’m personally going to expect the following with these experiments:
The best-case scenario–which will probably include properly zoned handymen, a handful of mechanics, and possibly appropriately timed inspection settings for all rides–will probably lead to a slight decrease in park attendants, a small decrease in profits and park/company value, and possibly a slightly decreased park rating.
The worst-case scenario–which will most likely not include any of the above for the best-case scenario, and will probably be expected on parks that are pre-made e.g. Diamond Heights or Alton Towers–will probably lead to a dramatic decrease in park attendants, a massive decrease in profits, park/company value, and possibly even bankruptcy, and a massive dip in park rating.
Of course, the other thing that needs to be factored in these experiments is the amount of time the game is running unattended; this can range from as little as an hour (i.e. a lunch break’s worth) to a quarter of a day (i.e. when I’m sleeping) to maybe even half of an entire day (i.e. an entire day at school, or even a weekend at GraphiteHelix’s place). I’ll be starting one of these experiments very soon, so keep an eye out on this blog for the first exhibit of Experiments in Unattended Rollercoaster Tycoon (´・ω・｀)
Lovely, the moment I come back to doing full-length blogs is also the moment where I rant a bit about a specific coin pusher game I’ve been playing recently (´・ω・｀)
So I’ve been going to Dave & Busters quite a lot recently in a blind pursuit for whatever decent big prizes may grace the arcade-restaurant combo’s prize wall, and there’s one type of arcade game that will, more likely than not, grace pretty much every Dave & Busters (and Round 1s, for that matter) in this country: the coin pusher.
You got your traditional coin pushers that are as simple as dropping (or shooting) the coin and hoping that it drops coins into a collection chute for some nice tickets, and then you got your next generation coin pushers that not only support up to 6 players on the largest setup, but also throw in other never-before-seen doodads like large chips that you can redeem for tickets, bonus credits, and card collecting, in which you play to drop cards on a play field that you then collect and exchange for large amounts of tickets, assuming you can get all of the cards in the set. Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, and Spongebob Squarepants are three examples of such games, although the latter of the three does things quite a bit differently than the others.
But first, let me go on record for this.
Spongebob Squarepants is…not really that great of a coin pusher.
And that’s putting it nicely.
Yes, this coin pusher does support the multiplied credits for multiple plays and collectible cards mechanic that has graced all of the recent coin pushers, but there also lies a plethora of differences between them as well, some good, most ehhh. For one…
Spongebob only has one, and ONLY ONE, mode of agency
The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing this game is the fact that you can’t aim your shot. All you have is a single button that lets a coin loose and will either a) drop on to the play field in whichever way it wants to go or b) go through the constant revolving pineapple carousel and into a chute that does certain things when you shoot coins into it (more on this later).
In layman’s terms, your only mode of agency in this coin pusher…is timing.
Yes, timing is of the utmost essence when it comes to these things in general, but at the very least the other games gave you some other modes of agency to go along with it, whether it be in the form of a skill shot button, multiple coin slots, the ability to move your coin chute, or even a combination of all of these.
But in Spongebob? Nope. Timing is all you have. Your coin goes the same route no matter what: down the ramp and onto the play field. No control over where it lands on the play field…just when. As a result, a good majority of coin drops on the play field will be center-biased, so if a card that you want is off to the side…well, have fun.
Your best hope with Spongebob is the pineapple chute
As mentioned before, there’s a constantly revolving pineapple carousel that does certain things when coins go into it. These things include the machine spitting out extra tokens on to the play field, giving you two credits, dropping a new card into the play field (remember this quip for later), and giving you a chance to drop even more extra tokens on to the play field (4 in most cases).
If you miss the chute, there’s no guarantee that the coin you shot will go where you want it to go, considering that all coins reach the same destination and will fly off whichever way gravity wants them to go the moment it hits the end otherwise.
Without this control, what else is a coin pusher player to do? There are two approaches one could take: the stupid approach would be rapid firing the coin button in blatant disregard of the pineapple chute, relying on the tried and true method of just dumping a bunch of coins Japanese medal game style to get things pushing. I say that this method is stupid solely on the fact that it burns through coins in an absurdly short time frame. The clever approach would be to just time the pineapple chutes in an attempt to consistently get them in, resulting in a flurry of extra bonus tokens flooding the play field and giving yourself just a teeeeeeeeeeny bit of extra time to push things off.
Using the pineapple chute is without a doubt the most cost-effective way to get more coins on to the play field without having to, you know, drop a copious amount of credits into the machine. It’s also effective in throwing new cards into the play field as well…and speaking of which…
How “loaded” a Spongebob machine is is directly proportionate to how often you load the pineapple chute
In any of the other collectible card coin pushers like Wizard of Oz and Star Trek, one would assess which machine to play on through a few factors: how many cards are on the field, how close is the credit meter to getting the bonus credit roll, and how likely is the coin pile going to budge from a glance. Knowing that a particular side is “loaded” with cards is one of the motivating factors in plopping yourself on that side, especially if you’re trying to complete a set for that particular coin pusher. The card unloading mechanism is usually automatic, firing off at set intervals while also, on occasion, unloading many cards at a time should the machine know that one particular side is very busy.
Yeah, NOT THE CASE FOR SPONGEBOB.
Spongebob’s card unloading mechanism is driven solely by player input, specifically the aforementioned pineapple chute. On the bonus wheel is a lot of spots for regular bonus tokens, three spots to get more bonus tokens, two spots to get two credits, and…one spot to unload ONE card. Naturally, if no one plays the game, very few, if any, cards will be on the play field. The only way to jack up the card count is to consistently hit the pineapple chutes enough to get cards unloaded.
So when it comes the time to answer the dreaded question of how “loaded” a Spongebob machine is, I can guarantee that there will be some varying degree of beating around the bush, trying to explain the empty play fields in comparison to the heaps one can find on other collectible card coin pushers alongside the mechanics of the Spongebob machine specifically.
The past few attempts at playing this coin pusher have been ending with me zoning out the play field entirely in favor of just getting coins into the pineapple chute consistently. After all, if the game doesn’t allow you to aim your shots, then your only strategy at this rate is to brute force the coin pile, which tends to go at a much faster pace the more coins you load on to the play field anyway. It’s as close to the antithesis that you’ll get to playing a coin pusher without bring in Japanese medal games into the equation, though that isn’t to say that the other collectible card coin pushers aren’t guilty of being able to do the same thing (the big difference being that you can at least aim your rapid fires).
Well, at the very least these machines pay out their coin drops. Even if it is just a measly two tickets per coin, at least at Dave & Busters.