Space simulation isn’t the only genre Elite’s Frontier Developments have a valid claim to. The Cambridge studio put together Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 in 2004, and it hasn’t been surpassed since.
Atari own the rights to the series, but Frontier announced Planet Coaster at E3. It’s a spiritual successor – so why doesn’t it say Tycoon in the name?
“The word tycoon has been so sullied over the years,” said Frontier PR head Michael Gapper.
The management genre, a proud park housing a number of ace PC games in the ‘90s, has since fallen into disrepair. The word Tycoon no longer signifies quality, but sets off alarm bells.
“We toyed with it anyway because it does encapsulate some of the things, in terms that it’s a simulation,” Gapper told PCGamesN. “But we decided that we should go with something completely separate and no longer use that word.”
Frontier boss David Braben said that Rollercoaster Tycoon “still owns” the genre – but that Planet Coaster can move it in a “really good direction”.
“A lot had changed since then,” he said. “[Planet Coaster is] really to push the genre forward. It’s something we really, really love in terms of game style, and to do it properly with the technology and ideas that we have now is a fantastic opportunity.”
Beyond recapturing the warmth and humanity of the classic Tycoon games, Frontier are keen to play with VR and the inertia of real roller coasters.
“One of the great things that I wish we had done with the other games is that you get a very different experience if you sit in the back seat than if you sit in the front,” said Braben. “If you go in a real life coaster and you sit on the front, it’s really lovely: you speed into the loops and slow down at the top. But if you sit on the back seat, you go slowly round and then get ripped through a loop.”
Planet Coaster and a smorgasbord of VIP options are available to pre-order now. Frontier have been working on the game since last year, and it’s “coming together”. Will you join its snaking queue?