Thrillville: Building a Better Theme Park
SAN FRANCISCO, CA --September 15, 2006 -- Designed specifically for the PS2, PSP and Xbox audience, LucasArts' Thrillville delivers a completely unique kind of gameplay experience not quite like anything before it. This November, players will chat it up with park guests, challenge friends in more than 20 multiplayer party games, and of course build, build, customize and then build some more as they create their ideal theme park.
"The experience of working on the Roller Coaster Tycoon series certainly taught us a lot," says Jonny Watts, senior producer at developer Frontier Developments. "We were also able to draw on our extensive console development experience, and so when it comes to building an actual park in Thrillville -- from coasters to where you want to place your personally designed racetracks and mini-golf courses -- we've adapted what we learned on the PC platform to consoles and made it easy for all players to get into the fun right away, but not lose any flexibility in the transition -- which was a big challenge! Building on console has been made so very natural and quick, I personally think it beats keyboard and mouse, hands down."
"We wanted the player to use as few complex button combinations as possible," explains K.C. Coleman, assistant producer at LucasArts. "The analog sticks move the track pieces up/down and left/right, while the touch of a button adds or deletes a track piece. We also simplified the special pieces like loops and corkscrews -- just hold the left shoulder button to bring up your available special piece 'library,' and then scroll through them as you normally would for a regular piece. Pretty straightforward, eh?"
When designing a roller coaster, players know right away whether or not their desired extension will fit. "Blue is good, red is bad," says Coleman. "So, any time a piece of coaster track is blue, it can be placed down as you want. If it's red, no go. You are given feedback about why, so it's easy to figure out another alternative."
In some cases, that alternative might be to take the easy way out with the Track Assist feature. "Sometimes, you're building a coaster and you get into a jam where you're building, or maybe you're running out of time before you have to go to bed and you just want to finish this last coaster," says Coleman. "Well, in comes Track Assist to help, as the game figures out a logical yet effective solution for finishing the track. This little feature will go a long way with helping the player complete their custom coasters."
"Customizing coasters and many other attractions is actually a huge part of Thrillville," adds Watts. "Of course, you can change the color of your rides, change the themes of the rides and stalls, change the prices of rides to maximize your park's income, put down stalls and other amenities, decide which rides go where in the park, and design other tracked rides like monorails and log flumes. And you can also design, share and play with your friends on go-karts, mini-golf courses...and of course, you can customize your player character. So, yeah...the customization is pretty extensive!"
Throughout the course of the game, players will build as many as 25 different types of roller coasters (or take the less-involved route and place prebuilt versions). "There are all types of coasters, from classic wooden ones to extreme 'launched' coasters, plus ones that let the guests ride standing up or 'fly' lying down," says Watts. "There are classic steel designs and more compact ones, such as a wild mouse -- pretty much all the cutting-edge and classic coasters you find in the top theme parks. I like the wooden coasters the best -- they're such an iconic image of a theme park. And you can't beat the shake, rattle and roll, and the feeling of terror as a wheel lifts when you corner!"
"Currently, I'm exploring my talents on the Twisting Coaster," says Shara Miller, producer at LucasArts. "I like it because it can do loop-de-loops, nice corkscrews and severe drops. It also has a pretty decent height, which gives me a beautiful vantage point of my park when I'm riding it. Of course, I have to be sensible about my design -- creating a roller coaster with too many twists and turns can make things a bit...messy."
"If you design your coasters to be a little too extreme, yes, your guests might throw up," says Watts. "If they do, then you'd better clean it up pretty quick. A messy park is bad for business!"
Miller is quick to point out that not all attractions in the game will potentially nauseate your guests. "Aside from coasters, there's a whole host of carnival rides and other attractions -- more than 70 total!" she says. "Pretty much anything you remember from your own theme park visits will be in the game -- only better, because you can change the themes, names and colors for all of them. I'm really liking the Hawk Wing right now. It has a very pretty marquis, the camera goes crazy when you ride it, and it looks great on the horizon of my park. But next week I'll probably get excited about something totally different."
Watts has a little more trouble naming one favorite attraction that isn't a roller coaster. "If I had to pick a list of favorites, the carnival thrill ride Claustrophobia would be in there because it is so terrifying," he says. "The trampolines would have to be in there, as well, because they are so surprisingly compelling, particularly playing multiplayer. And I'm a big fan of first-person shooter games, so the ShootZone attractions would be near the top of my list, too. And Saucer Soccer...and mini-golf...and go-karts...the list would go on, I'm afraid. There's just so much to do!"