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OpenRCT2: Free Software Application of the Week - Week of 2017-12-18

Submitted by sudo moderator in freeAsInFreedom (edited )

Last week's thread.

This week's Free Software Application of the Week is Management 101 Open Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, a GPLv3-licensed clone of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, which improves upon the original game. I am reviewing the latest release, which is version 0.1.1 as of writing.

I have a bit of a unique perspective for doing this review, because I've extensively played Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, but I've never played the original RCT2. Instead of downloading the original RCT2 and playing through it on Wine, I'm just going to review the entire OpenRCT2 game. I won't limit myself to reviewing the parts that I know are changed from the original, since not everyone on Raddle has played the original RCT2 (I assume).

In OpenRCT2, your goal is to create a profitable amusement park. Each scenario starts you off with a couple of rides in your park, and a loan. Your goal is usually to have a certain number of guests in your park after a certain amount of time, and to have a certain park rating. The basic strategy of the game is to use your loan money to buy rides and shops, which will make you money, which you can use to buy more rides and shops, which will make you more money, and so on. If you're good at managing your park, you'll be able to meet the goal at the end of the time period.

That's one way to play. Another way is to use cheats, and just dick around (Ctrl+Alt+C to open the cheats menu). In RCT3, there was a sandbox mode made just for this. There is no official sandbox mode in OpenRCT2, but you can use cheats to accomplish pretty much the same thing (infinite money, all rides unlocked, etc.). Set everyone's nausea to maximum if you want a laugh, or try clicking "EXPLODE!!!". Some people like to use cheats to create death parks, where the rides intentionally crash. If any of that sounds appealing to you, you can do that instead of playing the campaign.

This game has kept me entertained for weeks. If you can ignore the fact that you're exploiting virtual workers (by keeping their surplus value) and the virtual guests (by over-charging them for admission), then managing the park is really fun, and it gives a lot of insights into what real management is like. The best feeling is when you power through the last months leading up to the deadline, and just barely achieve the goal (likewise, the worst feeling is when you just barely fall short of it). If you've never tried the campaign mode of a tycoon game before, give it a shot. Here's how to win in OpenRCT2.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the roller coaster design part of the game. Each type of roller coaster has pre-fabricated designs available to build, but you also have the option of building your own custom roller coaster track. This is a really fun and interesting part of the game. You can design whatever type of roller coaster you want (just make sure to test it to make sure that the coaster reaches the end of the track). There's even a separate coaster designer game mode. This is a really fun part of the game, but I do wish that it would allow you to pause the game while designing the coaster. RCT3 let you do this, but you can't here. It's a shame, because I like to build the roller coaster into the surrounding terrain, but I'll constantly be interrupted during the campaign with other things, so I can't effectively build it while the game isn't paused. (Yes, I know I could modify the source code to make this possible. I just don't have the time and energy.) As pointed out by one of the devs, this is possible in the cheats menu.

There is also a multiplayer gamemode, but I haven't had a chance to try this out yet. I assume it is where multiple people can build and manage the same park. Every server I want to join is either password-protected, running a different version of the game than I am, or won't give you build permissions. I suppose this would be a fun way to play the game, if I could find a server that will let me in.

There are a lot of other small pieces of advice I could give, but these are better learned through experience. If you've never played a Roller Coaster Tycoon game before, try this out. It is a ton of fun. If you have played Roller Coaster Tycoon before, you're probably downloading this as I speak. I should mention that it might be diffiluct to install if you're on Linux (especially Debian), so here is what I did to make it work. It's well worth the effort to set it up.

One last thing I want to say is thank you to the devs who created this from the original RCT2. Of course, I'm grateful to all the devs who work on libre projects, but I especially want to say thanks to these devs. They reverse engineered the machine code of the original RCT2 to make the C code for this. That's one of the most badass things I've heard a programmer do. (Incidentally, did you know that the original RCT2 was programmed in assembly language?) They also seem to push changes to the source code to the repository really frequently. I also want to thank whoever changed the way queues work. In OpenRCT2, and in RCT3, they work like this. But in the original RCT2, they worked like this. I never played the original RCT2, so I never had to deal with that, but one look at that gif had me screaming internally. So thanks for making that part of the game playable.

Edit: As mentioned by one of the OpenRCT2 developers, they have a chat here, and they have some third party distributions in their readme document.


And that's it for this week's Free Software Application of the Week. Join me again next week, for a review of youtube-dl!

Comments

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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sudo wrote

Yes, I've played it before. It's pretty neat that both Chris Sawyer games have been revived as FLOSS games. Though I think I prefer OpenRCT2.

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janisozaur wrote

Hi, one of main OpenRCT2 developers here (the one responsible for Linux port). It's an honour to be a free software of the week. You mention cheats, but you must have missed the "Allow building in pause mode" option there. If I may suggest some improvements to this article:

  1. You could link to our official website, https://openrct2.website
  2. You could mention we have a quite active chat on gitter: https://gitter.im/OpenRCT2/OpenRCT2
  3. We have some (third party) packages in some distributions, they are listed in our readme document.

Other than that, I would like to recommend contributing to open source to anyone reading, it's a lot of fun, you eventually get to know smart people and learn a lot in the process. Doing one open source project usually leads to another ones, because you end up needing some specific use case of a library you depend on or require a specific tool for a given job, that you may have to implement first based on some other work and you end up learning even more than you originally signed up for.

It may not look like it on the surface, but even the most niche projects like this one can end up having a significant impact on other ones.

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sudo wrote

Wow, I never imagined one of my reviews would get read by an actual developer! I've implemented the changes you suggested. You're right, I did miss the option to build in pause mode on the cheats menu. I do wish this was an actual option for the game, and not a cheat, but now that I know it's already a feature, that makes it a lot easier to hack that together.

I'm getting involved in open source by contributing a new screensaver (well, really an old screensaver) to Xscreensaver. I'm trying to recreate the old Windows 95 3D maze screensaver for Xscreensaver. I definitely see what you mean by learning a lot in the process - I'm halfway through a tutorial for OpenGL, that I started just for this one project. I can see the amount of work that goes into something like this, so thanks for all your help, and especially thanks for porting OpenRCT2 to Linux, since that's what I'm using!

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_________deleted wrote

How about an overhead GTA clone next? That's sorely lacking from FOSS gaming. Wish they would open-source Retro City Rampage.