How to construct the perfect roller coaster - in games and in reality
During a recent preview event we got some tips from a real roller coaster designer.
In theme park simulators it often doesn't take more than a few clicks and drags with the mouse to create an impressive roller coaster with loops, sharp turns and sudden drops. In contrast, it requires years of planning, clever engineering and tons of paperwork to even get the project approved in real life.
Still, the principles behind a good roller coaster remains the same, whether you are building in real life or on your computer screen, explains Mathis Gullon. He works as a project manager at MackNeXT, a company that designs roller coasters for amusement parks all over the world, and he has the following tips for players of park simulators:
"First of all, define your target. Do you want an extreme roller coaster, do you want a soft one? Then I will say define the space that you have, that is important to. And then I would just say, get crazy. These games are made for this. Just get crazy, make some mistakes, go back, try again. That's how you learn, even us, when we do a roller coaster, we start with some crazy designs and layouts and then we adjust. So, feel free to do things that don't make sense and then correct."
We talked with the roller coaster designer while visiting Europa-Park, having been invited by Bandai Namco to have a closer look at the upcoming game Park Beyond. Mathis Gullon had also tried the game himself, and there was one element in particular that he would like to use in his own design:
"I think I would steal the cannon feature, that would be a great one. Definitely we all dream of having a moment where there would be no track anymore for a period of time, but that is not going to happen. I'll have to say that some of their modules, I think, could actually exist in five or ten years. The crossing sections, and this kind of stuff, I think something could happen. But for the cannon, yeah, that is just a dream."
Park Beyond releases in 2023 for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X. If you can't wait that long, you can of course try the genre classics such as RollerCoaster Tycoon or Theme Park. You can view our full interview with Mathis Gullon below.