Publisher Atari was supposed to have already released a new Roller Coaster Tycoon, but it missed that release date because it has moved the game to a new studio.
The company has just posted a blog on the series’ website to update fans about the production of Roller Coaster Tycoon World. Atari has revealed that a new, unnamed studio is now in charge of making the game. This is the third studio to take over lead development on the theme-park builder. During Gamescom 2014 in August, Atari announced Pipeworks Software as the studio in charge. In the fall, Atari took the work from Pipeworks and handed it to Area 52 Games, which previously worked on Star Wars: Attack Squadron for Disney. After promising to deliver Roller Coaster Tycoon World in “early 2015,” Atari and Area 52 went quiet for the last few months before today’s announcement. Roller Coaster Tycoon World will still launch this year, according to the publisher.
“As many of you know, this past fall the game moved from Pipeworks to a new developer, Area 52 Games,” reads the Atari blog. “We brought them in to focus on core engine development. In order to accomplish many of the great things we have planned for the game, we needed this work first so that development could later continue on not only the engine, but also on gameplay, content, and graphics.”
Atari says Roller Coaster Tycoon World is now moving to the “next phase of development and on its way to release.”
But this is without Area 52. We’ve tried to contact that studio, but no one has answered our calls or returned our emails. On LinkedIn, you can see that a significant number of people who worked at Area 52 earlier this year have moved on to new jobs in the industry. This includes the studio’s former chief operating officer, Stuart Moulder.
All of this comes after Atari released a trailer for Roller Coaster Tycoon World in March that … well, it looks like a hot mess.
Unsurprisingly, fans hated that the new game looked like it was using technology from the mid-2000s. And Atari seems aware of that problem and is trying to address it.
“You have not yet seen any of the work delivered by this new team since the trailer was prepared using one of the last builds done by Area 52 Games,” reads the Atari blog. “As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the game has undergone a significant upgrade to Unity 5, and we are very excited about it. This next-gen engine now allows us to do much more with the game, such as displaying many more objects, polygons, and simulations onscreen. We have always kept room for improvement and we can say that a number of your suggestions are being implemented now.”
But Atari did not share what those improvements are, and it’s unclear how much it can change considering that it still plans to ship Roller Coaster Tycoon World before the end of 2015.
“It has been more than 10 years since the last PC Roller Coaster Tycoon game, and we are committed to releasing an amazing [triple-A] game that lays a new foundation for the future of the franchise,” reads the Atari blog. “Game development is a journey and it is not without its bumps in the road.”
I guess it’s good that development isn’t a roller coaster, because I’m betting this ride would’ve thrown off a few riders.