Interview with Greg
In this interview, Red Phoenix interviews
Greg Wolking, a moderator at RCT Station, as well as the creator
of the RCT Track Decoder.
Where did your first hear about Hasbro's Rollercoaster Tycoon? And
what did you think of it once you played it?
Greg Wolking: I didn't even
know the game existed (I'm not much of a "PC gamer" myself) until
my mom gave me RCT and the Corkscrew Follies add-on for Christmas.
My brother and I both love coasters, and my mom thought I'd dig
the game. She was right -- way to go, mom! I thought the game would
be cool when I saw Chris Sawyer's name on the box because I'd picked
up his Transport Tycoon Deluxe in the bargain bin at Office Depot
and had a lot of fun with it. Once I got RCT installed and started
fooling around with it, I was blown away. It is by far the best
computer game I've ever played.
What do you think of all the "anti-cheat" code Chris Sawyer placed
in the RCT games?
Greg Wolking: It's both annoying
and poorly implemented. I think it's really stupid when so-called
"anti-cheat" code can prevent you from loading saved games in which
you haven't "cheated" at all. As a software author and tech support
person myself (I have written many utilities for PC Magazine and
have been moderating their tech support forums for many years),
I can understand the reasoning behind it but I still don't like
it. I think the RCT community is mature and well-informed enough
to know not to call tech support when the game blows up due to hacking,
so I don't see any reason to continue this practice.
What's your opinion of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2?
Greg Wolking: Some parts are
really good, some parts (like the way they screwed up path style
selection) are really bad. It is clear that they paid at least some
attention to the customer base when they added some features (such
as stacking scenery). I like the way mechanics work now; it makes
more sense and makes them easier to manage (although there are still
some bugs to be addressed). Split stations and block brakes are
great additions as well, but they should have been documented more
thoroughly in the manual.
Will you be redoing any of your parks with RCT 2?
Greg Wolking: Probably not.
I'm not really a "park maker" like some folks are. I just like building
kick-ass coasters. Themeing is not (and probably never will be)
my best skill. I'm still blown away by the stuff that guys like
Mike Robbins do. RCT Station has a couple of my parks in the downloads
section and while I think they have some great coasters, the parks
as a whole look kinda sad compared to most other "fantasy" parks.
It looks like an RCT 2 expansion pack will be released in May 2003.
What would you like to see specifically in the game?
Greg Wolking: First and foremost,
fix all the bugs! Put path style selection back the way it was before.
The staff, attraction, and banner sign limits are still too low.
The scenario editor is nice, but needs a lot of work. I'd love to
see some sort of "refurbish" command which, for a price (say, some
fraction of the ride's original construction cost), would make the
ride "brand new" again. Fix the path and track construction modes
so that when you rebuild paths or ride track, associated scenery
(such as doorways) doesn't get obliterated as long as it would fit
the objects you're replacing.
Any chance you will be making any new utilities?
Greg Wolking: Probably not.
I have updated my Track Decoder utility to support RCT2 (for the
most part), but guys like Josef Drexler and Henry Winkelstein are
light years ahead of me when it comes to "hacking" the game. This
kind of work takes a tremendous amount of time and meticulous attention
to detail and I just don't have the time to spend on it.
For the record, my RCT Track Decoder
utility wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the work that Dr.
J (and others) had already done in deciphering the game's compression
scheme, ride codes, and so on. I took the information that they
had compiled and ran with it. I wouldn't have been able to do all
of that on my own.
What sort of RCT/RCT 2 utility would you like to see developed that
isn't already available?
Greg Wolking: I don't know.
I like to work within the game as it is. About the only "trainering"
I ever do is to make rides new, empty the park, and reset the date.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against hacking, I just
don't have much inclination to do it myself. I just like to fire
the game up and build coasters.
What RCT sites do you visit on a regular basis?
Greg Wolking: RCT Station. I'm
not much of a "web surfer" at all. I make part of my living working
on the web (I moderate the tech support message boards at www.pcmag.com)
so that's where most of my "web time" is spent.
If you could be someone (alive or dead) for one day, who would it
be, and why?
Greg Wolking: John Wardley.
I'd love to know, even if it's just for a day, how his mind works
when he's creating a new coaster. It would also be cool to be worshipped
as a god by coaster lovers world-wide. ;-)