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Staff Patrol Routes

Author/Contributors: Greg Wolking & Steve Franks *

One manages staff routes by using the "footprints" (or "route") buttons on both the staff list window, and the details window for each staff member. Routes are assigned using the "grids" of 4x4 tiles. The location of those route grids is determined arbitrarily by the game. If an employee does not show the blue "footprint" icon in the staff list, he has no specific route assigned.

To set the route for a staffer, you must open that staffer's detail window, then click the route button. As long as that button is depressed, his current route is shown on the map in either blue if the route is on land, or gray if the route is under water. Routes of other staffers of the same type are shown in gray. (This can make it tough to manage overlapping routes that are entirely under water because the same color is used for both the staffer you are working with and all other staffers of that type.)

To change the current employee's route, click within the desired grid to toggle it on or off. To eliminate his route completely, click within each of the blue/gray grids until none of them are active (and his "footprint" icon disappears from the staff list). If a route is very large and/or complex it may be easier to fire the employee and hire a new one rather than turn off each of his route grids individually. (A "reset route" command would be nice, but the game does not provide one.)

The route button in the main staff window serves solely as a "staff locator" and "route monitor" -- you do not use that button to assign or modify routes. First, choose the type of employee, then click the button and it shows you the routes for all employees of that type, outlined in blue (or gray if under water) on the map. To locate the closest employee whose route includes a given tile, click on that tile and the game will open the detail window for that employee with the route button already depressed so you can modify his route as described in the previous paragraph.

Sometimes, when you click on a route grid to locate an employee, you'll get an error message to the effect of "No employees in park yet". This means one of two things: either the employee who belongs to that route has not been placed on the map, or you're seeing a "phantom" route grid that results from a bug in the game.

The bug has to do with the fact that the game uses a separate "master map" for each type of employee. This master map is used to display the "locator grid". When you fire a routed employee, the master map does not get updated to remove that employee's route, leaving "phantom" grids in the locator display. The workaround for this is to pause the game, hire a new employee, assign him a single route grid then remove it (so he has no route at all), then fire the new employee. This forces the game to update the master map.

Routes will not work properly unless all of the grids in that route connect together to form a contiguous shape on the map. Once he is within this route, an employee will not traverse an unrouted portion of the map to get from one route grid to another. When you are routing an employee that follows footpaths exclusively (guards, mechanics, and entertainers), you must make sure that his route grids are connected by paths that lie entirely within those grids. Consider the following illustration:

Screenshot

In the example, the red-checker path tile will never be traversed because it is not included within a route grid. If this is a handyman's route, that path tile could be knee deep in vomit and the handymen will walk right up to the edge of that tile, but will not sweep it -- he will just turn around and continue patrolling within his assigned route. If it's a mechanic's route, that one corner that's outside his route will prevent him from reaching the entire route -- he'll get stuck on one side or the other. To prevent this problem, you must either move the path intersection so that it is within the route grid at the upper left or add the grid at the lower-right to the employee's route.

Screenshot  Screenshot

Once you assign a route to an employee, you must place that employee somewhere within that route. Otherwise, he may wander all over the park at random until he happens to stumble into his route -- he won't "home in" on the route from the outside on his own. The same applies if you remove a grid from the route while the employee is within that grid -- you must pick him up and move him to a grid that is within his route. Once he is inside the route, he will stay within it, with exactly one exception: mechanics. A mechanic's route must include at least one ride exit and/or foot path tile, otherwise he will ignore the tile entirely and just wander around at random.

When routing handymen for "path duty", clearing their "mow grass" order will make it more likely for them to stay on the footpaths, but there is no guarantee. One particular trouble spot is an elevated path over land. Regardless of which orders he has, a handyman will occasionally wander off the path and fall down to the ground beneath. Once that happens, he can't get back onto the path unless there is a spot within his grid where the land is flush with the path The same can happen (although it is much less likely) with mechanics.

Routing can be critical for mechanics. When the game issues a radio call for ride repair, it first looks for a mechanic whose route includes that ride's exit. If such a mechanic either does not exist or is busy repairing or inspecting another ride, the game will assign the call to any other mechanic who does not have a route assigned, and it does not necessarily choose the mechanic who is closest to that ride.

Therefore, it is generally best to assign exactly one mechanic for each station of every "tracked" ride. For flat rides whose exits are close enough together, one mechanic can usually handle 3 or 4 rides, in part because flat rides take much less time to inspect and repair than tracked rides do. However, if the mechanic does handle more than one ride, you must be sure that his route includes all path tiles needed to get from one exit to the other. A mechanic uses footpaths to get from one ride to another and will not traverse a path tile that is not within his route.

Quirk: In some cases, the route grids and ride placement may work out so that a ride exit is right at the edge of a route grid and the path tile that connects to the exit is outside the grid that contains the exit itself. In this case, you do not have to expand the route to include that path tile. As long as you place the mechanic on the path tile adjacent to the exit, he will "hover" right at the exit and never leave that spot unless you either demolish the ride or move the exit.

Therefore, whenever you are assigning a mechanic to cover a single ride or station, his route only needs one grid: the one that includes the ride exit. However, you must have a path tile at the exit for this to work. Finally, if you do demolish and rebuild that ride, the mechanic may wander off because his route no longer includes a ride exit, so you'll probably need to put him back in the right spot after you rebuild the ride.

Note: All original articles have been transcribed and illustrated by Steve Franks for exclusive use at RCT Station, and are posted with the permission of Greg Wolking.

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