How Planet Coaster Should Learn Accesblity From Pokemon and Roller Coaster Tycoon
Like many people I was really excited to get Planet Coaster; the visuals were amazing and people were building and showing off all sorts of ride designs. Being a fan of the original Roller Coaster Tycoon I thought I would give it a go. That was until I found out that the mechanics of the game were difficult; no birds-eye view or toggle like in Zoo Tycoon 2, things would shift when building, building even an exit for a ride was difficult, and no Toolkit where you can build your ride first and then put it in your park. It made me wonder if the developers ever thought about Game Accessibility for people like myself, or had people with disabilities and special needs on staff to help developers make it more accessible to people who fumble at the mechanics or don’t know where to begin?
It made me think of all the fans of games like Roller Coaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon 2 who feel cheated out because one person may get the mechanics and one person fumbles no matter how hard they try. It made me think about why Game Freak has not addressed the mass fandom of Autistic and Special Needs people who love Pokemon and allow them to create their own Pokemon and ideas despite the creator of the games himself being on the Autism spectrum. It also made me think about why don’t game designers and developers have these very people to experiment on to make sure all games are accessible. To understand why games are so popular with special ed and disabled demographics maybe they have to learn why through the mechanics of the game and why it endures.
Pokemon may seem simple to people who have never played the game; however, when you play a Pokemon game there is so much to discover and explore.
Sword and Sheild are vast in their design and I would love to play it with my Dad because it’s about exploring nature and the journey you take with your team. I love Scorebunny and my dad picked Sobble when I was explaining to him what Pokemon was about and how to play. It would be fun if we both had Nintendo Switches so we could battle each other and grow stronger as trainers. The games themselves have even lead people in the special ed community to start careers in game design and concept art. Yet Game Freak has never had the opportunity to talk and reach out to this community for ideas for its games and only engages hardcore fans and not casual players which is how people get into Pokemon and many others. A lot of my peers mostly boys were hardcore players which were delightful when Ruby and Saphire came out with a girl player and then I did the same when I played Y and Moon. Whenever there was a new Pokemon or an evolution took place there was excitement because it was something new and unexpected. The boys in my class were so hardcore that when it was Stranger Danger they would debate over pulling out Tyranatar or Charizard; rediculous yes but they were hardcore battlers who loved the biggest brute on their team. Even today there are actual tournaments most recently in Oceana where people come just to battle other trainers live on YouTube. One Korean trainer with a Pachirisu a tiny white squirrel Pokemon on his team won a World Championship in 2014.
Another game that came to my mind about the camera and the birds-eye view is Zoo Tycoon 2; makes me wonder why there are no photo challenges in Roller Coaster Tycoon or Planet Coaster which could help with the publicity of your park. The photo challenges in this game whether it was a career or campaign mode got you stuff for your zoos like a new theme or an item to make your zoo look cool or even an animal you never got before. There were even tutorials set up in sections to help you understand a different mechanic which is not in Planet Coaster. Yes, there are videos out their but their too fast to follow when you just got the game and are made by people who know the mechanics but don’t know how to explain them to people who are not like them. It would be cool if you put both Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo together to make your own Bush Gardens.
Finally, there is the one that was the beginning of games like Planet Coaster, Roller Coaster Tycoon games had a feature called the Ride Disinger Toolkit where you could learn the mechanics of making a ride like a roller coaster with all the theming at your disposal which I constantly use in the Classic version on Steam.
So my suggestion would write a letter to Fronteer and address to them that these are problems that can be learned from other games and their designers so that it can finally be accessible to not just us but all people who are just beginning. Sometimes even neurotypical people use features that are meant for disabled or special ed people just like curves in the sidewalk meant for people in wheelchairs being used by bikers, or why fidget spinners became popular with everyone, or why a game like Pokemon made by a young man on the spectrum is now loved by people all over. Perhaps they can let players use a camera to take pictures and get rewards and packs in the game, or use the mechanics in Zoo Tycoon 2 to make waterfalls and fountains, or have a toolkit for making your own roller coaster, and have an award similar to The Golden Ticket for the best and amazing roller coasters out there and awards for people on the spectrum or special needs who make amazing parks. Yesterday in Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic I found out there’s a power launch feature for Looping Coasters and made one called The Whooping Lama.