Roller Coaster Tycoon: A Technical Marvel Programmed in Assembly
RCT is a technical marvel, according to a recent meme that’s been making the rounds on social media. Roller Coaster Tycoon, a game that – let’s be honest – has as much to do with programming as it does with building roller coasters, is being celebrated for its programming language that, apparently, is so advanced, it’s downright miraculous.
The meme stems from a recent tweet by PC Game Spotlight that shares an image of RCT running on a 486 PC. The irony is clear: a game made using programming language Assembly, which is known for its difficulty and demanding learning curve, running smoothly on low-spec hardware.
“Roller Coaster Tycoon is a technical marvel,” reads the text of the meme, “because it was programmed in a language called ‘Assembly’.” The implication being that Assembly is a difficult language to learn and master, and RCT’s creators should be commended for their achievement.
Of course, the internet has been quick to jump on the joke, and it’s easy to see why. RCT was a technological marvel for its time, and even still holds up today – especially when you consider it was programmed in Assembly. But that fact alone doesn’t necessarily make it a technical marvel.
In fact, RCT’s incredible level of detail for the hardware it ran on is one of the main things that made it such a success when it first released. The ability to “physically murder” unhappy guests by sending them plummeting to the earth below is seen by some as a darkly humorous feature of the simulation, while others praise it as a bold move by the developers.
As far as programming languages go, Assembly is considered basic – it’s the programming equivalent of the intermediary between your written code and the binary that the computer understands. It’s difficult to learn, but not to the point of being a technical marvel.
Another meme that’s been circulating social media lately is the idea that the TempleOS operating system is also a technical marvel. TempleOS is a tiny operating system that runs off of a CD-ROM, and it’s praised by some as an incredible achievement in software development. The meme explains that “running an OS like Windows is a technical marvel,” which is again, somewhat of a joke.
While no one is saying that developing an operating system like Windows is easy, it’s a bit of a stretch to say it’s a technical marvel when a tiny, barebones OS that can only run on a CD-ROM can do the same thing. Regardless, the level of detail in RCT was incredible for the hardware it ran on, and there’s no denying that.
OpenRCT2 is your best bet if you’re looking to revisit the game, as it offers improvements and more freedom in building, but Microsoft Flight Simulator is perhaps the ultimate technical marvel. Widely regarded as the king of the simulator games, Flight Simulator allows you to fly over your very own house, and explore the world in great detail. Some even share their personal experiences of finding their real-life structures accurately represented in the game.
The complex ecosystem of flora, the weather simulation, and the architectural marvels that the game allows you to explore are all incredible feats in their own right, but the game’s utilization of satellite photos to interpret global buildings’ color, shape, and height is perhaps the most impressive. The simulation then considers factors including wind pressure and temperature to determine how the building will respond to your plane landing on top of it.
While Flight Simulator can be a bit overwhelming at times, the scope of its simulation is nothing short of spectacular, and many – even those who may not personally enjoy the game – are quick to commend it as a spectacular achievement, even by modern standards. The game’s install size is around 150GB, and you’ll be waiting a while to download it, but that doesn’t matter because it’s incredible.
There’s also apparently a jpg of a coconut in Team Fortress 2’s coding that can’t be removed without breaking the game, but I’ll leave that meme for another day.
Check out more of the best simulation games if you’re looking for something similar to Flight Simulator, and make sure you don’t miss the upcoming Flight Simulator DLC that could be the best thing to happen to the series.