E-Views with Boomer

Within the walls of this virtual library lay all of Boomer's written RCT related articles. A Room with a View features all of Boomers popular E-View series, his previews, reviews, mini-Views and E-Views.

The Sambo construction company built this special place as a tribute to Boomer. In that spirit, creating a place to also archive articles and interviews from other authors to keep the virtual library current and ever-changing, just like the "view".

Enter when you can, enter at your leisure. There's plenty of time and plenty of chairs to browse and read through these fascinating interviews and reviews with RCT legends and celebrities.

E-views with Boomer Boomer's E-View with Michael Gee, creator of the RollerCoaster Rider

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you a very creative man by the name of Michael Gee. You will want to take notice of that name and the name of his smoking new 3-D, RCT, ride-the-ride program called "RollerCoasterRider" (RCR). This astonishing new development, and developer, somehow crept in under the RCT radar screen! With Dr. J as Michael's official first tester for RCR it was announced on Dr. J's technical info site on July 14th but again, for reasons unknown this announcement and all it implied still seemed to fall through the cracks.

As I started putting this all together in my old brain it dawned on me that this was a 3-D project, separate from Tim Miller's, that was actually getting close to completion of the first version and it let you ride the coasters of RCT. In multi view 3-D! Being the Boomer that I am, I started smelling a scoop popping up and got in touch with the good Dr. J. One thing led to another and I was soon in the middle of an E-View with this brilliant creative programmer. The timing couldn't have been better as his exhaustive but worthwhile creation started taking shape and coming alive.

There have been some new developments with RCR, since that first announcement by Dr. J, that have made the program simpler to use and can now be used with Windows 98, Me and XP systems. A very generous offer from Michael allowed me to test RCR for myself on my Windows 98 SE "nothing special" computer. Once I had downloaded DirectX8 everything worked smooth and good. A very awesome 3-D program! I can't stay away from it, I'm like a crew-cut RCT kid in a 3-D candy store. And the kicker is; it is only weeks away from completion and availability! But before I go sticking my foot in my mouth and getting in way over my head, I invite you join us as we talk with Michael and you can make your own decisions about him and RCR.

It is now my pleasure to introduce to you for a "first time" interview. Mr. Michael Gee and his amazing 3-D RollerCoasterRider.

Boomer Good evening Michael, it is such a pleasure to introduce you to some of your future fans. Times a-wasting so let's get right to it. First question out of the barn has to be, what is the Official name of this exciting new RCT program you have been working on?
Michael "Well, I seem to have come up with the name RollerCoasterRider (RCR). It appears that RCT3D (my internal name) might be confused with another program. It seems rather appropriate (I hope)".
Boomer Amazing how two different, but yet similar, 3-D programs were announced around the same time, bound to be confusing to many. (Laughs) Keep in mind Michael that most of you programmers talk a language that is straight out and over my head, so for me and my other PC challenged readers, what is the simple version of what THIS 3-D puppy can do?
Michael "It enables the user to ride, in a virtual reality sense, a coaster they have designed using the original program (RollercoasterTycoon). He/she can either watch from a distance, or 'take a seat' on the coaster. There are options to 'jump' between cars (in a train), trains, or rides (where you have multiple similar rides displayed). You have full 3D freedom of movement around the ride(s)".
Boomer It seems to me that RCR and you, it's creator, kind of snuck in under the RCT radar screen and not too much has been heard about this. Most likely that is because of the time it takes to develop these kind of programs and you weren't ready to announce it yet, but can you tell us how long you have been working on this and the current state of development?
Michael "It's been an enormous effort - about six months minimum of solid work so far. Much of that time has been spent on fully understanding the original program, and optimizing the final version. I've rewritten major pieces several times to take advantage of new technologies and video cards etc. Overall elapsed time since I started it is around 2 years, which includes updating it to DirectX 8".
Boomer That leads me to my next question, when to you expect an approximate completion of this project?
Michael "Hopefully, it will be released in the next week or so. I have two things left to do - mine train coaster supports and overhead track supports. There are a few car styles that I have yet to draw, but I think they may be left for later. I've tried very hard to approximate the original look and feel of the game, without copying. So every car and track has been modeled from scratch, using such tools as MilkShape, Paint Shop Pro, Infinity Textures and others. Being a programmer by trade, I'm very sensitive to intellectual property issues (and I don't want to be sued 8-) )".
Boomer Time for a little about you personally if you don't mind. Soon you may be known quite well in this RCT Universe but for now we are all ears as we get to know a little more about you. I heard that you were involved in programming Direct X and have many other impressive credentials under your belt. First tell us how programming Direct X influenced your career skills and then could you tell us a little about Direct X and how it effects the program you are developing?
Michael "I got involved with DX before anyone outside Microsoft knew of it, and wrote the first Direct3D drivers (yes, really - the first Direct3D driver was for a Matrox Millenium card, which could barely do Gouraud shading!). That goes back to 1995/1996, when Microsoft had bought a small UK company called Rendermorphics. Their 3D API became Direct3D. Part of the reason for this program was a desire to use 3D from the user level, instead of from the driver level. Believe me, most 3D driver writers have never actually written a 3D program. It's turned into a labor of love (or maybe I'm just crazy, which sounds right to me). Admitting to anyone of sleepless nights worrying about the physics of a Steel Corkscrew is pretty tough".
Boomer I have had the opportunity to test this program; it rocks! It looks like brilliance un-bridled to me! Another big question though is do you think RCR will work on RCT2, when it's released?
Michael "Well, if it doesn't, then I will do whatever is necessary to make it work. I suspect that, given the success of the original, RCT2 is a minor change to the original. Nobody can blame Chris Sawyer for capitalizing on the original - however, major changes don't seem appropriate. This is similar to a 'skin change' on a popular car - the basic mechanics remain the same. Plus, of course, kudos to Chris for such an amazing and compulsive game in the first place".
Boomer I've gotta ask you this.... will this smoking new program, upon completion, be offered free for download or will there be a fee charged to use it?
Michael "Hmm, that's tough. I was laid off at the end of April, and that's part of the reason why it will be available at all (I've had the time to do it). The way I'd like to do it is this - anyone can download it, and use it forever. But if you really like it, I would ask you to please make a small contrabution to me. It won't give you anything, but will help further development (and help me survive - I have to eat, you know, even if I forget sometimes). I know that many people will consider that to be expecting too much, but I'd rather people use it than not, even if it's for free. What I won't do is spend inordinate amounts of time putting locks and timeouts in - the warez people would break them very quickly. I like to believe in people -even if my expectations are too high".
Boomer To me a small contribution is the least you can ask, for help in development and for rembursment for all your hard work. This is a good time to bring this up; I know the good Dr. J is doing some testing for you, he is well known and revered here in the RCT community with many RCT accomplishments under his own belt. The first news of your new program was announced on his site. Is this the only place it will be available for download, or have you even got that far yet?
Michael "I haven't made arrangements yet for download sites - J's site will undoubtedly be the first. Personally, I don't have the available web space to host it. Given the free status of the program, I won't have any problem with mirror sites".
Boomer Now it's time for a big question on everybody's mind; what will be required to run this program when it is completed?
Michael "Well, drawing the coasters results in very high numbers of triangles, and that's what makes the difference. A good 3D video card, such as a Geforce 2 or above, is a good idea. I personally use a GeForce 4, but my machine is pretty extreme ( to say the least). I'm working on improving the experience for lower level machines at the moment - there are problems with long frame times with the physics ( for the tech people, Euler approximation has problems with large deltas). If you select all three coasters in the Three Monkeys park, you're talking about greater than 100K triangles per frame (worst case) - that's a huge load on a 3D card"!
Boomer (Happily rubbing his hands together) I didn't have to invest anything to use this amazing program! With your new upgrades it works very nicely on Windows 98 and above, very nice work indeed! Well what else lays out on the shimmering horizon of your future Michael? Any plans for something new stirring the technical corners of your mind?
Michael "Well, this has proven to be a lot more work than I ever imagined. I think I'll wait for RCT 2 before committing myself on this".
Boomer Do you play RCT very often?
Michael "Actually, after starting this project, I've had no time. Being able to ride the coasters proves to be a big distraction. But I will get back to it, when I've finished this".
Boomer What do you think of the screenshots and info you have heard so far about the upcoming RCT2?
Michael "Not sure - RCT is undoubtedly the best simulator around, and I'm not sure how much RCT2 will improve this. Let's face it - if RCT hadn't been such a success, there wouldn't be an RCT2. Of course, as far as anyone knows, RCT2 still lacks the one thing that reviewers most mentioned about the original - the ability to ride the track you have designed"!
Boomer Will you buy it immediately or wait for a while to see how it looks?
Michael "I will almost certainly order it in advance, just to be driven out of my mind by it"!
Boomer What other games do you like to play?
Michael "I don't have a lot of time, but mostly adventure and similar though provoking games. I'm more of a mental athlete - my reaction times are a little too slow for some games. One of my favorites was Grim Fandango in that genre. Currently, I'm playing Warcraft 3, but shoot em ups are hardly my cup of tea".
Boomer Well I have to tell you, it has been a real honor to have the first interview with you Michael. I have tried RCR myself and found it to be awesome! Your association with Dr. J can only lend credence to your reputation as a fine programmer and if that's not enough I think your creation will assuredly speak for itself to RCT lovers everywhere. Thank you very much for your time and considerations on this E-View and also for an exciting new RCT, 3-D toy to play with while I wait for RCT2, I hope I wasn't to hard on ya!

Michael has left da house! RCT in 3-D; just days from completion. I must be 3-Dreaming! RCT2 on the near horizon coming at us like a fresh, cool breeze; we live in good times my fellow RCT lovers. Good times indeed!

In the lingering sweet Jasmine aroma of the soft summer night, a thought took form and then took flight. With moonbeams and fireflies it begins to dance, lost in the night in a 3-D trance. With motion and color it blossomed to be, a 3-D image called Michael.... Mr. Michael Gee.