Forums  /  RollerCoaster Tycoon 1  /  Testing for Optimal Prices
  petrokovpetrokov

Hey everyone. I recently got a new record on Forest Frontiers using my realization that prices affect the rate at which guests come into the park. The way that I found this was by doing some experiments.

One test that I did had the following procedure. I opened the park, set the entrance fee to some value x, ran ads for the park as fast as I could, built a merry-go-round, ran ads for it as fast as I could, and then wrote down the number of guests at 30 second intervals. I did this for a variety of park entrance fees x, and I found that guests come in fastest when the park entrance fee is either $2 or $3.

Then I did another test with the following procedure. I opened the park, set the fee to $3, ran park ads, built a merry-go-round, set the price of the merry-go-round to some value x, ran ads for the merry-go-round, and then wrote down the number of guests at 30 second intervals. I did this for a variety of ride fees x, and I found that guests come in fastest when the merry-go-round has a price between $0.50 and $0.70.

Then I did a similar test in which I built one ride in the park and then observed how changing the type of the ride (choosing a merry-go-round vs. haunted house vs. scrambled eggs etc.) affects the rate of guests. I made all of the rides free in this test. I found that merry-go-rounds make guests come in the fastest, but haunted houses are a close second.

My hypothesis is that each type of ride has an optimal price, and setting each ride to its optimal price will overall cause guests to come in much faster. Additionally, setting the park entrance fee to an optimal value depending on the state of the park also seems to increase the rate of guest influx. If my hypothesis is correct, then we could easily find the optimal price of each ride, and while determining the optimal park entrance fee for different park states would take some time, it would be doable.

However, I think optimizing the guest influx rate might not be as simple as optimizing the price for each ride and then optimizing the park fee. I've never played later versions of RCT, but I've heard that in some versions you have to choose between charging a park entrance fee and charging ride fees, and that charging fees for both is not possible. This makes me think the developers intended not for specific rides to have specific prices, but rather for the general price of things in the park to reflect the general park quality. This might mean that a lone merry-go-round is best priced at $0.70, but a merry-go-round in a thriving park is best priced at, say, $1.00.

What I'd really like to do is look at the code of the game and find the function that determines the influx rate of guests. If we could find this function, then I think it wouldn't be that hard to optimize it. I think I know enough about math and discrete optimization that I could find an optimal way to get guests into the park quickly, but I don't know enough about hacking and reverse engineering to find the function in the game's binary code.

So finally, I'll get to the point. These are my questions.

1. Does finding the guest influx function inside the game's code seem like a feasible thing to do?
2. If not, what would be the best way to test how various prices work together to influence the guest influx rate?

I know this is a lot to ask of an inactive community, but this game is my childhood, and I'd really love to dissect it.

WereisTheWolfWereisTheWolf likes this. 
  WhoIsWORMWhoIsWORM

1) Unless you're well-versed in x86 assembly, not for this game. You may have better luck looking at some of the code for OpenRCT2, though there's no guarantee it'll be identical to how RCT1 does it.

2) I hate to say it, but unless someone has already documented their findings, you'll probably have to do a lot more guessing-and-checking type experimentation. I think you're on the right track about how the optimal price entrance price varies with the park, but I don't think the same is true for rides. For a ride, I think all that matters are the stats of the ride and how old it is (as the price guests expect to pay goes down as the ride gets older). I'd be surprised if the state of the park influenced how guests felt about the prices of individual rides. But I won't go as far to say that it's an impossibility.

WereisTheWolfWereisTheWolf likes this.