Gamers got their first look at Rollercoaster Tycoon World gameplay earlier this month, and let's just say that not everyone was thrilled with what they saw (Tim included). Numerous commenters, here and elsewhere, compared it unfavorably to Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, which came out in 2004. But Executive Producer "Mattlab" said in a new blog post that its rough state is to be expected, because the game is still in pre-alpha.
"Since the switchover of our development team this past Fall, we have focused on core functionality and 'under-the-hood' engine work. This is why there has not been significant visual progress on the title," he wrote. "Engine work is critical to the overall stability of a game, and it requires significant labor and time to get right. We knew in the Fall we still had a lot of work to do to achieve the core engine we wanted—one that could support a game like RCTW. Now, however, we are able to finally continue working on the higher level functionality and visuals."
The point of the trailer was not to show off the game in anything near a final state, he continued, but simply to demonstrate that progress was being made. He also said that Atari has decided to upgrade the game to the Unity 5 engine, which should significantly improve its overall visual quality, and is adjusting the art direction to make it "more believable/realistic overall."
Mattlab said Atari hopes to have the upgraded graphics ready for public display by this summer, but he also acknowledged that not everyone is buying what he's selling. "We hope to take full advantage of the many new environmental, lighting, and shadow improvements as well as many other features in our original Unity 4.6-based engine to create a game that looks great. Our early results are extremely promising," he wrote. "We know that today these words must ring hollow, but trust that we are doing everything we can to make the game look excellent."
There's still no launch date, but it's expected to be announced later this year.