I've been playing the Planter Coaster alpha and really enjoying it. It's giving me a Cities: Skylines vibe: it's relaxing, nice to look at, and it's not difficult to play. In fact, even in the work-in-progress challenge mode, where you're given $5,000 to build a profitable park with, is still pretty easy. Granted, most of the financial systems haven't been added to the game yet. We'll see if it's tougher when it releases this November.
In the meantime, I decided to create my own challenge mode by seeing if I could build a profitable park for $5,000, but without including any actual park rides. No coasters, no carousels, just a park where guests will spend money without having any fun. Here's how it went.
Guests entering my new park will find themselves immediately—yet subtly—flanked by ATM kiosks. There's two machines per kiosk, so there's plenty of room for people to take out money and spend it at my third building, which is a hat shop.
I know it looks like shit, but I've spent almost all my money already, and shockingly enough I already have 18 guests! Well, sort of. No one actually enters the park, they just stroll up the path, turn around, and leave, perhaps unwilling to buy a hat to commemorate their visit to a hat store. Tough to blame them, but I've got a few hundred bucks left, so I add a place to buy drinks.
If you build it they will come, if there are drinks. Guests have actually begun to enter my dirt park, headed straight for the drink stall. And they're not just excited for beverages, either! This lady is stoked because there's "So much room to walk around!" Damn straight. Maybe I'm no Walt Disney but I know people like having room to walk around, and here they've got it, and so much of it.
Now, if you and your ugly kid will spend $5,000 on soda, we'll all be having a pretty good day.
Unfortunately, despite the supposed enjoyment of a place with room for walking, no one walks around much. All my guests make a beeline to the drink stall, and whether they simply complain about the price of drinks or actually buy one, they all immediately leave. No one wants to buy a hat, and since the hat shop is actually three hat shops (requiring three paid employees), it's killing what I will jokingly call my profitability. I decide to close the hat shop.
I add a burger store, and where the hat shop stood there is now a restroom. I couldn't afford the pirate-themed restroom, so it's a fairy tale restroom. Thanks, capitalism! I've already had to compromise my artistic vision.
Why am I losing money? I mean, apart from the obvious: I've built what amounts to a crummy restaurant on a dirt pile and called it a theme park. But why am I losing so much money? Oh, right, I have to pay the employees staffing these fast-food kiosks. I cut their wages from $75 to $10, which helps (me). I also delete the ATMs: no one is using them. With that cash frees up, I buy another, smaller hat store.
Look, I want guests to buy hats. When they buy hats in Planet Coaster, they wear them around in the park and it's adorable.
People aren't miserable with my park. It's just that once they've bought a drink and used the restroom, there's simply nothing else to do beside not buy hats, so they immediately leave. With no money to build any other "attractions" I'm forced to get "creative." I need people to spend more time in my park, expend more energy, get hungry and thirsty again, and then want to buy more food.
So, I move the restroom about a mile away from the food stalls. Every last penny goes into that path, and hopefully by the time guests walk there and back they'll want to buy something else. That is my plan.
Is it working? It might be working. I think it's working. These two guests, one named Terri and one named Kerrie, buy a drink and take the trek to the restroom, which literally takes them the entire night. Surely after the hike back, they'll be thirsty again?
Alas, after relieving themselves, their status changes to "Going home." They're done with my park. But I'm not done with them. I can peek into their wallets and see they've still got lots of cash left, and I want more of it before they leave. Time for a new plan.
After the long walk back from the shitters, Terri and Kerrie rest on a park bench to relax and criticize my park. I take this as a good sign. They want to go home, but they're still interested in fulfilling their needs, like rest, to replenish their energy. If they need rest, they may still need other things. If I can keep them in the park longer, they may have to eat and drink again.
And after that, who knows? Maybe they'll want to buy a hat. Now, I just need to keep them in the park. But how?
Okay, that was pretty easy. I delete a section of pathway leading to the exit. Now there's no way they can leave, because what human being can walk on dirt? No one. No human being can do that. Checkmate, Terri and Kerrie. Checkmate.
Of course, no one can enter my park, either, but that's not my concern. It should be. It should be my main concern. But it's not.
Not only have I trapped these two (plus the other 19 guests in my park), but I've won another little victory. With the exit gone, Kerrie has apparently realized the only way to please the cruel god of this dirt park is to spend cash. She purchases a burger, and now I figure all I have to do is wait until they've spent the rest of their money before letting them leave. Soon everyone will be wearing hats. Maybe two or three hats.
Terri and Kerrie haven't given up, however. They want to go home, and they begin waving, in synch, to signal that all they want is an exit. They wave and wave. And, much to my dismay, they refuse to move another inch until I give them a way out.
This isn't about hats anymore, partially because I've had to sell my hat store to stay afloat. No, this is about making sure Terri and Kerrie don't win. They won't move until I give them an exit? Fine. I reconnect the exit, but only over by the drink stand on the left. To reach it, Terri and Kerrie will have to leave the burger stand, walk all the way down to the restrooms again, then all the way back. That's like a full day and night of walking. We'll just see if they don't want to buy another drink by the time they reach the exit.
And yeah, I know I wound up basically drawing a giant penis with my paths. I'm not proud of it. But this is war.
Just a quick note: when you hire someone to work in a burger stand for $75 then cut their wages down to $10 and then cut their wages down to $1, well, they look pretty unhappy about it.
I lied when I said this wasn't about hats, but you shouldn't have believed me because I'm the type of person who will keep two guests trapped in an amusement park for six days to try to force them to buy a hat.
It doesn't work. I quickly build a hat store on the long road back to the restroom, but neither Terri nor Kerrie buy one. I delete the store a moment later.
A few days pass. Yes, Terri and Kerrie are still in the park because whenever they get close to the exit, I move the path so it reconnects at the other side, forcing them to walk all the way down to the restroom and back again. They haven't bought anything else, however, despite using what's left of my budget to litter their path with advertisements for food.
They have iron wills, these two.
Late one night—I don't know how many days later—I finally completely run out of cash. I have too little to even reconnect the path to the exit for the I-don't-know-how-many-th time. I don't know quite how I've failed to make a profit with my burger park, but it may have something to do with obsessing over two ladies and their spending habits while neglecting absolutely everything else.
I think it's time to throw in the towel, if I could afford to buy one.
I sell the drink stand so I can afford to allow people to exit the park, and as they depart I notice Terri and Kerrie holding hands. It's sweet. I don't know if they're in love or just in like, or perhaps it's simply that they survived a baffling, pointless ordeal together and have forged a new bond, but it's sweet.
They never bought a hat, but hats off to them anyway.