The Impact of Topography on Coaster Ratings

I like to build coasters on flat ground, then build hills and mountains around them. When doing this, I have sometimes noticed that the coaster's ratings went down once I built the hill high enough to make tunnels over parts of the track. This was annoying so I decided to try to perform a series of experiments to figure out exactly how topography impacted coaster ratings. I believe I have obtained definitive answers (as of right now in the game's development) so I figured I'd share them.

SUMMARY
(for those with a low TLDR tolerance):
I set out to answer the following questions. Here are their answers as well. If you want to see the supporting documentation, scroll on down below this section.

1. Do all 3 EFN ratings change? NO: There is no effect on Nausea no matter what you do with terrain. Only Excitement and Fear are impacted.

2. Can you increase Excitement or Fear with topography?
NO: The topography either has no effect on the ratings at all (most of the time) or causes a slight decrease (occasionally).

3. Does terrain impact different elements of track design differently?
YES: The only elements impacted by terrain are inversions (both pre-made and custom), which is where the Excitement and Fear are decreased slightly. Raising hills directly under the track in an inversion has a very slight negative impact. "Entunneling" an inversion has a slightly greater, but still quite small, negative impact. But as long as the coaster is banked < 90^, no matter what it's doing, terrain has no effect on ratings.

4. Is there any difference in topographic impacts on the Canyon Runner "mine train" coaster compared to inverting coasters? (DEPENDS ON HOW YOU MEASURE IT): The Canyon Runner is treated exactly the same as inverting coasters in non-inverted parts of the track----no change in ratings due to terrain. But the Canyon Runner cannot invert, so terrain has no chance at all to change its ratings anyway. Thus, this comparison is somewhat apples and oranges.

5. Do terrain features like hills and tunnels impact the scenery value of the track? NO. Only buildings and scenery change that.

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DOCUMENTATION:
To do these tests, I first took a grasslands park and bulldozed it totally flat. Then I built a hybrid coaster with a layout including many different elements but arranged so I could build hills at each in isolation. It and its elements were like this:






Everything here was custom except the double-loop reversal of directions at the "out there" end.

Then I built a Canyon Runner as close to being identical as possible. The Canyon Runner can't invert so had to do something else, but I ended up with a track with nearly the same footprint, length, duration, and EFN ratings. Instead of a double-loop reversal I used a 0=G "Top Hat". Instead of a 0-G heartline roll, I used a "rocking the cradle" with an airtime hill in the middle. And instead of helices going back to the station, I used a series of multi-ups and -downs to make the track length and duration about the same while keeping the EFN nearly the same as well. The Canyon Runner looked like this:



I put these coasters side-by-side in a park and conducted all my experiments with real peeps, not test dummies. Each coaster had only 1 train (although they could do 2 if this was about money) to eliminate the variable of different trains having different ratings. The park was also served by 3x 5-star mechanics to keep the rides in good shape. Test observations were only taken with full trains and, if the coaster had been down for maintenance at all, only after it had done 2 or 3 runs afterwards to make sure everything was back to normal. During all experiments, only 1 coaster was open, the other closed. I did the same experiments on both coasters 1 after the other before moving on to the next experiment.





As for the experiments, I started with the lift hill, first with dirt right up to the bottom of the track, then higher to "entunnelize" the lift. This had no effect. Same with drops, turns, and airtime hills. CONCLUSION: A peep's ability to see how high off the ground he is, or see what's coming next, has no effect on how excited or scared he is.




It was only when I started piling dirt around the hybrid's double-loop that I noticed any change in ratings. There was a slight decrease with some dirt just around the bottom (non-inverted) part of this element, and somewhat more when it was fully buried.




The same thing happened, to a somewhat greater extent, with the hybrid's 0-G heartline roll.




Raising hills up just under the track had no effect anywhere except at inversions, where there was a slight decrease for the hybrid. CONCLUSION: The illusion of speed caused by close proximity to the ground is not taken into account by the peeps.




Totally "entunnelizing" the entire Canyon Runner, and all of the hybrid EXCEPT the inversions, had no effect.




With the hybrid's inversions also "entunnelized", its ratings decreased by the sum of the decreases noted when I buried the individual elements. Nausea again remained constant, as it had throughout. Aslo, even being totally "entunnelized", the rides still had no scenery values.




CONCLUSION: Rapid changes of direction and orientation with no spatial or horizon reference do not make peeps nauseous as they do humans.

CONCLUSION: Knock yourself out with the terrain tools, except around inversions, without fear of ruining the ride's ratings.

CONCLUSION: Even with lots of "scenic" hills, you still have to add scenery and buildings to improve the scenery value of a ride.
 
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