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Intensity, or the Intensity Rating is one of three ratings used to determine the quality and enjoyability of a ride in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series of games. Intensity is measured on a scale that starts at 0 (very dull), and which in theory can be infinitely high - quality-built rides rarely have an Intensity above 10, but poorly-built rides can have Intensity ratings much higher than 10, though these rides are usually not successful. Intensity is a measurement of ride speed, G-forces, and ride mechanics, and determines the relative "thrill" of the ride.
Intensity is mainly a number representing the quality of the construction of a ride in providing a sufficient but not overabundant level of "thrill" to the rider.
The primary factor in determining this is G-force. The games simulate the movement of ride trains along the track, compared to acceleration and ride speed, and calculate three factors: Positive Vertical Gs, Negative Vertical Gs, and Lateral Gs. To the game, a stationary object has a Vertical G-force of +1, and a Lateral G-force of zero. As a train moves upward, it generally experiences higher Positive Vertical Gs - a force of +2 Vertical Gs means that the force pulling down on the rider at that moment is twice the normal rate of gravity. As a train moves down a hill, Positive Gs are eliminated and Negative Gs are created - a Vertical G-force of zero is a feeling of weightlessness - the rider feels no downward forces. A Negative Vertical G-force of one means that a force is acting at the rate of gravity, opposite to the usual direction of gravity - in other words, the rider is pulled up, not down. Control of Negative and Positive Vertical Gs is important in controlling rider comfort, and ultimately in controlling ride Intensity and Nausea Ratings. Lateral G-forces are also important, but are only caused when the train and rider move to one side or another - if a rider moves straight, there are no Lateral G-forces. Lateral Gs work opposite to the direction a train moves - if a train turns right, the rider's body "wants" to continue straight, thus acting as a force to the left. Banked curves help alleviate this force, which can be quite intense, so banks should always be utilized when a train is moving fast. Also, using a curve with a larger radius can be more beneficial to the intensity rating than using a curve with a small radius. For example, after a large drop, tight curves, even if banked, can cause large G-forces. Larger radius curves can help alleviate high lateral G-forces.
Basic understanding of G-forces is useful in ride design, especially in controlling extreme Intensity ratings. Ride construction, especially construction of Roller Coasters, is impacted greatly by G-forces and how they act on riders. Rides with wide variations between Negative and Positive Vertical Gs, or wide variation in Lateral Gs, will be more intense. Often, higher intensity is more desirable, so elements are added to rides to increase these forces. For example, most Roller Coasters are built with an initial drop large enough to create zero Vertical Gs or Negative Vertical Gs ('air' time), and this increases not only the intensity but the excitement of the ride. This can be overdone, however, and especially so when an element is so rough that it could be injurious; a sharp 90-degree curve at the bottom of a large hill will pull riders so violently to one side of the ride that the enjoyability of the entire ride will suffer.
Intensity is related in some way to ride length. The longer the ride, and the more twists and turns in it, the higher the intensity. It is interesting that, on extremely short rides, even if the G forces are extreme, the intensity can still stay within a medium or low level.For example, if you build a crazy rodent coaster with a lift hill to a maximum height then drop and swerve directly back to the station (using the one square radius turn), the intensity would interestingly not go above 4 even though the maximum lateral gs is over 4.
Some coasters have inherently higher intensities than others even if the ride design is completely the same. By comparing a basic design of a coaster looping directly back to the station without any drops/special elements, the wooden, wooden crazy rodent, corkscrew, standup, inverted, suspended coasters tend to have a higher intensity than steel, steel mini, steel single rail, suspended single rail and bobsled roller coasters.
Like Excitement and Nausea ratings, Intensity is measured on an infinite scale that starts at zero. Higher numbers represent higher intensity ratings. Ratings above 10 are possible, but ratings below 0.00 are not.
Intensity is given a value, and that value is associated with a category:
- Low: 0.00 to 2.55
- Medium: 2.56 to 5.11
- High: 5.12 to 7.67
- Very High: 7.68 to 10.23
- Extreme: 10.24 to 12.79
- Ultra-Extreme: 12.80 to 50.01
- Uber-Extreme: 50.02 and up (Only appears in RCT3)
For various purposes, different Intensities are desirable. In rides aimed toward children or towards less-brave riders, intensity ratings of Low or Medium are appropriate. Typical riders will accept rides running the gamut of Intensities, from Low to Very High or higher. Thrill-Seekers will typically want to ride rides with High ratings or higher. The most popular rides, however, have a medium to high ~4.5 -6) intensity rating, as this caters to the widest range of guest perferences. However, very few if any riders will seek to ride a ride with a rating much above 10.00; Intensities of this magnitude often indicate physical discomfort or danger. An Ultra-Extreme intensity rating on a ride is not desirable in all but a very select few circumstances. Also, some guests may increase their intensity preferences over time if a Roller Coaster of a medium or high intensity rating is placed around Gentle or low-intensity rides, this does not apply in parks where guests prefer less intense rides however.
Intensity can be used to determine ride quality, but not necessarily ride enjoyability. Quality is a factor in the ride's enjoyability, so a ride's excitement rating is in part dependent on a ride's Intensity; rides of extreme or ultra-extreme intensity typically have low Excitement ratings because the ride is so violent that it causes discomfort in its riders, who therefore enjoy the ride less.
A ride builder can use the G-force ratings given, along with the ride graphing window, to find and adjust specific sections of rides - adding or removing ride elements to adjust the G-force at that section and, therefore, the Intensity of a ride. Often, if a train is slowed down at certain trouble spots, G-forces can be reduced, and ride can be made less Intense and more Exciting, thus increasing the potential ridership for the ride.