PC gaming veteran, returning to creating Rollercoasters & Civilizations
March 26, 2013 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I used to play a lot of PC games, but in the past 10 years moved towards console gaming. I realise I've missed a whole era of games that only really work with a mouse and keyboard. My absolute favourites were creative, engaging, long play games, such as Rollercoaster Tycoon and Civilization. I never really played to win. I played for creative ends. The best times I had playing Rollercoaster Tycoon was in sandbox mode the only limits being my imagination. Those were the days. What (PC) games offer the equivalent of this now?

I know that if I was a 15 year old today I would be a Minecraft obsessive. It sings to me. But I don't have the patience to wander about dropping blocks into place, one by one. I want the old Rollercoaster Tycoon rush, the open-world creativity, and a dip-in-every-so-often sensibility.

What should I play?

(P.S. I already have Civilization V)
posted by 0bvious to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, if you're looking for a Rollercoaster Tycoon fix, you can find pretty much all of them on Good Old Games for about $4 each.

I'd also recommend browsing their managerial section. Theme Hospital is really fun.
posted by fight or flight at 5:48 AM on March 26, 2013

If you're interested in signing on with a game that's till early in its development process, you might try Prison Architect.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:51 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I recently started playing CitiesXL. I loved both SimCity and Rollercoaster Tycoon.
posted by inertia at 5:55 AM on March 26, 2013

Dwarf Fortress, if you have the imagination to make up for the missing graphics and masochism to learn the user interface. An article.
posted by themel at 5:58 AM on March 26, 2013

I really like Cities in Motion. You're tasked with designing just the transportation network for various cities in different time periods.


Project Godus, Castle Story, and War for the Overworld are all kickstarter projects you also might be interested in.
posted by teabag at 6:06 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a slightly different recommendation, but if you liked Civilization, you might like Crusader Kings 2. It's very much a sandbox game - there is no way to "win" and the only way to lose is if your dynasty dies out before the game ends in 1433 (I think that is the right year).
posted by nolnacs at 6:19 AM on March 26, 2013

SimCity 4 (not the new one). Garry's Mod. Universe Sandbox. If you don't like Civ 5, Civ 4 is quite a bit different.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 7:34 AM on March 26, 2013

Crusader Kings 2 is the kind of strategy game that could only ever work on PC - it's very sandboxy with no win conditions, you just lead your dynasty through generation after generation over about 400 years of medieval european history.

It produces incredible stories:

"There are big players, like kings, the Pope and his antis, and the occasional emperor, but mostly there are courtiers, waiting to be plucked from relative obscurity, landed with position and maybe even some land, and then cut back down to size when they start bulging out of their boots. There are children to marry off for political gain and there are children to quietly dispense with because do you really want your entire dynasty to be in the hands of Reginald whose jousting ineptitude has left him with a few splinters of lance in the amygdala and a severe case of being an absolute moron?

No you don’t because he’d need someone else to do the job of running your disintegrating duchy for him and the brains behind his brains are likely to be your spymaster, who has been a little too chummy with that cousin you never liked who has a claim on your most fertile parts, all based on an ill-advised, lust-fuelled marriage that your grandfather made forty years ago. Best, then, to make sure Reginald dies before you do or you’ll have to change the laws of succession and that’s going to piss off a whole other group of people, weaken your stability and bring the walls crashing down around your ears.

posted by Ted Maul at 8:41 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Tropico series are a fun bunch of city-builders -- more like small-town builders really -- with a twisted sense of humor thrown in.
posted by penguinicity at 8:56 AM on March 26, 2013

The new SimCity is, actually, pretty cool.

Just ignore those first three weeks after its launch.

Nope, they didn't even happen!
posted by kuanes at 9:13 AM on March 26, 2013

I came here to say the Tropico series as well. If you cheat to get unlimited amounts of money it's a (literal, in this case) sandbox game. I used to be obsessed with Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (I want to play it so bad on my Mac, because I hate Rollercoaster Tycoon 3) and this feels similar if you gear your island towards tourism.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 9:36 AM on March 26, 2013

Response by poster: A lot of great suggestions here. Thanks. I'm not taken by any on first appearance though, I must admit. 3D games and "slow, casual creative pondering" don't go together for me.

I've tried RCT3 and the 3D design feels clunky and aesthetically displeasing. Maybe I'll try RCT2, I never played that one, though I was obsessed with the first game in the late 90s. Seriously obsessed.

Maybe things have moved on. But I do need a new game. Argh
posted by 0bvious at 10:26 AM on March 26, 2013

You don't actually need to place blocks one at a time in Minecraft. You can move mountains using World Edit brushes and the Single Player Commands mod.
posted by xyzzy at 10:36 AM on March 26, 2013

I never played the first one, but I had a weird hankering to play RCT2, which was quite good, the other day.

I also got the weird urge to play the Caesar games. Weird.
posted by sibboleth at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2013

Definitely recommending RCT2. It is insanely, addictively fun. The third one was just terrible but I've been playing RCT2 for a few months now, off and on.
posted by BrianJ at 12:15 PM on March 26, 2013

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