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. A high-quality Roller Coaster will usually have an Intensity rating below 10, as anything above 10 will hurt a ride's Excitement rating and thus hurt its popularity.
Intensity represents the physical factors that guests experience during a ride. This sense of danger is what gives thrill-seekers the rush of adrenaline needed to enjoy rides. However, it is a fine line that must not be crossed, as coasters that are too dangerous are simply too dangerous. 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 to calculate three metrics: Positive Vertical Gs, Negative Vertical Gs, and Lateral Gs.
Lateral G-forces are the most important factor, and having too high Lateral Gs can singlehandedly make a Roller Coaster unpopular. The default resting rate of a stationary coaster is 0 Lateral Gs, and this cannot go below 0. As a train goes around a curve, the rider is forced in the opposite direction, and thus a "sideways" force of gravity is felt. On the Graphs screen of a ride, "positive" Lateral Gs represent a force to right, while "negative" Lateral Gs represent a force to the left. In a ride's stats, the absolute value of the highest Lateral G is displayed. The threshold for extreme Lateral Gs is between ~2.70 and 3.00, depending on the particular type of coaster. If a maximum Lateral G is too high, this number will be displayed in red and the Intensity rating will skyrocket. Banked curves can help alleviate this by diffusing much of the G-force, so banks should always be utilized when a train is moving fast. Also, using a curve with a larger radius can be more beneficial than using a curve with a small radius. Try to use the type of curve that is most appropriate for the speed of the train at any given moment.
Vertical Gs play a smaller role in determining a coaster's Intensity, but are important nonetheless. The default resting rate of a stationary coaster is a Vertical G-force of +1 (the normal rate of Earth's gravity). As a train moves upward, Vertical Gs increase, and as it moves downward, Vertical Gs decrease. At 0 Vertical Gs, a sense of weightlessness is achieved, hence the term "zero-gravity." A Vertical G-force of -1 means that a force is acting opposite to the usual direction of gravity. In other words, the rider is pulled up, not down. The total amount of time a coaster spends at or below 0 Vertical Gs is called 'air' time and is displayed on a ride's benchmark test. Vertical Gs can also reach extreme levels which can be detrimental to Excitement ratings, however these thresholds are much higher, being upwards of +5.00 Vertical Gs and -2.00 Vertical Gs, and are typically only achieved by building deliberately intense coasters.
The number of drops and inversions a coaster has will also impact Intensity. There is no definite amount that will put a coaster over the edge, but each element contributes to the total Intensity rating. If a ride's Intensity is too high but the G-forces seem to be at acceptable levels, it is likely that the ride has too many drops or inversions.
Intensity is related in some way to ride length. The maximum ride time that guests will tolerate is around 4 minutes. After that, they will want to get off the ride, and this is reflected in the Intensity. Avoid building tracks that are too lengthy, or make efforts to get the trains back to the station quicker with higher speeds and shorter/faster lift hills.
Some coasters have inherently higher intensities than others even if the ride design is completely the same. This is presumably due to the difference in the design and limitations of the various tracks and trains. Certain coasters are better equipped to handle sharp curves and inversions. Generally, "traditional" coasters such as the Wooden Roller Coaster are best utilized with high drops and long straightaways with lots of speed, while more advanced coasters such as the Giga Coaster have cars designed to blaze around corners with high G-force. 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 popularity for the ride.