Getting Started With the Editor

Most of you will be thrilled to enjoy the built-in coasters over and over again, and never feel the need to create your own. Hey, that's great! Some, though, will instantly want to jump right in and create their own masterpiece. This page is for those of you who have those big things in mind. Give this tutorial a quick read, and you'll be off and running in no time. The best way to learn is to practice though, and five minutes tinkering with the buttons will do as much good as studying this tutorial :)

The editor presents you with a lot of information at once, but with a little knowledge and practice you can create any track you want.

A. The Main Menu

The main menu, on the upper left of your screen, works as you would expect most menus to.

  • NEW creates a blank track file.
  • LOAD will load any of the tracks in your "coasters" directory (including the ones that come with the program! Have fun!)
  • SAVE will obviously save the current file.
  • RIDE is a very useful button that allows you to preview your track as you edit it.

  • The name of the current file will show up in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. A moving indicator will appear next to the SAVE button to indicate if your working track is unsaved.

    The status bar, located along the bottom of the screen, will give you quick info on whatever button you wish to use.

    B. The Basics of Creation

    Before you get started editing, it's important to understand the basics of how Ultra Coaster actually creates the track. Ultra Coaster uses radically different construction techniques than all of the other roller coaster programs you may have tried. Instead of pre-determined track segments placed end-to-end, Ultra Coaster uses a free-form technique that allows your track to look and move like anything you can imagine.

    When you create tracks in the Ultra Coaster Editor, you simply tell the track where to go (with control points), and it will automatically form a track segment to get there. All of your controls are tied to your working point, which is basically just a selection tool. You can only change the details of one point at a time, but you can move your working point between all of the control points with the big green arrows on the bottom of the screen. Here's a quick exercise to try that will clearly illustrate this:

    Section D of this tutorial has more information on creation.

    C. The Camera, and View Modes

    Now that you have a basic idea of how your track gets made, let's have a look at the camera controls, in the lower-right hand side of the screen. Before you get seriously into creating your track, you need to know how you can watch it!

    Look at the three crosses in the center of the camera box.

  • When your camera is UNLINKED (not following your current selection), these will move it around the world: click and drag the mouse on each of the crosses to understand how they move the camera.....each cross will move the camera in two planes. Since 3D space has 3 planes, each cross uses a different combination to make it easier to move in the direction you want.
  • When your camera is LINKED, the only movement you have is far away the camera stays from the current point.
  • The circular arrow at the top of the box will spin your view around horizontally, and the circular arrow on the side will spin you vertically.

    3D vs. 2D views
    By now, you're probably wondering what the 3D button means. It's telling you that right now you're looking at the track in the same way that you'll be riding it.... full 3D. This is the best mode to create loops, detailed curves, and fine-tune everything. However, when you start to create larger or more precise tracks, you'll notice that it's very hard to tell (because of natural 3D perspective) exactly where all of your track is. This is where the 2D view comes in. Just toggle the 3D button, and the camera will fly overhead and give you the exact ground layout of your track. This is the easiest mode to begin creation. You can lay the floor plan of the whole track without worrying about height and rotations (other than on the red axis). A handy feature, which is only available in 2D mode, is the ability to directly drag the control points around with your mouse.

    D. More Basics of Track Creation

    As you learned in Section B, all of your controls are tied to your working point, and this working point is marked by three colored lines (called axes). You can only change the details of one point at a time, but you can move between all of the points in your track by using the big green arrows on the bottom of the screen. These axes let you easily tell what the controls in the EDIT BOX will do. Remember, as you are editing your working point, you're going to be affecting both the segment before and the segment after it.

    The Edit Box
    The movement and rotation controls in the EDIT BOX are the heart of the creation system. The colors on these axes match the ones displayed on your working point. The three color-coded axes at the top of the EDIT BOX are the movement controls; click and drag on any of these axes to move the control point accordingly. Clicking on the center of these axes will move along the blue and green ones at the same time. Similarly, the rotation arrows around the lower axes will spin the control point accordingly. You can hold the SHIFT key to get precise rotation control. At the bottom of the box is the extra rotation control for banking the track. Move it to bank the track side to side, or even invert it. Clicking directly on the picture of the track cross section will change the track colors.

    The important buttons that havenít been covered yet are:

  • NEW CPT - This will create a new control point right after your working point. If your working point is at the "front" end of the track, the new point will be put in front of it. Otherwise, your new point will be created exactly in the middle of the segment following your working point. In either case, your working point will move to the new one.
  • DELETE - Naturally, this will delete your working point. Unless it is at either end of the track, the control points before and after the working point will now be directly connected to each other.
  • UNDO - This will change your working point back to the way it was when it was last selected.

  • Auto Complete
    When you get both ends of the entire track near each other, they will automatically join to complete the track circuit. This completion segment will be shown as a wire frame, reminding you that it may disappear if you move the ends too far away again!

    Less is More
    As a rule of thumb, using fewer control points spaced farther apart will produce smoother and more consistent track segments.

    Track Kinks
    As the old saying goes, "with freedom comes responsibility." In the effort to give you the maximum amount of control over how your tracks look, weíve allowed you to move or rotate the points however you see fit. Occasionally, youíll try to make a track segment that just quite isnít possible in real life. When this happens, the track may kink or glitch. This is perfectly normal, and while youíre editing, just be aware that this is possible. If you see a kink, simply rotate or move the segment until it disappears. To accomplish faster or more extreme moves, try using more control points. The idea is, you want each track segment to make only one turn, or a quarter or half of a rotation. More turns or rotations require more control points in succession.

    E. The Different Track Types

    There are four different types of special track segments: the station, lift hill, LIM (linear induction motor) launcher, and brakes. You don't need to worry about placing these as you design the track framework (although you can put them in whenever you like). The beauty of free-form creation really shows up when you want to start putting these items into your coaster.

    Let's say you want to create a lift hill.... just follow these easy steps:

    This same basic procedure applies to any type, anywhere on the track! Just press the type button to cycle through all of the available types, and they will automatically conform to any track segment you want. You can have a launcher pointed straight down, for example, or brakes that slow the train around a turn. The possibilities are endless! The only restriction is that you can only have one station, but you can have an unlimited number of the other segments.

    F. Finishing your track

    After you've created your track, there are only a few things to make sure of. Does it form a complete circuit? Does it have a station? Those are the most important things, and Ultra Coaster will make sure both of those things are OK before letting you ride the track in the main mode (however, you can still ride while you're editing even if you don't have a station yet).

    The other major thing to worry about is, does the train make it all the way around? This is obviously quite important, and you can only be sure by riding the track yourself. While you're editing, ride the track often, so you can quickly tell where you might need to put lift hills, launchers, and brakes.