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Is RMC-style “funkiness” always a good addition to a ride?

Matt N

CF Legend
Hi guys. RMC have arguably been one of the most influential manufacturers of the last decade, and they have carved out a rather distinctive layout building style that centres around (for lack of a better term) “funkiness” and weird, wacky element design that wouldn’t previously have been done. Increasingly, other manufacturers have begun emulating this layout style, and it feels like practically every ride these days tries to integrate this RMC-style “funkiness”. So I’d be keen to know; do you think that this is always a good addition to a ride, or can it sometimes be counter-intuitive and feel like it’s there for the sake of it? Is that tricksy, weird layout design always a valuable asset, or can it sometimes feel like the designers did it just because they could, and that a more traditional element would have worked better?

I ask this question because in recent times, where RMC-style layouts from both RMC and other manufacturers have grown far more commonplace, I have begun to hear criticism levelled at some rides’ inclusion of “funkiness” by some. For instance, I’ve heard reviews saying that Kondaa at Walibi Belgium “tries a bit too hard to be an RMC” and that the inclusion of more traditional elements in place of some of the wackier ones would have worked better, and I’ve also heard criticism levelled towards the upcoming Project Exodus at Thorpe Park for “being weird for the sake of it” by some.

Personally, I wouldn’t like to pass too much judgement on this topic, having not really ridden anything overly close to an RMC, but what I will say is that I’m personally in two minds about all this new wackiness floating about in modern day layout design. On the one hand, I do think the majority of newer layouts look fantastic, and a lot of these tricksy elements look really good, and like they really spice up their respective rides. On the other hand, however, it does make me a bit sad to see that certain fun elements of more traditional layout design seem to be dying out in favour of sole emphasis on wackiness. For instance, I personally feel that there are few more fun things on a coaster than a regular, straight airtime hill with some good, clean airtime, but it would appear that most modern manufacturers, and most enthusiasts, disagree, as straight airtime appears to be dying out in favour of stalls, outer banks and other elements that provide other weird forces. Using the Exodus example above; that ride only appears to have one straight airtime hill (the one into the brake run). 10 years ago, a hyper with only one straight airtime hill would have been borderline unfathomable, but it seems a lot more normal today.

But I’d be intrigued to know; do you think that the inclusion of RMC-style “funkiness” on a coaster is always a good thing? Or do you think it can sometimes be counterintuitive, and feel like it was thrown in for the sake of it?
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
I don't see the criticism of Kondaa, or how it's trying to emulate another manufacturers ride. In fact, the only 'weird' bits of it are the outerbanked airtime hill which Intamin seems to have mastered, even if RMC arguably got there first, and the non-inverting cobra roll for which Kondaa did get there first. I really don't see how it tries to be an RMC, it's very much a creation of Intamin, and whilst I've seen people bring up the ludicrously ejector-filled bunny hops at the end, they're nothing new!

Project Exodus is what happens when you have to squeeze a hyper into a tiny plot. A classic case of build something wacky because something normal wouldn't fit (ala Nemesis).
 

Hixee

Flojector
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I've said [something like] this for a while, about RMCs - it particularly relates to the snappier 'funky' elements - the bigger more drawn out ones are [generally] excellent.

Some samples:

Review of Storm Chaser, 2016: https://coasterforce.com/forums/threads/us-live-trip-reports.40097/#post-963538
Storm Chaser: Brilliant. I remember the original, ****, ride renderings that came out about this at first, and then the excitement as we got to see more and more of the layout. The coaster is fantastic. I can’t believe RMC have been able to do so much with a coaster of 100 ft. It’s just about the perfect length, and has buckets of airtime. Once the shrubbery has grown in around the coaster, it’s going to be even better. Only criticism I have? That awkward outwardly banked hill just before the first turnaround. It throws you out the seat in one direction, and the train takes off in the other, leaving your mid-back to bash into the seat rather violently. Now I’m all for RMC, their work is amazing, but that element would have been so much better with a straight hill. It’s not aggressive, I’m not being soft, it just doesn’t flow with the rest of the coaster – and it stands out like a sore thumb. Overall, Storm Chaser is one of the better RMCs, especially as it’s so small.

Cedar Point trip report, 2018: https://coasterforce.com/forums/thr...2018-day-18-summary.42892/page-3#post-1038570
UZIKlrk.jpg

This is my least favourite bit of the coaster, and the only bit I’d remove if I could. It just doesn’t flow at all. They should have done an Iron Rattler style ejector hill.

Discussing Untamed, 2019: https://coasterforce.com/forums/thr...in-hood-conversion.42289/page-38#post-1061998
On Storm Chaser the entrance to the turnaround features a quick snap in the wrong direction and, coupled with the ejector, is just a bit crap. It's unnecessary, and spoils that element.

About 1:02 in this POV:

I don't love the fast zero-g stalls either (like the one on Steel Vengeance as it comes back out from under the lift hill), but at least they aren't as bad.

Untamed doesn't have any of the former, and only that big first element gets close to the latter, so I'm very excited for this one!
The problem is that it doesn't flow. The train throws your body up and to the right, and just at peak airtime it twists quite sharply underneath you. Unless you're in the seat perfectly, the side of the train gets you right in the kidneys (if you're my height, anyway).

It particularly annoys me as it's so unnecessary. The ejector and dive into the turnaround would be amazing without it, but with it it really takes the edge off. The unnecessary twisting on [some] RMCs is a bit of a pet peeve, I have to admit.

Least Common Opinions, 2020: https://coasterforce.com/forums/threads/your-least-common-opinion.42098/page-31#post-1098152
I have, historically and still, been relatively critical of RMC (relative compared to some enthusiasts). I think there are several bits of several of their coasters that are complete turd (s-bend hill on Storm Chaser, mini-bunny hops on Untamed, cutback zero-g on SteVe, for example), I think their trains (restraints specifically) are a bit crap.

Discussing RMC inversions: https://coasterforce.com/forums/threads/rank-the-rmc-inversions.44489/#post-1098270
10. Steel Vengeance - zero-g cutback: Should've been another perfect zero-g. Hate the jerky change in momentum it causes. Don't wanna write any more about this. It's rubbish.

So yes, I do think they're a bit naff now and again. The Storm Chaser s-bend hill and Steel Vengeance's cutback are the two that stuck in my mind as standing out soooo much against otherwise nearly flawless coasters.

Not really contributed much to the discussion, but yes, I'm minded to agree in general. :p
 

redheadedRobin

Roller Poster
I think that if we check the history of rollercoasters we see a clear cycle of trends that change every few decades, like building the tallest coasters, then the ones with the most inversions, then focusing on giving the most airtime, etc. Same happens with coaster models, like SLCs, boomerangs, suspended coasters... It's a cycle of a company making a new element or style of coaster that is well received, then the others "copying" that until the market gets saturated and the public wants something different, and then start again. RMC introduced the "funky elements" trend, and others are introducing it in their own catalogue to fill the blanks left by RMC's models and stay competitive.

It's the circle of (coaster) lifeeeee 🎶
 

Rob Coasters

Mega Poster
@Hixee - That Storm Chaser one significantly reminded me of Icon's off axis hill near the end, which is hugely criticised by several British enthusiasts I know with them agreeing that it's "by far" the worst part of the ride.

They all say it would be so much better off as a straight hill.

My personal experience with it though? I thought it was pretty weird and unexpected, but since I've only ridden it once I'm not overly sure in what to think of it.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
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I've had a progression of thought on this. From @Hixee's early gripes about Storm Chaser's s-bend - it did beg the question of how one could find fault with what, at the time, felt like so much going right!

This started coming into full focus on my own personal journey in 2019, visiting Knott's Berry Farm for the first time since the GCI of Ghostrider:

To now go into the funky great territory of coastal credit I’ve already written that has been virtually 100% modified, I was really excited to hop aboard ghost rider. Let’s just say my first ride on this coaster was less than ideal: rough, clunky, a lot of meandering without much force. It was basically standard CCI affair with PTC trains. So, I was interested to see what is a unique move in today’s industry; not aren’t seeing, but doing a large re-track and millennium flyer application.
The Ride Exerience
I have been the first person to celebrate RMC success in the industry. They have been breathing absolute new life into roller coasters that would’ve otherwise, in my opinion, been torn down within five years. That being said, what ghostwriter and do you see I have been able to accomplish is simply astounding. This horribly rough roller coaster has been transformed into a fun and novel wooden coaster, thanks and very large part to the millennium flyer trains smoothness versus the older train design. So this really makes me now wonder if too many wooden coasters got the RMC axe before being given a second “wooden” coaster chance.

The ride itself was fantastic. GCI was very wise to not modify the layout too much, and rather focus on smoothness. Ghostrider has always had a fun layout, just held back by bad train design.
It was the notion of not RMCing an otherwise obvious choice that really began my thoughts on what RMC takes off the table, rather than puts on.

And since the writing of that trip report, we have continued to see RMC's "funkification" of airtime hills and elements become near-standard; VelociCoaster, Pantheon, Hyperion, etc. of blockbuster coasters that purposely emulate and build off of Schilke design. To your point @Matt N; building reserved coasters has become a near hipster move that could very well be the "next" big thing, departing from 10+ years of "oh wow, I didn't know airtime could be put into that element!"

Thought progressed even further when I was able to ride Iron Gwazi in April - which to be honest (and on a hot take) is too much RMC for me. Report from that trip:

But, we do have to talk about Iron Gwazi’s pacing. Ultimately, the layout is a story of two halves. The opening series of drops, overbanked turns, and inversions is truly masterful, among the best across the entire industry, and truly sets a massively driving pace. Yet from the wave turn exit onward (Oh hey! This turn feels like Steel Vengeance’s turnaround!), the layout noticeably shifts to a flurry of airtime hills and turns (granted, a stall dive too). Bear in mind, these are RMC hills and turns, which eat other coaster manufacturer’s designs for lunch – but there a noticeable shift in the pacing and delivery compared to the first half. Call it a frontloading of elements, but ultimately something that stood out to me compared to other RMC layouts that spread out course elements a bit more evenly across their layout.

I’ll hold the ultimately verdict on Iron Gwazi for later in the post but suffice it to say this is one of RMC’s greatest creations yet, and speaks to how they continue to maximize the retrofit opportunities afforded with big-footprint woodies.
  • Overall love how the station and space has been adapted to Iron Gwazi. The original placement of Gwazi, upfront and center in the park could not be any more opportune for Iron Gwazi!
  • Force wise, Iron Gwazi hits hard, maybe a bit too hard. I have marathoned RMCs with the best of them, and have to say Iron Gwazi took a heavier toll on my shins than others. Even left noticeable marks from the restraints! Not original-Skyrush-restraint levels of hurt, but definitely left me more tender than not.
  • Interesting the design really only tracks one side of Gwazi, versus Storm Chaser that used a more 50/50 split of Twisted Twin layout. Ultimately boils down to what worked best for the layout, but humorous that in it’s new life, one-ish side of Gwazi was sufficient for tracing a new coaster.

Iron Gwazi, if anything, feels like a further distilled essence of RMC; continuously refined until you end up with 120% ethyl alcohol. Too much of their element refinement was not for me - forces hitting super hard, quirkiness almost redundant and reduced to baseline expectation.

In present day, we do feel longly departed from the "holy ****, what was that!?" first experienced on RMC's first works in New Texas Giant, Iron Rattler, and Outlaw Run. Have they lost steam/become obsolete? Not at all. But does "quirkiness" feel overdone? I'm beginning to wonder.
 

Matt N

CF Legend
Some really interesting responses so far! I’ll admit I was slightly nervous to post this thread, as RMC get a huge level of fan worship, and the current layout design paradigm seems almost universally loved, so I’m interested to see that I’m not the only one who does wonder whether RMC-style wackiness is always a good thing.

Referring to the post that @Hyde wrote more specifically; can I just ask a question about the following sentence:
To your point @Matt N; building reserved coasters has become a near hipster move that could very well be the "next" big thing, departing from 10+ years of "oh wow, I didn't know airtime could be put into that element!"
If you don’t mind me asking; what do you mean by “reserved coasters”? Do you mean rides with more traditional layout designs, rides with lower g-forces than the likes of RMCs, or something else entirely? And what sort of current ride types would fall into the umbrella of “reserved coasters”?
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
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Some really interesting responses so far! I’ll admit I was slightly nervous to post this thread, as RMC get a huge level of fan worship, and the current layout design paradigm seems almost universally loved, so I’m interested to see that I’m not the only one who does wonder whether RMC-style wackiness is always a good thing.

Referring to the post that @Hyde wrote more specifically; can I just ask a question about the following sentence:

If you don’t mind me asking; what do you mean by “reserved coasters”? Do you mean rides with more traditional layout designs, rides with lower g-forces than the likes of RMCs, or something else entirely? And what sort of current ride types would fall into the umbrella of “reserved coasters”?
Essentially the first of what you said - traditional layout, or at least something that doesn't rely as much on outside banks, off-axis, etc.
 

Changa

Roller Poster
I haven't been able to ride an RMC yet, and Icon is the closest emulation I've gotten to their "wackiness". Though I thought I'd chime in with the most lukewarm take in the world and say it looks like an awesome ride style that is nearly universally praised. But like every other element type, it should be in moderation and kept to its own style of ride. Huge drawn-out elements have their place in the same way as whiplash-inducing multi-part element hybrids. But having two rides that do a bit of both is much more boring than one of each that makes the most of each style.

Thought I'm MORE than happy to let the trend carry on if it gets us a UK RMC.
Exodus seems to be an excellent first step to this!
 

Indy

Mega Poster
I would generally say yes, the "tricksy, weird layout design" is almost always an asset. However, that doesn't mean the execution is perfect. For instance, I 100% agree with what @Hixee said about Steel Vengeance's cutback and Storm Chaser's s-bend; both are a bit harsh and not executed particularly well. These are notable examples where they tried really hard to do something wild, which I respect, but the execution missed the mark a bit. I don't necessarily think they shouldn't have tried it, but I just wish it would have turned out a little better. For example, the cutback on Wicked Cyclone feels perfect. If I could transplant that in place of the cutback on Steel Vengeance, then I would.

I feel that Alan's approach to layout design was a much needed breath of fresh air. Until RMC rose to prominence, coaster design was on the verge of becoming a bit too predictable or conservative. I remember thinking that it was radical that Hades and Voyage had turns that banked ever so slightly outward! Ride Centerline/RMC made it acceptable to do really weird elements and inversions that might not have a notable name. They pretty much rewrote the centerlining game.

I get why people would say that a ride "tries too hard to be an RMC," but I don't really think any of these designers are actually trying to be like RMC. Many are certainly inspired by Ride Centerline's work, but are simply trying to develop layouts that they think would be wild. Vekoma is a good example; they have become much more funky, but it's pretty different from what RMC has put out there.

...But does "quirkiness" feel overdone? I'm beginning to wonder.
It is certainly becoming more normalized, isn't it? I'm here for it, but realize that it will eventually no longer be as special. Quirkiness could soon become status quo. Nevertheless, it is still pretty weird for the average park goer. Even a park as big as Kings Island doesn't have anything particularly quirky.
 

Hixee

Flojector
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Some really interesting responses so far! I’ll admit I was slightly nervous to post this thread, as RMC get a huge level of fan worship, and the current layout design paradigm seems almost universally loved, so I’m interested to see that I’m not the only one who does wonder whether RMC-style wackiness is always a good thing.
Like I said, mind, it's not just a blanket "wackiness isn't good". For RMC, I find the jerkiness of some of the smaller twists and hills just a bit gratuitous.

However, be under no illusion that RMC are responsible for a significant proportion of the best, most dynamic, forceful, creative and revolutionary coasters on the planet. One or two bad elements doesn't negate that. ;)
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
RMC have been constantly tweaking their formula with varying levels of wacky, going turbo with the ‘salt’ on occasion.

It’s partly due to its length but Steel Vengeance has so many airtime hills, which itself is very wacky, that from a certain critical perspective it could fairly be argued to be repetitive. I think I generally prefer the pacing and variety of the Iron Gwazi / Zadra layouts (although SV has other things going for it - it’s over the top nature itself, for example, gives it charm).

If RMC had better restraints, I don’t think the harsh airtime moments would be so gruelling. I’d even prefer OTSR to spread out the pinch points (Maverick / Lech style).
 
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Hyde

Matt SR
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It is certainly becoming more normalized, isn't it? I'm here for it, but realize that it will eventually no longer be as special. Quirkiness could soon become status quo. Nevertheless, it is still pretty weird for the average park goer. Even a park as big as Kings Island doesn't have anything particularly quirky.
Absolutely agree. Maybe saying "overdone" is the wrong word, but normalized. At the end of the day, we all win with what are overall better rides. While I do wonder about the multiverse where RMC doesn't exist, and GCI just did retreatment of all those Dinns and CCIs - I'd like to think we're in the better multiverse.
 

JoshC.

Strata Poster
I have a very limited experience with RMCs (Untamed and Jersey Devil), so my opinion is from a very narrow selection. And it's particularly weird as I rate both those rides very highly. And I reckon my opinion is very skewed.

But in those experiences, I haven't felt either of those have had this RMC "funkiness" that people talk about. They're just well designed rides which try hard to have these funky elements. With Untamed particularly, which I rode when it opened 3 years ago, everyone spoke of how RMC do things that no one else do with their coaster elements. I didn't get that feeling with Untamed - it was just a well executed ride which was converted from a woodie to a 'hybrid'. Nothing screamed out at me that "Intamin/Mack/Gerst would NEVER do this".

Now obviously that's based off one example, and Untamed is far from the wackiest one out there. But I feel like that feeling has been proven right almost in subsequent years, with Intamin especially branching out towards offering wackier elements. It just took some time (and maybe a kick up the butt).


As for the targeted question of the thread: is funkiness always a good addition? Well, as with anything, funkiness for the sake of funkiness probably won't add too much to a ride. Funkiness in a well-designed, thought out manner which adds and compliments a ride experience will be a great, memorable addition.
 
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