10 Steps To Making An RCT Ride Snapshot


One of the great features in RCT is the ability to save your own track designs so you can use them again and again in as many parks as you like. On the internet, fan sites offer 'Ride Exchanges' where you can upload your creations for others to download, and of course you can download creations by other people.

There are literally thousands of tracks out there to download. On one of the biggest Ride Exchanges at RCTUK, there are around three and a half thousand different tracks. Now with RCT2 imminent, and the official site re-launched with promises of re-opening their Ride Exchange, there are bound to be thousands more.

So if like me you love downloading other peoples' tracks and have built up a large collection, the problem is remembering what they all look like!

Ride Build MenuShuttle Loop TP4Like this example on the left, the game's ride build menus tell you their names, but as a wise man once said, 'A picture paints a thousand words'. And on the same ride build menus every time you select a ride name, that little camera button lights up to tell you that there is a snapshot of the ride to take look at. It does light up doesn't it? Lit camera. And when you click it, you get to see a little snapshot like this one on the right don't you?

Well, no, most of the time the button doesn't light up at all. Most of the time it looks like this Unlit camera because there isn't a snapshot available. And the reason for this is that the file format of the snapshot is completely none-standard, and there isn't a graphics program on the planet that can make files in this format.

Wrong again! There are 2 programs in fact. RCT PiNGer by me, rcthelp, and MakeTP4 by Patrick Campbell. But both suffer with the same flaw. They both use the RCT screenshot files that you can make and sure, they let you choose a snapshot sized rectangle anywhere on the screenshot and create a file with the correct format for RCT to use. But the problem is that RCT insists that the snapshot sized rectangle is always 254 pixels wide and 200 pixels high, and not many rides taken from a screenshot will fit into that sized rectangle. And neither RCT PiNGer or MakeTP4 lets you resize the screenshot to make the whole ride fit in the snapshot sized rectangle.

So the purpose of this article is to tell you how can solve this problem, and in 10 steps make RCT Ride snapshots that always contain the whole of the ride. All the software used is available free of charge from the internet, and links are provided for places where you can download it.

Before we go any further, I'll make an assumption. You have created your ride design or downloaded a track from a Ride Exchange somewhere, and the track design is in your RCT Tracks folder.

Here's the steps

  1. Use a completely flat workbench park in the game and use the game ride build menus to place your ride in the centre of the flatland. RCT2.com doesn't have any flatland parks for download (yet), you can find one for your version of RCT (original, RCT+AA/CF or RCT+LL) all over the net. I'd recommend RCT Station because I'm a staff member there! Check out their flatlands at this link. Note that for some workbenches, you need to patch RCT with the Drexler patch available from this link.
  2. Just to complicate things even further, the game might tell you that it "Can't construct this here" when you try to place the ride on the flat. That's because originally the ride either tunnelled or was built on the side of a hill, and by placing it on flat land, it is going to be too high for the track supports. In this case, you're going to have to rebuild the track piece by piece, adjusting the flatland terrain to make the track fit. Sounds complicated? Well just download RCT Track Decoder by Greg Wolking from this link, and that will give you a piece by piece description of your track to help you rebuild it. It's a useful program to have for helping get tracks into flatlands and taking snapshots, but it is even better for building any ride you like in any park you like! [If all of this sounds way too complicated, just use the ride in the park where you created it. To get the best screenshot to make a snapshot, do a save and then delete all scenery theming, paths and other rides around the one you want to 'snapshot'.]
  3. So the flatland doesn't have any scenery or paths right? And notice how the snapshots that come with the game have a black background? Want to do the same thing? Just press the <H> then the <V> key on your keyboard. [Note: This only works if you have the Loopy Landscapes add-on, and isn't actually necessary, it just gives the same effect as the game snapshots.]
  4. Get the ride so that it appears in the centre of the screen, and from the floppy disk icon on the game menu icon select Screen Shot. You might like to do this a few times using the different zooms in the game or the different full-screen resolutions. But whenever you do, make sure that the whole ride is in the screenshot. Each time you do a screenshot, make a note of the file name that RCT displays. It will be SCR<xyz>.PCX (where <xyz> is some number or other) and it has been put in the same folder as where your RCT is installed. That's it, you're done with RCT now, you can close it down and get some of that valuable memory and system resources back. You might need them!
  5. Start up the completely free, Image editing program IrfanView. It's one of the most downloaded image programs on the net, it's a small download, and you can get it at this link.Once you've downloaded it, installed and started it up, load the SCR<xyx>.PCX file of your choice.
  6. With the mouse, click and drag a rectangle shape so that it is just wide enough and just tall enough to surround the picture of your ride. Here's an example.

    IrfanView screenshot minimal rectangle around ride

    Click on the image for a bigger view. . You can find out the size of the rectangle in the title bar of IrfanView like this. How Irfanview shows you the rectangle size Now you need to slightly change the size of the rectangle so that it is one of these dimensions.

    Width Height   Width Height   Width Height
    254 200   508 400   762 600
    267 210   521 410   775 610
    279 220   533 420   787 620
    292 230   546 430   800 630
    305 240   559 440   813 640
    318 250   572 450   826 650
    330 260   584 460   838 660
    343 270   597 470   851 670
    356 280   610 480   864 680
    368 290   622 490   876 690
    381 300   635 500   889 700
    394 310   648 510   902 710
    406 320   660 520   914 720
    419 330   673 530   927 730
    432 340   686 540   940 740
    445 350   699 550   953 750
    457 360   711 560   965 760
    470 370   724 570   978 770
    483 380   737 580   991 780
    495 390   749 590   1003 790
    508 400   762 600   1016 800

    You can change the dimensions by moving the mouse over one of the rectangle borders until a EW cursor or NS cursor cursor appears, then clicking and dragging.
    This is an example of where the rectangle has been sized to fit one of the dimensions. Care has been taken to make sure that the ride still stays within the centre.

    IrfanView screenshot proportioned rectangle around ride

    When you have it the correct size, select Edit Crop Selection from the IrfanView menu.

    IrfanView Edit Crop Selection

  7. What we have now is an image that contains the whole ride, and in the correct proportions. However, it is still not the correct size of 254 wide and 200 high. So in IrfanView select Image Resize/Resample.

    IrfanView Image Resize/Resample

    You need to change the contents of the dialog box that appears to look like this.

    IrfanView Image Resize/Resample Dialog

    It's REALLY important to select resize here, and NOT resample. Resample gives you a much better image in IrfanView, but it won't display properly in RCT. It's all to do with the way RCT uses palettes and far beyond the scope of this article. It is also the reason why you must use the screenshots produced by the game, and not by any other screen capture utility that you might have, as your starting point.
  8. Save the image as a PCX file and close down IrfanView.
  9. Now start up either MakeTP4 or RCT PiNGer and use it in the usual way to create a TP4 snapshot file. You can download RCT PiNGer from this link and MakeTP4 from this link. (RCT PiNGer is a much larger download, but it does contain extra functions for creating various image formats of different sizes. Bearing in mind that you have just downloaded IrfanView, despite the fact that I wrote RCT PiNGer, I'd recommend that you use MakeTP4. Save the snapshot in your RCT Tracks folder. It MUST have the same name (before the TP4 bit) as the track file.
  10. Shut down MakeTP4 or RCT PiNGer. That's it you have done it!

To test this out, start up RCT again. As long as you just did everything right, you'll have an little illuminated camera icon the next time you decide to build your ride. What is more, at some of the Ride Exchanges out there, you will be able to include the snapshot with your ride when you submit it, so less and less people will need to go through these 10 steps!

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