Part 2, Theme Hospital: Analysis of Room Types in Games
Theme Hospital (1997, Bullfrog Productions)
Amusingly, released by the same company in the same year, comes Theme Hospital, a game that also has rooms, but they couldn’t be more different. In this game, you’re, well, running a (ridiculous) hospital. You’re given some buildings and capital, and have to solve the silly ailments of the community (while generating a healthy profit, of course).
You do this by building rooms in the buildings, hiring and training staff, researching, handling emergencies, keeping things in good repair, and trying to keep the puke, piss, garbage, and rats under control. (It’s quite fun, actually!)
Anyway, on to rooms. I happen to have this one installed, so it’ll be easier to show rather than tell.
Here’s how Theme Hospital looks when you start out:
Just a big empty building – no walls, nothing to dig out (or equivalent).
If you click on the leftmost blue button, you get a build dialog:
If you click Diagnosis, you get to pick the exact room type.
GP’s Office (short for General Practitioner) is one of the first rooms you need to build, and it’s conveniently pretty small. This is the first room patients will visit before going off to get a real diagnosis.
When you select GP’s Office, you switch into a sort of Room Placement Wizard. First step: pick the size of the room.
Next, place the door. There could only ever be one door per room, even for large rooms.
Then…place some windows. Why not. I usually spammed windows in every possible location.
Finally, rooms always had at least one required item, but at most 3 or so. You had to place these individually. You could also rotate them.
Besides the required items, you could also buy additional items by clicking the little cash register:
Which then you could see back on the object placement menu
At long last, you get a confirmation screen:
And finally, the finished product:
Amusingly, you could have an adjacent office, and…the windows would look right into the other office:
This was actually quite handy because otherwise the walls could mostly occlude room inhabitants.
Alright, to recap: that’s pretty insane. It takes three clicks just to start placing a room, and then this drops you into a five-stage Room Placement pipeline, most stages of which requiring multiple clicks. And then you had to do this for every room, but eventually you get pretty fast at it – creating 4×4 GP’s Offices gets pretty quick after the first five. If you ever wanted to resize a room, you had to revert the room back to stage 1. Moving a door? Revert back to stage 2. Thankfully moving items was pretty easy. On the bright side, room creation wasn’t something you had to do constantly, but you know, between one and three dozen times per level. Not nuthin’.