County Hospital Download PC Game
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Theme Hospital is a business simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions and published by Electronic Arts in 1997 for MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows compatible PCs in which players design and operate a privately owned hospital with the goal of curing patients of fictitious comical ailments. The game is the thematic successor to Theme Park, also produced by Bullfrog, and the second instalment in their Theme series, and part of their Designer Series. The game is noted for its humour, and contains numerous references to pop culture.
Peter Molyneux and James Leach came up with the idea of creating a Theme game based on a hospital, but Molyneux was not directly involved in development due to his work on Dungeon Keeper. Designers originally planned to include four distinct gameplay modes corresponding to historical time periods, but this was dropped due to time pressures on the team. Multiplayer support with up to four players was added in a patch. The game received a generally positive reception, with reviewers praising the graphics and humour in particular. Theme Hospital was a commercial success, selling over 4 million copies worldwide, and was ported to the PlayStation in 1998. A Sega Saturn version was in development, but cancelled. The game was re-released on GOG.com in 2012 and Origin in 2015, and the PlayStation version was released on the PlayStation Network in Europe in 2008, Japan in 2009, and North America in 2010. Revival attempts have been made with the development of open-source remakes such as CorsixTH.
A patch was released that fixed bugs and added support for Serial Cable, Modem, and IPX/SPX network gaming (with up to four players) in the Windows version, and a difficulty setting. In multiplayer, each player has a colour, which patients will wear to distinguish from those of other players. "Litter Bombs" are featured, allowing players to spread litter around other players' hospitals, while staff members can be persuaded to work for other players, and there are "Mini Missions", with instructions for players to perform. Players are also able to chat with each other during a game.
Theme Hospital took over two years to develop. The idea came from Peter Molyneux and journalist James Leach, who explored the possibility of other Theme games while discussing Theme Park. Leach suggested a hospital, and Molyneux was enthusiastic about the idea. Development began when the designer Mark Webley selected Theme Hospital from a list of possible games put together by Molyneux, and Webley, along with the artist Gary Carr, visited the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Frimley Park Hospital for research and inspiration. Carr was initially displeased at the prospect of working on Theme Hospital: he had previously left Bullfrog to work for The Bitmap Brothers because he did not have faith in Theme Park. He chose to return based on his belief that he would work on Dungeon Keeper, which he was eager to do. Initially, Theme Hospital was to feature real diseases, but these were replaced with fictional, comedic afflictions as it was decided that the game's maladies should not be too realistic: the team were faced with the dilemma of having to make the hospital fun and interesting, as Webley stated that theme parks are "colourful" compared to hospitals, and Carr believed that hospital rooms looked very similar and that it was hard to tell what each machine does.
It was during a hospital visit (after witnessing an operation that they were ordered out of because they were distracting the surgeon) that they came up with the idea of using made-up illnesses and cures: Carr considered death "quite sad" and believed that illness was not a popular subject. He stated that using made-up illnesses gave them "creative freedom", which he believed was essential. Webley said that Carr was concerned that using real diseases might be considered distasteful. Accordin