docky I don’t really know anything about how RCT3 compares to others, but I get a general idea that a perception of ‘decline’ in a sim game/series is often linked to QoL fixes that in fact reduce crunchiness. Something like going from per-attraction ticket prices to a global slider (not saying that happened, but things along those lines). I think the core vocal audience often gets little additional joy from usability increasing, since the hassle is where there can be oddball solutions and time for thought. I feel like games (broadly) started to focus more on minimizing UI clunk around that time, and as such some of the friction that was in fact desired was lost.
I’m really just speaking from my the top of my head so I have no idea if the premise I’m presenting reflects reality.
(I guess it’s true for me at least - when I think of what I’ve enjoyed recently in Dwarf Fortress it’s been instances where I became aware of some snafu after the fact rather than getting a notification that a giant bear aggro’d the traders the moment it happens. Something about the game feeling uncentered from the player.)