Do you remember back in the days of 1996/1997, fooling around with a Pentium 100 MMX and 32 MB RAM?
Among Cannon Fodder, Dune 2000, Duke 3D, there was Transport Tycoon (Deluxe), « a business simulation game, presented in an isometric view in 2D […], in which the player is in control of a transport company, and can compete against rival companies to make as much profit as possible by transporting passengers and various goods by road, rail, sea or by air » as described by Wikipedia.
At that time, networking-wise, I knew nothing but null-modem, which was a real nightmare of instability in conjonction with MS Windows 95. So I enjoyed 1vs1/human vs human once in a while, when it was working. Not to mention that’s the kind of game where it is way easier to fight the IA players, more or less allied -or at least not interfering- with the other human player. Obviously when you spend nearly 30 minutes to design a nice railroad junction, you will easily loose temper when the guy sitting 3 meters away is messing it up, making it unprofitable and whatever. It is definitely easier to mess with the IA players that are dumb enough so you can destroy at will their bus/trucks, with a tiny train depot placed near their truck depots/destination, a cheap train. The only issue I ever had with this game are planes: they are way too profitable (at mid-game) with almost no effort, so there is no point in continuing spending hours to lay tracks… but isn’t it the purpose of the game, to design complicated tracks design? What’s the fun in putting 2 bigs squares inside busy cities?
After TTD, several games more or less similar were published: Railroad Tycoon (focused on the trains – maybe sharing my opinion about the planes?), Railroad Tycoon 2, Railroad Tycoon 3, Railroads, Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion (this one being made by Chris Sawyer, author of TTD).
I’ve tried them all. Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion is a nicely improved version of TTD: better graphics, slight gameplay improvements. It would have been great if published in 1999/2000. But it was published late in 2004 and way too much user interface progress have been made since then – laying tracks still in the old TTD way was no longer an option.
The Railroad Tycoon (RT) serie, in regard of user interface and aesthetics, was clearly superior. Nice scenarii, great country music (this is not a joke), clearly you couldn’t wait to enjoy network play… But you should have. It was buggy, subject to plenty of loss of synchronization – meaning the networked computers lost touch of what each other was doing. And, that was a hit when I found out, it handled in the most stupid way these lost of sync: it was simply disregarding the issue, and, unaware, you were continuing to play, laying tracks, whatever, until you found out that you were no longer playing exactly the same game that the other player. You had layed tracks from the Seattle to Minneapolis, it was working good – but it existed only in your instance, it would not show up on the other player computer. And, at some point, you had a segfault from one or the other instance, probably because of a conflict between the two concurrent ongoing games. Depending on which computer you grabbed the savegame from, to restart where it crashed, you could see the gap between the two concurrent games… This bug was present in the whole RT serie. The game support was a joke, a few patches were published (few days after RT3 release – which says a lot about the extent of the test cycle that the publisher probably made before the release) but none really fixed it. And as it is proprietary software, there is no legal room for improvement.
So far, there is no TTD-like game that fit to modern user interface standards while allowing decent network play.
So, here comes OpenTTD. TTD was written 99% in assembler, some lads decided to reverse-engineer it and, tada!, they published the result under the GNU GPL 2.
Taken from their about page, significant enhancements from the original game include for example: bigger maps (up to 64 times in size), stable multiplayer mode for up to 255 players in 15 companies or as spectators, dedicated server mode and an in-game console for administration, new pathfinding algorithms that makes vehicles go where you want them to, autorail/-road build tool, improved terraforming canals, shiplifts, aqueduct larger, non-uniform stations and the ability to join them together, mammoth and multi-headed trains clone, autoreplace and autoupdate vehicles, possibility to build on slopes and coasts, advanced/conditional orders, share and copy orders, longer and higher bridges including new ones, full flexible tracks/roads under bridge , reworked airport system with many more airports/heliports (i.e. international and metropolitan), presignals, semaphores, path based signalling, support for TTDPatch newgrf features, drive-through road stops for articulated road vehicles and trams, multiple trees on one tile, bribe the town authority, […] convert rail tool (to e-rail, monorail, and maglev), drag&drop support for almost all tools (demolition, road/rail building/removing, stations, scenario editor…), sorting of most lists based on various criteria (vehicle, station, town, industries, etc.), autoscroll when the mouse is near the edge of the screen/window, cost estimation with the ‘shift’ key, etc.
In the interface, you can even fetch online new features, scenarii or whatever with BaNaNaS, a content service. And that is the point of this article 🙂
You can find there two scenarii I’ve made for OpenTTD: one is called France and is a map of France, the other one is called Jungle Urbaine (Paris) and is a map of Paris. In both these maps, industries are placed randomly.