Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 13, 2013
My Railway HD

This weekend I've been quite busy playing My Railway HD on my iPad. I'm just a sucker for railway games, and it's been many years since the last decent Sid Meier railway game on the PC. Unfortunately My Railway HD is one of these Free2Play "social" games which constantly pester you to spend money on them or invite your friends. I did spend 20 bucks, which is about what the game was worth to me, but now I'm playing without real money boost. I'll see if it will still be fun in the long term like that, or whether I'll get bored as quickly as I got addicted to the game. :)

The game has a map of an alternative central Europe in victorian times, with cities like Goodabest, Humbug, or Lion. You can connect these cities with each other, or with various factories producing goods. Then you need to decide which goods to produce, and your economy gets rolling. For a "casual" game My Railway HD requires a lot of input. If you don't play, your storehouses quickly become full or your production contracts run out. On the plus side there is no "energy" or anything else limiting how much you can click on everything to keep things rolling.

My Railway isn't quite the game I would have liked it to be. You can only build rails over pre-defined tracks, and there are no chains of goods where you transport raw materials somewhere else for refining.The game also tries to get you to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then mercilessly spams those. I ended up having to delete half a dozen tweets and revoking access for the app. But apart from playing Sid Meier's Railroads from back in 2006, I don't really have a good alternative to scratch that railway urge.

In case you are playing this as well, via the friends tab on the menu and then pressing three buttons all marked invite or invites, you can enter somebody's "bonus code" to invite him to be your neighbor. My bonus code is n0i-8q3.

You may want to give Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe a try. Completely re-written from the ground up using Chris Sawyers Transport Tycoon Deluxe as a base, it is still an incredibly fun game, even though it was originally released in 1994.

Many, many upgrades have been made to OTTD which has added quite a bit of complexity (such as signalling) though that is all completely optional to use.

It does have road, air and sea transport as well, but the vast majority of players prefer to play entirely with rail.

Unfortunately, due to the Apple App store apparently rejecting GPL projects, it is not currently available on the app store, but as a desktop program, it is wonderful.
And just as with city building games, Railroad Tycoon 2 still works fine as well..

I find I'm quickly turning into a retro gamer now. No games I play today, or even own, are under a year old now.

I tried, last weekend, to buy something new for the XBox. What did they have available in the games store nearby? Halo 4, a Mass Effect collection, the latest CoD, Forza Horizons and XCOM. Anything, and I mean anything else, was for Kinect... In essence then, 5 games. I have never seen it this bad :(
There is also EEP, a German railroad simulation.
Apparently only a version from 2008 is available in both English or French while the rest is in German.
I don't know the series myself but they seem to lack the tycoon part.

Other simulators I've found, no idea how good they are though:
I'm more interesting in a let's say "economic" railway game, building an economy by transporting goods by rails you construct. I know there are some rail simulators where you just drive a train, which I personally am less interested in.
With some additions, OTTD can be turned into a much more 'economic' game. Some examples:

Infrastructure Maintenance which does exactly what it says. The more you lay, the more you pay, forcing you to build a streamlined, economical network

ECS Vectors which greatly expands the industries available and introduces complex chains of raw materials, refining and production. The full pack expands the game to around 50 industries but that is incredibly hard to juggle. Thankfully its broken into 7 separate 'vectors' that focus on a specific base industry (eg timber, agriculture, chemicals)

Cargo Destinations: The base game lets you transport cargo to and from any compatible town/industry. Cargo Destinations does exactly what it says by giving the cargo specific destinations.

The amount of additions via the NewGRF system (which is all accessible and downloadable from an in game menu) can turn the base OTTD game into something as simple or as complex as you like. All you have to do is completely ignore the ability to build road, air and sea transport and focus exclusively on rail.

You can even get Belgian town names and the game has native support for using Belgian Francs or the Euro for your currency.

Check out the wiki as well for a full list of new features added to the game in OTTD. If you only read 1 thing from the Wiki, make it be Signals. (And Waypoints)

Seriously, despite the game being nearly 20 years old, with all the work that continues to go into it, it is a fantastic game.
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