Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD)

I stumbled across OpenTTD a couple of days back and the game is wonderful. This is an open source success story with a large active community of developers and players that have re-imagined and expanded upon Chris Sawyers 1995 classic game.

Coming straight from the flash and polish of Max Payne 3 (of which more in a later post)  it was quite  refreshing to see a game that solidly votes for substance over style. This world building game has huge complexity with many many layers that I haven't begun to understand yet. For example: I am trying to grow a town in the desert. Turns out I need water and food, which makes sense. Water comes from a nearby water plant so I build a road and send some trucks for it. Food comes from a food processing plant but that in turn needs maize and fruit. These are too far apart to reliably transport by road so I need to build a network of railways to ferry all this stuff about. To speed things up I want to run multiple trains on the tracks but that needs signalling to prevent crashes. All of this has to be paid for so I need to look for some lucrative transport route ...and so it continues.

Lest you be put off by my substance over style comment I should point out that the graphics, sound and music are  great and must have been produced by accomplished artists.Custom graphics  (including a recent 32 bit update) are also available thanks to the creative game community.

I have never played a Transport Tycoon game before so I am learning as I go along. I still haven't really figured out what the whole objective is. From what I have seen so far it could be one of a number of things:

1. To make profits from you transport company.  Although this seems like an obvious objective for a business game it also seems to be a boring objective. Even though I have barely scratched the surface I have already noticed that some things are a lot more profitable than others but if you only do the very profitable stuff your game will be very limited.

2. To survive till 2050. I read somewhere that you win the game if you keep playing to 2050. Are there disasters and challenges which make this difficult or it simply a question of patience? I don't know.

3. As a competitive game. There is a multi-player mode. I assume that players build competing transport companies. Perhaps there are bot competitors in single player mode. I haven't seen any yet but this would certainly increase the challenge of the game.

4. As a sandbox building game. Look at pictures of the game showing thriving cities and busy transport networks. I want to build a world like that.

5. All of the above or something else entirely. Possible I may still be missing the entire point of the game.

If you are interested you can get the game here: http://www.openttd.org/en/
I recommend the 32 bit graphics set zBase. You can now download this from the start menu of the game by pressing "Check On-line Content" and searching for zBase.

By the way when looking for info about OpenTTD I discovered yet another free transport simulation game called Simutrans which seems to have its own strong following.

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