RogerBW's Blog

Introducing Simutrans 15 December 2014

Every so often I get an enthusiasm for something, go hard at it for a bit, then drop it again. I'm on my third go round with Simutrans.

It's an open-source transport simulator, loosely modelled on Transport Tycoon. (The competitor is OpenTTD. Many people have strong preferences for one or the other.)

Graphics are boring old isometric 2½D. Sounds… well, I'm told it has sounds. Those aren't really what I care about in a game. One's building a network of roads, railways, air routes, etc., to transport passengers and freight from one place to another. Obviously this helps to satisfy the model railway urge (which is probably part of why I started playing with computers in the first place).

It's also the sort of game that I can play for far too long. There's no obvious break between one turn and the next to remind you of the passage of time, and there's no absolute victory condition (you can always carry on running and improving your transport network).

And maybe I obsess over it just a little bit. Keeps me off the streets, innit?

There are two modes of play. In the main one, one's trying to make a profit while paying for infrastructure and running costs. With the freeplay switch, money is irrelevant, and one's baroque imagination has no limit.

Oh, I don't just mean things like stacking three tracks on top of each other to get through a narrow canyon without having to rearrange the scenery…

Nor even the construction of huge stations to serve tiny towns (if you build it, they will come; more importantly, grab the land when the town is still small and you can easily run track right into the centre)…

It's more things like a huge station in the middle of nowhere, with a remarkably small footprint. (This was a proof of concept. If rather than linking directly from town to town you run a separate line from the central station to each town, can you still make a profit on the travel? It appears so. I should have called it Crewe.)

Or it's a comprehensively over-engineered underground railway system. (Which can also make a profit eventually, though you have to be careful not to go bankrupt while you're building it.)

The game has a variety of "paksets", collections of graphics and vehicle stats. The one I've used in these examples is "pak128.Britain", a medium-resolution set with a broadly British theme.

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