Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Railroad Tycoon is a computer strategy game. There are three versions; the original Railroad Tycoon (1990), Railroad Tycoon II (1998), and Railroad Tycoon 3 (2003). Railroad Tycoon was originally written by game designer Sid Meier and published by Microprose and was the first of the "Tycoon" games such as RollerCoaster Tycoon.
The objective of the game is to build and manage a railroad company, including laying track, building stations, and buying and scheduling trains. The game models supply and demand of goods and passengers as well as a miniature stock market on which players can buy and sell stock of their own or competing companies.
The player, as the manager of the business, must lay track, build stations, purchase and schedule trains, and, if the player wishes, handle individual train movement and build additional industries. The game also has other railroads attempting to put the player out of business by stock dealings as well as by "Rate Wars" between railroads.
The player is given one million dollars (half equity, half loan) at the beginning of the game. The player can get more cash by selling 500,000 dollar bonds at various interest rates (depending on the current economic condition in the game). In the West-US version, a million-dollar bonus awaits the first railroad to link the west coast with land east of the Mississippi.
There are four different types of stations: Signal Tower, Depot, Station, and Terminal. Apart from the Signal Tower, which acts as a passing loop and may control movements, each of these stations services the surrounding area, with the depot serving its own square and the adjoining eight squares, the station takes another ring as well, and the terminal handles up to three squares away from the center. A player is limited to building 32 stations. When the player builds the first station they also build their first engine shop. Each engine shop is the manufacturing area for the player's different trains. The player can upgrade and downgrade depots, stations, and terminals. Other facilities such as cool stores and hotels may be added.
Once the player builds a station they can build their first train (of the 32 permitted) at any engine shop. The player then can add cars to the train and send it on its way. The player can at any time change the "consist", which is the list of cars the train is to pick up at the various stations along the way. These include pure mail and passenger cars and specialized freight cars for each of the other nine types of commodity produced in the game.
The player can continue to build the track network and build stations until the player runs out of funds. The game runs for a century, with accounting periods 2 years long. Stations built or rebuilt in a particular accounting period pay the player double freight rates for everything they purchase in that period. It can be worthwhile rebuiding busy ones every 2 years.
Mail earns most if delivered really fast. Other cargoes also pay better for faster delivery, but at the "bulk" end of the scale there is little advantage (and the Manual incorrectly says there is none), and it is usually better to hold a train at a source station until several bulk cars are full before setting off.
Speed of trains is a factor to be considered when laying track. If track goes straight over a mountain instead of round on the plains or through an expensive tunnel, the resulting slowness of trains may prove that the shortcut was false economy. Similar considerations apply to ferries, which are expensive and slow-running but may in some cases be economic if they greatly shorten a distance.
Not every station buys everything offered to it. Some good producers buy nothing. There are two alternatives the player can choose between: Simple Economy (where, for example, a station serving two or more cities will buy anything) and Complex Economy (where "two cities" will buy mail, passengers, and a couple of other products; "four villages" will buy passengers and different freight products; only a station with a steel mill will buy coal; and other products have other buyer types). There are product variations over the four geographical scenarios.
Railroad Tycoon II
An expansion pack, Railroad Tycoon II: Second Century, was later added which contained new scenarios that focused on modern and near-future times. The game and its expansion were repackaged together in the Gold Edition and then, with additional user-made scenarios, the Platinum Edition.
Railroad Tycoon 3
The second sequel, Railroad Tycoon 3, was released in 2003 featuring a full 3D environment, allowing for overpasses and tunnels (tunnels were present in the original but lost in RRT2), and much improved graphics over its predecessors. Gameplay changed significantly, with dynamic pricing of goods across the entire map and cargo that can find alternate means of transportation if no train service is provided. A powerful map editor was also included which allows the creation of fully detailed maps, with a massive range of possible events and victory conditions.
A free expansion pack, Coast to Coast, was released in 2004 containing new scenarios and trains.
- PopTop Software, developers of Railroad Tycoon II and Railroad Tycoon 3
- Gathering of Developers, publishers of Railroad Tycoon II and Railroad Tycoon 3
- Railroad Tycoon 3 Official Site
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