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Simulation Video Games

OpenTTD, part one: A history and the basics

I think I need another short break from my Pathfinder series and since this one has already been requested months ago, I have taken this as an opportunity to finally get it done – today we will be talking about Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Yes, you did not read that wrong.

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Transport Tycoon (TT)

Transport Tycoon cover art

Let us begin with a little history, starting with Transport Tycoon (TT) – a video game developed by Scottish games designer and programmer Chris Sawyer and published by MicroProse in 1994. It is a business simulation game, presented in an isometric view in 2D with graphics by Simon Foster.

Our job as the player is to take control of a transport company and compete against rival companies to make as much profit as possible by transporting passengers and various goods by road, rail, sea, and air. We can achieve these goals by constructing transport routes consisting of stations placed near industries or towns, and in the case of trains or road vehicles, near physical routes. One of these transport routes can utilise several different forms of transport, for example, truck → ship → train. Meanwhile, over the course of a game, cities will develop and expand according to various economic factors, and new industries or other resource sites may appear. On the other hand, some natural resources may eventually become exhausted, and industries without adequate transport services may shut down due to their resources going nowhere (they can’t operate as a business if that business does not function, can they?). Also, new models of vehicles are introduced as the years go by and eventually come to replace older models, however, at introduction such a new model will likely have improved characteristics such as speed and power, but may suffer from reliability issues.

Transport Tycoon Transport Tycoon

Transport Tycoon Deluxe (TTD)

Transport Tycoon Deluxe cover art

Moving along, Transport Tycoon Deluxe (TTD) is an expanded and improved version of the original game, produced shortly afterwards in 1995. The primary difference between the games is how signals operate. This is an extremely important change. The original Transport Tycoon allows only bi-directional signals which allow trains to pass in either direction, whilst the deluxe version introduces uni-directional signals that only allow a train to pass in a single direction. It might not seem like much, but this one small addition really changes game-play from the previous game. See, because the old bi-directional signals allow a train to travel in both directions, it means that it is possible for two trains to try to travel in opposing directions towards each other on the same track. This doesn’t result in crashes on a properly signalled route, but it requires either the building of extra cross-over tracks to allow the trains to pass each other, or the extremely inefficient and cost ineffective solution of building many tracks in parallel.

Now, because the new uni-directional signals allow one-way tracks to be built, much more efficient routes are possible and trains may be prevented from trying to travel the “wrong way” down a track. By incorporating both uni-directional and bi-directional signals, we are able to build effective switching yards, junctions, and other useful designs, which we will get to in detail later. It also makes it possible to build continental-length rail-road systems by incorporating one-way rails in both directions and the ability to merge other rails with the main one. This is a useful strategy for creating a successful company because the further the distance travelled by the goods being transported, the more that is usually paid upon delivery.

Although the signals are probably the most significant changer, there are others worth noting. The game period lasts from 1950 to 2050, for starters. Tropical, Arctic, and toy-town environments are added which have their own different industries and challenges. For example, towns in the Sub-Arctic environment cannot grow without regular deliveries of food, and those in the tropical environment also require access to fresh water.

However, due to trademark issues with using names of real vehicles in the original Transport Tycoon, the default names are replaced with fictional ones in Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Vehicles and stations can still be renamed however one desires, which can be useful for identifying individual services in a network, and towns have also become re-nameable.

Transport Tycoon Deluxe Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD)

OpenTTD

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD) is an open source fan-made game engine recreation that duplicates most of Transport Tycoon Deluxe’s features but also has many additions. As requested, it is the fan-made OpenTTD that I will be talking about today and, if you find it interesting, you can pick up a copy from the official website. Let’s start off with a list of main single-player game-play features that make OpenTTD the awesome game that it is.

OpenTTD Features

  • The ability to build on slopes and coasts, and the addition of longer and higher bridges with several new designs, plus fully flexible tracks/roads under bridges, makes cross-continental travel much easier.
  • The ability to clone vehicles means that we don’t have to create orders for individual vehicles every time we get a new one, thus preventing our hairs from going grey earlier than we’d like!
  • The auto-replace and auto-update vehicle features allow us to set conditions for replacing and updating vehicles so, if we have a huge number of them, we aren’t pulling our hair out by the 30th one.
  • New path-finding algorithms make vehicles go where we want them to! As long as we have proper control measures in place, anyway.
  • Advanced/conditional orders, as well as share and copy orders mean that we have more control over what our vehicles do.
  • Pre-signals, semaphores, and path based signalling, like the above two features, help control what our vehicles get up to which is great for efficiency. Don’t worry, I’ll get to explaining these soon!
  • Mammoth and multi-headed trains, and different configurable models for acceleration of vehicles give us more options and can potentially increase our efficiency if used correctly.
  • Larger, non-uniform stations and the ability to join them together means that we can start small and expand later when we have the necessary funds.

Alright, enough of random fancy nonsense that doesn’t make sense to anyone yet. What I’m going to do now is go through a basic outline of how to get started playing the game, how to continue from there, and then have a basic look at the different industries. These basics are all that’s really needed for someone to be able to start trying things out on their own and eventually becoming able to discover how to get to making something that looks like the screenshot below. However, in the next part, we will be looking at more advanced topics, so if the steps to take after reading this part are still a mystery, don’t worry! We’ll get through everything eventually.

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Getting started

OpenTTD: Main menu

Once we download, install, and run the game, we will be presented with the main menu, as shown to the right.

OpenTTD: World generation

Clicking the New Game button will bring us to the World Generation screen. You can leave these to their defaults for now and click on Generate, creating a new world and starting the game. However, if you’d like to change the options, here are some of them explained.

Climate

We get a few choices for what kind of map, or environment, we play in, and each one has different features that change game-play. A sample of what each one looks like, what they are based of, and some of their features are as follows in the same order as they are shown in the World Generation screen.

Temperate

OpenTTD: Temperate environment

The temperate environment dates back to the original Transport Tycoon and is based on the United Kingdom, as shown by the vehicles and the architecture. This is the most popular environment and is the best place to begin for someone just picking up the game since it features the highest variety of and fastest trains, and has one of the highest valued goods, coal, making it the easiest to make money in. Also, there are no requirements of food or water for any towns to grow and there are very few restrictions as to where industries can be located.

Sub-Arctic

OpenTTD: Sub-Arctic environment

The Sub-Arctic environment was added in Transport Tycoon Deluxe and is based in North America, most probably Canada, as shown in the style of the trains available and the fact that the town names are still British-based. Here, snow appears above a certain height line, which means that every building and tree above the line also appears covered in snow, and some graphics are different, but most of them are reused. There are new industry chains available, including food cargo which must be delivered to towns above the snowline to enable them to grow. However, there aren’t many choices in trains and there are no electric trains.

Tropical

OpenTTD: Tropical environment

The tropical environment was also introduced with Transport Tycoon Deluxe and is based in Latin America. There are lush rainforests and grass growing near water locations, and barren deserts with cacti where there is no water. Towns located in the desert require food and water to grow and there are quite a few restrictions as to where industries may be placed, most notably the Food Processing Plants and Agriculture which must be placed in grassland, Lumber Mills which must be surrounded by Rainforest, and Water Sources which can only be found in the desert. The choice of trains in this environment is the same as Sub-Arctic.

Toyland

OpenTTD: Toyland environment

Toyland is a completely fictional environment containing surreal graphics, emulating a child’s world. Candy and sweets represent buildings and trees, as well as toys replacing goods and trains. Every single graphic in Toyland is new, including roads and rail. The roads simulate a toy race track, while the railways have larger sleepers. All vehicles have silly sounds and faces drawn on them. There is very little choice of vehicles, with only basics provided with low horsepower. All factories and goods are replaced with surreal ones, such as a Toffee Quarry and Battery Farm.

The rest of the options are simple enough and are as follows.

  • Map size: This is how big that map is. The smallest size is 64 tiles while the biggest is 2048. For single player 512×512 will give you plenty of room.
  • Date: This is the starting date where your game starts. Default game starts at 1950.
  • Land generator: This is the way the land is generated. I suggest you leave it where it is if already on TerraGenesis.
  • Snowline height: Only available in the Sub-Arctic, this is how many tiles up before snow will stay there forever.
  • No. of towns: This is how many towns are on the map. It will depend on the size of the map. There is Very Low, Low, Normal, High, and Custom.
  • No. of industries: This is how many industries are on the map. It will also depend on the size of the map. There is User funded, Minimal, Very Low, Low, Normal, and High. User funded means you will have to fund all industries throughout the game.
  • Terrain type: This is how flat or hilly the terrain is.
  • Smoothness: A smooth map has large fields of even land and slopes are mostly straight lines. A rough map has more changes in height levels and curved slopes.
  • Random seed: This is the map the game plays on. Copy it and paste it if you want to play the same map over again or give to a friend. However the other options in this window also apply and modify the resulting map. In order to recreate the exact same map you must also set the other options to the values they had when creating the original map. Town names will still be different.
  • Sea level: A higher sea level will create a map with more sea and less land, and vice versa.
  • Tree algorithm: This is how the trees are aligned. Keep it where it is, or it wont look good, unless you don’t want any trees, which is Nonea.
  • Variety distribution: Gives the option of more variability across the map
  • Map edges: This is whether you want the map edges to be randomly generated or you manually generating them.
  • Northwest/northeast/southwest/southeast: Whether this edge of the map is water or freeform (water and land)

The OpenTTD interface

So once we’ve clicked on Generate and have been brought into the game world, the screen we now see is where all of our business conduct will happen for the entirety of the game. Start off by pausing the game, either by clicking on the pause button to the very left of the menu bar, or by pressing F1 on the keyboard.

OpenTTD: Game start

First, let’s quickly go over the menu bar. If we hover our mouse on a button for two seconds, a tool-tip will appear to explain what the button does. Some of the buttons have menus under them which can be accessed by holding down the left mouse button, moving the mouse down the menu, and then releasing it on the option we want.

OpenTTD: The toolbar

As you can see here, the menu bar is split up into a number of sections, and the function of each button in each section is as described below.

Game controls

  • OpenTTD: Pause button Pause button: Toggles game-play pause on/off.
  • OpenTTD: Fast Forward button Fast Forward button: Increases the speed of game-play.
  • OpenTTD: Options button Options button: Accesses the options menu: game options, difficulty settings, advanced settings, and graphics options.
  • OpenTTD: Save / Load button Save / Load button: Accesses the save-load menu: save game, load game, abandon game (return to the title screen), and quit (close OpenTTD altogether).

Map information

  • OpenTTD: Minimap button Minimap button: Access the world map, the extra viewport, and a list of all the signs on the map.
  • OpenTTD: Town directory Town directory: Access a list of towns and their population.
  • OpenTTD: Subsidies Subsidies: Access a list of subsidies that are being offered and have been awarded to the various companies.
  • OpenTTD: Station list Station list: Access a list of stations built by any player.

Company and industry information

  • OpenTTD: Finances screen button Finances screen button: Access the finances screen of any company.
  • OpenTTD: Company information button Company information button: Access the company information for any company, and have the possibility to share in competitor’s successes by buying shares in their companies.
  • OpenTTD: Graphs button Graphs button: Access various graphs about companies, their performance, and the economy.
  • OpenTTD: Company league table button Company league table button: Access the company league table showing the rankings of the various players.
  • OpenTTD: Industry button Industry button: Access a list of industries and their production, as well as prospecting or funding new industries.

Vehicle information

  • OpenTTD: Train Information Train Information: Access a list of the company’s or competitors’ trains.
  • OpenTTD: Road Vehicle Information Road Vehicle Information: Access a list of the company’s or competitors’ road vehicles.
  • OpenTTD: Ship information Ship information: Access a list of the company’s or competitors’ ships.
  • OpenTTD: Aircraft information Aircraft information: Access a list of the company’s or competitors’ aircraft.

Zoom

  • OpenTTD: Zoom in button Zoom in button: Zoom in. If the button is disabled, the maximum magnification level has been reached.
  • OpenTTD: Zoom out button Zoom out button: Zoom out. If the button is disabled, the maximum zoom out distance has been reached.

Construction

  • OpenTTD: Railroad build button Railroad build button: Access the build tool-bar for railways and stations.
  • OpenTTD: Road build button Road build button: Access the build tool-bar for roads and stations/loading bays. By clicking and holding the Railroad build button, a drop-down appears allowing us to select the rail type that we want to build.
  • OpenTTD: Dock build button Dock build button: Access the build window for docks and canals.
  • OpenTTD: Airport build button Airport build button: Access the build window for airports.
  • OpenTTD: Landscaping button Landscaping button: Access the landscaping tool-bar. The Landscaping button has a drop-down to access the tree and sign placement windows directly, instead of via the landscaping tool-bar.

Other

  • OpenTTD: Jukebox button Jukebox button: Change sound and music settings.
  • OpenTTD: News button News button: Change news and message settings, and access a history of news messages.
  • OpenTTD: Other button Other button: Things that do not fit into other sections: land area information, toggle console, AI debug, screenshot, giant screenshot, and about OpenTTD.

Setting up a train route

With that out of the way, let’s start with setting up a train route. We are doing thing because trains are probably the most interesting and rewarding type of transport in OpenTTD, making them the main focus of most OpenTTD players, including myself. For example, whilst setting up a road-based transportation system might be much more simple, trains are faster and have a higher capacity, despite being more expensive and requiring much more planning – and the planning is most of the fun! Also, if we get to a point where we feel comfortable with setting up a train network, we will be easily able to set up any other type with ease.

Now, there are several types of cargo and industry chains in OpenTTD, and the simplest and most profitable one involves transporting coal from Coal Mines to Power Stations, so we will start with one of these.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Locating your route

OpenTTD: Industry list

You can either scroll around the map until you find a Coal Mine (the building will look similar to the one shown above) and a Power Station in close proximity, or you can click on the Industry button to bring up a list of industries (as shown to the right). If you do the latter, you can sort the industries by Type to group them by their type of industry or by Production to sort them by their total amount produced in the last month. I would recommend sorting them by Production from highest to lowest and then manually clicking through the Coal Mines with a decent amount of production to find one near a Power Station. It doesn’t matter too much about how far apart the Coal Mine and Power Station are, but the further we transport cargo, the more income we generate, so we shouldn’t pick ones that are too close either.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Building train stations

Once we’ve found a Coal Mine that we like, we need to open the Railway Construction tool-bar and click on the Build railroad station button, making the station building window will appear. We can start off by setting the Number of tracks to one, and the Platform length to three (as shown above). Each square will fit two carriages, so by choosing a Platform length of three, we can fit a train that is one engine and five carriages long at the station. Also, we can turn on Coverage are highlight to see what can be serviced in the station area before we decide where to place it.

Now all we have to do is place a station next to the Coal Mine and a station next to the Power Station in an orientation that would make it easy to connect tracks between both (as shown in the above image). The stations must be placed on flat ground that is clear of obstacles, except trees. If you are having trouble finding ground flat and clear of obstacles, try the other orientation for the station, or a little further away from the coal mine: but not too far, otherwise you won’t be able to pick coal up!

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Connecting train stations

Now we need to build the tracks between the stations. To do this, all we have to do is click the Autorail button on the Railway Construction tool-bar, like shown in the above image, and drag in a straight line from one of the stations towards the other to lay down a track. We simply need to keep adding connecting sections until we reach the other station, but if we make a mistake along the way, we can use the demolish tool to remove parts of the track and get a small refund.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Adding a train

Once that’s done, we need to buy some trains, but first, we need to build a train depot. We just need to click the Build train depot button on the Railway Construction tool-bar, and a new window will open giving us a choice of orientations. Choose an orientation and place the depot so that the front entrance is facing onto some track, as shown in the image above. Connecting rails will automatically be added so that trains can enter and leave the depot, but if for some reason they fail to be placed correctly, we can just click the Autorail button again and place the tracks ourselves.

Now, if we click on the depot, the Train Depot window will appear, showing that there are currently no trains present. Click on the New Vehicles button at the bottom of the depot window, and the New Rail Vehicles window will appear with a list of all the vehicles currently available. Click on a engine from the top of the list – there should be a Kirby Paul Tank (Steam), a Chaney ‘Jubilee’ (Steam), and a Ginzu ‘A4’ (Steam) if we’re on the temperate map in the 1950s. For now, have a quick look at their main stats – Weight, Speed, Power, and Max. Reliability. To make things simple in our first game, we can pick an engine based on their Max. Reliability. Once we’ve made a decision on which one is best, click on Buy Vehicle and a Train window will open with Train 1 as the title. Now, we need to scroll down in the New Rail Vehicles window and buy five Coal Trucks as well. These will automatically attach to the engine we just bought and our train is now complete!

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Giving orders

All that’s left to do for this most basic guide is to give Train1 some orders and send it on its way. Firstly, we need to click on the Orders button in the Train window, then click on Go To, and then click on the station next to the Coal Mine. Next, we need to click on Go To again and then click on the station next to the Power Station. Once we’ve done that, the orders list should show “1: Go to station [far end]”, “2: Go to station [far end]”, and “–End of Orders–“.

Now, to make sure that the train stays at the station by the Coal Mine until it is completely full, we need to click on the name of the Coal Mine station in the orders list, and then click the Full load any cargo button. It should now say “1: Go to station (Full load any cargo) [far end]” instead, like shown above. Finally, to get the train going, we just need to click the Stopped button at the bottom of the Train window and then we can watch as it travels from station to station making us money for a while.

Expanding the train route

Now that we have built our first railway, we are to expand it with one more train and one more platform.

Adding platforms and doubling the track

If the output of the coal mine is decently high, we really should add an extra train. Aside from increasing efficiency, always having a train ready to load will also increase our station rating which will lead to more of the industry’s output being delivered to our station. We will get into more detail about station ratings in the next part, but for now, let’s go ahead and start building some more platforms on our current stations. To make our station wider, we simply need to build another station, like before, next to the existing one, with no spaces in between, and they will automatically join. Now, we need to build some track to connect the new platform to the existing track, but we should leave at least one piece of straight track in front of each platform as we’ll be placing signals here later. Also, make sure both platforms can be reached from the depot and, if the length of the track between the two stations is pretty long, place another depot near the other station. See the example shown before the next step below if you’re not sure what this might look like.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Adding signals

In order for the new tracks and stations to work with more trains, we need to add signals, so we start by clicking the Build Railway Signals button from the railway construction tool-bar, and opening the Signal Selection tool-bar. There are six different types of signals in two different styles – semaphores across the top and electric signals along the bottom. However, basic path signals of the electric style, the fifth ones from the left in the bottom row, are the easiest to use and distinguish. What these ones do is allow a train to pass through from both sides, but the trains will only obey the signal if the train can see the light from the front. Also, they will consider the route a train wants to take when a train approaches them and reserve its route to the next signal. A second train will be allowed on the same track section as long as its route or path, hence path signals, does not cross the reservation of other trains on that same track section. If the train needs to cross a reserved path, it will wait at the signal until it can make its own reservation, meaning that we should only place signals where we want a train to be able to wait, so it’s good to have a space of at least our train length between signals. These basic path signals are enough to fulfil our needs, so we’re going to pick these.

There are two ways to lay them down, manually clicking each spot along the track or by clicking and dragging. The latter will spread the signals apart by the number that is written in the Build Railway Signals tool-bar at the bottom right, making this a much easier task. So we can go ahead and place these basic path signals along the track, like shown in the image above. We should start our signals somewhere at the exit/entrance of the station, especially if we eventually want to make it a through station rather than a terminus station in the future.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Adding another train

We’re almost done. All we have left to do is add another train just like the first one. However, there is a much more simple way to create a train that has the same engine and carriages as the first. We can do this by clicking on the depot to open the Depot window as normal, then clicking on the Clone Train button and then clicking on the first train, regardless of where it is on the map. An identical copy of the first train, including orders, will be placed in the depot and now we only have to start it by either clicking on the Stopped button in the Train window or the little red x in the Depot window. Alternatively, if we hold down the control button on the keyboard while clicking on the first train to clone it, the orders of both trains will be shared, meaning that when we change the orders of one of the two trains, the orders of the other train will be changed automatically as well. This can be extremely useful when we begin making much larger and more complicated networks.

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

OpenTTD: Setting up a train route

Now it’s time to let this set-up run for a while and see how it goes. Because we chose to deal with coal, we should be making a decent amount of money without counting the cost of construction, purchase of new vehicles, or the interest from any loans we may have. Having a look at the Finances window to the right, we can see exactly how much this amount of money that these few tracks are generating for us is for the most recent years (1951 and 1952), including the current one (1953).

An option regarding what to do from here on would be to create a couple more really simple set-ups like this, which are called point-to-point connections, in order to have some more money coming in before we start work on a more complex system. Alternatively, we can just move on to creating a basic network.

Creating a basic network

Ok, so I said one of the ways we could continue in this game would be to create some more of these point-to-point connections. But how would we go about creating ones which connect to the Power Station train station we’ve been using already? How can we can reuse existing tracks and station platforms? These questions bring us to the second part of this basic guide – creating a basic network.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Now, we won’t be building the most efficient network on the planet, but it will function and we should be rolling in cash by the end of it. To show how these methods are applicable across all maps, I’m going to start a new game on the map shown to the right. It uses the same settings as the last map, but we will be dealing with a different distribution of industries, towns, and landscapes.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Covering the basics

As shown in the image above, we have gone and created a basic point-to-point connection between a Coal Mine and a Power Station like we did earlier. It has two trains on it like before, but we have used up a lot more money than last time because we got rid of the small river (which you might be able to see in the initial screenshot) and levelled out the terrain more. A full £300,000 loan had to be taken to accomplish this, but it’s not a big deal since it won’t be too long before we have it paid back in full.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Now, as shown in the image above, we have added two more platforms to my Power Station station, and used those in creating another point-to-point connection which has two trains on it like the first. This isn’t the most cost effective option, but we will be adding more trains on this southern side soon, so it’s good to be prepared. However, so far we haven’t done anything different to what we’ve already done.

Connecting yet another station

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

A little further to the south there is another Coal Mine, as shown in the image to the right, and the perfect opportunity for us to experiment with connecting a new station to some already existing tracks. As a bonus, it even had a really good amount of production last month – 216 tonnes of coal to be more precise. I’m seeing pound signs all over this one!

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

We start this the same way as any other point-to-point connection – get the station down first, build some tracks, add a depot, and then throw in some signals, like shown in the image above. It might be worth noting that I am keeping consistent with which side the signals go on – the side that allows travel to the Power Station station are on the right, whilst the returning side is on the left. This is important because it will allow us to join our tracks much more easily.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

The next step is something we haven’t done before. As shown in the image above, the new tracks have been connected to the existing tracks and the conclusion of the bend. In order for this to work, the signals have to be placed so that a train cannot get stuck in the intersection itself for no reason. We can achieve this by simply making sure that the distance between the signals is at least the length of the trains that will be using the track. Also, as mentioned earlier, the side which goes to the Power Station and the side which returns are consistent with the existing tracks – the right side is still the Power Station side, and the left side is still the returning side.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Zooming out, we can see the results of our efforts in the image above. All we have to do is build a train or two like we have before and send them off to work.

This time, however, the distance between this new Coal Mine and the Power Station is a lot larger than that between the Power Station and the initial two Coal Mines. Because of this, we should be earning more from this new set of trains than from the earlier ones, assuming no other factors are coming into effect. If we were to let this run for a couple of minutes, we should see that it won’t take long at all to save up enough money to start building some much bigger networks. However, there are some other things we need to deal with first.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Tunnels and bridges

After looking at the overall shot, you might have noticed that the train tracks seem to go through a Forest at one point. This is because there were two feasible options when dealing with this obstacle – going around the Forest, or going under it, and we opted for the latter. This was easily done by going to the Landscaping tool-bar and selecting the Lower corner of a land button, which is the first button in the bar. Then, by clicking on the four points, as highlighted with grey circles in the above image, the land is lowered in those areas clicked. Once that’s done, using the Railway Construction tool-bar, we can select the Build railway tunnel button and click on one of the slopes we created to build a tunnel between the two points.

On the other hand, there might be a case where a bridge is a better option than a tunnel, such as when crossing bodies of water or large valleys. In order to build a bridge instead, all we have to do is select the Build railway bridge button and then click and drag from the point at which we want the bridge to start to the point at which we want the bridge to end.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Making room for even more trains

With the amount of coal coming out of the new Coal Mine and the distance between it and the Power Station, it became evident that we could afford to add a third train. This would mean that the two platforms at the Power Station are now receiving five trains. So, like shown in the above image, we added another two platforms to make sure that there’s never a train waiting. This isn’t actually necessary and we could feasibly get by without the extra platforms due to the distance between the Coal Mine train stations and the Power Station station making it highly unlikely that there would be more than two trains arriving at any one point in time. However, there’s another reason for doing this, and we’ll get to that now.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Easing the load: Feeders

We’ve gone and added some more platforms and tracks to our first Coal Mine station and added a third train. But why are we doing all of this? Well, there’s actually another Coal Mine to the north-east, but because of the distance, we would probably want to put three trains on this one as well and the entry/exit tracks to the Power Station station would start to become a bit crowded at times with out current set-up. So we’re taking this opportunity to see what a feeder is and how it works.

A feeder is a vehicle that picks up cargo, transports it part of the way to the destination, to another station where the cargo gets dropped off and picked up by another vehicle to be taken the rest of the way. Feeders can be useful in several situations. For example, since large stations and airports can’t be placed in the population centre of most towns because there isn’t enough room for them and the town most likely wouldn’t allow it. The solution here would be to build the large station or port on the edge of the town and build a feeder, or feeders, between the town centre and the station. Another reason for using a feeder might be if there are two industries near each other whose cargo we want to send the same way, but the two aren’t close enough to build one station that covers both of them. It would be a waste to send two whole sets of trains along the tracks, so a feeder could be used instead to make one station a main station and the other one a simple station that merely sends its cargo to the main station.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

In order to set this feeder system up, the Coal Mine station was connected to the first Coal Mine station in the same manner as we’ve been doing so far. However, the trains going from the new Coal Mine station to our first Coal Mine station have different orders as a result: “1: Go to station (Full load any cargo) [far end]”, “2: Go to station (Unload and leave empty) [far end]”, and “–End Orders–“. The Unload all button allows us to get the “Unload and leave empty” status at the second station. Once we set this up, we can just watch it for a while to see how it works.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Now, click on the above image to open a larger version in a new window. This is the very basic network that has been created. Although this is still very simple in comparison to the other kinds of networks that we are capable of creating in OpenTTD, it functions well enough to provide us with a very nice amount of income to fund future projects, as we will be able to see when we check our finances.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

The Finances window to the right shows the company’s finances for the year that the feeder was built (1958), a whole year after following that of running without any construction or new vehicle costs (1959), and the start of the next year (1960). We’re now making quite a nice amount of money and we can start making some more complex tracks in the future, once we get through some more details about how OpenTTD works. Let’s move on to some more basics.

Industries

Ok, so we’ve been helping out various industries in the OpenTTD world for a while now, but we haven’t addressed an important question yet – what are the industries and how do they work? As we have seen in brief already, industries are entities that produce specific cargo and/or services. There are actually three types of industries in OpenTTD: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary industries, such as Coal or Iron Ore Mines, provide resources without requiring any type of resource input, and these resources then need to be transported to a secondary industry. The growth of the output of primary industries actually depends upon the percentage of cargo transported away from them to these secondary industries, making our job extremely important for growth – the more we transport, the faster the primary industry grows in the long term on average. Meanwhile, sometimes secondary industries will provide a resource that will either need to be transported to Towns, such as goods or food, or to a tertiary industry. However, remember that our company only transports cargo on behalf of the manufacturers, and any profits we make are purely from the transportation fees we charge, not from the sale of the cargo – this is a game about transportation, after all.

OpenTTD: A coal mine

Now, we have already seen what the Industry window for an individual industry looks like, such as the Coal Mine shown to the right, but I haven’t explain exactly what it’s showing and why yet. This window shows two numbers about the production of each cargo type that is created by the industry – these are the total values from the last month of game-play. The first one is the total produced amount of potential cargo, and it varies due to internal factors of the industry. For example, during an economic recession there’s only half of the usual production. Meanwhile, the second value is the percentage of the produced amount that has been delivered to other stations. Sometimes industries may decide to keep back part of the production and not deliver it to any station, but we don’t need to worry about that for now.

Below are tables for each of the various environments and the industries which can be found in each along with what they accept, if anything, and what they produce, if anything.

Temperate

Industry Accepts Produces
Bank Valuables Valuables
Coal Mine Nothing Coal
Factory Livestock, Grain, Steel Goods
Farm Nothing Grain, Livestock
Forest Nothing Wood
Iron Ore Mine Nothing Iron Ore
Oil Refinery Oil Goods
Oil Rig Passengers Oil, Passengers
Oil Wells Nothing Oil
Power Station Coal Nothing
Sawmill Wood Goods
Steel Mill Iron Ore Steel

Sub-Arctic

Industry Accepts Produces
Bank Gold Nothing
Coal Mine Nothing Coal
Food Processing Plant Livestock, Wheat Food
Farm Nothing Wheat, Livestock
Forest Nothing Wood
Paper Mill Wood Paper
Oil Refinery Oil Goods
Printing Works Paper Goods
Oil Wells Nothing Oil
Power Station Coal Nothing
Gold Mine Nothing Gold

Tropical

Industry Accepts Produces
Bank Diamonds Nothing
Diamond Mine Nothing Diamonds
Factory Rubber, Copper Ore, Wood Goods
Farm Nothing Maize
Lumber Mill Nothing Wood
Copper Ore Mine Nothing Copper Ore
Oil Refinery Oil Goods
Oil Rig Passengers Oil, Passengers
Food Processing Plant Fruit, Maize Food
Fruit Plantation Nothing Fruit
Rubber Plantation Nothing Rubber
Water Supply Nothing Water
Water Tower Water Nothing

Toyland

Industry Accepts Produces
Candyfloss Forest Nothing Candyfloss
Sweet Factory Sugar, Toffee, Candyfloss Sweets
Battery Farm Nothing Batteries
Cola Wells Nothing Cola
Toy Shop Toys Nothing
Toy Factory Plastic, Batteries Toys
Plastic Fountains Nothing Plastic
Fizzy Drink Factory Cola, Bubbles Fizzy Drinks
Bubble Generator Nothing Bubbles
Toffee Quarry Nothing Toffee
Sugar Mine Nothing Sugar

Examples

However, the tables can be a little daunting, can’t they? So for an example of how the various connections may work, below is a list of the industries in a temperate map which either provide or will receive cargo, or even both. A ‘→’ or ‘↔’ shows the direction which the cargo in parenthesis ‘()’. To put things simply, the industries that are underlined represent a pick-up point, whilst the industries that are in bold represent a drop-off point where we would get paid for our delivery of the aforementioned cargo. Often there are industries which can serve both of these purposes and those are marked with both.

  • Coal Mine (coal) → Power station
  • Iron Ore Mine (iron ore) → Steel Mill (steel) → Factory (goods) → Town
  • Farm (grain, livestock) → Factory (goods) → Town
  • Forest (wood) → Sawmill (goods) → Town
  • Oil Well & Oil Rig (oil) → Oil Refinery (goods) → Town
  • Town (passengers) ↔ Oil Rig (passengers)
  • Town (passengers, mail) → Town
  • Bank (valuables) → Bank

What does all of this mean, exactly? Well, to put it into the most simple terms, we pick up some iron ore at the Iron Ore Mine and take it to the Steel Mill. We are paid on delivery of the iron ore and then, when the Steel Mill processes the iron ore into steel, we can pick up the steel. We can then deliver the steel to a Factory and get paid for that delivery. When the steel becomes goods at the Factory, we can then pick the goods up and deliver them to a Town and get paid for that delivery as well. This means that we get paid three times along the aforementioned journey, but if we try this out in a real game, we will notice that how much we get paid is not the same for each trip. The amount we get paid is based on a number of different factors, including the cargo payment rate, amount of cargo, transit distance, and time factor, which we will cover in the next part.

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe

So this is where the relatively easy stuff ends, as next time we are going to get into detail with exactly how this game works so it will be easier to appreciate its depth. Prepare for some intense OpenTTD study!

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