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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #27: Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Those are some serious bridges.

I've always been a sucker for games that involve world-building and creative resource management. Isn't that just about the nerdiest sentence ever written? I wonder what the correlation is between playing games like that and earning masters' degrees in public administration later in life. No, no, that's the dorkiest sentence ever written. Anyway, one that stands out from fairly early on in the computer game era is 1995's Transport Tycoon Deluxe. This thing had it all, as far as I was concerned: strategic planning, fiscal administration, public-private partnerships, beneficent market forces, and the occasional railway fireball to liven things up. Plus an unexpectedly bitchin' score, believe it or not.

TTD, as adherents like me know it, established a verdant countryside dotted with scattered towns of various sizes and urban development. Some bustling cities, some cheery towns, some sleepy hamlets. Also randomly places about the landscape were natural resources such as oil, coal, iron ore, wood, or farms, along with the human efforts to capture and refine them, including factories, sawmills, and the like. Your job, as the new head of a transport company, was to connect these resources with their markets, using roads, rails, air, and sea. Build train stations and bus depots connecting population centers to move people, mail, and goods. With locomotives and trucks, get the raw wood to the lumber mill and then to the factory, eventually to the cities. There are a variety of limiting factors that increase the level of challenge, of course, the primary of which is budgetary. Money for investment is limited to the initial seed capital plus whatever the operation earns for revenue. The game also begins in 1930, providing modest technological resources that evolve as the game moves forward. Oh, and don't forget the fickle invisible hand of public demand - if you don't do a sufficient job serving the stations you build, you may find yourself locked out of a market by a disapproving local city council, or have your service contracts shifted to competitors. Freight forwarding is a cutthroat business, y'all.

My favorite aspect of this game was its self-directed growth algorithm. If you connect a little town to a larger settlement, and reliably provide transport between them, both will thrive. The game itself will spur happy towns to grow, building houses and businesses sprawling into the countryside. I usually rename towns after New Hampshire places, and then enjoy getting my logistics empire to a mature level where I can watch Newfields and Brentwood and Alton bustle and thrive. Sometimes, it's the simple things in life.

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