Recently I have mostly been playing an old favourite computer game called Transport Tycoon, a business strategy and construction simulation based around running a transport company. I played this game a lot when I was at university (and thus had the time to do so) and it’s immensely enjoyable. Up until last week I’d not played the game for many years since the original DOS version I had refused to run on Windows 2000 or Windows XP, and since I’ve been using one of those two operating systems for 7 years now I hadn’t kept up with its development.
So during my six days of doing jack shit last week I was delighted to find using the power of Google that not only is there a whole Transport Tycoon community out there, but that there are two open source projects that allow me to play the enhanced “Deluxe” version of the original Transport Tycoon, and there’s actually a successor game to it, written by the original author Chris Sawyer, called Locomotion.
TTDPatch takes the original game executables and patches them so that they will first of all work with Windows XP, but also corrects bugs left in the original game and adds many new useful features that should have really either been in the original release itself or that are just nice to have. It’s fast and it’s stable but it has a couple of shortcomings over OpenTTD, most notably its inability to support larger screen resolutions (although this is apparently under development) and the lack of some labour saving tools.
OpenTTD is apparently ground-up rewrite of the original game code that makes use of the original graphics and sounds, although Wikipedia claims that it was only made possible by a disassembly of the original game binaries, which brings its legality into question, since the original binaries were a closed source commercial product. That notwithstanding, it’s undergone much of the same improvements as TTDPatch, except it handles all screen resolutions and includes some very handy labour saving tools.
This would be my game of choice were it not for the fact that you can’t upgrade railway tracks to monorail and maglev tracks (when they become available) because, unlike TTDPatch, the upgrade tool does not upgrade the locomotives and the rolling stock at the same time. You have to do it manually, which involves parking each train, selling it, converting the depot, then recreating the train and all its orders, and when you’ve got 100 odd trains that is a very long, boring and tedious task which I am simply not willing to undertake. TTDPatch has a magic code that does it all for you, instantly, although it’s technically a cheat.
Nonetheless, both are sterling, admirable and above all successful efforts to bring a much loved game back to life. I shall be playing it for a long time to come, and because it’s an old game it runs perfectly fine on my laptop without slowing down or hammering the battery, so I can play it at home in front of the telly and it’ll be perfect for long flights and other bouts of boredom when I’m away from my desk.
And since Chris won’t let me have a real trainset, he’s perfectly happy to let me play with a virtual one until my heart’s content :)