Transport Tycoon / OpenTTD
Transport Tycoon is like the Street Fighter 2 of the tycoon game subgenre. Developed by Chris Sawyer, the game was a success. It got an expanded re-release called Transport Tycoon Deluxe (TTD) and, more importantly, a fan-made open source remake called OpenTTD.
Transport Tycoon followed the tracks left by Railroad Tycoon but it allowed to manage not just trains but also airports/airplanes, docs/ships and bus&trucks/stations. The TTD remake (OTTD) is still developed today by the open source community and is still played after 25 years of the vanilla game release.
Please note that the game is not truly “freeware”, but OpenTTD is free + opensource, it includes its own graphic set and there is no legal way to obtain the original versions. It’s fair to consider it free if not abandoned. If you enjoy the game, please request for inclusion of TTD in gog.
This subgenre is not so widely known but there is a good amount of games related to it.
Tycoon games are simulation games where the focus is set on managing a company to get as much benefit and size as you can, as is expected on any business. As it happens on real world, the business is usually specialized on a theme like transportation, hospitals, theme parks, etc.
This subgenre would not include games like Sim City. Sim City was focused on the city grow simulation (not in the business side) as the income is indirect and unrelated to the objective. The objective is to support the automated city grow, not to grow your company.
In tyccon games the simulation is focused on building a business empire, a big company. The income is direct even if you’re providing services and, like in TTD, you benefit the city infrastructure, population or industrial grow as a side effect.
- Easy to play, hard to master. The concepts are simple. Once you get the basics (build stuff, give orders to vehicles), it’s easy to play and keep going if you just throw stations and lines. But making efficient and complex transportation lines (train lines with signals in TTD and also pre-signals in OTTD) is another story.
- Good variety of things to do. Other Tycoon games are usually limited to one thing, but in TT you can build trains to get into serious stuff, airplanes to relax and get easy money, bus/trucks for fun or sea ships because it’s just cool.
- Sandbox-like. The game gives absolute freedom and there is no game end objective (other than a date). Just a random map, a loan and the tools to build the business from scratch.
- It’s possible to play competitive against AI. In vanilla I had fun playing to just disrupt AI track plans (in fact, if you succeed, they undo tracks and retry) and causing havoc to their road vehicles.
- TTD (and OTTD) have 3 additional map types and it’s more than a cosmetic change: there are other challenges.
- OTTD is moddable: it’s possible to change both graphics and music, even to add new vehicles and AI.
- OTTD allows fine tunning of all settings.
- In OpenTTD, it’s also possible to play cooperative (various players managing same company).
I’ll mention few points that, by the way, are too subjective (and conditional) to consider them real flaws as to “damage” the rating for this game (which I consider flawless).
- There are some issues with the UI as it isn’t totally intuitive.
- AI had some issues in vanilla.
- The lack of objective may discourage further playing.
- TTD and OTTD removed the “real world vehicle names” because of copyright and both need a patch to restore them.
- In a normal game, once the money starts flowing, which is likely to be very soon (depending on max loan, sooner), you’re “done”: it’s impossible to bankrupt. In other Tycoon games you can still mess things but not here. It’s not so bad because anyways this game is played to grow big, long time.
- TTD map types has got less vehicles than the regular grassland map for no reason.
- The toyland map graphics are awful.
Why to play OpenTTD/TTD?
First, considering than OpenTTD is a very improved remake of TTD (and TTD was just a expanded version of Transport Tycoon), there is no reason to go back the old games. Still, there are many fans that didn’t get used to OpenTTD improvements/changes for some reason and they prefer the original Transport Tycoon Deluxe, so feel free to try both.
The reason to play it is just the fun/satisfaction factor you can get from stuff-building simulation games. It’s very likely that you’ll enjoy this game too if you enjoyed:
- Other tycoon games like Theme Park or Railroad Tycoon.
- City building simulators like Sim City.
- Sandbox games like Minecraft.
The complexity of OpenTTD could be overwhelming at first but don’t let it down you and learn to play it.
How to acquire
You can, and should, download OpenTTD from here. You don’t need the original game unless you want to use the vanilla/TTD graphics. The opensource remake includes new fan-made graphics.
Version / Platform
I’m reviewing mostly focused on the OpenTTD version but the screenshots are OpenTTD game with the original TTD graphic set. Choose that as it has the feel of the classic game with all the huge improvements added in OpenTTD.
I already mentioned there is a vanilla game and, as far as I know, an expansion called Worlds Creator (which I never got into). Transport Tycoon Deluxe, released later, was the expanded and definitive game version.
Long time later, OpenTTD came to scene and, for me, it’s the main version of the game today.
I’m unsure what happened with the copyright holders of Transport Tycoon, but until they do something, there won’t other future for the franchise, no other than OpenTTD. Still, OpenTTD is an awesome remake which can net you lots of hours of entertainment.
Games like Transport Tycoon
I already mentioned various games but I must say that there are tens of games.
Other tycoon games related to transportation business:
- Railroad Tycoon.
- Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion.
- Simutrans (open source).
- Sid Meier’s Railroads.
- Airport Tycoon.
- Airline Tycoon.
- Transport Fever.
Other tycoon games (non transportation):
- Theme Park.
- DinoPark Tycoon.
- Roller Coaster Tycoon saga.
- Theme Hospital.
- Zoo Tycoon.
- Game Tycoon.
- Pizza Tycoon.
- Mall Tycoon.
Other sandbox simulation games.
- Sim Earth
- Sim Ant
Other simulation games:
- Sim City (and it’s multiple sequels/ports)
- Cities in Motion
Transport Tycoon is a very nice tycoon simulation game which aged ok and it’s fun to play even today.