After creating the original Railroad Tycoon title, Sid Meier concentrated on other games while now shut down developer Poptop Software continues the rail sim-strategy series with two other titles. Now Meier and his Firaxis team have returned to the genre with the simply titled Sid Meier's Railroads and FiringSquad got some more info on the new game from its lead producer Dan Magaha.
FiringSquad: First, why did Firaxis want to return to the railroad game genre for its next game?
Dan Magaha: It was really serendipitous – a couple of things just came together like pieces of a puzzle! Sid was in Germany a few years ago for a press tour and he got to visit this model train museum called “Minitur Wunderland”, which is the largest HO-scale model train layout in the world. And it reminded him of how much fun he had making Railroad Tycoon (which he made in 1990). Around that same time, we began a new business relationship with 2K Games and eventually were purchased and became part of their corporate family - and they just happened to own the license for Railroad Tycoon. Sid created a really fun prototype of Railroads!, the folks at 2K loved it and the rest is history.
FiringSquad: Why didn't the game use the Railroad Tycoon title as the first game in the series was indeed created by Sid Meier?
Dan Magaha: We wanted to be clear that Sid Meier’s Railroads! would not be Railroad Tycoon 4, rather it is Sid’s re-imagination of the game he originally created in 1990. The versions of Railroad Tycoon that have been released since the original have been created by other development teams…Sid and Firaxis have not been involved in those games. So, it made sense to call this game something else.
FiringSquad: How hard was it to create a new game for a genre that has been done quite well by many other developers?
Dan Magaha: There certainly have been some great games in this genre since Sid created the original. We were excited to return to the roots of the classic title, focus on all the things we think made it great, and update the gameplay, visuals, and overall game experience with all the things we can do today that couldn’t be done 20 years ago. In particular, we’re really returning to the core of what made the original RRT so special, and that’s the trains. They are really the star of this game.
FiringSquad: How do the trains themselves evolve over time as the player creates his empire?
Dan Magaha: Each scenario will have a different selection of trains that are consistent with their history. So the US and UK trains are largely classic steam engines, but will offer a nice selection of diesels and electrics, and even the classic “bullet” train, later in the game. Germany, however, has lots of electrics and diesels throughout. The majority of the trains are classic steam locomotives because those to us symbolize the romantic era of railroading.