Designer: Jozef Chutka

Platform: Web Browser, Android

Date: May 7, 2014

Game Location: http://trainlord.com/

Explanation

In Train Lord the player purchases and operates trains based on real world railways as populated by MapQuest. Players purchase stations, rails, and trains and dispatch them to make money. Players can make rail sets after they have purchased train stations. A rail set allows the player to connect stations with track owned by them. After creating the sets the player can build train sets used to earn money by dispatching them on the owned rail sets. This is how players gain profit. The goal of the game is to be the richest Train Lord possible. Dispatching a train is actually calculated in real time and the player must wait for the train to arrive at its destination before they earn any money.
Screenshot

Train Lord utilizes a very simplistic UI. In the upper left corner are selector icons that represent from left to right: track, track set, stations, train sets, and dispatch accordingly. Selecting an icon causes the map on the right to highlight that selection. In this image the track option is selected and all train tracks are highlighted in black on the map. Below the selection buttons are the list of track pieces including their length and their price. The upper left hand corner of the map shows the player name and their current balance. Bottom left corner has a small chat window and the upper right corner has shortcuts and visualization options for the map which can assist in navigation.

Train Lord Screenshot

 

Strategy

A good strategy employed by many of the players in the game is to buy up prime track in the center of most major cities. This forces other players to pay the track owner for use of the track. Getting a head start at the beginning of a play season is critical to success in this game. When the ownership of the tracks resets it is very smart to purchase those tracks that are utilized the most as quick as possible. Players can also purchase small lengths of track to constantly send their trains on short runs in order to maintain a steady income. This can help offset the longer tracks a player may own that require more time to complete a successful run. Additionally building your tracks in large triangles or circles can aid immensely in avoiding collisions on your track. By always sending trains in a single direction the chances of a collision drop to almost zero, saving the player time and money.

 

Dynamics

  • Because the player is limited to real tracks it can be difficult to find a station that has not already been purchased.
  • Playing early in a game season is important so that you can have the opportunity to purchase stations and tracks strategically.
  • Purchasing track prevents other players from owning that track; it can be useful to purchase small segments of track in populated areas to increase your use profits.
  • Since all players are allowed to run trains in any direction, avoiding collisions can be an issue.

Similar Games: Railroad Tycoon Series – This should be obvious but both games are very similar in concept and play. The only true differences are that in the Tycoon series you get to choose where to place track and the game is single-player.

 

Design Ideas

Utilizing something like tracks in a game is an interesting concept. If the game were based on trails (hiking, biking, climbing) there could be a game in which the player must actually go out and physically play against the system. It could involve traveling a certain distance over a certain time on a certain path or it could even provide virtual scenarios while traveling down the path. Expanding a bit further, using a D&D style game that auto narrates as a player progresses down a set path could be a very interesting use of real life data/events applied to a game.

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