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Railroad Tycoon II, making the sequel to a game that easily falls into the "legend" category is well... EXCITING!!! Of course it's also a fertilizer car load of work. Intricate cargo web and a dynamic financial environment set the stage for your chance at showing the world what a true Robber Baron is capable of doing. This isn't your mother's old 0-4-0 Grasshopper! Buy and sell stocks, schedule train routes, optimize consists, lay rail, build stations and company take overs make Railroad Tycoon II a strategists dream; while an intuitive interface, beautiful terrain, detailed rolling stock and attractive buildings are sure to please the most dedicated train enthusiasts. All this too much? Then let your manager take over and just sweat the Big Stuff! Hire and fire managers to help run your company, each with talents and abilities far beyond those of digital men. Oh! Wait, you can also invite 15 of your closest friends to contest your title as a Railroad Tycoon in a real-time struggle for power. Legends are made to be lived up to, Railroad Tycoon II is all that and a head of steam.

Railroad Tycoon II History:

Following Heroes 2's completion and a little time off, I started on the project that would become Railroad Tycoon II in late December 1996. Originally entitled Iron Horse, the project was and is a labor of love for me in addition to hopefully being a profitable business project.

The concept for a new railroad game was worked out between Jon and I in December 1996, with the plan that 3DO would publish the game. However, in January 1997, 3DO ran into financial trouble, slashed about half its employees and stopped all outside development. So the project was begun as a truly independent project. I got office space, hired 2 artists, and even put a nice sign on the door. At last, PopTop was a true bona-fide company.

I was a huge fan of the original Railroad Tycoon, which was developed in 1990 by Sid Meier. As a side note, I don't think any single designer in the business has ever had a more productive and creative stretch than Sid had from 1988 to 1991, which saw him develop 3 ground-breaking games (Pirates, Railroad Tycoon, and Civilization) that pretty much invented modern strategy gaming on the PC.

I was always surprised that no one had followed up on Railroad Tycoon (unlike Civilization, which spawned a whole genre of Civ clone games.) With a clean slate after Heroes 2 and a desire to do something different, it seemed like a natural project to do. I was definitely worried for the first 6 months or so of the project that I'd discover somebody else (possibly Sid Meier himself) doing another railroad game that would beat us to market. However, with less than 6 months til release, it doesn't appear that anyone else is doing anything like this.

Despite some outside advice to do the game top-down 2D style, like the original game, I went with a isomorphic 3D engine, using true 3D for the ground and sprites for buildings, trains etc. This has resulted in a game which looks pretty, and allows you to see grade changes, mountains, valleys, etc, quite clearly. We went with 2D sprites to allow a large number of objects on the screen at once, with considerable detail. In some scenes its quite possible to have tens of thousands of polygons, hundreds of trees, and dozens of buildings, cars and other objects, yet the speed is still solid.

In January 1998, PopTop lined up a very cool new business deal to ensure that this and future games will be published in high style. PopTop is one of the founding members of Gathering of Developers. Check the link for full details. It's not your father's publisher.

In February 1998, we were told by the trademark attourneys that our working title, "Iron Horse", was unavailable. Unfortunately, there's only a modest number of ways to construct names that convey railroads and the train era that sound cool and don't infringe on some old board game. We came up with a variety of lame substitutes, but weren't really happy with any of them. On a lark, I decided to call MicroProse, to see if it would be possible to acquire the name from them. Surprisingly enough, they were amenable to discussions, and after a protracted negotation (which delayed our announcement of the title), we finally completed the acquisition of the trademarks and copyrights to Railroad Tycoon.

We're on track for a fall '98 release. The engine to the game is in good shape, the art is moving along very well, and things look good overall. Still have to do networking (ugh), and improve the AI, which is still quite rudimentary, but I think we'll have plenty of time to balance and test the game, and we'll probably even have time for an outside beta (don't send mail on this yet, though, wait for a formal announcement).

Site created April 23, 1998. © Jesse Reid, All Rights Reserved, 2003.