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Video Game / Transport Tycoon

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"Drontburg Coal Mine increases production!"

Transport Tycoon is a pair of business management simulation games created by legendary Scottish game developer Chris Sawyer (of RollerCoaster Tycoon and MicroProse fame). The apparent object of the games is to end up with a monopoly of transport services for a usually randomly generated map. Transport is provided in all four major modes; air, rail, road and water, though the most profit tends to come from rail and then air.

The two games in the series are Transport Tycoon (released in 1994 and now referred to as Original) and Transport Tycoon Deluxe (released in 1995). An expansion pack for the original game, named Transport Tycoon World Editor, was also released in 1995, which featured a scenario editor (which was eventually included in Deluxe) and a "Martian" set of graphics.

Transport Tycoon Deluxe is an updated version. It contains numerous bugfixes and gameplay improvements, including new transport modes and UI. The primary difference between the games is how signals operate. The original Transport Tycoon allows only bi-directional signals, which allow trains to pass in either direction. The Deluxe version introduced uni-directional signals, that only allow a train to pass in a single direction.


The Fan Remake, OpenTTD, is derived from Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Originally a set of patches called TTDPatch, it was created to allow enthusiasts to include other vehicles, especially historical trains and the like, and eventually grew to add all sorts of features. It supported a plug-in architecture, so users could download add-ons they were interested in. Eventually TTDPatch grew much larger than the original game, so some developers decided to replace the remaining bits, allowing the now much-more-elaborate game to be played by anyone. The replacement code was completed in 2004, and an effort begun to replace the art and music, which finished in 2010. OpenTTD is free/open source, and works on a wide variety of operating systems. TTDPatch was maintained in parallel for some time, however Open TTD eventually surpassed it in nearly every way, and the majority of the huge library of plugins and add-ons only works with OpenTTD.


There is also a Fan Sequel of sorts, called Simutrans, but it's an indie game only Inspired by... and not related or legally connected to the Transport Tycoon series.

Train Fever was an attempt at a modernised Spiritual Sequel by Urban Games, however it had a myriad of limitations and bugs. Most of them were fortunately fixed in Transport Fever, a Surprisingly Improved Sequel launched in 2016 with backwards compatibility for most Train Fever mods (either natively or using a mod that autotranslates the code so it to be usable with Transport Fever).

The original game was superseded officially by its 2004 Spiritual Successor, Locomotion.

Transport Tycoon, TTDPatch and OpenTTD have a very long, complex history. Sites that were once useful such as Owen's Transport Tycoon Site and the (now-defunct) Transport Tycoon Semi-FAQ (Archive link) were very informative fansites around the Turn of the Millennium, but are almost useless now. The most valuable information can still be found at TT-Forums, with only the TTDRussia Forums showing any other activity to this day.

The Transport Tycoon series contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Break from Reality: Even the most sprawling metropolises will only house about 30,000 people.
    • The effects of events like World War II or the 1970s oil crisis on the economy are completely absent.
  • A.I.-Generated Economy:
    • The towns will automatically develop over time, without your assistance. This includes the building of roads, but you can assist in doing so if you want to coerce the development of a town in a specific way. You can accelerate, but not control, the growth of town buildings by dealing in Passengers there. This is necessary in some cases because towns will only pay for Goods once they build enough high-rise buildings, which only happens once they reach a certain size.
    • The alternate climates in the Deluxe version have additional restrictions. Arctic towns above a certain elevation have to have Food delivered before they grow. Tropical towns in the desert require Food and Water.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: The series is considered one of the classics of the "tycoon" genre of business sims.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The stupid things the AI tries to pass as traffic routes has to be seen to be believed. According to Chris Sawyer, this is due to the AI building their tracks dynamically (analyzing possible routes each time a section is built) instead of planning ahead (which could cause problems if the environment changed as the route was built) and the building algorithms using a very low recursion level (an higher level of recursion would allow the AI to build more efficient routes, but would slow it down considerably).
    • Instead of upgrading an existing line to increase capacity, the AI will just build a new line right next to the old one.
    • The AI is also rather inapt at doing air lines. Planes servicing two large airports right next to each other aren't unheard of. Said airports are often placed far enough in the town's outskirts that it won't even accept mail and the planes are always ordered to wait for a full load, which can take forever. The AI will also use jet planes on small airports despite the increased chance of crashing.
    • The road-building AI of both the towns (building roads as they grow) and the computer players often results in a lot of redundant roads that waste space that could be used for buildings.
    • The custom A.I.s available for OpenTTD are much less insane, even the one that tries to emulate the "classic" AI.
    • It's quite possible for a bus/lorry driver to see the vehicle in front be hit by a train and go up in flames, and decide to take its place - with predictable results.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Trains can go around extremely tight corners at 300mph, but immediately slow down to a crawl when encountering a tiny hill. Only the OpenTTD implementation finally added a (more) realistic acceleration model.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Aircraft. There is no doubt that they are awesomely cool and fast (despite their actual speed being a ¼ of their advertised speed), but their low cargo capacity and need for expensive airport infrastructure makes them, well...impractical.
    • Averted in OpenTTD, where vast maps (up to 4096x4096 in the stock game; custom builds can go even higher) can make Planes a game-breaking tool. The fact that the speed handicap can be adjusted or removed entirely doesn't help either.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Some of the post-1990s futuristic buildings and vehicles are really odd looking.
  • Bookends: A subtle example with the Soundtrack: The first song is titled Easy Driver, and the last song, Hard Drivin'.
  • Boring, but Practical: Road vehicles. They don't have the allure of trains or the inherent coolness of aircraft, but they can use existing city roads (and roads laid by your competitors!) and are much less affected by gradients. OpenTTD has a large number of add-on packs that increase their usability, especially since Traffic Giant/Simutrans-style individual destinations for passengers and cargo have been introduced which for example make town buses as feeder lines to a train station or an airport possible.
  • Cap: Original and Deluxe have a lot of arbitrary caps which were either increased, made configurable or eliminated entirely in TTDPatch and OpenTTD:
    • Up to 250 stations can be built in a single map. Buoys are technically stations and count towards the limit, as do the helipad/port attached to oil rigs. The limit was increased to 65,000 in TTDPatch and OpenTTD.
    • Stations are automatically named after the town they're built in; usually, the first one will be named exactly like the town and subsequent ones will add a prefix or suffix like "North [town]" or "[town] Woods". If the game runs out of possible names for a given town, it will not allow further stations to be built within the town, though this can be worked around by renaming one of the preexisting stations. OpenTTD will instead assign numbers to stations in a town after running out of names.
    • Towns have a limit of two airports per town. OpenTTD introduced an alternate option where airports have a given noise level and towns have a noise limit which increases the further they grow.
    • Deluxe limits the spread of stations to seven tiles away from the sign. TTDPatch and OpenTTD allow this limit to be changed, which defaults to 12 tiles for the latter and can be increased up to 64.
    • Each company can have up to 80 trains, 80 road vehicles, 50 boats and 40 planes. TTDPatch and OpenTTD also allow these limits to be changed, but with a hard limit of 5,000 vehicles of each type and 65,000 vehicle parts (each locomotive and wagon in a train counts as a part).
    • Original and Deluxe have a money cap of around £2 billion, which leads to bugs like the "tunnel cheat" in Original or the money at hand eventually flipping into the negative billions.
    • The limit of orders that can be assigned to one vehicle is 15 in Original and Deluxe and 254 in TTDPatch and OpenTTD (with a limit of 65,000 orders for all vehicles combined), but to be fair there aren't many situations that would require more than 15 orders for a single route, let alone 254.
  • Clown Car Base: The depots can hold hundreds of vehicles despite being only big enough for one of them. The train depots are especially ridiculous; a 100-car train can enter a depot barely big enough for the engine just fine!
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The AI in pre-OpenTTD versions gets a lot of help from the game to compensate for their Artificial Stupidity:
    • The "Intelligence of rivals" difficulty setting actually regulates the bonus the AI receives for their station ratings, which is none for "Low", 12% for "Medium" and 24% for "High".
    • AI companies never get affected by disasters. UFOs and zepplins never target them and their infrastructure doesn't get destroyed by coal mine subsidences or UFO bombers.
    • Not Playing Fair With Resources: AI can completely destroy their environments around towns, free of charge, with no ill effect; the local authority will hate you and you will hate it if you bulldoze one tree.
    • In Original, industries serviced by the player have an annoying tendency to randomly announce imminent closure. Curiously, industries serviced by AI companies never seem to close.
    • Averted in OpenTTD: the landscaping handicap was removed, which means the custom A.I.s must be programmed to survive without that advantage (and they're able to do so rather well).
  • Colour Coded Companies: All companies have a single, associated colour. OpenTTD allow you to violate this, letting you choose different colours for different vehicles (e. g. different colours for steam, diesel, and electric locomotives).
  • Cool Plane: Several, from early propeller driven craft to the supersonic Concorde (a.k.a. Yate Haugan). Custom packs like the av8 set and the Planeset can give you even more of these.
  • Cool Train: Of course. Classic steam engines, diesel and electric locomotives of various sizes. And, from the 1990s onward, monorails and even maglevs! Lots and lots of custom train packs exist for about every major railroad nation.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Acting like one is optional for the player. You can bribe local governments for transport monopolies, city-wide advertising campaigns, and "essential" reconstruction of a town's roads (in a competitor's town, of course).
  • Crapsack World: Intercity transport is controlled solely by private companies who tear up the landscape, dominate small towns with massive transport complexes, and compete with each other to the point of bribery and sabotage. Also, there are UFOs.
  • Creator Provincialism:
    • The buildings in Original and the "Temperate" climate in Deluxe are of a British style: several were explicitly based on real buildings in Glasgow. A few houses in Original which had a more American design were moved to the "Artic" climate in Deluxe.
    • The vehicles play it straight or avert it on a case-by-case basis. The initial UK release of Original used real names for the vehicles, which were changed in later releases (see Lawyer-Friendly Cameo below for details):
      • The temperate locomotives all play it straight: they're named and modeled after famous British models such as the Class A4 and the InterCity 125. The artic/tropical locomotives avert it, being based on American models such as the EMD DDA40X (introduced in 1969 for the 100th anniversary of Union Pacific Railroad, hence the game calling it the "Centennial") and the UAC TurboTrain (called the "Turner Turbo" in-game).
      • The starter road vehicles use British makes (Leyland, Bedford, Scammell, AEC, Dennis), but the 1970's-era vehicles use European (Renault, Volvo, Peugot, Fiat) or American (Ford) brands.
      • The boats are all generic (they didn't have brands in Original), but the hovercraft is clearly modeled on the classic British Saunders-Roe SR.N4 "Mountbatten class".
      • Only a few of the aircraft are British (such as the Vickers Viscount, BAC 1-11, BAe 146 and the British/French Concorde); the starter airplane in Original is the German Junkers Ju 52.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If an AI competitor is using road vehicles, it's possible to set up a rail line across the road and order a locomotive to "dispose" of AI vehicles. This leaves your reputation and the locomotive completely unharmed.
  • Diagonal Speed Boost: Sort of. At least OpenTTD does not provide a literal diagonal speed boost; however, the payments are tied to the number of grid lines you have to cross between the stations. If you go 50 squares diagonally, you can be faster than 100 squares parallel to one axis and still receive the same payment for your cargo.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Trains. The most complicated transport method to set up initially (especially if you're trying to network all your lines together), but overall the most efficient way to ship non-passenger goods (planes are best for passengers).
  • Difficulty Levels: Original and Deluxe have a difficulty settings menu with three preset levels (Easy, Medium, Hard) and a custom setting. The settings deal with AI competitors, financial costs, land generation and so on. Early OpenTTD versions kept the menu, but in 1.3 most of the options were merged into the advanced settings menu and the rest were moved to the "New Game" dialog.
  • Downloadable Content: OpenTTD has this in spades, specifically with the "Check Online Content" option. There are hundreds of NewGRFs, scenarios, AIs, and game scripts available.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted in that vehicles need to be maintained, otherwise they break down (unless you disable breakdowns). Played straight with passenger and cargo; they will go wherever you ship them.
  • Fan Remake: OpenTTD is basically Deluxe reverse-engineered and converted from assembler to C, with new features added on top of it.
  • Fictional Currency: OpenTTD offers the option to set a custom currency with its own exchange rate relative to the British Pound (the "base" currency that other currencies are multiplied from, e.g. £1 equals $2, €2 or ¥220) and an optional "switch to Euro" year (the default European currencies which switched to Euro in real life do so in OpenTTD). This is ostensibly to allow the player to program in a real currency which is not included among the presets, but nobody's stopping you from using simoleons or gil to pay for your trains!
  • Flawed Prototype: The player occasionally receives offers to test out a new vehicle for a year before it's made available to every company. While this allows early access to the latest and shiniest, the catch is that the maximum reliability will be low at first, which will result in more frequent breakdowns that can potentially cancel out the added benefits of higher speed or capacity. The offer can be accepted or refused, but if you accept and then don't use it, you'll get blacklisted from further prototype offers for a while.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A lot of them have been fixed by TTDPatch and OpenTTD:
    • Once the game reaches December 31, 2070, the calendar loops back to January 1, 2070. This was done intentionally to prevent vehicles from going obsolete, but it introduced another problem: if a vehicle is scheduled for servicing in 2071, it will never get serviced and its reliability will steadily drop to 0%.
    • The newest model of helicopter in the default vehicle set becomes obsolete after 2020, making it impossible to build new helicopter routes or maintain existing ones to acceptable levels of service (what with the 0% reliability helicopters breaking down constantly). OpenTTD hasn't fixed that, although disabling vehicle obsolescence or using NewGRFs can solve that problem.
    • Buying out a competitor while a news item about them is showing can cause a crash, especially with the "[company] starts construction near [town]" message. Also, buying out a competitor with active subsidies will screw up those subsidies: they won't pay as they should, the information in the "Subsidies" box will be corrupted and opening said box will sometimes cause a crash.
    • Multiplayer gameplay in the pre-OpenTTD days was notoriously unstable: the game would start to go out of synchronization by the 1990's, slow down and eventually become unplayable.
  • Game Mod: TTDPatch alters the executed binary code at runtime while leaving the original executable intact. This method of introducing modifications to the game made a lot of potential features near-impossible, which is why the OpenTTD project was started. OpenTTD itself has loads of patches and several ready-to-compile or pre-compiled patch packs.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The original starts in 1930. Deluxe has 1950 as the earliest date. OpenTTD can start even earlier — given the right NewGRFs, you can even start in 1700, complete with horse-drawn cargo carriages and sailing ships.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: After December 31, 2070, the date loops back to January 1, 2070, rather than proceeding to 2071. A Game-Breaking Bug if you have vehicles scheduled for maintenance in 2071... Thankfully, this is one of the bugs TTDPatch and OpenTTD fixes.
  • Guide Dang It!: After the large airport is introduced in 1955, almost every aircraft model introduced from then on will have a noticeably higher chance of crashing at small airports (which can't be built after 1959). Only a few models (3 in Original, 6 in Deluxe) introduced after 1955 can land safely on small airports, but the only way of knowing which ones is to either check on vehicle databases online or, in OpenTTD, set "Small Airplanes" in the livery scheme to a different colour from the standard one.
  • Karma Meter: Crash accidents make your company rating go down. This can be used cleverly to cause trouble for your opposition, however.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The initial UK release of Original used real company names for the vehicles and several were explicitly modeled after real models. To avoid potential lawsuits, the names were changed to fictional ones starting from the US release of Original: examples include the T.G.V. becoming the "T.I.M.", the Airbus brand becoming the "Airtaxi" brand and, most notably, the Lockheed Tristar and the Concorde becoming the "Guru Galaxy" and the "Yate Haugan" respectively. Those changes were carried over to the Deluxe version and remain in OpenTTD to this day.
    • Several of these vehicles new names are Shout Outs to the QA testers' last names, including Bakewell, Luckett, Sampson, Kirby, Witcombe, Uhl, and Dinger.
    • Deluxe includes the ability to rename the vehicles, allowing one to change the names back to the real ones if desired, and NewGRFs which do exactly that (and sometimes include new "real" names for Deluxe-exclusive vehicles) exist.
  • Level Ate: The "Toyland" climate, where the trees are lollipops and you transport such cargoes as candyfloss, sugar, toffee and fizzy drinks (which are made by combining "flat" cola and bubbles, and yes, you get to transport bubbles). All those cargoes are treated as natural resources, that is, they're "extracted" from the land.
  • Made of Explodium: When two vehicles or convoys collide (except the train in a road/train collision), the vehicles will explode into a fireball. This occurs even if the vehicles aren't carrying flammables of any type, such as an electric passenger train.
  • No Fair Cheating: The cheat menu in OpenTTD has the following warning: "You are about to betray your fellow competitors. Keep in mind that such a disgrace will be remembered for eternity." In practice, using a cheat means that your company's performance rating will not be recorded in the "Top companies who reached 2051" chart. The cheat menu is not accessible in multiplayer outside of modifying the source code or loading a single-player game with cheats enabled, both of which are heavily frowned upon.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: City and town councils can become this, for better or for worse. Especially if they don't know your company well yet and you start massively altering their surroundings and tearing down older buildings — they'll simply ban you from constructing any of your company's structures on their territory, until you regain your reputation (which can often take years).
    • Conversely, be on good enough terms with a Town Council, and the player can encourage a Council-sponsored reconstruction of the town's roads, blocking any AI-controlled road traffic for months.
    • A common recommendation is to build the stations before building the tracks/roads, especially in forested areas. The local authority may block you from building stations, but they can't block you from building tracks or roads!
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Every single time a small UFO flies above a bus, they both breakdown at the exact same time and UFO crashes exactly onto the bus.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: OpenTTD has got an entire Scott Joplin soundtrack among its Downloadable Content.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: The prices eventually rise so high that a piece of road costs more than a skyscraper in real life. While this is no problem for a company that has been around and profitable since 1930 or 1950, rival companies that are established late in the game will often find themselves unable to even afford building a simple bus line since the starting loan is always £100,000 and the maximum loan amount doesn't quite catch up with inflation. OpenTTD does allow turning off inflation, however.
  • Scoring Points: Each company has a performance rating which increases with the number of vehicles and stations they have, the revenue they earn and the cash they have in hand. As the rating goes up, the company's owner gains new titles, going from "Engineer" to "Traffic Manager" and so on up to "Tycoon", and their headquarters expand, going from a small shack to a large office building. When your company turns 100 (or you reach 2051 in OpenTTD), your rating at that point gets recorded in a top 5 high score table; Original and Deluxe had one for each difficulty level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Custom), as did OpenTTD before the difficulty settings were merged into the advanced settings in 1.3. and the tables were merged into one.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • Players can buy exclusive transports rights for a particular town for a year; during that time, cargo and passengers in that town will only use that player's stations and will ignore stations of all other companies, who are not notified when exclusive rights are bought.
    • In OpenTTD, players can outright bribe local authorities to improve their ratings. However, it is very expensive (about £750,000 before inflation is accounted for) and there's the risk of getting caught by a regional investigator, which will result in the company being blocked from interacting with the local authorities they tried to bribe for six months.
  • Shout-Out: Every now and then, an X-COM fighter jet or UFO will appear and fly around the map.
  • Suicide Mission: As detailed below, this is a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with competitors.
  • Terrain Sculpting: Players can reshape the land to suit their needs. Early on, the players tend to avoid terraforming as much as possible to save money but once they're rich enough they'll often dig huge valleys in mountain ranges to build perfectly level tracks, especially in OpenTTD with its more convenient landscaping tools.
  • Toy Time: The "Toyland" climate features toy buildings and vehicles with faces on them.
  • Units Not to Scale: Ships are not much bigger than train cars. In reality, cargo ships carry hundreds of containers which are as big as train cars. Additionally, facilities such as train stations and railyards can be as big as or bigger than the cities they serve.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Want to try and nurse mainline steam traction into the 21st century? Now's your chance! Want to give passenger service to every town on the map, even the tiny villages? It may not be as profitable as transporting coal, but the citizens will surely love you for it!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • It's possible to cause the deaths of thousands of people in one go by judicious use of the "Ignore signal" button.
    • It takes a little time to set up, but if you have created cities directly at sea level, only protected by a dike, and then delete the dike, the city will be overrun by the water and destroyed. (There is a map in Transport Tycoon Deluxe called "Damn!" where the entire map is at sea level and protected by a dike.)
    • You can take revenge on the computer-favoured AI opponents' badly built railways by building a railway depot at the end of their stations, buying a cheap locomotive and sending it running into the opponent's station. His train eventually enters the station, your locomotive charges at his train kamikaze-style and...
  • Video Game Time: A day passes every few seconds, so trains take weeks to travel from one town to another. Because of this, we have the oddity that passengers will pay through the nose for the privilege of travelling a couple of miles in "only" ten days.

Alternative Title(s): Transport Tycoon Deluxe, Open TTD


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