The simulators we drew inspiration from employ the player mainly with operational tasks. Good players are those who can click fast, without errors, have good short-term memory and are able to solve combinatorial task on the fly to route many trains simultaneously. It is fun, too (at least for some), but we felt that it is not enough for a good multi-context game. Our player should benefit both his creativity and strategic thinking too! So the game lets him to build his own railroad.
Well, building … Building of tracks is far more problematic than I previously thought. I thought it would take me a few days to implement it, but I have been working on it nearly one month now. And I’m still not at the end of the task. One would say it’s just joining a few lines together, but trust me it’s far more than that. I’m nearly done with the basics, but still have no north / south tracks and the bulldoze option.
And the huge amount of bugs I made! It has forced me to look into the testing capabilities of the Unity (in terms of testing automation) and that was a good thing. I’m writing a lot of unit tests when I develop Java applications, but Rail Route has been behind. Until now. So when we encounter a bug in the building mode, hopefully we won’t encounter it again thanks to these tests. Look at them running, no huge coverage but it will grow :).
Anyway I was pretty exhausted from this building mode task so I took a break and looked into the graphics of the UI a bit. Until now we have used the default UI sprites for the panels, buttons, etc. It looked really lame. So, I’ve made at least these basic components. Rail Route now looks more like a game than a prototype.
So what can you expect next? Mišo is working on the second playable demo with the preview of the dynamic contracts. The traffic that is not driven by a static timetable like in the first demo, but more by the player. These contracts will be part of the core game play in a career mode. I plan to work on the research system (more about this in some later blog post) until I recover from the headaches I had with the building mode. Then I’ll also write about it in more detail.