We mentioned manual routing of the trains in an earlier post. I would like to share some thoughts on this topic.
I implemented visual representation of the switches so it’s now visible how they are connected. A player can also change the connections by clicking the switch. Combined with direct control of displayed signals (turn green / red), we have the simplest manual routing mode complete. I played the level from the released prototype in the manual mode and it’s totally different game play. And I liked it. You can try it yourself as I made a special build for you. Note that we did not implement train crash yet ;). Manual routing will be part of the early game in the career mode before the user “unlocks” (through research) automated routing known from first demo.
In the real world, the routing is seldom as simple as in our implementation. To prevent accidents caused by improper switch configuration there is a system known as interlocking. In short, “an interlocking is designed so that it is impossible to display a signal to proceed unless the route to be used is proven safe (source: wikipedia)”. In terms of our game the player would need to set corresponding switches properly before turning a semaphore green. Then the switches would be locked to prevent any modification until a train passes them. We considered if we wanted to keep our game “railroad accurate” or more like an arcade. We decided to go somewhere in between; to keep the game real as well as entertaining.
There was a question why the player would unlock the interlocking that comes with less flexibility (you can’t change some switch when the train is on the move). So we plan to make routing with manual interlocking more comfortable visually. The player will see the route reserved for the train. I will post an update when the manual interlocking is available.
Switch run-through happens when a train is going from the trailing direction of a switch and the points of the switch are set to the other branch. In that the case the switch points are forced to match the train direction but the switch needs to be checked or repaired subsequently. This scenario is not possible when the interlocking system is used and all trains watch the signals. We will address this issue later, for now there is no downside or penalization when it happens.
Miso is still working on a demo with dynamic contracts (and some sweet new game plan inspired by a real rail network) and I will focus on the career mode. New demo will come in a week or two!