Editorial: Then and Now: Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Someone has far to much time on their hands to design this.
An example of junction for sending trains all over the map.

Welcome to my first article about games from yesteryear that have been remade for computers today. Will this be an ongoing series? Maybe, but let me at least get this one out of the way first. The game I am focusing on today is Transport Tycoon Deluxe, originally released on the PC in 1995. Today, an open source version is available completely free that duplicates the gameplay of the original while adding online connectivity and additional functions in the game.

In Transport Tycoon Deluxe a player earns revenue by picking up resources or passengers at a certain station, and delivering them to another station where there is a demand for them. Demand is determined by the area which surrounds the station; for example stations close to towns will demand passengers. The revenues will depend on the delivery time, distance, and quantity delivered. The influence of these factors on revenue varies according to the type of goods being delivered. For example, mail will rapidly fall in value, meaning that it can only be delivered profitably over short distances, or over long distances very fast. On the other hand coal loses value very slowly, so it can be transported in bulk over long distances whilst remaining profitable.

Connecting a business with the resource it requires is as simple as placing a station and laying down some track between them. This is a simple method that can be replicated over an entire map. However, it is possible to construct an advanced network the incorporates every station into a single network that runs all over the map. This is ideal for transporting coal from many stations to a single power station in a very efficient manner. When the network has become large enough, other resources can be moved also using high speed trains.

This is a game for boys who grew up with train sets but no longer have the space, time or funds to dedicate to building and maintaining a model railway. Yes, other methods of transportation are available to players, but really, why play a game like this if not to play with trains? As time progresses within the game, more train types become available to the player. In time even new forms of track (monorail and maglev) open up with even more trains.

The trains keep breaking down!
My own attempt to build a rail network.

It is here that Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe really shines. The community can produce new mods and skins that are easily turned on and off from an ‘online content’ menu. This list represents the work of the community to bring realist train types from all over the world into a game that supports their passion. Many of these mods will work with one another allowing the player to create a business that feels global, especially with the huge map sizes that were not present in the original version.

The online component of the game uses these larger maps to great effect. A multiplayer game supports up to two hundred and fifty five people in up to fifteen companies. While standard competitive games can be found, there are also huge projects for many players to build huge rail networks across the map. These servers can also be started using community mods to add more variety to the games available. Unfortunately, some of these run versions of the client that are out of date, though all the older versions of the game are still available to download as well, including the nightly builds that are constantly released.

OpenTTD was released in 2004 and required graphics from the original game. Since version 1.0 was released in 2010, the game has its own graphics pack and is completely free, although fans can still use the old textures. Even after a decade of development new features are being added to the game, as well as bug fixes. This trend does not look likely to stop any time soon either. The has even been ported to other operating systems, including the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP. Sadly the Mac client has been discontinued due to problems compiling for the new version of Snow Leopard OS X.

Did you play with trains as a child? Have you played Transport Tycoon Deluxe recently? Would you like to join an OpenTTD server? Are there any other games that have gone open source since their release? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I never played with trains when I was younger, but I have always harbored an unhealthy addiction to simulation games. Thanks for bringing this game to our attention! I’ll definitely be checking it out in the upcoming days.

  2. Am I going crazy, or is this created by the same people that made Roller Coaster Tycoon? (At least the first one, which I liked) Because they look extremely similar. 😀

  3. @Dean – That depends. Did the Huffalumps or Weezeaboos tell you it was created by the same people? Because if they did, you’re crazy.

    But you’re also right.

  4. Haha, nope. I used to (and still do occasionally play sometimes) play RCT1, and the giveaway was that the ground looks the same. You know, with the squares and stuff :3

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