I was thinking earlier today about my railroading/train game ideas. In my train game, you would manage a railroad. The first version of the game would have the player starting with enough money to build a small railroad. The game would take place in an area that had natural and man-made resources and some sort of demand for those resources. Perhaps there is a coal mine or two and a junction with some larger railroad and nothing else. The player would build a railroad between the mines and the junction and would transport the coal for a price.

This seems like fun and what would set this apart from other railroading games would be the more realistic nature of the game. It could be run in real time requiring perhaps a whole day for the train to get from the source to the destination for delivery of the goods. The train would also need to haul the empty cars back to where they are needed unlike any railroad game I have ever played.

The player would be responsible for all train movement and scheduling and complex schedules and movements would be possible. Need a help engine for the big hill? You need to own one and it needs to be there when you need it. It won’t just magically appear.

This is all very interesting stuff to me and I did some experiments with train movements to learn how complex this sort of thing might get. It was very hard to write the train simulation to make it somewhat realistic. A section of a track might not be long enough to hold an entire train in a situation where it must in order for the train to take the correct path. Scheduling and train movements would be a bit harder than a typical game.

I had a funny thought today related to all of this train game stuff. What if a player wanted to run the coal mine and not run the railroad? That could be interesting if a player likes economy simulations. The player could hire imaginary workers and buy imaginary equipment and then pay the imaginary railroad to ship stuff.

The MMO Commerce Simulation

And there it is; the idea for the massive multiplayer online commerce simulation. Players create a business and run it in simul-time. Running a business in real time might get a bit too slow and the day-to-day activities would be simplified enough for a few simulation days to go by in a single real day. Maybe more depending on how the game worked out.

I would eventually want to make transportation important in this game so there would be graphics to show trains, trucks, and other modes of transportation and the people running those things would need to handle things like the railroad scheduling.

The game could include a mix of technology so that a player could build a teleportation network and charge huge sums of money to move things large distances instantly while some other player builds an electric railroad through the mountains and charges hardly anything to move good very slowly. Since this is a completely new idea, I’m not sure how this would all work.

But in the end, there would need to be some cool graphics to go with this and each industry would need to be a simulation of its own. Running a factor would be a little like running a factory where raw materials need to be shipped in and available for making the product and space would be needed to store it until transportation was available to move it. The only thing that would not be handled by players would be the consumption of the final products. Simulated towns and cities would buy the products be they coal for heating, gold jewelry for wearing, or computers for playing game.

I’ll have to quit both my day job and my consulting gig and move forward with this. What a great idea (or maybe not).