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'Open' Railroad Tycoon II ??

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I would LOVE to see RT2's bugs fixed and the editor improved. There really isn't a better railroading game out there. Rails Across America came close, but it's hampered by severe routing bugs that prevent you from playing the game the way it was intended for more than a handful of game years, and the devs didn't feel like fixing it, and now they're gone. But anyway, yeah, bring it on!

I don't have much, but I'd be able to contribute a few bucks. If everyone here could do the same, it still might not add up to much, but at least it would be something. And maybe at the end we'd have a saleable product.

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Well, I see several bug-fixng "requests", as well as some "nice-to-have" features, as if a new version or update had been announced. The fact is that no update (patch) is expected, neither we have the source code. Also some appear to be "considering" an RT2-like open-source (but actually greenfield) version of the game. Seriously, there are two options:

- Make a completely new "open-source" game. This is indeed a HUGE amount of work, much more than you may even imagine. Many things look nice and simple, but what it takes to implement all these, may be hard even to describe. Making a new game (even as primitive as RT2) is not a trivial job. First of all, it requires excellent programmers in a professional capacity (definitely not people with "some programming experience"). Just consider how complicated only the modelling of a railroad game can prove: budget and financial items, laying rails, routes (pathfinding), engines, stations, cargos, players etc. Not to mention having to work with several not-so-well-known APIs (3D rendering and animation). Second is the "artistic" work needed (stations, rolling stock, trees etc), which alone is huge. You need a professional 3D modeller here. Finally it needs a lot of testing. Don't be so sure that you will find easily people willing to do this, or that it is going to be "fun" at all. It's not like playing the game, testers should find bugs, make recommendations, make test-cases, and be prepared to ditch what they are "building" at any time. If you can make-up a team with all the above members (didn't add a project manager or coordinator, legal advisor etc), you might be able to make a worthy product - and I would really consider if it has to be "Open-Source", or proprietary). Now what would be the market acceptance of such a game, this is another story, as there are other issues involved (marketing, promotion, sales, distribution, support etc) in addition to just making it.

- Arranging a serious deal with the current owner looks the most reasonable approach (and you can benefit from the brand name too), but as some mentioned they don't even reply. Maybe they are still selling RT3 (and are afraid that a revamped RT2 might cut into its market share), or they are getting an awful lot of requests like this (about more or less the same thing) which they have decided to not even reply, or they may want to keep open the option of releasing RT4 some time in the future, and are thus not interested in "after-market" face-lifts of a 14 yr old product. If you are in the position to deliver a product that will be looking "new" (even in part using the old engine), which they (or you) could SELL, then they might be interested.

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Hi cogeo!

I think your assessment of the situation is spot-on. Reinventing the wheel would be a TON of work. The only reason I think it happened for the Transport Tycoon folks is because it happened to be a pet-interest of a professional programmer that knew what he was doing. If it wasn't for that one individual it wouldn't be what it is today, even though the folks over there talk of it as a 'collaboration.' Well, it's a collaborative effort now, but that's only because somebody built the foundation for them! Short of there being someone like that for RRT2, an open source game likely won't ever happen... despite everyone's best intentions.

I like your second option. It may be that the company wouldn't want to make any 'deal' if they have future plans, or want to leave their options open. Or maybe the 'price' of any deal is way beyond what any of us would be willing (or able) to pay. I guess I can't speak to anyone else's motives on here, but mine is very simple: it's for sheer enjoyment of the game. There's no other dog in the hunt. In other words, I wouldn't want the source code with the intention of trying to create something to market to others.

How about something like this? What if a 'deal' could be made with them where they released the source code to a one or a couple people on this board that have programming experience or that would help in this project. All kinds of language could be put in the agreement as to what would be 'done' to them should they disclose the source code to someone else, tried to market it, etc. Then the bugs could be fixed and changes made with input and collaboration provided from everyone here. At the end of the day, the updated program would be 'given back' to the same company, who continues to retain the rights in the entire project. This company would have done nothing and paid nothing, yet would have the opportunity to reap the benefits by selling it commercially. They'd need to assess whether or not to actually publish the game, of course, or hold onto it for further updates down the road if they ever make RRT4, but they'd essentially be receiving something for nothing... while we'd get and improved version of this game. Maybe the arrangement could provide for XX number of copies to be made and distributed to those that frequent this board... but not with the actual source code. I'd even be willing to pay for the updated game, and I imagine most of us would.

It would seem that controls could be put in place that an arrangement such as the above could work. The question is, would they want to trouble themselves with it? It would likely take an attorney to draw up the arrangement, and likely they would incur legal fees monitoring it. They would have to weigh the risk as to the trustworthiness of whoever got the source code, and whether they'd end up having to fight it later if that person tried to breach the agreement and market the game or mass distribute it. They would have to weigh the benefits they would end up receiving in terms of game improvements which would only be useable to them in the future in the event of further development, and whether it was worth the risk. I wonder how hard it would be to get an audience with someone in this company that would make this decision. This is likely something where phone calls and emails can only go so far -- it's like we'd need to meet them face-to-face to actually make something like this happen. Does anyone know where this company is based out of?

With a little creative juice, I suppose anything is possible!

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Late to the game here so to speak. :) I'm not a developer but I am in QA. If this gets off the ground, I could help there.

--Ray.

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I finally got an email back from Take2 (after a year and a half of pestering): I am told that Railroad Tycoon has gone back to Sid Meier and Firaxis. I replied to Take2 that its next and future quarterly reports filed with the SEC should stop listing Railroad Tycoon as an intellectual property asset owned by Take2 Interactive.

Jeff, sorry to revive an old thread, but I've remained curious about this.  I looked up the Firaxis game company online, and here is what they said about their company:

 

"In 2005, Firaxis was acquired by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., joining the 2K Games publishing label, a wholly owned subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive. Under the creative direction of resident guru Sid Meier, Firaxis will continue to deliver award winning gameplay experiences to players around the world on PC, console and handheld platforms." -- http://www.firaxis.com/company/

 

In other words, Take-Two still owns the intellectual property rights for Railroad Tycoon by virtue of the fact that they own Firaxis.  However, perhaps those intellectual rights do reside within the Firaxis subsidiary.  I'm assuming a subsidiary is usually smaller and more nimble than the bloated corporate entity, so perhaps it would be easier to approach someone at Firaxis versus Take 2?

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"In 2005, Firaxis was acquired by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., joining the 2K Games publishing label, a wholly owned subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive. Under the creative direction of resident guru Sid Meier, Firaxis will continue to deliver award winning gameplay experiences to players around the world on PC, console and handheld platforms." -- http://www.firaxis.com/company/

 

In other words, Take-Two still owns the intellectual property rights for Railroad Tycoon by virtue of the fact that they own Firaxis. 

 

Aha, but then Take2 shouldn't have blown me off the way they did. They should have been able to forward my inquiry.

 

However, perhaps those intellectual rights do reside within the Firaxis subsidiary.  I'm assuming a subsidiary is usually smaller and more nimble than the bloated corporate entity, so perhaps it would be easier to approach someone at Firaxis versus Take 2?

I did write to Firaxis a few years ago. They replied that they only had rights to RT3, and they had no interest in or old source code for RT2. Nobody seems to have any idea where RT2's programming and resources went after patch 1.56 (i.e. Nobody with the power to find it cares enough to look).

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I was looking for two posts that were the same.

 

Since you changed one, I didn't see a pair.

 

Ok they are gone.   When I make a double post I just edit out all text and the post disappears.  The same ability may not be available to the membership at large.  Not sure.

 

whoops, I deleted both posts, plus the third post.  Sorry.   :blush:  MY BAD. 

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Awe... Gee-wizz!!  :)  No problem.  I suppose it's my own fault for asking for help!  Didn't mean to be a trouble maker!  I'll try to duplicate what I had here before, and hopefully the system doesn't hiccup and post it twice this time.
 

I did write to Firaxis a few years ago. They replied that they only had rights to RT3, and they had no interest in or old source code for RT2. Nobody seems to have any idea where RT2's programming and resources went after patch 1.56 (i.e. Nobody with the power to find it cares enough to look).

Maybe we haven't made enough noise, then? :) If nobody 'cares' about it, then maybe they wouldn't mind sharing the code with us, or would be willing to part with it for a 'reasonable' amount. Makes me wonder how much we'd have to come up with in order for them to consider it worth their while to actually find the code, but that's another question.

How about this -- a couple years ago I had some email correspondence with Phil Steinmeyer, the original programmer. Do you suppose we could ask him if he knows which person we should be in contact with at Fireaxis on this? Or if he knows where the code went? Even better, maybe he'd be willing to get us in contact with them, if he knows of a way to do it. I'd have to hunt for some old emails, but I don't think he still has the code... though we could certainly ask.

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a couple years ago I had some email correspondence with Phil Steinmeyer, the original programmer. Do you suppose we could ask him...?

 

Definitely not (unfortunately). I've already written to him, and he was very clear that he was done with RRT2 and that I would have to go through the new owners :(

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That's a bummer, though it would be easy enough to go through the new owners, if we knew exactly 'who' to talk to and how to reach them.

 

Does anybody reading these posts actually live in Maryland?  I think that's where the Fireaxis office is.  If someone showed up at their office and requested a meeting, surely some audience could be had.  Maybe?

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Whether or not showing up at their office is a good idea depends on the company, but most likely is a bad idea.

 

Frex, I recall a few years ago some of the Steve Jeckson games people mentioning on their forum how unsettled they are when fans show up wanting to see the place. it's not a store, it's an office, and they're trying to get work done, and I suppose quite a few of SJG's fans are a bit scary in person. Many celebrities are also quite paranoid of their fans (some for good reason).

 

If you can get a hold of someone over the email, that's safest. A snail mail letter would be next choice. The phone would be the next choice if they've published a phone number. Showing up uninvited would be an absolute last ditch effort, and then only if you personally know someone who is there.

 

It's a shame. I still get about a hundred hits a month on my RT2 strategy article (but I can't tell you how many people actually read it and how many reach it by accident or immediately hit the back button), so there's a small market, I'm sure.

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The DS,

 

I wasn't suggesting that their office be taken by storm.  :)  Just stopping by and 'requesting' a meeting.  They could always decline.  Of course, that would then make a trip to Maryland all for nothing.  Setting an advance appointment would be better, assuming it could be done... though it's easier to 'blow off' somebody over the phone versus when they show up in person.  Then again, they might not even be the people to talk to.  Like Jeff observed on another post, the rights might actually be with 'steam,' since they're selling it, and modified it in some fashion so that the CD wasn't needed to play the game.

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Email is too easy to ignore. If you really want to command a reply, but do it respectfully, then send snail mail with a SASE.

 

I don't know what Steam's rights might be, but they definitely did enough (or someone did it for them) to make the game depend on a web service (Steam auth) to run, and the saved games go into a different place than with the CD game. IIRC, their EXE is a different size than the v1.56 patch to the CD. Steam has never responded to any of my inquiries.

 

According to Take2, the source code and rights to further development were licensed or sold to Sid Meier (Firaxis). "Sid Meier's Railroads" is the result. My one email exchange with them told me that they only know about RRT3, and they don't know anything about RRT2.

 

The location and ownership of the source for RRT2 v1.56 CD patch is still a mystery. Maybe it's at Take2 but nobody knows it. Perhaps the producer of RRT3 knows something.

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 Ok firstly hi, pls allow me to join in this wonderful form...

 my goals 

1 : to CREATE a well rounded and customizable and modifiable game

2: to continue to support and aid the team of developers and consolidate the census of what the new open rail/truck tycoon will look and feel like..

3 : you might be wondering why i say truck.... in real life a truck would bring grain and so in such TO the station.... hence a minor/major re-think on the logistics of this project.

4 : to help develop the project until completion... these thing once they get goin get a mind of thier own, i.e. you wake this but i made that and this and that don't work together ... or ppl working on 2 similar things unknowingly....

5 : to implement a streamlined process for r&d brining the project to a working model stable state the we can do a alpha test and begin work on the tweaking and once the tweaking is done as far as possible we beta test for bugs and then anything can happen after this point... others can take this open project game model and give the whole thing a "face lift".

this would generate open sourced tycoon madness.......

6 : to give this open source project a on-line gaming sever... next i love this part the server has to be tested. "hack resistant"

7 : severs require maintenance so  take a look a new online gaming server,

8 : to make this happen for 100 dollars or less... if microsoft, did i we can to!

9 : to continually improve the product 

and last but not least to find the right ppl with the skills to use the tools required...

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Interesting comments;  But, will need more clarification and definition at least for me.

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 Ok firstly hi, pls allow me to join in this wonderful forum...

 my goals 

1 : to CREATE a well rounded and customizable and modifiable game...

 

A noble goal, but we probably need to convince a copyright holder to release (under GNU license) some version of the existing game so we can adapt or imitate it legally. It would be nice if the source code and data resources could be found and released with it.

 

Unfortunately, none of the companies involved w RT2 will admit to copyright ownership or knowledge of where the source code went. However, if we were at all successful with an imitation, then the copyright holder would probably emerge to suppress distribution.

 

That cloud over our heads (and old fashioned laziness) has held us at the feature-dreaming stage. Maybe you can better info from Take2 Software.

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 Howdy - sorry I'm rather late to the party but if people are still dreaming of an extendable Railroad Tycoon II then I'm all for helping with programming, testing, whatever (and I like the look the looks of some of the "wishes" in the wishlist thread)

 

I've recently been considering how multi-monitor Railroad Tycoon could have worked (i.e. one for the map, one for the Stocks, Station Listings, everything else) so I figured I'd see if there was any outlook for continued/open development of the game (RRT3 doesn't cut it for me) I could get involved in.

 

On a side note as this is my first post, I'm really glad to see this game still has a serious following, RRT2 is probably my favorite game of all time - fun to play both casually and competitively.

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I still have an interest in pursuing this goal.  

 

I learned my program skills using IBM punch cards.  Yea I'm an old timer. 

 

I acquired some programing tools, but I never spent much time using them.   They are from the time when RRT2 was first being programed. 

I didn't update these tools.   So I am not proficient in their use.  But working on parts of the project may be possible.

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Apologies for resurrecting an old thread. I'm again unemployed, but now have a little cushion to fiddle with things like this.

I have a new insight from my recent efforts modding Minecraft: Anything we build from scratch would do well to be written in Java. This would enable it to run on any machine that can run a "Java Virtual Machine" (JVM), also known as the Java Runtime Environmant (JRE). Today's hardware is so fast that it can easily run a machine within a machine, thus eliminating one of game developers' old banes of cross-platform portability.

It also occurs to me that if we can't get source code for RT2 itself, then maybe source code for RT3 or *any* similar game would be instructive enough to get me off the ground. What I really need to get started is the high-level concept of how such game programs need to be structured.

Walking through Minecraft's source code has been instructive, but it implements paradigms such as client-server architecture that RT2 doesn't need in a single-user environment. However...

I do wonder if all of RT2 could be layered on top of Minecraft as a set of custom "blocks" and "entities" within "adventure mode" worlds (RT2 maps/scenarios). If I could just figure out how to "pause" the game... It might be possible to design RT2 as a game within a game. RT2 could pause while Minecraft time continues its relentless march forward. I'll have to think on it some more.

Imagine being able to fly around inside the simulation, perhaps even riding on the trains!

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I've no experience with Minecraft, and having RRT2 inside it doesn't sound like my cup of tea. Nor is Java really (I'm a C#er) but I can code in it and am still up for helping with a project such as this, so long as it's faithful to the glorious RRT2! (I'm not a fan of RRT3's visuals or changes in gameplay)

I was considering throwing together some stuff in the vain of Railroad Tycoon last year when I was getting good (read: not entirely useless) at 3D stuff, but that was all C++/C# and DX9/11 (probably want OpenGL if multiplatform is a goal (DX background means I can read and modify OpenGL code no-problem, not written anything substantial for years, however)). RRT2 is, naturally, not entirely rendered 3D, but I'm sure the sophisticated Isotropic look can be preserved without having to put too much effort into an efficient renderer (a luxury the original developers could not afford, I'm sure).

If we go about coding this nicely, then we can do such wonderful things as writing a horrendously ugly 2D top-down gauntly-colours covered-in-debugging-text interface for use until the backend is sorted out, and glue a nice interface onto it later (when horrors such as networking and state preservation has been addressed).

Glad I got the email notification for this... I couldn't find this forum the last time I looked and was worried I was missing stuff.

Edited by VisualMelon

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I've just joined this forum purely to support this idea and add a little input if anyone is still interested in working on this.

At this point, I'd settle for a high res patch and some tweaking to make use of modern hardware, ie. there's no need for the scaling down of fps that seems to happen automatically in multiplayer mode. These changes alone would guarantee many more years of use.

Has anyone thought about starting a kickstarter for this?

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Probably not, since we don't even have a chief technologist. All I know now is that the ancient tech inside RRT2 needs to be replaced. That means that any project in this area will need to reinvent the entire game (or those parts deemed worth reinventing).

Multiplayer never attracted much interest, perhaps because players need pauses to plan and build. Much programming complexity can be avoided by dumping MP. I think everyone here would rather see a more viable 'AI'.

After that, the main mystery for me is the graphics and animation. OK, I'm also somewhat baffled by Windoze message-based program structure, but I just need an example or two to get me started. I just wish we could recover the path-finding algorithm used in RRT2. It was one very tricky problem that was solved almost perfectly.

Otherwise, my hurdle is money. I've spent too much time unemployed to commit to freeware project. I could do most of this with a little help here and there, but I need to find paying work instead.

PS: If RRT2 were reinvented, it would need a unique name to avoid trademark violations, and it might need some re-skinning to avoid copyright violations. In other words, we would imitate the game, not copy it.

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I'm definitely interested in this, huge fan of RRT2.  I did in the past create a signal box sim (just a personal project not released in any way), simulating a British signalbox in steam days on Windows in C++ so have a little idea on how to code some but not all aspects of a Rail Sim as my sim had AI trains responding to user operating signals and points.  I've recently been creating a very basic SDL2 (SDL is a open-source game API that is totally cross-platform, the open-source version of Theme Hospital called CorsixTH uses it) framework in C++ with the idea of porting my signalbox sim to that (the original was written in Windows GDI).  The other thing I have is a book ("The Official Guide to Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon" by Russell Sipe) which was a guide that came out with the original Railroad Tycoon which has a number of the equations (but not all) used in that sim in it.

So my suggestions on how I  would approach this as an open-source project are:-

1) Any project would need a new unique name as the rights to the original are still active (if I've understood the conversation so far).  Also unfortunately no rights or code means I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong) can easily create anything like a highres patch for the original.

2) It would be a reimagining of RRT type game and not be a direct copy (again to avoid copyright issues), so the above book could be inspiration but not following exactly.

3) Unless we have some great 3D artists sign up then we would have to consider starting with a topdown 2D view and using crude "programmer" art initially. ie a RRT look rather than RRT2.  If designed right could then port to isometric later  OR as someone suggested earlier see if we could get permission to use OpenTTD art as a starter.

4) For API I'd recommend something cross-platform so it can be played on many different OSes.  SDL is good (its built on OpenGL but has its own 2D rendering engine built on top of that) except there is no UI API, so you either have to roll your own or find something on another open-source project that can be used freely.  I also think Unity is also free for open source projects, I did a basic course in that so know how to do a simple game in that.  Java could also be good as I gather there are some good APIs for that too but I not done anything in Java myself.  Or could ask another open source project if we can use their framework (eg OpenTTD or CorsixTH), probably can anyway under open-source rules but always polite to ask!

5) As for coding then I think C++, C# (if using Unity), Java would be the main candidates with possibly scripting in Lua or Python.

6) Start small, we don't have any source code or rights to modify the original so iterative development using unit testing would be a sensible approach.  So first create a 2D tiled map codebase, then add some predefined track, then add an engine to the track and get it to move along it, then stations, then work on solving the route finding etc  ie step by step

7) Don't spend any money initially just have a free project on Github, so if the project hits the buffers lose nothing.  I'd not recommend Kickstarter unless you have very experienced devs on board.

8) This would likely take years to complete!  RTT and RTT2 are complex games so not easy to build quickly.

 

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On 8/24/2017 at 5:01 AM, JonMoore said:

As for coding then I think C++, C# (if using Unity), Java would be the main candidates

If you want to be cross-platform, then I'd pick Java, which can run on any machine for which a JVM exists.

On 8/24/2017 at 5:01 AM, JonMoore said:

Unless we have some great 3D artists sign up then we would have to consider starting with a topdown 2D view

Perhaps, though I'm unsure about the top-down part. A mock-up (proof of concept, however projected) could go a long way without real art. However, we might not need to. I know from watching SimCity 4 modders design 3D models that there are some very talented artists out there. We would just need to find a few who love railroading. Come to think of it, people like that are still adding 3D train sets to SimCity 4...

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