My first impression upon trying to play Train Fever was one of frustration.     I couldn’t figure out what to do.    Here’s a modern entertainment software which gives no help at all to the player.    I built a depot, didn’t know what that meant, got an achievement, and gave up.     No passengers were transported.

I gave it a second go today.     This time, I read the games manuals – which exist solely as guides written by other Steam players.    I’m still missing a ton of information but I’m starting to get some of the ideas.

Your map will have a number of towns.    Pick two to try and connect via train service.     Start out with either a tram system (I haven’t done this) or a “bus” system to start moving people around the town, and to your train station.    The more activity, the better – the town will grow larger and present more people to ride your trams and trains.

America in 1850 - Train stations and stagecoaches.

America in 1850 – Train stations and stagecoaches.

The bus system is easy to set up – scatter a bunch of bus stops, then use the “Line” tool to create a line.    A “Line” is simply a set of stops for the busses.    Your stagecoaches…. erm, busses ….. will move back and forth through the town and start competing with walking places.

You also need (more hardware) a “Depot”, which is just a maintenance area for your trains/busses.    The bus is easy to set up, stick a builiding inside of your town and you’re done.    For trains, you need to curve the tracks correctly and get one set up off the side of your tracks.    It was a bit tricky but I managed it.

One thing which is abstracted out (and thank goodness) is price setting.   My first game the money just started rolling in, eventually, all I had to do was set up the physical infrastructure and the “lines”.

I’ve not seen such a smooth setup for zooming in and out, to get a strategic view and a street level view.    Your little world is ALIVE with building, people walking, and businesses working.     And you can catch neat shots of your trains zooming across the landscape.

Heading to Green Bay

Heading to Green Bay

Next step is to see if I can earn $10 million dollars, and survive through to 1900.    So far I’ve made it to 1875 or so before I got bored and wanted to restart, and play the game better.     So we’ll see how my new USA game goes.