Hi! Welcome back to the blog! A lot has changed, but a lot has come ’round again.
The last couple of years I haven’t done much with OpenTTD. I’ve been busy with university, dabbling in local politics, and generally making a nuisance of myself. But a few weeks ago, I was in my university’s architecture department, and found myself looking at drawings of isometric cubes. “This feels familiar”, I thought…
The fact is, Transport Tycoon and OpenTTD are very special games. For those of us who grew up playing them, the satisfaction and nostalgia of the gameplay is undeniable. For those who enjoy creating and customisation, the scope of possibilities in NewGRF, NoAI, and gamescripts is massive. And for new players, it’s a game that’s mature, cross-platform, lightweight, and free.
I’m hooked. I’m back.
So, what’s the order of business?
Firstly, I’ve updated my AI, CivilAI, to build trucks and trains, as well as buses and aircraft. It’s now an all-round general purpose AI, which (in my opinion) does a pretty good job of providing some background activity for your games. Check it out.
Secondly, trains (of course). Thanks in equal measure to Transport Tycoon, Thomas the Tank Engine, and vague memories of the GCR, British trains remain a firm favourite of mine. The UK Renewal Set, an extension and redesign of the default Transport Tycoon vehicles, was my first NewGRF back in 2006, and 2012’s UK Railway Set remains one of my most popular. Another six years later, it’s time for one more revisit.
The UK Revival Set (UKRS3) is a hand-drawn, 32bpp 2x zoom set of British railway vehicles, covering the 20th century from 1900 to the present day. The first alpha versions are available on my Patreon page (more on that below), while the first public beta will be released in the next couple of months. Hand-drawing these sprites, I have to say, is much more satisfying and “true” to TTD than the 3d rendered Pineapple Trains were – but 32bpp is much easier to work in than an 8 bit palette, and the 2x zoom allows much greater detail than traditional TTD sprites. I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone getting into sprite drawing!
Thirdly, I’ve set up a Patreon page. The final versions of all my NewGRFs and other OpenTTD content will always be made available for free via the in-game content service; but for those who’d like to be involved in early development, would like insight into the techniques and theories behind the GRFs, or who just want to support me in creating content, take a look here. I know I’m never going to make a living making graphics for OpenTTD, but any support from the community is appreciated and motivating, and even a modest income will help justify the time and effort I’d like to put into creating this content. Initially, I’m going to be uploading and discussing alpha versions of UKRS3, as well as a set of 32bpp landscape tiles I’ve been working on. Going forward, the Patreon will give me the ability to create tutorials, templates, resources, and even commission opportunities for the community.
Lastly, once UKRS3 is up and running with an initial release, I’d really like to re-explore the town and industry sets I started a number of years ago. Towns and Industries have a huge impact on the gameplay in OpenTTD, and I feel there’s a lot of ideas there left to be explored. One tool I’m planning to make extensive use of for houses and industries is Processing, a programming tool for artists which is really useful for generating textures, patterns, and perhaps for constructing buildings. I used Processing to generate my landscape grass tiles and coastlines, and I’m looking forward to seeing (and sharing) what else I can do with it.