Haha, I wish. Game development definitely isn’t very glamorous. Staring at the same action sequences over and over gets boring. Most of our interesting stories are dirty laundry, and we don’t want to air it out publicly!
What was the initial spark that evolved into what is now Train Frontier?
The decision to make it a train sim happened fairly quickly. I joked that someone should make a train sim, and then seriously offered to do the project with Emoks a few weeks later. We thought we could probably beat most of the hastily and shoddily done games, in quality at least. Train sims are a fairly rare and niche genre, and besides some rare Japanese releases it had never really been exposed to the console crowd. So TFE is our experiment with XBLIG, XNA, and train sims on consoles.
Currently, our game is focused on being a world building sandbox, model train style. There’s the possibility of earning badges, which are like achievement riddles. We just added online play, to share maps and ride with friends. The train sim community on PC actually organizes their own roleplay sessions through voice chat. I hope to see them trying it out in our game, since everything is built in already.
We’ve been thinking up more traditional gameplay ideas since beginning, and kind of settled on a Crazy Taxi and Railroad Tycoon hybrid, but decided to hold off on releasing with it. A lot of the code for it is already done, but without polish, we feel it’d detract from the rest of the game. There’s a small secret in our game that plays off of it.
We have an update planned already with some extra features. Depending on how well the game does, we might do a sequel and add some gameplay changes.
I played with a toy train set at my grandparents house when visiting, and always went to see the large model railroad displays at the county fair. I loved building things as a kid and recreating scenes from movies and shows.
However, our decision to make TFE a “model” train sim was due to other factors. Emoks and I are gamers, first and foremost, but train sims are quite inaccessible due to time and knowledge factors. It’s been our goal from the start to make a game for everyone to play, so we wanted our game to evoke playfulness. One of our playtesters noticed a Simcity Urban Renewal Kit similarity in our game. It so happens that Will Wright has been a huge inspiration — he’s opened up sim games to a rainbow spectrum of players.
I actually prefer modern trains, and like the 500 Series Shinkansen, so our bullet train gets my vote. I’m huge public transportation fan, but our public transport system is so terrible here in California. I’m looking forward to our future high-speed rail system. We actually have a badge poking fun at our freeway system, since I’m a Los Angeles native. Emoks likes streamliners.
Are there any plans to possibly port this game to PC in the future?
I’d certainly like there to be a release on PC, but we’d need to work out distribution details first. Any future versions will be cross-platform from the get go.
I’m a professional indie game developer for as long as it lasts me. When I meet new people, I usually say I’m a freelance software engineer to make things easier, but what I do isn’t actually a secret. Emoks just says he’s in software development.
How long as Train Frontier Express been in development? The polished UI and pop-art graphics really pop in a sea of 2D pixel-based zombie shooters and Avatar-based games.