Project image
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$8,098
pledged of $800,000pledged of $800,000 goal
210
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jun 20 2015
$8,098
pledged of $800,000pledged of $800,000 goal
210
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jun 20 2015

About

It has been far too many years since fans like you have had a really good railroad strategy game to play. Franz Felsl, lead designer of Rails and Riches was a designer and artist of Railroad Tycoon 2 and 3, and is a die-hard fan of the genre, just like you are. Now, Combine Games is about to build the best Railroad RTS ever made. 

We know exactly how hard that will be, and it will cost some serious money, as you can see. The spirit of Kickstarter is that we promise to deliver a working game, if you provide the money to finish it. We came here to players first, not publishers and investors, so we can build the game YOU want. We've been lurking on railroad game forums for years, asking what you want to play, and hearing you ask for this. Let's build it right.

Click the play button below to hear some early music from the game from Daniel Indart.

Rails & Riches is a real-time 3D strategy game that puts the player in the position of a Rail Baron. The player connects cities and industries by laying track and making deals. Rails & Riches is a beautiful model train set connected to an engrossing economic game designed to allow new content to be added both by the developers and by the community, but it won’t fill up the guest bedroom. Play in Sandbox Mode to just enjoy building a track layout or play a Campaign full of scenarios allowing the player to relive, remake or re-imagine the drama and challenges involved with knitting an empire with rails of iron.

This is the core gameplay of Rails & Riches. You select or generate a scenario, and lay track along an economical path that also meets the grade limitations of the engines you can afford. You must place and upgrade your stations to collect necessary resources. You must keep your industries fed to produce more refined goods and make your cities and industries grow. Consists are definitions of cars in a train, and they must be designed to fulfill the supply and demand along each step of every route in your network. These are the elements of a great railroad RTS (Real Time Strategy) game. But there is so much more to learn and discover. Scenarios are highly replayable, and your choices when creating a Chairman can affect the costs and production capabilities through the game.

Rails & Riches is focused on moving many different kinds of cargo, not just passengers. You play with trains, not horse carts and sidewalks, and the cargo doesn’t move itself around. You are entirely in control of where you want it to go, where it is stored, and when it arrives and feeds into the chain of industries. As time passes, new engines are unlocked. These can be expensive, making it harder to make a profit, but they are more powerful so you can have much longer trains than you have seen before. And the time pressure builds, since a scenario usually has several deadlines, and rewards for different levels of success. As with most RTS games, you can control time, and that makes crossing the larger distances in Rails & Riches a lot more fun.

You also work through Scenarios and Campaigns, and modify your Chairman. There is no end to the content to discover and explore, because maps can be authored or randomly generated, and community generated content is just a few clicks away. Managing and optimizing your empire through the ledger and finance system is another of the strategic aspects of the game that you can enjoy.

Most publishers don’t recognize there is still a market for a real-time strategy game about trains. But there is, especially if you make it fun to play. Things have changed in the last 12 years since RT3 came out; and things have changed a LOT more in the 17 years since RT2 came out. Still, a good game is a good game. Let’s look at some things that will change with the times.

Large and Small Worlds
RT2 brought about large worlds as well as small with reasonably detailed regions. Places that players could comprehend, imagine or relate to. Thanks to our exclusive new world creation tools, Rails & Riches will add the capacity to create even larger worlds with greater detail so that you can better capture the feel of the places you are playing whether you are remaking history or reliving it.

Player Created Content
Not everyone felt like yellow clapboard houses gave the right kind of feel to every location on the planet and the nearly 200 year timeline in RT2, but that was then. Now, we are creating Rails & Riches to let the community create and easily share regional architectural and time appropriate structures for the game without waiting for Combine Games to make it so. With the Steam Workshop and our tool set, you’ll be able to import houses, office buildings, industries and landmarks to give your world an authentic look. We’ll be making more things for you as fast as we can, but Combine Games has limits. As the “train community”, WE know no such boundaries. You’ll also be able to create and download locomotive, rolling stock and building textures to aid in your story telling. You can even create landscapes, layouts and scenarios to share.

YOU are the Chairman
No more hiring and firing chairmen or managers like chits in a board game! You are in charge, you will decide what you’re good at… or bad. You will have the ability to play scenarios and campaigns as a chairman of your own creation. Were you “Born to Build”, then rail is cheaper to lay and maintain. Perhaps you are a “Top Tinkerer”, then you will probably get new locomotives a bit earlier than most. Sure, you may have to be a “Snake Oil Salesman” or a “Mule Skinner” to get a trait you’ll like, but how bad could that be?

Modern Graphics
Okay, RT3 was 3D but it was an early 3D and why settle for OK in 2016? No reason of course. You can expect a modern 3D environment in Rails & Riches with lighting and effects that will help immerse you in the world of the rail barons and empire builders.

The Niche Less Scratched
As we mentioned earlier, you can make and download skins and models for Rails & Riches but we’ll also be making new content with new features over time. We expect to add diesel and electric locomotives as well as regional content from around the world. This will be a model railroad set that has a purpose as a game and as a collection. When you get the itch to play with trains or try something new, there will be no need to start from scratch each time. Combine Games is dedicated to our community over the long term and we want to grow with the community and see it thrive long after launch. And we expect community leaders to come forward make big things happen. We aren't looking for a quick buck and an exit strategy, we see the value in close knit, dedicated game communities and that’s the way we like it! We can’t wait to see all the content you are creating years from now.

The Golden Age of Steam
For content at launch, we are focusing on the steam locomotive in North America between the 1880’s to the 1930’s. Don’t hate! We've got a lot to do, and it’s not only making content. This is just what we will launch with and only the beginning of big things to come. It’s like a party, Combine provides the place, the furniture and something nice to drink… and we all need to bring a dish or two to share!

Tunnels
Tunnels, tunnels, tunnels we got tunnels… and UNDO! That’s right, it’s what’s on the menu at Combine Games. We can fight about lots of other things. Managers, signals, time tables, building time, etc… but Tunnels and Undo are on the menu for keeps. So we can mark that off the bucket list. If you weren't around for the RT2 launch, you'll have to ask Franz about this story.

 Things we've done and places we've been.

Combine Games

Combine Games is a new studio. Our philosophy is to stay small and efficient, and to focus on community oriented games. It is always more fun to play games that your friends also like to play. We live, work, and play in Seattle’s Eastside. We will ramp our existing staff up to about 10-12 full time positions after the Kickstarter is funded, and will continue to outsource most of the art and music.

Franz Felsl, Chief Product Officer
Over 20 years of game development experience from high level product conception to scenario design, and from marketing plans to package wrapping. Experience as a studio manager, design director, lead artist, lead designer, system designer, level designer, researcher, cleanup artist, contractor and more. Franz has worked on over 25 game titles including Railroad Tycoon 2 & 3, Tropico 1 & 2, Age of Wonders 2, Marvel Superhero Squad Online and over 20 other PC and Xbox titles. Franz has also been part of 6 startup studios as well as several established game development companies including Take 2 Interactive, Terraglyph, QQP and Sierra Online. He holds a BS in Plant & Soil Science from Southern Illinois University and served in the US Army as an active duty Military Policeman and as a Tank Driver in the Wisconsin National Guard

Darrin West, Chief Technical Officer
Darrin is a software engineer and architect with over 25 years of experience, 15 years of which has been in the game industry. His first career was in large scale modeling and simulation. Darrin was lead engineer on large successful projects such as The Sims Online, and Super Hero Squad Online. He was also chief architect of Emergent's Lightspeed game development framework. Darrin has lead several teams of engineers, and has been a key member in the early stages of 6 different startup companies. He has published a number of articles in academic journals and has been invited to speak at industry workshops. Darrin holds BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science from the University of Calgary.

Cameron Shinn, Chief Operating Officer
Cameron has spent 11 years in the game industry focused on project planning, team leading, and game operations. 6 of his 11 years were spent publishing and operating games whose revenues exceeded $1MM a month per product. Tasks on those products typically involved customer support, technical support, overseeing the Quality Assurance teams, managing community, marketing, and PR strategies, and planning the release of updates to the products. The remaining 5 years has been spent taking that experience to developers to ensure their games came to market ready for operation and with a path to success. Cameron has shipped 3 projects from inception to release where he was managing the scope, quality, and budget. In addition he has designed and overseen the development of two publishing technology stacks used by multiple games to this day.

SuperGenius Game Art Studio www.supergeniusstudio.com
SuperGenius is best known for helping some of the best game developers in the industry make some of the best games in the world since 2009. Companies such as Double Fine, Telltale Games, Activision, Gazillion, and Disney turn to SuperGenius when they need a hand with their most valuable properties. The Marvel Universe, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Broken Age, and Skylanders, are all regular playgrounds for the SG team. In-house teams allow the studio to take on projects that are stylistically unique, technically challenging, and artistically ambitious. Because of this, they tend to work with developers who are super-creative and care deeply about the quality of games they produce.

Indart Music www.indartmusic.com

Award-winning producer, composer, and songwriter Daniel Indart is widely respected in the entertainment industry as one of the most prolific and knowledgeable artist/executives in the world of Latin music. In 1986, Indart founded Indart Music & Sound (IMS), creating and producing music and sound design for more than 850 advertising commercials. IMS has also won a host of industry awards including Clio’s, Belding’s, and Se Habla Espanol awards. He has also won the following game awards:
  • 2002 D.I.C.E. Original Music award for the sound track to Tropico 2.
  • Gamespots Best Composition: Tropico The Music,
  • Computer Gaming World “Best Music for Video Game”: Tropico The Music.
  • Computer Games Magazine “Best Music for Video Game”: Tropico The Music.
  • The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences “Outstanding Achievement in Original Musical Composition”: Tropico The Music.

We will be developing and releasing on Steam, first for PC. Our team has lots of experience with Unity3d, and is looking forward to using version 5 with the new physically-based shaders, and new UI system that we’ve been prototyping with. Especially, the 64 bit Editor (this solves a lot of challenges we've had with the big games we’ve done before). We already have some prototypes running of terrain editing and streamlined, WYSIWYG track laying. We are customizing the Unity terrain system to support real time dynamic modification that you can see as you lay tracks. It’s really fun to see exactly what you are getting as you go. It even generates trestles and tunnels in real time. And if you do make a mistake, we already have an undo system prototyped. We’ll need to harden this early work, and scale it up to the size of worlds we all want. The only constraints on track placement are the ones built into the game mechanics, like maximum grade, minimum turn radius, and cost. No more grids, and orthogonal layout. And with undo, you don’t wind up wasting your precious, hard earned cash. (Unless you unpause for a while. Cause that would just be cheating.) 

We are relying on a lot of tech from Steam, for distribution, patching, and managing save files across machines. The Steam Workshop is going to be used for sharing community mods, like new buildings, train skins, and new Scenarios. We will eventually integrate that directly into the game UI to make it super easy to see new stuff with a few clicks, without even restarting the game. It is a bit of a challenge to efficiently support dynamic assets like that, but we have experience with implementing sophisticated asset managers in Unity. The Scenario editor is something we need to develop during the project to create Campaigns and Scenarios to ship with the game. We will polish that up and provide it to the community so you will always have an interesting supply of things to do. We aren’t convinced that we should allow the community to make tuning changes that can destroy the fun of the game. Bullet trains in 1900 might seem funny, but the I-Win button gets old really fast. We also think that fully animated engines with particle effects and sounds, are something we should reserve for our professional content developers initially.

Once the project is funded, we will need 10 months of development to deliver our first public build on Steam. That should happen by May 2016. If we reach higher Kickstarter goals, we will refine the schedule to account for delivering the stretch goals, but we still want to let players experience the game early and give us playtest feedback. No matter how much we raise during our Kickstarter the game will go through Steam Early Access, so we get your feedback on development of the game. All backers will receive immediate access to the Early Access version when it ships as well as all future updates.

See Campaign Update #1 for more details on what comes with these Goals.

That is a good question. Here is our REAL answer. We don’t have the money. Oh we’ve put money and months of effort into Rails & Riches already; in fact Darrin has already prototyped an ugly terrain and track editor with tunnels and bridges!

“Please, won’t someone think of the ugly track editor?”

However to make Rails & Riches the way it should be made we can’t be beholden to a big publisher and their magic 8 ball. We will use our experience and your input to make the best train RTS you’ve ever seen.

We have had decades in the game industry and watched many companies rise and fall. One thing remains the same, you must know your audience. The video game industry didn't rise just because of 3D graphics, consoles or mobile devices. It has grown because people like games and more and more people have leisure time. A game that’s all bells and whistles is just noise. We want to make games that people enjoy playing. We are geek gamers like millions of you and we scratch our niches with glee! That’s why we are here at Kickstarter, because like Willy Wonka, who else can we trust but you to help with such an important task? 

We realize we are asking for a lot of money, but we think we have the project on a realistic schedule that is also sustainable. That said, the pretty pictures are coming. If we make our goals we will be able to unleash SuperGenius, Daniel Indart and a cadre of programmers and content developers all anxious to get the job done. We don’t want to wait a single second longer than we have to; and we’re ready to roll when the block signal turns green. We are the real deal and we can make this happen with your help. If you want to see Rails & Riches and more games like this, then throw some change our way and join our family of Oompa Loompas and be the dreamers of dreams.

Risks and challenges

There are some technical challenges to making such a big game, and having it perform well. But we have experts lined up that have developed terrain systems, shaders, and large scale asset pipelines for large shipped successful titles. As far as design goes, Franz knows this game, and won’t waste time on false starts.

While game development is one of the hardest things to predict and manage, we are committed to keeping you informed of our progress. We’ve shipped a lot of products, in more challenging situations, and are looking forward to these challenges. This is going to be fun. Why don’t you join us for the ride?

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Funding period

- (32 days)