This month, we talked to Daniel about what it’s like to have RAILGRADE out and playable to the public. The reception to the game has been wonderful, so let’s get down to it!
What is it like to have RAILGRADE released to the public?
Daniel: I get the feeling you get when a plan comes together! So many years lead up to this launch and players are reporting experiences which sound copied from our early game design documents. Everything from the Rags to Riches gameplay, or players discussing train engine combinations like RPG weapons selection gives me a sense of relief. These are the goals we had from the start and it is incredible that the abstract plans survived implementation.
You held an AMA before the game’s release, was talking to the community directly a fun experience?
Daniel: The highlight of the AMA for me was, how over the next week, posters would come back and report their fun. I am still email-subscribed to that AMA post, so to me the entire thread is a single stream of posts. Like all marketing, you start trying to explain to players what the game holds for them. Most viewers of the AMA would have seen just that. But for me, the AMA kept going and became a chance to chat with players who saw our AMA, bought RAILGRADE, then came back to say thanks. Of course, I am the one who should say thanks!
How does it feel to see your game being played and enjoyed by the community?
Daniel: Oops, I might have answered this a bit above, so let me give a new perspective: We, as a team, love playing RAILGRADE. When you make a game, everyone expects to get bored of the game by release. With RAILGRADE, we did not get bored of our own game, and took that as a good sign. Now we have some players who have finished the entire campaign. That feels far too quick to us and so we do now have a real sense of, what next? RAILGRADE still has a ton of unique experiences to design, so we are mostly back into the work mood of before.
Are there any aspects of the game that players have gravitated to that you didn’t expect?
Daniel: To be honest, I am surprised how many players enjoyed and identified RAILGRADE with its earlier puzzle-like levels. I hesitate to call any level in RAILGRADE a puzzle, except perhaps the Maze level.
A puzzle game is structured with one or a couple game designer specified solutions. In RAILGRADE everything is about giving players a tool box and encouraging every player to develop their own style. Thus I do not think the descriptor ‘puzzle’ is accurate, but I realize now people are struggling to find a word for what RAILGRADE is. Players enjoy it, they notice the early levels are small and not sandboxes. They notice the short, direct, and achievable goals and the best word they can find is ‘puzzle’.
It speaks to the fact that RAILGRADE has found a fun and unique recipe for this genre and players appear to understand what they mean when using the [puzzle] descriptor.
How does the team prefer to play the game, on PC or Switch?
Daniel: Personally, I’ve had the most fun on Switch. My workstation is a place of work, so any time spent there leads me to getting work things done. With the Switch, I can dedicate hours to play without getting distracted. Besides me, most of the team are hardcore PC players. Having developed a graphically intensive video game: we all have high end GPUs. So, as you can imagine, most of the team games on their PC with graphics set to max.
Players seem to approach the game in a myriad of different styles, which ones have really stood out to you?
Daniel: Indeed, and let me clarify: there is no wrong way to play RAILGRADE. It exists for your fun. So, if you like a play style and you are having fun, that’s okay! Not everything in RAILGRADE must be played for efficiency.
From my side, seeing so many players build giant interconnected networks with a single main line loop was a surprise, but in a good way. These designs attempted to serve every industry with a single network. It’s almost as if the entire map is a giant diorama train set. Those were perhaps the most beautiful levels.
Keep building those rail networks, Industrialists.