Epic Games is proud to announce that it will be publishing RAILGRADE and helping bring the joy of rejuvenating an entire planet’s economy with trains to PC and Nintendo Switch. We’re incredibly excited to share information on the game with you, so what better way to do so than to start with answering some questions? We sat down with Daniel and Chris from the development team to get some initial answers on the game:
So, what is RAILGRADE?
Daniel: RAILGRADE is a management-simulation focused game. I describe it to friends as a train game where you automate factories and save the world through the power of trains. Every time I say that it brings a smile to my face, because of course, “save the world through the power of trains” is super corny. However, it’s exactly how we want the player to feel. The world in RAILGRADE is broken and the economy is in shambles. You, the player, inherit this mess and need to go region by region fixing the problems the planet’s citizens encounter.
You fix these problems by building railways and placing trains. One railway might be a coal supply line to a coal power plant. Another railway might haul the produced energy to a city. Or you might choose to haul both the coal and the energy, on a single, more complex railway to save money. You earn money from the delivery of this freight, which lets you invest in more track and more trains.
I think many young kids grow up playing with toy trains and imagine the trains actually moving and having a purpose. With RAILGRADE, the trains are alive and doing really useful things. These really useful engines deliver water to thirsty cities or vital inputs to the production of rockets. You get to experience an entire world where trains are the primary mode of transportation. Even better still: you are in charge of it all.
How has it been working with Epic Games?
Daniel: Pretty awesome. We’ve worked with other indie publishers in the past and by far Epic Games is the most effective publisher. What sets Epic apart is the people. Everyone I’ve worked with at Epic has been diligent and effective. It means when Epic says they will do something we can trust it will be done and finished to a high quality.
Chris: From my end getting direct support on Unreal Engine from the developers who made it has been key. A bunch of my code leverages complex computational shaders and you’d be right to imagine that hits edge cases. Multiple times we’ve received direct support from the Epic Engineer implementing system X. I don’t think we’d be ready to ship so soon without that help.
RAILGRADE is coming to PC and Switch, was it important to the team to give players that choice?
Daniel: Our team is heavy on PC players. We’ve all grown up playing management sims on PC and remember the core lessons fondly. I spent long hours as a kid playing Railroad Tycoon II and, likewise, Jordan for Transport Tycoon. I know Chris sank months into the early Settlers games. The sense of development and ownership over your creation is special.
With the Switch, we wanted to bring this love for the genre to a new generation. By making RAILGRADE a first-class experience on the Switch, I hope a bunch of players who may never have thought about management sims will pick it up and find the fun PC players have been enjoying for decades. For me, the Switch is a special console with no distractions, games I play on it feel deeper and more engrossing. A low key hope of mine is that one day, I’ll be walking around Tokyo or on a train and see a kid playing RAILGRADE on their Switch.
Chris: For my part, optimization has been a constant focus. I’ve spent about half a year full time to bring the visual fidelity of the Switch on par with the PC version, with few exceptions. This involved developing a bunch of specialized systems. We might be the first management sim with so many level of detail systems. By my count, we use 6 such systems, not counting systems we implemented and tested, but eventually obsoleted. Combined with shader optimizations and extensive GPU and CPU profiling, we hit our performance targets.
RAILGRADE lets players freely build up very dense track networks. Thus, we cannot rely on traditional hardcoded performance optimizations and level design. Various fixed content games achieved incredible results on the Switch, but never had to consider the player terraforming the level and filling the world with trains and track. Not to knock their achievement, of course, but optimization is a continuous challenge for us, which we are still working to improve. Every time performance reaches one of our milestones, we use the extra headroom to allow more track and more trains.
RAILGRADE will be releasing later this year, so be sure to Wishlist the game in the Epic Games Store, if you’re planning to hop aboard on PC. If Switch is more your speed, you can Wishlist RAILGRADE on the Nintendo eShop!
We cannot wait to see what kind of rail networks you’ll create, Industrialists!