The developers from Feral Interactive were kind enough to answer some of my questions. Both gamers and map makers should enjoy their responses!


In SMR for Mac can tunnel & bridge prices be configured on a per map basis?
Overall, the Mac functionality in-game is the same as for the PC version of the game, so you can’t customise any aspect of the Mac game that you couldn’t in the PC version. This means you can’t configure tunnel and bridge prices on a per-map basis.

What made you decide to port SMR?
We’re big strategy fans here at Feral, and in recent years we’ve released business simulation games such as Tropico 3 and The Movies as well as RTS and turn-based strategy games like Empire: Total War and Rome: Total War. We ported Sid Meier’s Pirates! to the Mac in 2008, and it did well, so Sid Meier’s Railroads! was a logical choice. On a more personal level, there’s something really timeless about the game, it really captures the joy of playing with train sets. On top of that it has the business simulator edge, which as you know is highly addictive!

Do you have a favorite map?
I think everyone who worked on it has their favourite maps. Because we’re based in London we are particularly fond of Great Britain, it’s like a fantasy of what it would be like if our rail networks ran on time…

Have you tried any custom maps?
We did test a number of custom maps and found a number of bugs in the PC scenario editor which caused crashes. Although we don’t support the editor officially (it was also unsupported on the PC), we did fix a number of bugs to help modders who decide to use the editor.

Did you ever figure out how to make a train go in a circular route?
Some things are a mystery to even us. Maybe Sid Meier knows?

As you know back in 2006 SMR was very crash prone, now in 2012 with SMR for Mac what would you say about stability?
The Mac is based on the final PC patched version, so everything that was fixed in that version is fixed in the Mac version. In addition, we also fixed a number of logic bugs and crashes on the Mac version.

No software is ever perfect (apart from perhaps “Hello World” written in BASIC), but Sid Meier’s Railroads! on the Mac is very stable and fun to play. If users do find a crash, they should contact our support team and we can add the details to our bug tracking system for a potential future patch.

Have you added any maps to SMR for Mac?
We didn’t create any new maps, but we did include the “Lapland” map, which as we’re sure you know, features the delivery of cookies across the frozen wastes of Father Christmas’ homeland.

What was the most fun aspect of developing SMR for Mac?
Testing the multiplayer! Our QA team all work in the same room, so when they tested four-player online multiplayer we could hear their shouts of delight… or despair. We also learned a lot about the history of the railroads, particularly the documentation team, who spent many happy hours proof-reading the manual. They now win the “transport” round of every pub quiz.

Are there any easter eggs for us to find?
There aren’t any Easter Eggs, but we did fix some issues that were present in the PC version, especially when it came to modding and custom scenarios.

Are there any other interesting features in the Mac version?
Definitely!

The first thing is that it supports Apple’s Game Center, which is Apple’s online gaming platform that was released on Macs this summer as a feature of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (though it had been around on iOS for a bit longer). Because it was released not long afterwards, Railroads! would have been one of the first games to use Game Center’s features as an online matching service. Additionally, we added new, Mac-specific features that we add to all our games, such as automatically-filed screenshots and a custom front- end panel. In Railroads!, this panel lets you customise your iTunes options and control whether the Terrain Editor is displayed in game, for example.

Probably the most interesting feature is the music though; due to licensing issues we were unable to use the original music for the game, which meant we had to record our own! That means that almost all the music you hear in game was written and recorded especially for the Mac version. It’s now high-quality stereo recordings instead of the low-bit rate mono recordings in the original release.

We also created a dedicated area for the Mac version of the game on our support site, where we list FAQs for the game and will list any future patched. We also created a minisite that contains a potted history of the Railroad Tycoon series.

Does SMR for Mac alter SMR’s asset loading behaviour?
No, to maintain compatibility between the versions (for modding etc) the engine code is the same.

Does SMR for Mac support more than 4GB of RAM?
The game is a 32bit title (like almost all games and applications). If an application is 32bit, it can only address 4GB of RAM for its own exclusive use. However, as the OS is 64bit (as are the OS libraries) then the 4GB can be used exclusively by the application while the rest of the OS and the graphics drivers (etc) use their own memory allocation, which is not part of that 4GB limit.

It is very rare that a game needs more than 4GB of allocated memory, and rewriting the entire game engine in 64 bit was not feasible due to the limited benefit it would have.


I want to thank Feral Interactive for taking the time to answer my questions and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading their responses.