While experienced players know how to make their railway company a success, the AI opponents in Railway Empire have to make a variety of risky decisions if they are to hold a candle to skilful players. For example, one decision the AI regularly has to evaluate is whether a more direct route over a mountain (and the associated additional costs for tunnels and bridges) is sufficiently economical, or whether it makes more sense to bypass the obstacle. It’s not always an easy decision for players, but it’s no problem at all for your computerized rivals, who are more than capable of planning and building complex rail networks on any terrain and will no doubt prove a tenacious competitor in your battle for supremacy of the tracks.
Naturally, human players normally design their routes by hand – but for the AI, the development team at Gaming Minds came up with something special. Creative Director Daniel Dumont has more details:
“Track construction for the AI is a complex topic. Whether building over mountains, land or water – we wanted to enable the AI to build smart and realistic routes. The challenge with that is that the AI has to consider curve radii, inclines and terrain all at the same time in order to build efficient routes. It therefore operates in two steps: in the first step, it tries to create the shortest, most economical route. In the second step, the chosen track is then optimized by smoothing it out and inserting it into the existing terrain. This way, tunnels and bridges are created. The AI in Railway Empire is therefore able to construct extensive route networks, while simultaneously considering the economic and architectural impact of its actions. Depending on the desired level of difficulty, players can also choose whether to use the simplified train logic of the AI, or even a more demanding variant, for their own construction work.”
Even when faced with dynamically placed objects such as villages, farms or even rival routes, the AI in Railway Empire won’t stutter for a moment, and will simply bypass the obstacle or incorporate it neatly into its existing network. And as soon as business is buzzing on the tracks, the AI independently builds switches and stations to enable it to use more trains on existing routes and to ensure the success of its company.
Can you outperform the AI? A well-planned route is a great place to start, but it isn’t everything. There are many factors to consider in the railroad business: Are you recognizing and fulfilling the needs of your passengers and contractors? Have you put the right locomotives on the right routes? Remember – the road to success is not paved with good intentions, but with economic skill and the steel of industry!
Want to see more? In this gameplay video, producer Christian Schlütter presents the AI of Railway Empire in action:
Railway Empire will be released in January 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Linux. So check your tickets, brush up on your business acumen and get ready to face the challenge – it’s going to be a hot winter!