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The game interface is in full 3D, with free camera movement. The square grid is no longer rigid, as it was in Railroad Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon 2 - rail and structures can now be rotated 360 degrees.The track building function is not very realistic, as tracks are sometimes built at angles almost at 90 degrees to each other.
The economic model has been reworked. In previous games, goods could only be picked up at a station, and revenue depended on the distance between stations. Carloads in RT3 slowly move across the map (representing road and water transport) along the gradient of a scalar field representing price, where supply and demand sites function as sources and sinks. Revenue depends on the price difference between pick-up and delivery. This has several effects; raw materials can find their way to industries and get processed, without any trains involved, and a train does not need to pick up goods at the source.
Other changes include: each carload of mail, passengers and troops now has a destination; car setup can be automated, so that trains always pick up the cars that yield the most revenue; warehouse buildings also appear in the game, completing the commodity market the same way as ports do; trains can pass each other on a single track (as in RT1 on lowest difficulty level); no need for signal towers; service and maintenance depots, as well as station improvements (post offices, restaurants etc.), are placed individually on the map; players can buy industries, and also build processing industries wherever they like; processing industries have limited capacity, but they can be upgraded.
Just as Railroad Tycoon II, the game contains a campaign with several scenarios, presented by continent - North America, Europe and the World. The campaign interface is an interior of a railway museum, with the voice of the elderly eccentric museum guide from RT2.
North American missions:
- Go West: New York State & New England, 1840-66.
- Germantown, USA: Midwestern USA 1850-80.
- Central Pacific: San Francisco-Salt Lake City, 1855-76.
- Texas Tea: Texas & northeastern Mexico, 1888-1918.
- The War Effort: Mid-Atlantic USA, 1941. Tactical scenario.
- The State of Germany: Germany, 1848.
- The Flying Scotsman: Great Britain, 1848-65.
- Crossing the Alps: Venice-Munich-Zürich, 1875-1910.
- The Third Republic: France, 1871-96.
- Orient Express: Balkans, 1880-1914.
- The Seeder: Greenland, 2020. Tactical scenario.
- Dutchlantis: Western Europe, 2021-51.
- A chip off the Old Block: California, 2050-80.
Besides these, the game contains several stand-alone scenarios, such as post-war Italy, France, Western Europe in 1990, Australia, Germany and more.
Loco Commotion extra content
A train based puzzle game included on the Play Disc as a 141MB optional extra. Loco-Commotion involes solving route and shunting puzzles by moving trains at precise times over increasingly difficult environments throughout the multiple levels.
Coast to Coast expansion pack
The freeware expansion pack Coast to coast contains some new locomotives, maps and scenarios. Among the scenarios are imperial Russia and the People's Republic of China. There are unusual scenarios as well; including one in which the United States never underwent the Revolution.
With the release of the Coast to Coast Expansion pack, in addition to creating maps and scenarios, players were provided with tools to create customs logos, locomotive skins, and players. There are now more than 200 user created scenarios and 100 customs logos available.
Other mods have been created including new locomotives, rolling stock, industries and other building types to enhance gameplay.
Railroad Tycoon 3 - Trainmaster
RT3-Trainmaster is a player-community created super mod that completely alters the Railroad Tycoon 3 game play. It was initially designed to provide a platform for RT3 to play on Windows Vista and extend the playing life of the game. RT3-Trainmaster requires a fully installed copy of RT3 to play. It was released in the Spring of 2010.
It continues to be developed because it is designed to allow for a lot of customization. A whole new supply chain and industrial base has been developed. RT3-Trainmaster can be considered the expert version of RT3 because industries are more complex, and cargo requires micro-management to achieve your goals. Drop shipping is possible in RT3-Trainmaster, and event writing has been improved with some new options such as a third headline in news papers, and special operators when using variables.
RT3-Trainmaster was designed to allow easy customization through the used of modular pk4 files. A rolling stock developer's kit has been created that makes it possible to create new cars and locomotives, or just new skins depending skill level.
RT3-Trainmaster has also added a number of new locomotives such as the Dorchester 0-4-0 and EMD FP series diesel-electrics.
The supply chain in RT3-Trainmaster is more representational with there being 50 freight commodities to haul to industries that are more akin to how goods are made at various times during the game. Railyard Structures are available to help the player get the cargo to its destination.
Approximately 40 new industries have been added to the game and they range from a military industrial complex, to agricultural communities, and light industrial parks and government. RT3-Trainmaster is designed to allow the map maker to create accurate geo-specific maps. Most industries will require more than one input, and as many as five to produce their wares. A supply chain guide is available to help the player.
New player characters have been created, som are fictional and others real persons. Company logos from most common railroads are included with RT3-Trainmaster. New RT3-Trainmaster Campaign Scenarios, 16 in all, are in development. Five have been completed.
RT3-Trainmaster maps are not compatible with other RT3, nor will RT3 maps play in RT3-Trainmaster.
RT3-Trainmaster is available in English and German.