When I was young, one of my favorite video games was Railroad Tycoon, where, as the name suggests, you get to build your own railway network, complete with stations, tracks, rolling stock and scheduling.
Of course, these days youngsters have a whole range of games whereby in addition to enjoying yourself, you’re actually doing some valuable work into the bargain.
Mini Metro isn’t quite in that league, although it surely has the potential to be. If you haven’t come across it before, it’s a simulation game whereby players are tasked with managing a major underground network.
You’re charged with laying down the track, connecting up parts of the city based upon demand and generally managing the whole network as it evolves.
“Everything but the line layout is handled automatically,” say developers Dinosaur Polo Club. “Trains run along the lines as quickly as they can, and the commuters decide which trains to board and where to make transfers.”
The longer you play the game, the more options you have, with features such as tunnels for river crossings and greater capacity for your service all earned by the length of time your underground is in operation.
The game originated out of the Ludum Dare hackathon in 2013, with the original prototype expanded upon significantly over the subsequent years.
It now comes with three cities for you to play in, with each city providing random behavior patterns to make the game extra challenging.
One of the nicer aspects of the game is the tube map that you create courtesy of your network design. They’re constructed in the famous style of Harry Beck, and players are encouraged to share their own maps if you think it’s noteworthy.
At the moment, the game is purely a piece of fun, but could this eventually morph into something whereby the efforts of the collective player community produces a social good?