Let's take the A-Train: An all-purpose series thread

If I understood Malkael excellent explanation, yes it is. A-Train 8 and 9 are also on sale.

Yes, functionally the same game. It does though feature more content compared to the 3ds version localised and published (third-party) by Natsume. 12 new official scenarios worth of new content to be precise, IIRC. Thus, for existing 3ds owners, the value proposition kind of depends on how much you value more content, improved performance from being on PC hardware, ability to play at a larger display resolution, and all that jazz.

And it’ll probably go on sale for about the same price in six months time for the Christmas\Winter sale were a 3ds player to later decide they did want to get the PC version for additional content to play.

And here I was, perfectly happy to just read about this game.

But at 22€…

Thank you for the explainer. As I’m still super new, I’ll stick with my 3DS version, which I’m enjoying immensely.

Not yet.

The third episode of Artdink’s ongoing How-To series is now up on their official Youtube channel for those who do not mind reading localised subtitles. This video is all about resources and transporting them for some sweet, delicious profit.

According to their official Twitter profile, Artdink are already beginning work on their next patch for the A-Train: All Aboard Tourism too. Probably mainly be about fixing bugs that cropped up with the v1.1.0 update but I’ll be interested to see what else they might sneak in.

Now without further ado…

Please have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor and prepare to board today’s train, as our railroading adventure in All Aboard Tourism continues!

Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism - There’s no scheduling quite like train scheduling…

Click to reveal...

Continuing on from where we left off, when we expanded our railway network south-west to the tourist attraction of Nagashirojo Castle. Today we will be exploring the world of trains and train operations as we discuss rolling stock, research and development, and formulating an operating schedule (timetable). Thus, concluding with the beginning of active rail services between Nagashirojo and Hasuoka, establishing our first tourist route!

In A-Train: All Aboard Tourism construction times can be sped up by providing construction materials to construction sites. However, since we are not doing that currently our under-construction station at Nagashirojo is scheduled to be completed in six days, on April 7th. So, while we wait, let’s examine our options for rolling stock to purchase and operate on our planned service from Hasuoka to Nagashirojo.

On the purchase screen we can see the train designs (plans) we currently have available to us for purchase. Additionally, we get a summary of the year the plan was developed, the max speed rating of the train, the acceleration rating, operating costs per kilometre, fare per passenger per kilometre traveled, seated passenger capacity, max boarding capacity (112 x 150%), maximum formation size (7 cars), and the durability rating. Through research and development we can gain access to additional train plans in the future.

Before we get onto developing new train plans we’re going to go off on a related tangent first. In A-Train: All Aboard Tourism when we first begin the All Aboard Tourism scenario, as part as the first introductory tutorial to the game, ordinarily we begin with access to the Suburban Train 2 and Electric Locomotive 2 plans. However, because I developed the Suburban Train 1 plan when I initially played this scenario as part of the tutorial I have gained access to this plan from the beginning in my Normal difficulty playthrough. This is a function of the Bonus Plans parameter, which when set to Very Few gives the player access to a randomly selected handful of previously developed plans.

This parameter is set by the scenario creator and can on other settings either disable bonus plans all together or give the player access to their full arsenal of previously developed plans. It’s almost like someone went and stuck some Rogue-lite meta-progression in my train game!

Research and development of new vehicle plans – whether for train, bus or truck – can be conducted on the Plan menu. Vehicle plans developed in other saves can be acquired through the Technology Licensing option, handy for when you desire access to a specific previously developed plan. However, all licensed and bonus plans must be applicable to the scenario’s time frame, since the game will not grant access to either obsolescent or futuristic vehicle plans.

Progressing onward with vehicle development (i.e., train development) lets us select the automobile type we wish to develop. For trains we have the ability to develop Commuter, Suburban and Limited Express category EMUs *(Electric Multiple Unit) plus traditional single unit steam, diesel or electric locomotives. Each automobile category has their own strengths and weaknesses, thus it’s important to determine which potential plan is most suitable to the tasks that will be required of it.

Since vehicle plans can take several weeks to develop and incur significant capital costs for a business of our current financial standing, let’s make use of the vehicle plans we currently have available to us. Therefore, we will move on to placing the 3-car, Suburban 2 type train that is currently located in storage. No sense letting a usable train go to waste when it could be helping us to turn a profit.

Placing a train is relatively straight forward task to do. Just select where on an available free piece of track you want to place the train and then make sure the arrow above it is pointing in the intended direction of travel before confirming.

Next, we will open up the operating schedule for the train and begin configuring it for smooth operation in conjunction with the rest of our operational fleet. Depending on whether we have any advanced settings enabled in the game we may just have the operating route and operating hours options available. Operating days, operating months, route colour and deadhead settings are useful but non-critical settings which can help us further fine tune and construct complex, elaborate service timetables. We might experiment with those options some other time but for now they aren’t important to what we are seeking to achieve.

Progressing onto the Operating Route menu we get a visual indicator both on screen and the mini-map of the route our train is currently set to travel. Using the route list on the left-hand side, or the symbols above points of interest such as stations and track points, we can modify the intended path of travel for our train. Since we are currently operating a fairly basic two track system we just need to ensure our points near Nagashirojo Station are set correctly so that our trains are always running on the left-hand side. Additionally, since our railway tracks and services current terminate at Nagashirojo Station we might as well instruct our train to change direction of travel. After all, why have it waste precious seconds attempting to vainly forge on ahead before realising it needs to travel back the other way.

Now we will begin to evaluate and configure the operational orders of our train at the stations along its route. Depending on if we have any advanced settings available we may have just the Departure Settings tab available, or we may also see tabs for Direction and Speed Limit settings. Stoppage time is a straight forward setting to use, it controls how long a vehicle (i.e., train) will wait at the station before departing. Typically, five minutes is sufficient time to let passengers embark and disembark but there may be situations where you want to employ longer stoppages, such as when loading and unloading freight trains.

The departure time setting can be a little more complicated to wrap your head around initially but is a very useful tool when it comes to setting up timely, efficient and well-spaced transport services. Firstly, we set what time (24 hour clock) we desire our train to depart during the day. Next we calculate how long it takes our train to complete one loop from Hasuoka to Nagashirojo and back again using the travel times in the route list. From this we can calculate that one loop requires four hours and 2 minutes to complete, therefore to provide sufficient time to load and unload passengers at Hasuoka we will set the loop time to four hours and ten minutes. Then finally can set how many departures we want our train to make throughout the day, setting this to four we get a departure schedule from Hasuoka of 6:30am, 10:40am, 2:50pm and 07:00pm.

By applying the same style of scheduling to our other trains and altering the departure time setting at Hasuoka we can create a consistent, well spaced timetable for our Hasuoka-Nagashirojo train service. Depending on customer demand, we could configure our trains to have anywhere between a few minutes interval between them up to a couple of hours. For now we’ll organise our first service to depart at six in the morning and then have additional trains depart in 30-minute intervals after it.

Since we can expect passenger demand to grow rapidly with the opening of a direct route from Hasuoka to Nagashirojo we’ll buy two more Suburban 2 type EMUs, with a formation length of 3-cars, right away. As you may notice from the picture above, buying in bulk nets us a two-percent discount on the total price we must pay. This discount for buying in bulk goes up by an additional 2% for each additional train we decide to buy. Thus, it can be good business to order multiple new trains all at once, if we know that we’ll be making good use of them soon.

Following the lead of our original two trains we’ll setup similar operatiing routes for them, modifying the scheduled departure time at Hasuoka to be 30 minutes later for each new train joining active service on the route. Consequently, giving us a consistent train service from Hasuoka for Nagashirojo that first departs at 6:00am, 6:30am, 7:00am and 7:30am before arriving back and preparing for another round trip four hours and ten minutes later. With each train on the service making a total of four round trips from Hasuoka throughout the day.

With an active train service now running between Hasuoka and Nagashirojo all we need to do now is wait for construction of Nagashirojo Station to finish up. Upon completion of the station we receive notification that a tourist route with Hasuoka has now been opened, which we can confirm by looking at the Tourist Route screen. The expected influx of tourists from Hasuoka to Nagashirojo Castle should boost the ridership on our trains very nicely and help us progress towards turning a profit.

Something we can actually visually confirm in real-time as we beginning getting indicators that tourists from Hasuoka are traveling to and from Nagashirojo Castle using our growing mass transit system.

With our tourist route between Hasuoka and Nagashirojo castle established and tourists starting to trickle in using our active train services, that concludes this third entry of Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism. I hope you will join me for part four when we examine city growth and development, expanding and modifying our rolling stock to cope with the continual rise in ridership, and investigate establishing some subsidiaries near Nagashirojo Station. Until the next time we travel together, have a safe journey aboard the A-Train!

Another superb post–thank you!

All week, I think about the game constantly throughout the work day and can’t wait to get home to it.

I’ll go through the Book of Malkael when I get the full game (which will happen sooner or later: yesterday was a “half-full” day, and I spent a good time playing it again without experiencing too many frustrations).

This is some serious dink. Artdink, that is.

This could easily be a Renaissance grimoire.

So, which game should one buy on Steam, since it appears the new one isn’t available for PC yet?

Easily one of my favourite games of the series with over 120 hours currently sunk into it. Plus, currently A-Train PC Classic will provide the smoothest introduction to the series for those on PC.

Whilst, I managed to originally learn the series when A-Train 9 v3.0 came to Steam the learning process is going to be so much more difficult with A-Train 8 and A-Train 9 due to the lack of any tutorialisation. A paucity of good external English language resources didn’t help matters either, all the good fan-curated info was in Japanese for obvious reasons.

Ah, ok, thanks. It’s funny how memory works, the classic version looks like I remember the version I saw in my teens, but checking Youtube videos, huh, not so much.

Before we begin the next entry in the Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism series, it wouldn’t be right to have a thread called ‘Let’s take the A-Train’ without sneaking in some ‘Take the A-Train’ somewhere along the line:

Please have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor and prepare to board today’s train, as our railroading adventure in All Aboard Tourism continues!

Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism - We built this city on transit fueled growth…

Click to reveal...

Swiftly gathering steam from where we left off yesterday, when we commenced active train services between Hasuoka and Nagashirojo and established our first tourist route. Today will be all about city development, expanding and modifying our rolling stock to cope with increases in ridership, and investigating the possibility of establishing some subsidiaries near Nagashirojo Station.

First, we will cover the important topic of city development. Whilst in A-Train: All Aboard Tourism we can construct our own subsidiary businesses, ranging from residential apartments all the way through to amusement parks, an important element of the game is fueling AI-controlled development. This is primarily achieved by transporting passengers to stations, with the resulting foot traffic subsequently driving growth in the surrounding area.

Before we commenced shuttling passengers, both local residents and tourists, to Nagashirojo Station we can see that the development status of the surrounding area was sitting at the “None at All” rating. Thus, whilst the odd new or redeveloped building might appear over the span of a few years, we could not expect the surrounding area to achieve much growth.

When we skip forwards a week from April 7th to April 15th we notice that the development status has begun to change and subsequently resides at “Proceeding Well”. An influx of over 3000 daily users visiting the local area, primarily tourists attracted to Nagashirojo Castle, has begun to drive growth in the local area and encourage urban development. As more foot traffic begins to flow into Nagashirojo Station due to our active train services from Hasuoka so will the development status continue to change to reflect the growing impetus for the local area to grow.

The Notices section of the user interface allows us to keep an eye on urban development whilst playing, as we receive news that development is advancing quickly around the Enomori and Nagashirojo stations. Thanks to heavy foot traffic around Enomori Station the town has recently had a clinic be constructed, with other building projects also currently underway.

We can also notice that an increasing number of tourist from Hasuoka are beginning to utilise our train services. As we soon reach a total of 10,000 annual tourist visits just 15 days into our role as CEO of the company and expansion of the previous transportation infrastructure. Meanwhile, we continue to work our way towards turning our current predicted gross loss of 115,340,000 Yen into a gross profit by the end of our first financial year, through the growth of our net sales.

Taking a look at our current roster of active trains we can see that our trains are beginning to reach full capacity during the day. The influx of tourists from Hasuoka to visit Nagashirojo Castle only continues to grow and there are occasions when local passengers are having to wait for another train to travel to their next stop. Thus, it might be time to consider expanding the capacity of our trains either by adding additional cars to their consist or replacing the current rolling stock with a new type that boasts greater passenger capacity.

Today we are going to explore both options, since changing train formation is an advanced setting that is not initially available within the first tutorial. Therefore, we are going to purchase one Suburban 1 type EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) for the purposes of showing off how to seamlessly replace one train with another. Since doing this will allow us to copy over our existing operating schedule settings rather than having to spend a couple of minutes configuring everything.

When using the Withdraw option, replacing the Place option once a train has been placed, we are subsequently given two options. We can either confirm the withdrawal of the selected train from our railway network, or we can use the Replace option to switch the selected train with one that is current waiting in storage. Thus, we will choose to replace one of our Suburban 2 type trains with our recently purchased Suburban 1 type train. Once this has been done, as shown in the picture above, and we confirm our decision we will be asked whether we want to copy over the existing operating schedule, to which we will answer yes.

When the Change Formation advanced setting is enabled we gain access to the ability to, as the name implies, modify the consist of our trains. Typically, this can only happen when a train has come to a halt and thus modifying existing trains is often done when they are stopped at a station. Upon choosing the train we wish to modify and selecting Change Formation we are given a slider to change the number of passenger cars being used. However, this option isn’t without cost as increasing the capacity of our train will require buying a new passenger car for it, a total cost of 122,640,000 Yen.

Consequently, we quickly reach a total of 20,000 annual tourist visits by April 25. Fueled by the expansion of our existing trains and the introduction of the new Suburban 1 type EMU to our Hasuoka-Nagashirojo service. With the Suburban 1 type EMU having a greater passenger capacity than our Suburban 2 type EMUs.

Nearing the end of the month, our net sales continue to grow throughout our first month as CEO as our trains continue to transport an ever increasing number of passengers across our transit network. However, the expansion of our existing trains and the introduction of the new Suburban 1 type EMU to our Hasuoka-Nagashirojo service has further increased our railroad expenses. Meaning we currently are forecast to have a Net Loss of 1,218, 650 Yen once corporate taxes and other factors are included.

Plenty of time still remaining in the financial year to convert those numbers into a net profit. However, we will have to be strategic with our spending if we want to achieve that goal. Since parameters such as shareholder confidence are active, thanks to playing on normal difficulty, we will want to end the financial year with a good net profit. To retain the trust of the company’s private shareholders we will want to be able to pay out at least a 3% dividend when the time comes next year, in 1993.

ABT410

Next we will investigate establishing subsidiaries around Nagashirojo Station to further benefit from the number of people traveling to and from the local area. Before we do anything though lets revisit the Government Policies menu and acquire the subsidy for constructing three or more commercial type buildings in the Nagashiro district that we mentioned during part two of the Let’s Play. Getting a 95% subsidy to land acquisition costs is a bargain too good to pass up, in my opinion. Then we will proceed to constructing some new, company owned, buildings in Nagashirojo.

ABT411

Within the construct menu we can select from a variety of building types, broken down into six main categories. Our subsidy calls for us to build three buildings of the commercial type, from which we can choose from a wide array of options that have different construction costs, operation expenses, construction material requirements, and construction time frames. We will start out simple and begin by building Department Store 1, a basic entry level department store.

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Depending on their location, subsidiaries can synergise or conflict with other buildings in the surrounding area. We can see from the above picture that constructing our department store next to our station building will be a fruitful symbiotic relationship. Our Sales advisor also gives us his opinion on our chosen location and performance forecast. Due to the strong growth forecast for the region I suspect we should not encounter many issues with the local area developing further. Especially once we finish our strategic vision for the area, with the construction of further subsidiaries.

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ABT414

Before we do that though it is time we expanded our number of employees by instituting the Supplement Staff plan. As we can see in the above pictures we currently have 38 employees and ideally should be employing 76 employees to handle the workload of operating all our business concerns. The recruitment process will cost us 36,000,000 Yen and take 30 days to complete.

ABT415

Subsequently, on May 31st we receive a message from our Sales advisor that we have completed the hiring of 13 new employees to our company. Lessening the workload experienced by our existing 38 company staff. This expansion in company staff does obviously mean that we will be adding to our company’s expenses due to the wages and other associated costs of these new recruits.

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As we continue constructing subsidiaries around Nagashirojo Station we receive news that on June 14th we have reached the halfway mark of our 20,000 population goal for the scenario. Then on June 25th we also reach the halfway mark of our goal for 200,000 annual tourist visits.

ABT418

After beginning construction of three commercial buildings in the Nagashirojo district we receive payment of our subsidy from the local government. As well as a department store, our company has constructed a seafood restaurant and a low-rise commercial building. Due to the terms of the subsidy we had in place with the local government, 95% subsidy to land acquisition costs, we made sure to build all three of our commercial buildings on non-company owned land. This allows us to acquire some new land around our station for relatively cheap and preserve some of our existing company owned land for later non-subsidised development.

ABT419

By July 31st we have constructed a total of five subsidiaries around Nagashirojo Station. In addition to our three commercial buildings we have constructed two residential apartment buildings. These company owned residential apartments synergise well with not only our station but also our commercial buildings. As well as providing a boost to local ridership on our Hasuoka-Nagashirojo service, these two residential apartments boost the number of people using the services of our three commercial buildings.

Earning revenue from people because of where they both live and shop? What isn’t there to love about it as a business.

ABT420

Which leads us into examining the sales report screen and seeing how well our subsidiaries are doing as a whole. As of July 31st, currently all our subsidiaries are earning us a daily profit and have so far amassed a total combined profit of 20,850,000 Yen. When extrapolated out over a year, especially as urban development around Nagashirojo continues flourish, we will be looking at a rather healthy annual profit from our current subsidiaries.

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And on that note, that concludes part four of Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism. Do join me when we continue to expand our business operations and edge closer towards our goals for completing the scenario. Next on the agenda? Possibly learning all about using bank loans to fuel further strategic expansion, as we eye off connecting the southern portion of the map and the establishment of a tourist route with the mid-sized city of Komita. Until the next time we met, I hope you have a safe journey aboard the A-Train!

OMG, this thread. @Malkael, you are going above and beyond, my friend.

-Tom

He has sold multiple copies of this game for sure.

Granted as RRT3 is one of my favorite games of all time, this was already on my list. So he brought the equivalent of a category 5 Hurricane when a feather would do, but I’m not complaining 😁

Yeah, A-Train Classic is in my cart…

Samewise, although I didn’t pull the trigger only because I am still pondering whether I should grab the Switch one or this one. Decisions!

I shall let Artdink know that I will be expecting a check in the mail containing a commission, haha. Not that they are probably even aware of my existence. Though, maybe they should be…

Honestly, the response this thread has received since starting it has been beyond my wildest expectations. Just hope everyone who decides to dive into the series for the first time ends up enjoying it even half as much as I do. At the end of the day it’s a series I enjoy and being able to discuss it is great, if I introduce even just one person to something that they too end up enjoying immensely then even better.