Tuesday, July 12, 2016
In 2013, after I shut down Railroad Empire, I started a new business with my mom called EHR Tutor, an Electronic Health record for students in the medical field to learn how to use electronic health records. That business has grown every year for the last three years and now I work on it full time as the Director of Technology. That business has kept me very busy, but I have been finding time to work on Railroad Empire again.
So the question on everyone's mind is, what is the new Railroad Empire going to look like? Well, the one thing I can tell you for sure is that, it will be truly multi-player. Players will be able to play by themselves or directly against other Railroad Empire players on the same map at the same time. You will be competing for the limited resources on the map against other players.
The graphics will be similar to what they were before but, there will be some improvements. The game will require a modern browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge or IE 11).
I have a long way to go and I can't give you a release date but, I can tell you that I will keep everyone informed of the progress.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Facebook on Dec. 5 will be blocking any games that use Facebook features other than basic user information (Login, email, Birthday) outside of the Facebook Canvas. Also they are requiring you to split your app ids between Canvas and non-canvas (which means if people try to access from non-canvas they wouldn't get their game.) This technical change by Facebook would cause a ton of required technical changes in the game that would result in a very negative impact on the user experience.
When you add that to the fact that I still haven't finished the subscription code yet, the mixed feedback I have received about the subscription code, and the fact that the game is currently costing me money out of my pocket every week, it all adds up to the end of Railroad Empire.
Someday I would like to build the new version of Railroad Empire that solves all these problems and a whole lot more. I have tons of ideas that were never implemented. When the game goes off-line which will happen on the 4th of December, I will keep the blog, so keep subscribed to the blog and if and when I decide to build the New and better Railroad Empire you all will be the first to know.
Friday, September 14, 2012
So here is what I am planning. The game as it stands today can be played by anyone with up to 10 trains. If you want to play more than 10 trains, You will have to subscribe. The subscription fee will be $2.50 / month or $25 / year. Facebook will only have the monthly option at the moment because that is all their subscription system supports.
When you subscribe you will no longer need to use Board Points.
There are still some things I need to work out about how all this will work and I have to write a bunch of code to support this, but I plan to try and do this quickly.
As long as we can get enough subscribers to offset the cost of running the game, the game will continue to run.
As always I look forward to hearing your comments, thoughts and concerns.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I have thoroughly enjoyed working on Railroad Empire for the past 2 years. We launched Railroad Empire to the public two years ago. There have been some ups and downs as I have worked to try and make Railroad Empire better, but unfortunately Railroad Empire is costing me a lot of money and I am losing money every month. It is not fair for my family to continue to bear this burden, so I am writing this letter.
Right now unless we change something I will have to shutdown Railroad Empire on September 30th. I don't want to do this, but right now the game brings in an average of $260 a month and the total cost right now is about $560 a month. I am currently paying the extra $300 a month out of my own pocket.
Many of you may be wondering how I ended up in this state. I attribute it to two mistakes on my part. The first is that when I designed the game I chose to use the virtual currency monetization method. At the beginning of the game's history this proved to be a very effective method of monetizing the game, however as the percentage of users changed from new users to veteran players the revenues dropped off and the cost increased slightly as veteran players have more trains which costs more to run the game.
The second potential mistake I made is that I chose to build Railroad Empire on Google App Engine. Last year Google made a major change to its billing practices for App Engine. At the time these changes happened, I was hoping I would be able to work through the increases and control costs, however I have been unable to reduce the costs on Google App Engine. A while back I started on a project to change the backend for the game from Google App Engine to a traditional server architecture. However I substantially underestimated the amount of work that would be involved in the project and I also have realized that it may not have a substantial impact on the cost. In addition there are some features of Google App Engine that would be lost in the transition. There are also some issues with user accounts from users logging in through Google, Yahoo, and other OpenID providers.
Right now the game gets 7863 unique players a month. So if people are interested we can explore moving the game to a subscription model. This creates a potential issue in that Google Maps requires an app that is not freely available to pay for a Premier license which is $17500 a year. We may be able to switch the map software to something else but I am not sure how difficult that will be.
I would like to hear everyone's opinion on this matter. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to let me know what you think. If you want to contact me privately, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
|This is an awesome Lego Trains Display at the show.|
|A very nice passenger terminal in HO scale.|
|Another great HO scale passenger terminal|
|This is the Steel Mill of the NMRA Division 4 HO scale layout|
|This is an awesome bridge on the NMRA Division 4 HO scale layout|