Mini Metro is a game in development for PC and tablet by Dinosaur Polo Club (run by New Zealand developer Peter Curry) where players must build a transport network and keep passengers moving in a city. Three lines and two tunnels (used for crossing rivers) are initially allowed to connect up 3 stations. The city then grows, with additional stations being added over time, requiring the player to expand the transport network. Over time, additional resources are provided, including extra lines or tunnels as well as additional carriages or faster vehicles. The game ends when too many passengers have been waiting at one stop for too long.
The game is currently in the alpha phase, and can be played at the developer’s website. It can be supported by visiting its Steam Greenlight page and voting for it. This is free, but requires a Steam account.
The game is similar to other smartphone/tablet games like Flight Control, requiring the player to last as long as possible as the game environment being managed becomes more and more complicated over time. Stations are each given a different shape, the most common being triangles and circles, with each station producing passengers destined for a different shaped station. There is no peak vs off peak travel times and only 1 vehicle is allowed per line, though two lines can run side by side – effectively doubling frequency. It is also possible to upgrade vehicles later on to increase their capacity or increase their speeds.
Quite interestingly, although the game refers to stops as “stations”, and will make the occasional mention of terms like “subway” or (quite rarely) “train”, it is quite a generic interpretation of a transport network. The lines could just as easily be bus rapid transit or light rail as much as underground heavy rail or metro trains. In fact, the ease at which a line can be re-routed or completely removed and replaced with another line is more a feature of bus based rather than rail based transport.
It’s therefore quite fascinating to see a game demonstrate transport as a question of mobility and geometry, rather than a question of what sort of vehicle a passenger takes. This is a concept that Jarrett Walker has mentioned many times on his transport blog, and is worth a read for those who have not.