From small businesses to transport empire

Successful Gaming Strategies

A general strategy for OpenTTD does not exist. Success depends on the means of transport, cargo carried, topography, and climate of the chosen model. The larger a city, the more potential passengers, mail, and goods to be transported exist. The growth of cities is influenced by a dense transportation network with many depots and by contemporary vehicles with low downtime and high transport capacity. For long-distance routes, the shortest possible travel time counts. The combination of different means of transport and lines increases the load. For maximum profits, you need efficient routes – that is, few curves, crossings, and gradients, as well as full utilization of goods flow to minimize as much as possible empty trips.


OpenTTD looks quite simple at first, but as the numbers of vehicles and shipping lines increase, it can become quite challenging. The tools and overviews help you keep track of you empire yet switch quickly between your vehicles and a specific section of the playing field. The game is realistic and also entertaining in the long run, especially as the dynamically generated maps, in combination with the various extensions, add variety. Playing as an individual or as part of a team allows you to test different strategies and approaches, helping to generate additional interest: a success for amateur model makers, and a playground for the young at heart.


OpenTTD packages exist for MS Windows (95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7), OS X, Linux (32- and 64-bit) and *BSD (FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD), Solaris, and the Nintendo game console. These packages can be found in the official repositories of the distributions. To install, use the usual package manager.

If you want to play the latest version (currently 1.3.2), the installation is a bit tricky and requires several steps. On Debian Wheezy, you first install the openttd package from the repositories, which installs openttd-data as a dependency. Replace both with the corresponding DEB packages from the project website [16]. The specified DEB package includes all the data from openttd and openttd-data:

# apt-get install openttd
# apt-get remove openttd openttd-data
# dpkg -i openttd-1.3.2-linux-debian-wheezy-amd64.deb

As a result, you can start the game as a normal user by entering openttd at the command line. If you then see a message that the graphics and sound sets are outdated, first open the menu and select Get More Extensions; set the open filter; then select OpenGFX, OpenSFX, and openMSX from the list and download them. OpenGFX is a free basic graphics set, whereas OpenSFX a free soundset and openMSX a free compilation for background music. All three packages allow you to play OpenTTD without owning a commercially licensed TTD.


The authors thank Wolfram Eifler and Arne Wichmann for their critical remarks and comments in the preparation of this article.

The Author

Frank Hofmann ( and Steven Frenzel ( work in Berlin for Büro 2.0, an open source expert network. Both are co-founders of the Berlin training company Wizards of FOSS (

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Free Software Projects

    Even admins get bitten by the gaming bug. Frets on Fire lets you train for an air guitar competition. Or try the free business simulation clones Transport Tycoon, Simutrans, or OpenTTD.

  • Gaming

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Transport Fever, Total War: Warhammer.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More