How To Play
February 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm #1117
The controls of this game are notoriously counterintuitive, but fear not!
There are two or three things that make the game hard to control, but most of them can be worked around by either learning or changing how you click 🙂
First of all, all the game’s controls are inside the (beautiful!) ingame world screens, just like a point & click adventure.
But there are not tooltips or other ways to know what controls are available or what they do. The manual describes that in-depth though, so you may want to read it, I’ll write a summary later, though.
The other two problems are: the whole game is controlled with the mouse and the hitboxes of things are sometimes a bit small, especially the soldiers on the battle screen, while they also move around. Annoying but with good aim, still doable.
More: The game doesn’t seem to buffer mouse events. So if you click at the wrong time inside the game’s main loop, it may not register your click. Solution: Hold mouse keys a bit longer 🙂
The same goes for text input (which you need for the copy protection checks and to save the game): hold the key a bit longer and don’t type too fast.
If you have problems changing the rate at which the guys shovel coal into the boiler (see below, once I’ll have written it :-p): they always finish the current animation cycle first before starting the next one at the new rate. And there is no indicator about whether your click was registered. Sucks 🙂February 1, 2018 at 5:35 pm #1118
Thanks for this! Can’t wait to check it out, although I fear it will be a bit hard to control for me, since I’m using my laptop’s touchpad D:February 1, 2018 at 5:43 pm #1119
STARTING THE GAME
There are not many options. You can choose the difficulty level (no idea how they differ). You can enable or disable music and you (apparently, haven’t tried it yet) can disable train battles, which will then be done by the computer (maybe a good idea, given how terrible the battle are to control).
You start out with three functional wagons: The locomotive, where you can let the two dudes shovel coal into the boiler and set the speed at which you want the train to go. Everything else can be done from the map screen (enabled/disable breaks, set train direction). Oh, there’s also the whistle, which doesn’t to anything as far as I can tell except being cool 😀
The guy on the left will shovel Lignite into the oven, that stuff is both money and fuel. The right dude shovels Anthracite into the oven. That stuff burns longer and cannot be used as money. So, if you run out of that stuff you’ll literally burn money.
You can enter the engine controls by clicking the control panel in the back, next to the guy with the wheel. On these controls, only the lever on the top does something: Set the rate at which steam is used to move the pistons. There’s also a temperature view and a pressure gauge: When the pressure gets too high, your train will explode.
The third guy in the locomotive can control the train’s direction (by clicking the wheel) and the breaks (the lever right of him) and the whistle (chain on above the breaks on the roof).
Sometimes, spies find coal mines or other events: They will send you a letter which will appear on the tube on the left. Every of the primary wagons has such a tube.
The next starting wagon is the general’s quarters. Here you can enter the mini map (from which you can enter the main map screen by zooming in) and do spying stuff, which I haven’t tried so far.
The last one is your own quarters. Here you can commit suicide (yes, I know!), save the game and check your log book.
Another screen that is available right form the start is the map screen, where you can set the railroad switches, start and stop the train and set its direction (you have to set the speed from the locomotive though).
You can also speed up the game at any time by clicking the clock in the lower left corner.February 1, 2018 at 5:51 pm #1120
There are different towns:
Trade posts (where you can buy and sell stuff).
As far as I can tell, there’s mostly stuff you only use for trading: You buy it at one place and sell it at another. The manual suggests writing down what stuff towns produce and for which price you can sell stuff there. I don’t think there’s a real economy behind that, but I’m not sure.
Just keep in mind that you can only store one type of merchandise per storage wagon.
Slave Markets & Soldier Markets & Mammoth Markets
Here you can buy new wagons: It’s good to buy cargo and such early on, as far as I can tell, otherwise trade will be tedious. Weapons and barrack wagons should be useful when you get into battle.
Here you can repair or rearrange your wagons or trash them.
These provide information needed to restore the sun. They give two types of information: written records from the past and rumors offered by inhabitants of the city.
toastyParticipantPodcasterFebruary 1, 2018 at 6:07 pm #1121
This is one hefty how-to. I can’t wait to play it :3
DavidNParticipantPodcasterFebruary 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm #1124
Blimey, this definitely throws you in at the deep end – thanks for the quick guide, because without it the game just presents you with this unfathomable screen to click around on! Definitely another case where a read of the manual is going to be needed 🙂 Silmarils (and more generally, French) games seem to be very like this.
Something I’ve thought might be good as a starting point for each month is a few links showing people where to get the game – one possible place is https://archive.org/details/msdos_Transarctica_1993 . It looks like you can also get it in the Silmarils Collection as a download from Amazon – I found a download of the American version Arctic Baron elsewhere, but it suffers from a weird problem with the mouse where sometimes it’ll jump into the corner of the screen.
Will update once I’ve worked out what I’m doing at all 🙂February 4, 2018 at 8:50 pm #1125
Alright! rnlf did all the groundwork already.
Most of your time will be spent keeping your train well-supplied with coal and new military wagons. Whatever you do, don’t leave train combat to the AI. Transarctica is a beautiful and really cool game but almost unplayable by modern design standards. You need to fight all train battles manually. The losses you suffer otherwise are unacceptable and will really slow you down.
The Transarctica will occupy the bottom track, the Viking Union trains the top one. You have to destroy all military wagons and troops to win. Try to leave merchandise wagons and coal tenders intact so you get some loot for your trouble. Wagons are destroyed by either three cannon hits or one explosive charge. Infantry is slow and cumbersome to control so I usually just use cannons, and deploy infantry for defense.
If you lose a single train fight it’s game over. Since you have to “win” them all anyway, we’ll need different metrics for what counts as a defeat. Save whenever your crew spots another train. Finish the fight and take inventory:
-lost a coal tender? reload
-lost too many cranes, mammoths, or “slaves”? reload
-lost important merchandise? better reload
Honestly the losses from these fights can seriously set you back and cause a snowball effect of misfortune. The only wagons you should consider acceptable losses are machine guns, cannons, and maybe barracks. Try to let your military wagons take the heat but don’t let any harm come to your, uh, infrastructure? Resources and such. As long as you have coal and cranes you can buy as many new cannons and soldiers as you want.
I can just go on and on about this game, big fan.
Here’s a simple list of the story objectives you need to complete, I hope this isn’t considered a spoiler or anything. You can find all the hints ingame but if you get stuck and want to peek…
1. Get Harpoon in Baku
2. Get Drill in Rum
3. Get key for Oslo from The Philosopher
4. Get Geiger Counter in Oslo
5. Go to Omsk and get the Boiler (this has a time limit)
6. Blow up the “ancient power plant” (the most frustrating step)
7. Enter the Himalayas
8. Defeat the Minotaur
sorceressParticipantFebruary 4, 2018 at 9:48 pm #1126
Welcome to dgc, evilteuton 🙂
For those who don’t know : evilteuton did a complete playthrough of transarctica on youtube last year. I invited him to DGC as he’s clearly an expert at the game, and who no doubt has many interesting tips and tales to share with us.
We all have happy memories of games we played in the 1990s. So evilteuton: feel free to share your memories of transarctica with us. such as your first impressions of it, and how hard you found it at first. Any funny stories of things which happened during play? How long it took you to complete the game, etc.February 4, 2018 at 10:51 pm #1127
Thanks! It’s really cool you told me about this podcast. Transarctica is in dire need of a remake. The art style and music are just too captivating. The game also has a myth-cult status for me because it technically took me almost 20 years to beat it.
I’ll make another thread for my story because this is How to Play.February 5, 2018 at 8:38 am #1130
Oh hey, welcome!
Always cool to have people around who actually know something about the games we play 🙂
I skipped your “Goals to complete” list, because I think hope those goals will be explained in-game sooner or later.February 5, 2018 at 10:10 am #1133
Good call. All the information is available ingame, spread across different quest towns and such. If you get stuck you can peek at the list.
DavidNParticipantPodcasterFebruary 6, 2018 at 1:25 am #1135
From my first impressions, the general feel seems quite like a different Silmarils game I had called Le Fetiche Maya, where you were basically dumped into the environment (a set of locations connected by driving sections) and left to work out any and all objectives for yourself! Though admittedly I got the game from my uncle and I didn’t have the manual, so that could have hindered me a lot.February 20, 2018 at 10:47 pm #1174
Ok, I’ve finally managed to play for a night. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but thanks to rnlf’s excellent guide I was at least able to drive around a bit.
I’ve actually made a bit of a profit trading stuff and I managed to buy a crane which I’ve used for mining.
So, not all bad, but now I’m looking for something to err… well… do, haha. Aren’t there quests and battles of some kind? Haven’t encountered those yet!February 21, 2018 at 9:37 am #1175
There’s only one quest, “find the sun”. I think the only way to know that is to read the exposition in the manual.
There are no quests in the classical sense and no progress indicators of any kind. It’s a bit of an adventure game in that sense.
In some cities, you cannot trade anything, but you can reveal some information. All this information is supposed to guide you towards solving the main quest.
I don’t think that’s explicitly stated in any way, you just have to manage that yourself 🙂
Battle will happen sooner or later when you run into the Viking Union. Better be well-prepared, and when you get into battle, defend your importan wagons at any costs!
There are only two possible outcomes to battle: You get destroyed or the other train gets destroyed. No fleeing, no retreating.February 21, 2018 at 3:41 pm #1176
Hmm… I have bought a cannon of some kind. Maybe buy another one then?February 22, 2018 at 8:01 am #1177
It cannot hurt. But also spread them along your train. You can do that at one of the few stations around the map.February 23, 2018 at 9:54 am #1178
There’s also a long-range missile launcher to take out trains without a fight. You have to purchase and store missiles in cargo wagons and manually enter the launch coordinates, then hope for the best. It’s extremely hard to hit something imo. A better use of missiles is to combine them with scout cars to make a bomb car. They will stop any train they hit for a while. Regular scout cars are great to see if the tracks ahead are safe.
You can also use spies to blow up the train tracks. It will take a while for the Viking Union to repair so you can get away. Spies are free but you do need a special wagon.
And you can buy an observation wagon, the big one in Peking I think. Improves your vision range, more or less a must have. Otherwise you won’t see approaching trains in time.
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