A few weeks ago, I started embroidering at my desk during long zoom or phone calls to help keep my attention from wandering. Having something to do with my hands helps me hear so much better, and I’m lucky that my coworkers are all a bunch of meeting doodlers and knitters. We have a great group.
I finished this cat on the Friday before Memorial Day at my desk. I’m really so proud of how it came out. I could barely wait to get home to cut him out (turning them into patches). We got let go early, outside the normal routine is a danger zone for forgetting things so I tried really hard to make sure I had all my stuff before going out to my car. I took the cat off my hoop and put it in my bag to head out.
Twenty minutes later, I’m at home and located the scissors. (Does anyone have tips for these not to go a wandering??) I’m ready to finish it off until I open my bag and the project is MIA.
No worries. Prolly in my pockets right? I’ll check my closet. Nope.
Well my closets a wreck, so I’ll just clean that, and it’ll turn up. Found my drivers license that’s been missing since last weekend when I left it in a pocket after a night out. No cat.
I figure, well did my bag maybe tip over in the car? I search it thoroughly. Nope.
I cleaned the whole house to see if I set it down somewhere in the search for the scissors though I couldn’t remember having it at home at all now that I really think about it. No patch, but I did find a pair of prescription eyeglasses I’ve been looking for over the last few weeks. (I have many pairs for this reason.)
By Monday I cave and go back into the office on a HOLIDAY to try and ease my worries. Of course I had to have left him on my desk the whole time, right? But he was no where to be found.
I hate when things just disappear on me. It happens a lot as you can see. I have set places where things are supposed to live, but my things wander, my scissors, drivers license, keys, phone, etc….as you can see many of these things turn up in the search for something unrelated. I just hate that I lost my cat. I worked really hard on it and loved how it turned out. It even had glow in the dark worked in. I don’t really have hope that he’ll turn up, but maybe one day I’ll be searching for a case of acrylic paints, pearler beads, or alcohol markers from the ghosts of hobbies past.
I just needed to voice my frustration about this somewhere. I am making myself start a new embroidery at my desk today so I don’t let my disappointment discourage me from pursuing this hobby further cause it does make me feel good when I’m not getting in my own way. I may even remake him in the future, but for now this lost feeling is still sinking in my stomach.
New rule: projects only leave the hoop at home; all hoops are labeled with my contact info
Hello new/returning player! Whether you're considering buying or you've just installed it and don't know where to start, there's a good chance you have some questions about the game. I've been playing pretty much since launch, and since the Discord imploded and the in-game tutorial kinda sucks, I figured this would be a good place to put together a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about Railroads Online. Feel free to scroll through the headings to find what you're looking for!
Is it worth the money?
Railroads Online is exactly what it says on the tin and exactly what you see in the trailer. There are railroads, they are online, and you do have complete freedom to build your own railroad in a sandbox environment. If that's your cup of tea, try it! Steam's refund policy allows you to refund the game if you have less than 2 hours played and you've owned it for less than 2 weeks, so even if you don't like it when you start, you have a safety net. That said, this game is in early access
. And, the regularly-updated branch is a beta to the early access
, so it is seriously lacking polish in certain areas. This game is physics-based, and that can take a toll on performance for trains longer than a dozen cars, and the Beta branch reportedly has some people's GPUs on their knees. Updates also regularly introduce bugs, ranging from mildly amusing to make-sure-you-back-up-your-save-file. For some people that sort of thing is understandably not worth $35, while for others it gives the game character. I've gotten close to 10 hours of playtime for every dollar I spent on it, so obviously I'd be inclined to say it's worth it, but everybody's experience will be different.
The following guide is geared towards the Beta version of the game. This version has the most features, looks the best, and receives regular updates, though there are a number of known performance and stability issues. The majority of it still applies to both versions of the game regardless, though the largest changes have been to track laying.
Getting Started Warning:
Remember, this is Railroads Online
. There is no "offline" mode, strictly speaking, but you can drag the "player limit" slider down to 1. If you're going to play with other people, use a password
. If you ever forget to, and someone comes in and undoes all of your hard work, you will never forget again. You have been warned!
Your first railroad
So, you've launched the game! Congratulations! Now what? Well, it's probably good to get yourself oriented first.
The game spawns you in on the spawning platform. The three tracks you've spawned next to are permanent, and they are where new equipment spawns when you purchase it. You are given Betsy, a flatcar, and $2000 for free, and the rest is left up to you.
Before you run any trains, you'll need to build some track to run them on. Take care here, because there is no edit tool; if you build something, the only way to change it is to delete sections and rebuild. Measure twice, cut once, and make it look nice the first time so you don't have to redo it later. Or something.
Press G to bring up the majority of your sandbox tools: Track Construction, Facilities, Locomotives (the shop), Demolish, Rerail, and Logging, plus the Respawn button. I will cover all of these tools in time, but for now, all you need to be familiar with are the Track Construction tab, the Demolish tool, and the Logging tool.
Track laying in this game has been... fucky... for a long time. It's a LOT better now than it used to be, but I still recommend downloading RROx (Railroads Online Extended) and using the fast sprint cheat when you're building. It will save you hours (not to mention the other features it offers).
First of all, everything in this game except for rolling stock is FREE! Go nuts! Want to triple-track the main? You can! Want to fill the entire southern half of the map with water towers? Your call! Fun first, safety third. Anyway:
In the Track Construction menu, you will be greeted by a bunch of track options. Feel free to place them wherever to get an idea of what they are.
The first row is, of course, 3 foot narrow-gauge rail. The I, II, and III varieties are identical except for the amount of ballast. I has some, II has a bit more, and III has a lot. On cliff faces, too much ballast can cause ugly clipping, so it's best to use tier I when you can and step it up if it's too short. The game will not let you place a node if the spline is not supported by ground or some other structure at every point.
The default building mode is spline mode. Click once to place the first node, and click somewhere else to place the second node. Boom! You've placed your first track segment. If you click on the ground, it will face whatever direction your UI currently says it's facing, but if you click on another piece of track it will do its best to connect to the other node as smoothly as possible. This can result in some janky turns if you're not careful, so keep that in mind. There are keybinds to rotate the endpoints to face the direction you want them to. Track will not snap to another track unless you see the glowing chain link icon above it.
If you don't see it at first, walk around a little, staring at the desired connection point until you trigger the hitbox.
The other building mode is circle mode. It does what it says on the tin– your track will follow a circular arc with the radius you specify. Use smaller segments if you can, because for some reason the angles get weird if you try to do more than 90° in a single segment. In this mode, you can snap to existing track on your first click, but it will not snap to another track for your second click because it only cares about following the circle. This build mode is useful for a number of reasons, not least of which being the ability to see what your maximum turning radius is. A 30 meter radius is the minimum, but on your main line you should aim to stay above 60-100 meters to avoid derailments at high speeds.
Next in the menu: switches. If you know what trains are, you probably know what switches are. In RRO, if a switch is pointing one way, and you come in from the other, it will automatically align with you to let you through, unless
A.) you are in a handcart, or B.) it is the 3-way stub switch. Also note that they are not perfect mirror images of each other (not sure how they managed to mess that up but oh well), which may cause problems when creating complex structures like yards.
The 90° crossover piece is your friend when designing parallel tracks. You can chain them together to ensure equal spacing, matching angles, or you can simply use them as placeholder nodes to snap your track to if you need to delete part of it. Two crossover pieces are far enough apart for two trains to pass each other comfortably, so it's handy for smoothing your double-tracks, if you choose to build them. The 45° crossover piece is also good, for when you want a spacer piece that's slightly longer than the 90°, or if you don't want your simple wyes to be a hundred feet across. (Still waiting on that 10° crossover, Astragon.)
Turntables are what you expect them to be. The plain Turntable I is small enough to fit in some tight spaces like yards, but a lot of locomotives will only fit on Turntable II. Turntables have historically been a bit buggy, particularly if you reload a save while something is on it, so be wary.
The bumper is a bumper. 'Nuff said.
Embankments are ballast without the rail. They're nice as decoration around the base of certain structures, or as filler in between the tracks in yards, or as ballast for bumpers and crossovers. You can also access a similar trackless version of the stone wall by using its drop-down menu.
Bridges and stone walls work exactly the same as ballast track: they will not allow you to place a node if the spline is not supported everywhere. However, there is a workaround for this: nodes can be supported by ballast. If you use small enough segments, 3 Ft Rail III can be used to cross gaps using just the previous segment's ballast as support. If you fill the gap with ballast, you can place your bridge on top of it, and then remove the ballast later. You can pretty it up with some stone walls as supports, if you want to.
And that's everything currently in the Track Construction menu! The Engine Shed and the Coaling Tower also have small pieces of track, but they are kept in the Facilities menu. Note:
You can make it to pretty much every industry in the game with less than a 3% grade. In real life, this is considered pretty steep, but in-game you can get away with even steeper track if you can't be bothered to work out the best path.
The demolish tool is delightfully simple. It deletes things! By default, it only deletes rail, but that can be changed with the drop-down menu. Be very careful using the "All" option-- you could accidentally delete your rolling stock.
The Logging Tool
The logging tool will probably be your second most-used tool, right after track construction, because everywhere you want to place track, there are trees in the way. You can click almost anywhere on the tree to remove it, and it does this for free, but you might have trouble removing a tree if the bottom two-thirds of it are buried in ballast. If spam-clicking feels tedious, you can hold down the mouse button until the saw finds a part of the trunk that it likes.
That should be everything you need to know to build your first railway!
In Railroads Online, your objective is money
. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney. But u/Embite
, I hear you ask, how do I
Well, I'm glad you asked! The answer is industries
There are 9 industries in RRO, which you can see on the map: the Smelter, the Sawmill, the Logging Camp, the Freight Depot, the Iron Ore Mine, the Oil Field, the Ironworks, the Refinery, and the Coal Mine.
Each industry has inputs and outputs. For example, the Logging Camp has two output platforms: one for logs and one for cordwood. To load a car with the output, simply position your railcar where the crane drops the cargo and click the crane to start loading. For some outputs like the iron mine, there's a chute instead of a crane, but it's the same idea. When you unload a car, the cargo teleports to the side you clicked on, so make sure you're standing on the platform that you want to deliver to.
The inputs and outputs for each industry is listed in the table below.
|Location ||Input ||Output |
|Freight Depot ||Anything ||Nothing |
|Logging Camp ||Nothing ||Logs, Cordwood |
|Sawmill ||Logs ||Beams, Lumber |
|Iron Ore Mine ||Beams, Lumber ||Iron Ore |
|Smelter ||Iron Ore, Cordwood ||Raw Iron, Rails |
|Coal Mine ||Beams, Rails ||Coal |
|Ironworks ||Lumber, Raw Iron, Coal ||Steel Pipes, Tools |
|Oil Field ||Beams, Steel Pipes, Tools ||Crude Oil |
|Refinery ||Lumber, Steel Pipes, Crude Oil ||Oil Barrel |
You should notice a few things:
- Logging Camp has no inputs. This is where the supply chain of RRO starts. The lumberjacks do all of their work for free, and they will never run out of logs, or cordwood.
- Freight Depot (the big warehouse near spawn) has no outputs. This is where you can return to sell whatever products you've collected and turn them in for straight cash. You get the same amount of money regardless of which buyer you send cargo to, so it's recommended that you try to deliver to another industry whenever possible, since you get money AND more cargo to sell, rather than just the money. If all you need is money though, the Freight Depot is where to go.
- There is a clear progression from one industry to the next. I've ordered the table so that once you've connected to one industry in the list, your railroad will have access to all of the cargo needed for the next industry down.
While it's best to try and deliver to new industries whenever possible, sometimes (especially early on) you will simply run out of money for all the new railcars you need to haul the stuff. For the early game, my best suggestion is to run beams from the sawmill straight to the freight depot. Stake flats (which carry beams) are among the cheapest rolling stock, and each carload is worth $72, compared to $60 for a flatcar of logs. You only need 3 beams per car, so it's fast to load and unload. While cordwood is also easy to do, with each carload worth $80, each flat is much more expensive to buy, and each car carries 8 units of cordwood, making the loading time much longer. Plus, many more industries use stake flats than the cordwood flats, so you will be investing in the future of your railroad as you go.
Another way to make money in RRO is via Firewood Depots and Coaling Towers, which brings us to the next available construction tool,
Facilities are buildings you place down yourself to facilitate the management of your railway. At the top of the menu are the Sand House, the Firewood Depot, and the Coaling Tower. They're very self-explanatory: The Sand House contains sand to refill your locomotive's sander, the Firewood Depot is where you restock on firewood, and the Coaling Tower is where you restock on coal. The Sand House is, as far as I can tell, unimplemented as of 5/29/2023, but the others are very important. In RRO, you
need to produce the fuel that runs your railroad.
Firewood Depots are easy to stock, not least of all because they spawn in full of firewood, in case you run out in the middle of nowhere. To refill a Firewood Depot that has been exhausted, you simply unload any form of wooden cargo (logs, lumber, beams, or cordwood) onto the side of the platform that doesn't have firewood on it. When designing your yards, it's always smart to make space for a firewood depot, because the platforms are spaced far apart and most locomotives in RRO run on firewood.
Coaling towers do not spawn in stocked with coal, and coal is not available until about half of the map is connected by your railroad, so coal-fired locomotives will be a late-game commodity. Once you have access to them, though, they are restocked in much the same way as firewood depots.
Water towers are also important. Without water, your trains have no steam, so place these wherever they're convenient. They refill slowly on their own.
Engine sheds are purely cosmetic in this game, since the locomotives don't require servicing or shelter. They are, however, available in a variety of nice paint schemes, and a roundhouse is a great way to spruce up any boring-looking switching yards.
The last facility is the Telegraph Office, which is the most convenient structure in the game. Wherever on the map you place one, your map will be updated with a brown box with a T in it. Clicking his box allows you to teleport to any telegraph office from anywhere else in the game, saving you a lot of walking between industries and yards.
Locomotives (the shop), and Companies
The shop is where you use your hard-earned money to buy locomotives and rolling stock. You can check your funds in-game by pressing P. The "tier" of an item is the level your player needs to be in order to purchase it. Your level increases every time you deliver cargo to an industry. When other players join your game, they can join your company by pressing Tab and clicking "Join Company" next to your name. When they do this, any delivery they make will count as a delivery for you, not them, which increases your money and XP much faster than doing it all alone. Employment is forgotten when the player relogs.
Rerailing is finicky. Basically, you click "rerail," spam LMB on whatever you're trying to rerail until its name appears in the UI, and then walk around looking at track until it appears where you want it to. You can flip it around with LMB, and then drop it with RMB. Rerailing on switches currently seems to be a little broken.
This option will send you back to the spawn yard if you ever manage to get stuck. It was more useful before telegraph offices were added, and most of the gamebreaking ways to get stuck have been patched, but if you want to use it you simply click and hold until you respawn.
Now, with a line of track connecting your spawning yard with the logging camp, you're ready to finally fire up your Porter 0-4-0 and run some trains! In case you're new to operating a steam locomotive, here's a quick rundown of the controls:
First, open up the firebox and throw a few logs on the fire. Pick up logs with LMB, look at the firebox until the UI displays its temperature in the top left, and throw with RMB. You can throw logs back onto the pile if you picked up too many (you can hold up to 5 at once). Now you have to wait for the fire to heat up, which then makes the boiler heat up, and then you will finally see the dial on your pressure gauge increase. Once you've got pressure, you can move the locomotive.
The big lever above the firebox is the regulator, aka the throttle. It basically controls how fast your built-up steam enters the cylinder, or in other words, how much power you're sending to the piston, and by extension, the wheels.
The lever coming out of the floor is the reverser (or the Johnson bar), which controls at what point in the cylinder's stroke steam is allowed to enter the chamber. All the way forward means that steam comes in anytime it would push the wheels forward, and all the way back means that steam comes in anytime it would push the wheels backwards. In between, it controls whether the steam flow is constant, or if it comes in short bursts. Or, at least, that's how it works in real life. IRL you can achieve more efficient steam usage by setting the reverser bar near the middle and letting the regulator stay open; however, in RRO, as far as I can tell it simply multiplies the % the regulator is open and the % that the reverser is set and uses that number as the "go amount." So, for all intents and purposes, the reverser is just another regulator (in RRO).
The lever to the right of that is the brake. Betsy (i.e. the Porter 0-4-0) has a mechanical brake, meaning it applies braking force as long as you have it on. In some locomotives, though, the brakes are powered by a steam-powered compressor, which you need to activate yourself via a valve somewhere, or else your brakes will have no effect.
The whistle and the bell do as you expect. There is another handle which opens the cylinder cocks, which as of 5/29/2023 is purely cosmetic, as are the sanders. IRL, cylinder cocks are used to blow condensed water out of the cylinders, and sanders are used for extra traction in slippery conditions.
Finally, most locomotives have lamps that you can turn on and off with LMB, or by using the steam-powered generator, if it has one.
And that's pretty much it! Different locomotives have different features, and levers are often in slightly different places, but they all operate on the same general principles. Locomotives are also often specialized for a particular job. For example, engines like the Eureka are specialized for high speeds with low power, while engines with shorter wheel bases like the D&RGW Class 48 are specialized for sharp turns and yardwork, while the geared locomotives like shays and heislers are specialized for steep tracks in mountainous terrain. You can find a number of resources online to find statistics for each of the different RRO locomotives.
The 3 foot narrow-gauge railway in RRO uses what is called "Link and pin" coupling, which uses, unsurprisingly, links and pins. To couple two cars together, you need enough space to fit a link between them. Press LMB to insert a link in the coupler. Only one car should have a link
. Once the link is in place, push the cars together and use RMB to place a pin in both couplers. Et voila! Your train is now longer.
Tender locomotives have unique couplers. First of all, instead of a link, tenders are connected to the cab by a drawbar. Press LMB on the tender, then back up the locomotive and use RMB to hitch it to the drawbar with a pin. For locomotives with cowcatchers, the front is outfitted with a drawbar as well, which can be extended and retracted with LMB. This link is weaker than the usual link-and-pin, so only use this for short, slow trips or yardwork.
While straight-up modding RRO is currently very difficult, there do exist certain external tools to help provide you with a more enjoyable experience with a game that is, at times, excessively grindy. RROx
RROx, or Railroads Online Extended
, is by far the most useful RRO extension I've come across. It offers a real-time minimap (that maps your rail lines for you!), remote control of locomotives, cranes, and switches, unrestricted teleporting, cheats like free money, fast-sprint and flight, as well as optional access to all of these features for other RROx users that join your game. It even provides everything necessary to create a plugin of your own, if you're so inclined.
Railroad Studio railroad.studio
is a free online save file editor for RRO. With it you can replace trees, rename/repaint locomotives and rolling stock, delete track, cheat in money, etc. Currently the go-to save editor.
Just some extra technical bits that are worth knowing:
- A lot of the game's files are stored in your AppData/Local folder under the name arr, a name inherited from the devs' previous game, American Railroads.
- Your save files are stored in %localappdata%\arr\Saved\SaveGames.
- A number of config settings are stored in plaintext .ini files in arSaved/Config/Windows, where you can edit settings like the maximum view distance beyond what is usually allowed. The maximum setting typically allowed is 3, but I've increased this to 10 without any notable performance drop. Nevertheless, edit settings beyond supported values at your own risk. The game needs to be restarted for settings changed in this way to take effect.
- All controls can be rebound in the controls menu.
- You can change your POV with V, and you can lean left and right with R and T.
- If you prefer to drive with the GUI instead of in first person, you may have an easier time finding the button prompt by standing in front of the locomotive rather than inside it.
- Placing a switch, then a 45° on the turnout, and finally another switch so that the straight edge is parallel with your first switch, creates two lanes that are far enough apart to fit the switch's lever on the inside.
- If you back far enough away, track and ballast hitboxes will despawn and let you place things inside of them.
- There is a large, flat plateau northeast of the smelter that is a convenient place for a yard connecting the smelter, iron mine, and coal mine.
- There is a lot of space for a yard just over the hill west of the freight depot.
- The un-deletable track southeast of the spawning track is for the shop.
- The game keeps a list of every tree you've cut down and uses this to load the map, which (allegedly) makes the game take longer to load if you cut more trees than you need to. Use a save file editor like railroad.studio to replace missing trees.
- The walkway on Bridges II is always on your left as you build it.
- You can snap track to turntables if you rotate it to where you want the connection to be.
- Firewood depots only replenish the piles if every pile is missing at least 5 logs.
- If you're strapped for cash, loading a car with logs and then immediately unloading that car to a firewood depot on the other side is fast, easy money. This is pretty cheaty though, so you might as well save yourself some time and just use a save file editor.
- A switch's turnout is about 10 degrees.
- Locomotives don't respond to changes in the controls until a 1-second timer counts down. The timer resets every time you make a change, but letting go (releasing left-click) applies the change immediately.
That's pretty much everything I've got. I hope that this guide has been of use to you! If I forgot something, got something wrong, or you have an idea for how to improve this guide, feel free to leave it as a comment below. Happy railroading!