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Belight Software takes a chance on gaming with Rails at Macworld 2013


Belight Software was showing off one of the few games on the floor of Macworld 2013 last week. The company usually makes utility apps, but just recently released its first game, called Rails, available on the iPad right now. The game is kind of a personal project for the devs -- they were big fans of an old DOS game called Short Line Express, and decided to make a game like that for the iPad.

I found the game relatively similar to Matt Rix's game Trainyard, though it doesn't have that title's abstract feel. Instead, it's a little more straightforward -- you have a series of guidelines around each stage that you can draw tracks on, and then trains come out of different colored stations, and need to be delivered to stations of the same color. Trainyard's complexity came in its tracks, but Rails' complexity comes with its trains: Each one has a different ability that has to be either used or dealt with in a certain way as you guide them home.

The game starts out simply, with the player just hitting switches and drawing tracks as needed. But things get very complicated. All trains will crash if they hit each other (except for bumper trains, which have the special ability of just reversing when they hit another train), but there are also trains like Kamikaze trains, which will do their best to drive towards other trains, or longer snake trains which are tougher to maneuver around, or trains that need to be kept on the track for as long as possible, or cleared through the station quickly. With all of these various elements, the game can get quite frantic, asking the player to switch trains and cars quickly after a while.

Rails is a "project of interest" for Belight -- the company generally sticks with (and is happy with) utility apps, but the team obviously has a drive to make this one. It's done alright so far, according to the company's rep, and there's a Mac version coming to the Mac App Store as well.

In the future, Belight is planning to add some features into this one, including the oft-requested ability to delete tracks. The rep also told us at Macworld that they may put some related games together for it as well, or the team may choose to create some other games. It's an interesting strategy -- the team is simply chasing their passions with this game, and it definitely shows.

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