Traction inaction (Where are the traction engine sims?)

The steam-powered tractors/tractor units of the Victorian era and early 20th Century have reason to cast resentful glances at fellow transport forms like the aeroplane and automobile. Bar a few flimsy Farming Simulator mods, they’ve been completely ignored by sim smiths. The neglect would make sense if these clamorous dinosaurs lacked charisma and interesting quirks. As they’re actually anything but dull, their unsimmed status feels – to me at least – rather unjust.

Four reasons why traction engines deserve their own sim…

1. Fabulous Footplate Views

While the operators of planes, trains, and automobiles, generally view the ‘road’ ahead over a bland bonnet or a boring bank of gauges and instruments, the traction engine pilot’s foreground is a steampunk wonderland of whirring gears and wheels, dancing cranks and rods, and drifting steam and smoke.

2. Tricky Steering and Firing

The helmsman of a road locomotive gets a thorough workout and needs a deft touch to avoid parked cars, kerbs, and other roadside hazards. Efficient firing is an art too.

3. Tremendous Torque and General Magnificence

In terms of horsepower, traction engines are completely outclassed by their modern equivalents. However, where they still shine is their ability to utilise that HP at low speeds.

4. Bucolic Bimbling

What would a traction engine sim mission selection or campaign look like? Agricultural, forestry, road repair, and literary destruction tasks might figure. Personally though, assuming the physics and sound were up to snuff, I think I’d be happy simply chugging along country lanes, doing my best to stay out of ditches and hedges, and not exasperate too many fellow road users. Titles like the lovely Narrowboat Simulator prove ‘slow simming’ doesn’t have to be ‘boring simming’.


  1. I believe you’re once again on to something, Tim. The view over the engine in the first video is a sight to behold.

    Getting the sound right would take a bit of work. You want it to be realistic – i.e. loud – but you don’t want to cause any damage to customers’ ears.

    • I don’t think I need a game. I just lost 17 minutes and I’m not sure where. One moment I was clicking on a Youtube link and the next it’s 17 minutes later and all I can remember is a simple feeling that all is well with the world.

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