Interview: New ‘Oregon Trail’ Game Mixes History and Fun

The Oregon Trail Boom Town

Dysentery, cholera, typhoid and snakes – oh my!

Get ready to experience life as a pioneer in The Oregon Trail: Boom Town, a reimagining of the classic game that combines adventure, simulation, and settlement survival. Embark on a pioneer’s journey into the heart of the American West; build, grow, craft and harvest as you turn the small frontier village of Independence Missouri into a thriving boom town!

This latest mobile title comes from publisher Tilting Point and award-winning production company HarperCollins Productions. Developed by Enixan Entertainment, this mobile title captures the spirit of adventure, simulation, and settlement survival. With historical accuracy and updated gameplay mechanics, the game aims to entertain and educate players of all ages.

In this iteration, the player takes on the role of a pioneer who has just arrived in the American West during the gold rush era. The goal of the game is to build a prosperous “boom town” by constructing buildings, managing resources, and trading with other towns. The player must also protect their town from bandits and other hazards.

The game features a variety of mini-games, including mining for gold, hunting, and completing various challenges. The player can also recruit other pioneers to help them build and manage the town.

Parentology met with Daniel Serena, Product Manager for The Oregon Trail: Boom Town, to delve deeper into this fascinating world and explore how this timeless pixelated classic continues to captivate new audiences.

Bringing History to Life

“The Oregon Trail franchise has such an incredible story, from its initial development more than 50 years ago as a tool to make learning fun by bringing history to life, to where it stands today as a legendary gaming brand that has delighted and inspired generations and reached millions of players,” shares Serena.

The Oregon Trail has evolved over time, but its core objective remains the same—to educate and entertain.

To ensure historical accuracy, the development team collaborated closely with HarperCollins Productions, the company responsible for managing the Oregon Trail franchise. Together, they spent countless hours reviewing and updating the game for historical accuracy (after all, it’s still an educational game.) “Throughout the development process, we worked hand in hand with HarperCollins Productions and their scholars to ensure that the game retained the historical accuracy of the time period,” Serena says.

Balancing Education and Entertainment

Part of the magic of the classic Oregon Trail game was its ability to make learning fun and provide an immersive experience.

“At its heart, The Oregon Trail: Boom Town is a truly fun and modern city-building game,” says Serena. “Similar to the classic game, the educational aspects of Boom Town are part of the fun. Rather than reading about The Oregon Trail in a textbook you actually got to live out the experience!”

By managing the creation of a functioning town that supplies pioneers with essential materials for their journey across the Oregon Trail, players not only enjoy the gameplay but also learn about life on the trail and the challenges faced by the pioneers.

Challenges and Innovation

Reimagining the Oregon Trail experience within a new genre posed one of the biggest challenges for the development team. The original game was an iconic educational tool, and the team aimed to maintain the key themes that delighted audiences for over 50 years, including adventure, choice, imagination, and historical accuracy.

“We wanted this game to be seen as an extension of the classic brand,” says Serena. By incorporating core mechanics of the simulation genre, such as farming, building, socializing, and completing tasks, the team successfully created a rich and enjoyable experience for players.

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In designing The Oregon Trail: Boom Town, the development team focused on creating a unique art style that would vividly bring the American West to life.

“We wanted to create something unique and move away from the typical round and colorful designs you see in most simulation games,” Serena says. The art designs feature sharp edges and natural color palettes, adding a touch of authenticity to the game’s visuals.

Integrating the game’s narrative with its gameplay mechanics was a delicate process. The team was mindful that players had a preconceived story of the Oregon Trail in their minds. However, by leveraging core mechanics of the simulation genre and incorporating historical elements, such as farming, building, socializing, and completing tasks, the team successfully created a cohesive experience that showcased life in Independence, Missouri, the starting point of the Oregon Trail.

Feedback and Future Plans

Player feedback has been crucial in shaping the game’s development. The team has received positive feedback thus far and is actively listening to player suggestions to improve the game. “The feedback we receive from players helps us identify and optimize areas of the game that are affecting player progress to bring the best experience to our players as possible,” Serena acknowledges. This player-centric approach ensures that the game continues to evolve and provide an engaging experience for its audience.

The Oregon Trail: Boom Town offers players an opportunity to learn valuable lessons through gameplay. Similar to other builder games, players can design their own version of Independence, Missouri, and make choices that will turn their city into a thriving boom town. Along the way, they will learn about life on the Oregon Trail and the various stops and landmarks encountered by pioneers.

“By leveraging some of the core mechanics of the simulation genre, such as farming, building, socializing and completing tasks, we were able to create a rich and fun experience for our users,” says Serena.

Looking ahead, the development team has exciting plans for the game. Additional content, updates, and features are in the pipeline to keep the experience fresh and enjoyable for players.

“Stay tuned, as we have some amazing social features and really fun in-game events that are on the way – we are also exploring new ways to tell the stories of travelers on the Oregon Trail,” teases Serena.

So, gather your resources, build your town, and embark on a pioneer’s journey into the heart of the American West. The Oregon Trail awaits!

The Oregon Trail: Boom Town is available on iOS and Google Play.

Alexis Nicols

Alexis is a full-time writer, graphic designer and mom in Ontario, Canada. She's obsessed with all things related to film, TV and streaming, particularly through the lens of her two boys.

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