One of the greatest challenges any commercial route developer faces is creating content that is appealing. (Hence will sell well.)
In the past, with my StLNA idea, I thought I'd take a chance and offer something entirely different than was/is commonly available.
At first, I was pretty much underwhelmed by the sales the StLNA was posting. However, it just keeps on selling. Not impressive numbers, mind you, but it does just trickle along. (I'm sure that my meager sales numbers are no where near the numbers of a heavy hitting route such as Cascades, or Tehachapi, and such like.)
Still, I think I have some ideas as to why the little StLNA continues to sell. Though I may not be correct, I think they are:
* Some of the A&O customers that like the A&O decide to take a chance on the StLNA.
* Some purchases were by those growing a bit bored with the typical "modern rails in the mountains" and thought "why not try something different"?
* The Jon Davis' NA pack.
The A&O Sub was motivated by the need to create content that was suitably different than the StLNA. By being able to at least use the basic "core" of the StLNA, this helped me generate income many, many months earlier (which was sorely needed at the time) than creating another route from the ground up. The A&O matched the StLNA numbers in half the time it took for the StLNA. However, now both routes sell about the same and have roughly the same amount of sales.
My present "route project" picture is very, very foggy. At this point in time I simply do not know what direction our lives are going to take. Of course, not only does such uncertainty have an impact on what I can do with VSC presently, but if the changes take place that MAY take place, it will dramatically affect what I can do with VSC in the future also. This will only be known in time.
IF I felt the freedom to renew (or start) another route project, I honestly don't know what I'd be inclined to pursue. My concerns about trying to replicate long-gone prototypes that are 1000's of miles away is still a very real concern. (i.e. the CM and LNE.)
A short switching route could be a possibility, but I'm struggling determining what would comprise sufficient "play value" in comparison to pricing. Plus, though a switching route can keep me entertained personally for periods of time, I can't help but feel that many purchasers would feel "taken". This feeling alone is enough to cause me to have a tendency to shy away from such an endeavor.
On the other hand, I still like doing something different. (To wit: A 1900's Ozarks route. A 1980's Alco powered shortline based on a defunct prototype... that sort of thing.)
That "chart new waters" part of me wouldn't mind taking a theme not done, and create a route that offers something different yet again. When I conceived the the LNE, no one had released a route in the 50s. Well, now that's been done with Donner... so there's not a new sea to chart in that realm.
Wouldn't mind doing that granger road I mentioned. I saw it in action back in the mid 80's, and even at that late date, there was a very nice "atmosphere" to it. (The yard and engine scene at Enid, OK was ver "railroady". )
I thought it would be nice to back date it to its Rock Island days of the early 70's. It then it gets REAL interesting in both power and equipment along with operations. Downside to a granger is the long tangents. I had ideas on how to counteract that, and am still curious to see if I could pull it off... but perhaps now I'll never know?
Ah well... we continue to discuss and learn!
BTW, Austin: What part of the Sunflower State do you live in? (IF you're still there, that is.) How close are you to Caldwell, KS? FWIW, below you'll find another pic of that granger road I reference... this one of the track at Caldwell.