The Fully-Featured Church of Transport Tycoon

The Gospel of New Features

 

Transport Tycoon (blessed be the Game) has been around for a long time now. When Lord Chris created it, He was hampered by shortages of memory, CPU power, graphics resolution and speed, and storage space. I wondered what features He might have added to TT if He had the resources.

Below are my ideas of how the game could be made more rich and challenging.

Some of these may be impossible to code.

Others will change the nature of the game considerably. Consider it heresy if you will.

Some might just be interesting ideas for coders out there to implement.

Let us pray...

A new philosophy for The Game

One problem with TT as we know it is that the player is not responsible for much: disasters happen randomly; resources appear and disappear willy nilly; local authorities are like aliens, mysterious and unknowable; the players are not responsible for taxes; vehicles don't need fuel; cities can absorb any amount of resources, regardless of their needs. All the player does is play with his trains. (Are there any female TT fans out there, by the way?)

Under these suggested new features, the player will be far more involved in the game world, and face more responsibility for his actions.

Another problem with TT is that after a certain level of progress, it is impossible to go bankrupt or even face a significant challenge. Billions in the bank let you buy out any competitor. The game becomes dull and repetitive, and there are so many vehicles in play that it becomes tiresome to maintain them. Changing track types (rail to monorail to maglev) is especially annoying and deters me from continuing a game.

My suggestions may enrich the game in its later stages and offer continuing challenges and deeper game play.

Note - many or all of these features should be options that are configurable by the player, or automatically enabled by the chosen level of game difficulty.

OK. Let's see what TT could be like...

 

A whole new era of gameplay

The TT universe runs from 1950 to 2050, which is not actually very long. What if there were an option for TT to begin in 1850? The player would start with horses and carts. That's it. No trains. No motor vehicles.

The first building to buy would be a STABLE. (I will try to capitalise new game objects as they are introduced.) The 'vehicles' bought in the stable would be HORSES. The 'carriages' would be WAGONS. There could be maybe 4 different sizes of wagons (corresponding to adding extra carriages to a train.) Naturally, the bigger the wagon, the more horses it would take to move it at any speed. So there might be options for 1,2,4,6 horses in a team.

At this stage in game history, towns will be very small, and the player's focus will be very local. There will also be more close attention needed to little details, such as the cleanliness of the streets.

A new industry in the 1800s will be the STREET SWEEPER. You see, a huge problem in towns and cities during the age of the horse was what came out of the southern end of the beast. Players will need to build SWEEPER DEPOTS that house the SWEEPER carts that patrol the streets and clean up horse droppings. The graphics could show increasing numbers of brown dots on the roads as uncollected manure piles up. If insufficient cleaning is carried out by the player, traffic will slow down and eventually come to a complete standstill. Also, the player's rating with the local authority (LA) will suffer.

RATINGS will also change to a percentage value instead of the "Excellent" to "Abysmal" (or whatever it is - I forget) levels. This will allow much more finely-tuned local authority reactions to the player's performance.

Another new industry could be: the SWEEPER DEPOTS require MANURE and produce FERTILISER that can be taken to FARMS which now accept it and pay for it. There could be new MANURE and FERTILISER vehicles for these occasions. These vehicles will, like the helicopter, become redundant in time.

FARMS will grow more productive if provided with fertiliser.

Thus, the player's actions influence resources, which barely happens at all in the current game.

WATER will become a far more important resource in this new TT. Towns will not grow unless water is provided. Towns that lie near a lake or river are exempt, but all other towns and cities need a water source. Perhaps there can be a few 'free' natural wells provided by the game, but the player is responsible for most water provision.

The player can finance the creation of WATER WELLS. A town that has a good water supply will grow, and will improve the player's local authority rating. In the current game, the only resource that must be created by the player is the LUMBER MILL. I propose that several old (and new) resources (such as water wells, power stations, wind farms etc) will be the responsibility of the player.

Of course, any horse-powered service will need a STABLE at regular intervals to feed and water the horses, otherwise they slow down and eventually die. I'd love to hear the new sound effect that would depict a dying horse.

The New Authorities

1. LOCAL AUTHORITIES

At the moment, the player has little involvement with the Local Authorities (LA): building statues and planting trees improves ratings a little; big demolitions reduce ratings. That's about it.

I propose a much closer and deeper relationship between players and LA.

So - providing water, and cleaning the streets improve player ratings.

The more a player improves the HEALTH of a town/city, the better the LA and the citizens treat the player - and vice versa.

HEALTH. A town/city currently is a black box that the player is usually ignorant of and/or unconnected with. This now changes. Towns/cities will have HEALTH factors that affect their performance, growth, size and attitude to players. The health factors may be:

  • how well a player is providing necessary resources in appropriate quantities. Currently, a town will take unlimited quantities of water, food etc regardless of its size. I propose that towns and cities will have minimum and maximum limits on the quantities of products they require or can cope with. So if a player is delivering 2000 tonnes of food and 300,000 litres of water per month to a town of 100 people, the excess will be rejected by the town and the player will not be paid for it. hehehe.
  • citizen morale. Citizens can become angry if streets are choked with manure, transportation is poor, food is short, or they are thirsty. Angry citizens may boycott a player's services. Very angry citizens may RIOT: see NEW DISASTERS later.
  • how dedicated the player is to the town. At the moment in TT, the player cannot interrogate the reasons for his LA ratings. I propose that a player can earn the privilege of seeing details of a town's HEALTH, and get reports on what needs to be improved. To this end, by default, players will still not be allowed to see the details of his ratings status. But, he can fund the building of a TOWN HALL (the bigger the town or city, the more it costs!). Only when a TOWN HALL is built can the player click on it and see details of his ratings. Maybe the access into the LA's ratings will wear off over time and need to be renewed with town hall renovations every few years? Some people might consider the town hall and renovations to be a bribe. I'd call it 'Good Citizenship' by the player. Perhaps the town hall graphics could be animated so the health ratings are shown as flags, and each flag reflects the status of a health factor by how high the flag is flying on the flag pole. e,g. the MORALE flag will be at full mast when the citizens are happy and at the bottom of the mast when they are about to RIOT.

Want to build a city's population? Pay for a few squares of public housing to attract new citizens.

A player may fund the construction of a DESALINATION PLANT (but only on the coastline) to provide fresh water. After all, eventually those inland water wells will have to dry up...

And building any object takes real game time. You want a desalination plant? OK. You must pay now, but the plant will take a year of game time to construct.

I'm still trying to work out a way to make the player's company HQ relevant or important. At the moment, the HQ building is not even necessary, and serves no purpose in the game. I'd like to make it essential to the functioning of the company. For example, MONEY needs to arrive at the HQ from a BANK to pay the staff at HQ, otherwise they go on strike and all company business stops. hehehe. I usually build my HQ on some remote island so it doesn't interfere with profitable construction. I must stop myself doing that.

2. THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY

Here's a new concept for TT: a federal government! Currently, players do not pay taxes or get affected by worldwide laws. This will change!

The Central Authority (CA) laws will govern the entire game-world and will include TAXATION and LEGISLATION:

TAXATION.

Players will be able to choose how much tax they want to pay the CA. Yes indeedy! The more tax the player contributes (as a percentage of income), the better the CA can provide services such as:

    • POLICE. Without enough police, citizens who RIOT because their MORALE is low may burn the player's DEPOTS, damage ROADS, steal the player's HORSES, etc. Lots of fun. Thus, there is incentive for the player to generously fund the CA through his taxes. This also provides an ongoing and increasing COST for the player which helps offset the problem caused by the massive profits earned in traditional TT which make gameplay increasingly tiresome because survival challenges diminish and eventually disappear. A RIOT is a new category of DISASTER.
    • ARMY. Another new DISASTER in TT is INVASION. If there is not a satisfactory army, an unknown foreign ENEMY may appear in the game world and start ANNEXING land and player resources. A creeping grey area on the map might indicate which territories have been taken over. The player may not enter a grey area. All assets in the annexed grey areas are lost. The player cannot do anything to oppose the ENEMY, apart from paying TAXATION to the CA to strengthen the ARMY. Hey, maybe the mysterious submarine that sometimes appears in TT can be used as a sign of the approaching ENEMY!
    • INTELLIGENCE. A well-funded intelligence agency will be able to take care of UFO LANDINGS before services are interrupted. Also, another new DISASTER can be prevented: AIRCRAFT BOMBINGS by terrorists. Yep. Without a funded CIA, planes can suddenly explode without warning. Not so cheerful.

LEGISLATION.

This can be a biggy! It will seriously inhibit profit from running to ridiculous and unchallenging levels. No real corporation is immune to restrictive government legislation - and neither should TT companies. I see two main laws that will have big effects.

1. ANTI-MONOPOLY legislation. Currently in TT, a rich player can easily buy out all competitors. It's just too easy. I propose that if a player has a monopoly in the game world (e.g. he is the only player in the world providing coal, oil, water, food, diamonds etc) then he should be severely penalised. e,g. half of the profits from the player's monopolised industry would be taken by the CA to subsidise a competing company. This move would ensure that the player would not want to buy out every competitor in the game. It would provide ongoing and real competition.

2. GREEN legislation. Another biggy! Current TT players pay nothing for the damage they do to the environment and atmosphere. But now the total CO2 emissions from a player's vehicles and power stations will be added up and a stiff carbon tax must be paid on them. The more steam/diesel vehicles and coal power stations a player has, the more GREEN TAX is due.

The GREEN laws bring up interesting knock-on concepts:

  • At some point in the game (maybe about year 2000), ELECTRIC CARS arrive. These significantly reduce a player's GREEN TAX but... they need LITHIUM for the batteries. But where does the LITHIUM come from? Lithium mines! So a new INDUSTRY is formed. But how is a LITHIUM deposit found? They don't magically appear... unless the player pays for GEOLOGISTS to go out and slowly search the map for the hidden LITHIUM mines. Only when a LITHIUM resource is found can the player pay for a LITHIUM mine, a BATTERY factory, and start employing ELECTRIC CARS.
  • Those coal mines are a CO2 problem, are they not? What can be done to replace them with something that decreases the GREEN TAX? Renewable energy! The player will be able to buy:
    • WIND TURBINES. Each one takes one square of terrain. They would look really cool when animated.
    • WAVE GENERATORS. These sit in the ocean and the movement of the waves creates electricity. They would be pretty large (maybe 3 squares minimum), and (to add interest) they would impede shipping - another nice handicap for players.
    • SOLAR FARMS. Bigger ones produce more clean power, but they cost more to build, and they use up more terrain.

FUELLING

('Fueling' for Americans)

Vehicles in TT are currently powered by magic.

  • No coal needs to be provided for steam trains to operate.
  • No oil is required for diesel road vehicles or trains.
  • No electricity need be generated for monorail or maglev trains.

This needs to stop for a good, hard game!

I propose that in 1850, only horses are used for transportation. They need enough GRAIN and WATER to be produced to supply their needs.

Perhaps in 1860, early locomotives appear, but train depots need to be provided with COAL (from coal mines) and WATER (from paid-for wells or natural lakes) before trains can run. Trains consume coal as they run, obviously, so if a train cannot replenish its coal at depots as it travels, it will come to a halt. That should make things more interesting. Alternatively, a train may refuse to start or continue a journey if it cannot get the requisite amount of coal from a depot. Thus, it will wait until coal or water is delivered.

As with many of these new features, the AI players may be exempt from such restrictions. As Lord Chris implied, they need all the help they can get.

Next, when diesel trains appear on the market, a player may not use them without being able to produce and supply OIL.

Perhaps having to supply COAL and OIL to each individual depot may be overkill. An alternative might be that the total coal and oil resources collected by a player need to be sufficient for his complete fleet of vehicles. e.g. he has 100 trains that each consume 10 tons of coal per month. Therefore, he needs to provide 1,000 tons of coal per month from his mines just to power his trains - and of course he gets no profit from selling that 1,000 tons of coal at a power station.

By the way, the player can pay to build extra coal POWER STATIONS. Yep. No longer are power stations magically produced by the game fairies!

But! Coal mines, farms, oil wells, timber areas etc. in the real world are not randomly distributed. In TT, there should be clusters of related resources near each other. There are wine districts in the real world because there are regions where wine is best produced: they don't just magically appear on a map because you want them to. Similarly, in TT, similar resources should gather in a limited geographical area. That will make access to them more challenging for the players.

When the time comes for electric trains and cars, electricity will be vital. This will necessitate green power sources because because GREEN LEGISLATION will make coal mines and coal power stations increasingly expensive to run as time goes by.

Oh, yes. Airfares will rise as oil becomes harder to find - so the number of airplane travellers also declines over time. And eventually - maybe 2030 - the oil wells run dry. No diesel trucks or trains can continue! When will planes become unprofitable? Would anyone like to predict what transport technologies will be like after 2050?

And to reduce the tedium of replacing rail types, automated track and train replacements will be available. But it will take real time to accomplish, so services will be disrupted.

Yep, this new fantasy TT world is getting complex!

NEW DISASTERS

We currently have earthquakes and UFOs. Neither of these is affected by the player's behaviour.

That needs to change. A player should be responsible for what he does. So...

  • A RIOT will happen if citizens are angry enough in a town/city with poor HEALTH - and the player has not funded the POLICE with sufficient TAXATION money.
  • INVASION may happen if the Central Authority doesn't get enough tax revenue to fund an ARMY.
  • TERRORIST BOMBERS can blow up planes if the CIA is not funded properly by the player's taxes.
  • As cities grow larger, at a certain point the VEGANS become militant and block LIVESTOCK trucks and trains, or even destroy track, roads or depots. hehehe. Without POLICE, the VEGANS are a menace.
  • GREENIES - may boycott players who produce excessive CO2 or don't plant enough trees.
  • ECONOMIC DOWNTURN - currently, these downturn events are also random. Maybe they can be directly caused by a player's behaviour, such as a monopoly situation wherein a player can dictate high prices which reduces sales and slows down the economy. I'm not an economist.

So now, disasters are not random. They are usually the result of a player's actions.

So, that's it so far.

As I said, much of this may be impossible to implement, and many classic players would not want it even if it could be coded.

After all, it introduces non-transport 'SimCity' features that people may find inimical to the nature of 'Classic' TT.

But it was a fun exercise to imagine what TT (or a forked mutant version) might be like.

Have fun, and good playing!

Bless your ROROs

Saint Mark

Home

Page created 11 October 2018

Last changed October 13, 2018 7:07 PM