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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:19 am 
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As mentioned over yonder, making a grf that adds an electricity cargo, produced by power stations and delivered to other industries is entirely within the realm of possibility. Making a new "powerline" railtype with "vehicles" that run on it similar to the PIPE grf's representative "arrows" (or for powerlines, "sparks" feel more appropriate) is also entirely possible. In fact, this is so possible that I have already done so; however, in so doing numerous important gameplay questions arose:

  • Industries are limited to a max of three input cargoes. Adding electricity to an industry that already accepts 3 cargoes seems impossible.

  • I think FIRS takes up all available cargo slots; how then to add another? I can't see myself playing without FIRS, so this is kind of a critical issue for me.

  • The "vehicles" that run on power lines -- how fast should they be? What capacity should they have? How fast should they load/unload? How much should they cost to build/run? What graphics should they have? Etc.

  • What should powerlines and their stations look like? Where shall these graphics come from?

  • Should the black-holedness of the default power station simply be offset to another black hole industry that accepts electricity -- say, a Substation industry?

  • If so, should the amount of electricity delivered to a substation affect other nearby industries' production levels? Is this even possible?

  • Should electricity be instead delivered directly to other industries? To towns?

  • Should electricity delivery to towns/substations influence town growth (presumably via gamescript)?

I'd appreciate some feedback/brainstorming on these issues (and more, I'm sure I haven't thought of everything).


For those who are interested, a quick overview of the messy, hacky, test grf attached to this post is as follows:

  • New cargo, Electricity, units of kWh.
  • New railtype, Powerlines, graphics are just default catenary for now. Available from 1882.
  • Power plant produces electricity, currently just at a fixed amount for testing.
  • New industry: substation. Black hole, accepts unlimited electricity. Is built near towns with a very high probability, for testing. Uses base set graphics, comes in several layouts.
  • New "vehicles" that run on powerlines -- currently lightning-fast "sparks" that are, in their current state, kinda hard to see (and click on, yet another gameplay issue...). They upgrade to progressively higher and higher voltages over the years, to represent the increasing efficiency in long distance electricity transport. Values for capacity, cost, etc. are completely made up and not at all balanced.
  • Probably several things missing/incomplete, e.g. GUI sprites, bridges, tunnels, sounds, strings, etc.
  • Some other stuff, too :P.

You can mess around with it in a game if you really want, although it's bound to be buggy, incomplete, and probably boring. It does have a neat acronym, though. :P


Attachments:
File comment: WIRES - Welcome Innovation Regarding Electricity Shipment
wires.grf [6.38 KiB]
Downloaded 653 times

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:19 am 
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Might be interesiting to provide and maintain infrastructure that increases the amount of cargo production, allthrough I fear the actual transport of eletricity is not really fun (to much maglevlike for my taste),

- better to be a roadtype (one tile for traffic in both directions, no hazzle with signaling and traffic control, low amount ouf space needed) - I know roadtype is distant :?
- electricity should best be delivered to a special recepting "industry" in towns (like watertowers, Pikkas Pineapple hat generators that accepted fuel), this should have an effect on town grown (btw. other infrastructure necessary for town growth above a certain limit could be imagined). Effect on industries (if appropriate) in or near cities should be similar or like the behaviour of supplies in FIRS - if not supplied regularly production will drop to some "basic" level.

could be fun :D


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:34 am 
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Some thoughts from a PM I sent to Supercheese last night before he started this thread :D

1. Agreed that FIRS would be the goal, but there are other industry sets as well, not to mention the base industries if no industry GRFs are present.
2. Agreed that Andy seems to have used up all his slots, but I get the impression that he will be flexible with respect to his new "economies" concept.
3. If Andy, Pikkabird and George see a "power" infrastructure in action, they may be more apt to consider it for their own use.
4. It will be easier to start with the default industries as not all slots are used up there as well as I don't think all three input slots are used in every industry.

The first obstacle is that a cargo class and label would have to be created. One would want to avoid having box cars or gondolas carrying loads of electricity.

Speed might be an issue. I don't think that TTD/OTTD can handle light speed (yet?). A way to overcome this would be to have lots of vehicles running close together each carrying very large loads. Might even get a decent sine wave out of this. :wink:

Suggestions:
Power lines are the "roads".
Transmission towers are "signals" to enable spacing between "vehicles".
"Current" is the vehicle. Speed is measured in Amps (Amperes)
"Power" is the cargo. Weight is measured in watts or kilowatts or megawatts.
Substations (Transformer Yards) are the stations.


For "proof of concept" I suggest using only the Coal Power Plant and the default Factory at first. The other default industries can be added later once things are flowing smoothly. After that it would be up to the other set authors to buy into the concept.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:40 pm 
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An interesting idea from the FIRS thread:

Yoursnotmine wrote:
Probably less mentioned, but I have know this since a loong time (and so likely other people) : The steel mill in original TTD (and so TTDPatch) have some tiles that accept passenger cargo (1/8 or somewhat like that) - this isn't showed in the industry menu, but this allowed people to transport passenger if they get them near and aplenty.

My ideas : Instead of showing the cargo (electricity) in the industry menu, make it something like this : Make two (or more) tiles that accept the cargo at fractional rate, and don't appear them in the industry menu. Im not sure at all does this works for OpenTTD, but I believe its doable, likely - and so allowing every single industry to accept electricity !


This seems do-able. Of course, it won't affect industry production, but it would allow electricity delivery to any industry.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Supercheese wrote:
An interesting idea from the FIRS thread:

Yoursnotmine wrote:
...
Excellent idea! 8)
I do believe that some of the other default industries have the same feature ... e.g. The oil rig.
An added bonus maybe ... Industries with heavier power needs could have more than one such tile.
Perhaps a dev or an industry coder could comment on this.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:18 pm 
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There is / was a 'volt' cargo in the wiki. I suspect Pikka added it for amusement, might be wrong.

In all economies, FIRS will have at least one cargo slot kept free, for things like regearing, or other extra cargos.

Many industries in FIRS have all three 'accepted cargo' slots used. This means they can't accept any further cargos for processing. Tile based cargo acceptance is possible, but it's pure whimsy, because nothing more can be done with the delivered cargo (it won't be processed by industry logic, just consumed from the station).

I have nothing against the electricity concept, but I won't do any work to support it. It's fun to fool around with, but I'd bet that it won't add much to gameplay.

Electricity in game should be done via town control (plausible), or by placing charge at points on the grid on a per-tile basis, which industries can access (highly highly unlikely). Otherwise just do pylons as new objects.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:24 pm 
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Would it be possible to duplicate the code used for water towers in tropical for use with power stations in temperate? i.e a town won't grow unless the power station is supplied with coal. That's the best way to simulate electricity production in OTTD IMHO, along with the aforementioned Newobject pylons for eye candy

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:29 pm 
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Yoursnotmine wrote:
Probably less mentioned, but I have know this since a loong time (and so likely other people) : The steel mill in original TTD (and so TTDPatch) have some tiles that accept passenger cargo (1/8 or somewhat like that) - this isn't showed in the industry menu, but this allowed people to transport passenger if they get them near and aplenty.

Maybe less mentioned, but there even was an implementation of the steel mill using passengers as "workers" needed for production:

viewtopic.php?p=644065&sid=7ffbf922dc9fdf558c4550fd6ca44a7a#p644065


SquireJames wrote:
Would it be possible to duplicate the code used for water towers in tropical for use with power stations in temperate? i.e a town won't grow unless the power station is supplied with coal.

That´s what Andy wrote:

andythenorth wrote:
Electricity in game should be done via town control

i.e. by a game script.


Nonetheless, there are only 3 input cargoes possible for an industry, whatever extra cargoes might be defined for the industry tiles.

Other than that, I don´t really like this kind of a "kludge" via rail types or (non-existing) road types, even if it comes up every year or so. The concept of "electricity" might be a valuable addition to the core game, but I don´t think the drawbacks of a hackish implementation would be worth it.

regards
Michael

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:02 pm 
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Another relevant question: Do similar games like Simutrans implement powerlines and electricity transport? If so, how do they do it?

andythenorth wrote:
I have nothing against the electricity concept... It's fun to fool around with, but I'd bet that it won't add much to gameplay.

Unfortunately, this is basically the conclusion I came to as well: boring gameplay, difficult at best to integrate with existing industry sets, hackish implementation. Unless some ingenious method for making electricity transport more fun can be found, I think the entire idea is doomed. :(

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:34 pm 
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Supercheese wrote:
Another relevant question: Do similar games like Simutrans implement powerlines and electricity transport? If so, how do they do it?

andythenorth wrote:
I have nothing against the electricity concept... It's fun to fool around with, but I'd bet that it won't add much to gameplay.

Unfortunately, this is basically the conclusion I came to as well: boring gameplay, difficult at best to integrate with existing industry sets, hackish implementation. Unless some ingenious method for making electricity transport more fun can be found, I think the entire idea is doomed. :(
Of course TTD/TTDP/OTTD are transport games and supplying power to industries is essentially a question of transport. Unlike trains, planes, ships and rvs, there is not much to see. However, there does remain the need for an efficient network. Power sources must be identified and tapped. Power consumers must be identified and supplied. In real life, if the supply does not satisfy the demand, the consumers loose power. Industries close and towns go dark. A game map may have a goodly number of power suppliers but are they able to keep up with the ever growing demand presented by new industries and expanding towns? Do the suppliers have access to the required networks? Do the suppliers have access to a reliable source of raw materials (e.g. coal or oil)? There is a lot here to challenge the best of players. A poorly designed network could drive industries to close. With fewer industries, there is less demand for transport of goods and materials. A poorly designed power network could bankrupt your transportation company just as easily as a poorly designed road or rail network.

As I suggested previously, it would probably be best to experiment with the default industries. It would be grossly unfair to suggest to authors such as andythenorth that they accept this proposal before they have a chance to see it in game and have an opportunity to assess the potential. The same applies to the developers. There may be opportunities for implementing new code, but I'm sure they would want to see a good case before doing so. A hackish implementation may be poor design, but it may be the best way to assemble a proposal that if acceptable, might give opportunity for something far more acceptable.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:30 am 
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FWIW, 'electricity' was part of the original design for FIRS (this is why some industries have transformers, originally to indicate that electricity was needed to boost production).

However no viable way has been found within the spec to implement electricity. Multiple proposals have been made to extend the spec in various directions, none has found any traction.

Making an electricity grf could be a fun bit of experimentation; maybe it's pointless, maybe it's not :D

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FIRS Industry Replacement Set (Released) | HEQS Heavy Equipment Set (trucks, industrial trams and more) (Finished)
Squid Ate FISH (ships) (Released) | CHIPS Has Improved Players' Stations (Finished)
Iron Horse (trains, released) | Termite (tracks for Iron Horse, released) | Busy Bee (game script, released)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:30 am 
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Instead of amking electricy lines something to play with for players, why not make it a feature of the game to extent electricty over the "world". One can imagine at world rendering that powerlines are implemented from power stations to nearby cities. As soon as you start feeding an industry the production can be increased by supplying the factory with a power line (instead of the industry running on an imaginairy generator).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:09 pm 
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How about something like a simple check at the receiving industry that says 'is there a powerline within 1 tile of me?' at the industry, then a second check, periodically made that says, 'is that powerline connected to an industry that supplies power?'
Then just use something similar at the Power Plant (or whatever) industry at the other end, except instead of checking to see if it's connected to an industry, it marks all lines leading from it as 'live', which would make the second check above return true.
If that could be done, then you'd just need graphics - a pylon and overhead wires, but coded in such a way you could still run rail/road and canals underneath. I can't see a way short of NewObjects that would see powerlines made buildable without using railtypes, and that would interfere slightly with running other tracks near them.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:23 pm 
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andythenorth wrote:
I have nothing against the electricity concept, but I won't do any work to support it. It's fun to fool around with, but I'd bet that it won't add much to gameplay.
Before getting into technical details about how this could be implemented, what does this add to gameplay? What affect will it have on me, as a player, when I decide to build (or not build) power lines?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:46 pm 
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I can think of two things off the top of my head.

A town that picks up availability of electricity, however implemented, may grow faster.
Industries that similarly pick it up enjoy a boost to production - not as much as if one were to supply more cargos, as is done in FIRS and ECS, but a boost nonetheless. This would have to be supported grf-side as well though I think, otherwise only the default industries and anything which inherits from them would be affected.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:10 pm 
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But realistically towns already have electricity, especially if you start in 1950. I think that should be the starting point of every OpenTTD game too: cities are hooked up to the electricity grid.

May I suggest to write an AI controlled company that deals with hooking up towns to the electricity grid? Player companies pay money to this AI company to get industries hooked up too and with the arrival of electrified tracks themselves too. Yearly a fee is deducted from the player company's bank account for used electricity (possibly a new feature can be added to electric engines called fuel efficiency which influences the use of electriciy).

Having an AI controlled company deal with electricity also works when you decided to play before 1950: as soon as electricity works appear the AI company kick-starts into action.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:38 pm 
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I would say building out the power infrastructure is not worth being something the player does. It would be better to either have game-generated lines as eyecandy, or just imagine that a grid is in place. Then one could have GS, or game itself provide a method for checking if an industry or town has a power producing object within x tiles. I think that would be a good start, and we can leave aside for now both some towns, industries etc needing more power, and some objects providing power to a larger radius.

We could leave it to NewGRF to determine whether the only power producing object is the original coal plant, or whether to provide an assortment - some of which may produce power without any intervention by the player (wind, solar, even natural gas). The game play ramifications of the exact mix of power producing objects would vary from grf to grf.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:02 pm 
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Hyronymus wrote:
May I suggest to write an AI controlled company that deals with hooking up towns to the electricity grid? Player companies pay money to this AI company to get industries hooked up too and with the arrival of electrified tracks themselves too. Yearly a fee is deducted from the player company's bank account for used electricity (possibly a new feature can be added to electric engines called fuel efficiency which influences the use of electriciy).

Having an AI controlled company deal with electricity also works when you decided to play before 1950: as soon as electricity works appear the AI company kick-starts into action.
I ask again: what does it add to gameplay? If the only effect on my company that this has is a yearly deducted fee we might as well simply deduct an "overhead" fee, call it "headquarters electricity bill" for all I care. It doesn't change any gameplay aspects.

supermop wrote:
I think that would be a good start, and we can leave aside for now both some towns, industries etc needing more power
So if the grid is imaginary and nobody needs power, what should change?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:05 pm 
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Yexo wrote:
I ask again: what does it add to gameplay? If the only effect on my company that this has is a yearly deducted fee we might as well simply deduct an "overhead" fee, call it "headquarters electricity bill" for all I care. It doesn't change any gameplay aspects.

OK, maybe we should really link it with the availability of electric traction. Would this be influencial enough on gameplay, would it effect the status of a player´s company?

I also don´t see any relevant gameplay aspects on the general availability of electricity (i.e. for towns), but it could be a nice addition for certain large industries. Or a pre-requisite for operation of electrified networks. :cool:

regards
Michael

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Yexo, not all fun game features necessarily have to deal with core game features. That doesn't come as a surprise though, right?

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