Lately I've been playing quite a bit of OpenTTD, most of it with Wasteland. I've actually managed to make a game last for almost 300 years, which is by a wide margin the longest I've ever managed to stay interested in one game
But all the while I've been collecting ideas and thoughts on things I'd like to change, and have been starting to implement some of them over the past few weeks.
A big part of my recent work on Wasteland has been thinking of ways to improve/extend the core gameplay. Since 1.9, OpenTTD increased the amount of cargo slots for industries and houses, which opens up some possibilities which were either impossible or too complicated before. I still don't want too
much complexity for the core gameplay just to be clear, but a little more of a challenge couldn't hurt
Below I've outlined some thoughts on some of the improvements I've been considering. Keep in mind, with the exception of the wastelanders mechanic, this is just brainstorming and prototypes, I haven't committed to anything yet
Wastelander Production Boost
One of the odd things in the current gameplay is the fact that Wastelanders seemingly take a one-way trip to work in the mines; never to return. It's a little morbid, honestly
But due to the old 3-in, 2-out cargo slot limitation for houses, I was unable to add acceptance of another cargo since they were all being used for town growth cargos. That is no longer the case
I have added a new cargo called Tired Wastelanders which are "produced" by the mine industries when you deliver wastelanders for the production boost. It is a 1:1 ratio, so as long as you keep exceptional service, you get all your workers back for some profit on the return trip. There is a slight caveat though; anything less than 100% station ratings will still mean some workers end up getting left behind, so it seems your quality of service will actually determine how many survive the work day. But hey, mining is a dangerous occupation
In addition to making it a two-way profit stream, I've also added the ability to quadruple production by delivering a high number of Wastelanders (amount TBD), making the boost mechanic even more of an attractive option. Previously I would usually ignore it, but now there is a much greater reward for taking the time to set up company towns for supplying workers to your mines
Ideas For Town Growth Changes
I have found two things which annoy me about the current process for growing towns:
- Towns stop accepting town growth cargos after getting to the last stage. This leads to an endless shuffle of vehicles when growing multiple towns at once, and often it just feels like busy work rather than an added challenge to overcome.
- The transition to self-sustained houses happens without direct action from the player; it just sort of "happens" at a predetermined point, and a little too quickly. This compounds the issue above, because you might be paying attention elsewhere and not realize this transition has occurred, causing you're network to suddenly stop being useful on the last leg without notice.
On my first point, I have noticed that often there is enough challenge in just getting the production and distribution of town growth cargos in the right areas, so the added "challenge" of having to constantly adjust my network to remain useful is a little overkill. I feel like allowing towns to continue accepting cargos like food and water indefinitely will still provide a challenge, since delivering your often-limited resources to a town which doesn't need it should be enough motivation to shift things around, without it being forced upon you.
Solving the second point basically boils down to adding some additional complexity to somehow give that control to the player, and I have some ideas:
- Extend on the current idea of simply delivering more cargos to initiate the final houses to appear. This could involve increasing the complexity of the building materials chain to include some advanced materials production for the final stage, or adding something entirely different.
- Electricity (see below)
- Some mix of the two
Extending the current industry chains would be the "easy" option, since it would just follow the same formula of the other stages of town growth. Set up industry chains and deliver the end product to towns. I haven't yet thought of any solid plan for what these cargo chains may look like, but an extension to the building materials chain seems like the most obvious choice.
I've even toyed with the idea of splitting Building Materials into separate cargos, and depending on which of those cargos you deliver (e.g. Steel, Concrete, Glass, etc.) it would change the resulting look of the town's final stage. This would be quite an undertaking graphically, however, so I'm probably not going to do that for now, but it's a fun idea
Next to food, water, and good building materials, nothing else seems more appropriate as a requirement for building an advanced city than electricity. This is slightly problematic, though, since there generally isn't anything interesting about transporting electricity. Setting up cargo chains to produce
be interesting however. There are a couple of options:
- Go the BSPI route and simply check if a power station within the town's authority area is generating power.
- Require the generated electricity to be transported to the town.
- A combination.
My overall preferred option looks something like option 3. Power plants still spawn sparsely around the map, but power must be initially transported to towns in order for the "renewed" stage of buildings to appear (in addition to food, water, and building materials of course). Once you are ready to cut off service to a town, you can build a funding-only municipal power station in or near that town which will then allow self-sustained buildings to appear and the town can then grow without any town growth cargos.
In this scenario, the player must build a (very expensive) fusion generator in each town at the final stage in order to initiate the construction of self-sustained buildings. I like it because it requires a direct action to achieve the final stage, and provides a challenge in the form of earning enough money to build the industry (makes a good money sink
). The downside is that it is more complex, both for the player and implementation-wise, to make both of these work together. It also may not be clear that you need to fund an industry to achieve the final goal, but Wasteland is already difficult if you don't read the instructions, so I think that's a minimal concern.
Also of note is that as of this writing, NML can't access town variables, which makes this currently impossible. I'm also not 100% sure if communicating information between industries and houses through town registers is even possible; I doubt it has been tried before. It seems
like it should be possible, but I won't know until NML gains this functionality so I can try it (I can't be bothered to write the NFO to test it now
). There is a patch to add this functionality awaiting completion, so perhaps it's not too far away
The challenge with doing electricity like in option 2 is the transportation aspect. It has been done before, but not very successfully. The trouble is that wires on tall poles don't work as a transport medium, because vehicles can't be offset far enough (along with clipping and other issues), and short poles just look goofy. Also transporting electricity is boring
I decided to try tackling this issue with an unconventional approach: making the power delivery system a conduit instead of wires. Before anyone cries out, yes it is unrealistic looking and ridiculous, I am aware of that
However, a 'conventional' approach to power transmission (i.e. tall poles) really isn't possible, and with this setup it is intended to be buried with tunnels instead of running exposed on the surface (although nothing stops you from doing that):
I've coded this as a tramtype so that vehicles can travel both ways, and it allowed me to put a "fence" around it to keep curious people and critters from wandering into a death trap (see, I care about realism a little
) There are obvious flaws, most notably the road stops leave much to be desired, but someday that should be possible to fix. I know someone will complain the conduit is too big, but I tried smaller sizes and it either looked pitiful and uninteresting, and/or the vehicles looked awkward travelling along it/them. Plus putting mains power at ground level with deadly creatures and rogue factions running around probably deserves some protection, so adding a bit of girth feels like the right choice
As with the previous ideas of electricity transport, the "vehicles" are just sparks which run along the conduit. To emphasize the fact that transporting
the electricity is not the main point, there won't be any "roster" to speak of, just a simple vehicle to achieve the goal of moving power from A to B. I feel like it should be as simple as possible to avoid power transport becoming too tedious. It's setting up the production which should be the challenge, not necessarily the distribution.
The question is: Is this desirable or interesting, or will it just be annoying? Transporting electricity is boring, but so is just having it magically work without any infrastructure, so is there any value to having it at all? It's something I'll have to experiment with, and see if it fits or not. It's just one proposal to fix the town growth issue
Soooo, yeah, that's my general plan right now. I haven't started coding the industries or the additional town growth stuff yet (just the wastelanders bit), I'm still ironing out the details before I dive into that mess. I just wanted to share a basic roadmap for where I'm heading with the set, and of course hear opinions. I'm also still working on rebalancing the vehicle rosters, currently the new train roster seems to be providing a nice challenge in testing, at least the AI fails where I want it to and succeeds where it should. My personal testing on hard settings shows it to be a challenge in the beginning, but it will take some time to know if the later vehicles are ok; lots more playing needed to get the full experience
Anyway, if you have any thoughts let me know!