my name is Dennis, from Germany, 37 and played quite some OTTD the last couple of days. I came to the vast world of OTTD more than a decade ago, but only took a glimps at it back then, and then never touched it again. I am amazed by what has been pulled of with this open source project. The stability, the features, the in-game mod support, the documentation. Looks like some real good people worked and are working on it. I am working in the games biz since 2008 and started out in QA, then moved to design and creative services and some project management (quality management). Making build-up games / strategy games, I know the market out there quite well. And to be frank, it is hard to get your hands on a nice transport game with multiplayer that just works so well and is still approachable. Most stuff is shiny, but lacks below the surface. And we do not do games for niche anymore, the return of investment is too low. It is up to guys like the ones doing OTTD, and to say it again: Awesome work! Even the original dated GFX hold up kind of. The bless of 2D I would say. Pixels, yes, but all in some coherent style that still works today.
Now with all the work that has been put into the game, and all the hours I spend I just figured I need to get to the forums to maybe get a point across. Which is of a broader nature and not just some specific isolated issue. OTTD is a sandbox game, and that's what it is doing well. However, even with sandbox games there can be purpose, meaning and context. OTTD is like the skeleton of an awesome framework but I think it could just be so much more if it went the extra mile and tackles flow, unlock development, balancing and general all the fine tuning that makes a game experience more than the sum of its parts.
Being a sandbox means freedom. Yet freedom can also be structured in a way to make it more of a journey. OTTD for example is a sandbox in terms where you can build, but it gives the tools/content to the player over a period of time through unlocks. Getting more of that into the journey would just bring OTTD to the next level. Less game-mechanic abuse, more journey. For example, adding a game element that plays a bit more with how cities perceive you. Taking out cheap "mechanic abuse" like spamming trees, and replacing it with meaningful political interaction, such as building beautification buildings. Giving bridges real trade-offs in terms of options available (in vanilla even the pricing is so close, you just build the best). Adding territorial expansion gameplay, where claiming land would stage the process of growing into the world, buying chunk of land from owners, where the price of the land varies. Acquiring stocks through a stock market to open up game play tools. Or using some kind of fame and reputation system to structure the availability of new vehicles where you have to play towards to get them, instead of just giving them all away through an automatic time-based unlock, but a manual rewarding process (e.g. in the spirit of crafting games that reward you for your investment of gathering, processing and researching).
Generally speaking intertwining the game content more with game loops where the challenge of building a profitable company is tackled bit by bit, and through each reward step giving you more and more access to the world, the content and the options. A good sandbox game can be both. Just like a minecraft game has a creative mode and a survival mode. Of course it is a different game, but the game loops are deducted from the same design principle. Just like the structure of many build/survive open world game, where the sandbox is also guided through character development. In OTTD the character is the company, kind of.
OTTD is such a unique game in it's realm and few come close, yet it could be so much more. Now, I do not know how much people are actually still on the project, nor what ambitions there are or what scope you guys can manage and how much time is invested and all that, so this might all be a bit far fetched and generally out of scope, but seeing what has been done, I thought there must be quite some involved people into it. Well, anyhow, awesome work, just wanted to give some feedback on how I perceived the game and what I was finding to lack overall.
PS: Ooops, wrong forum. If a mod could be so kind and move the posting?