Feedback: Bringing OTTD to the next level?

OpenTTD is a fully open-sourced reimplementation of TTD, written in C++, boasting improved gameplay and many new features.

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Feedback: Bringing OTTD to the next level?

Post by Dreepa »


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?

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Re: Feedback: Bringing OTTD to the next level?

Post by ino »

I believe a lot of things you mention (not all) are already possible via Game Script and/or NewGRF. Since I don't use it, I don't know if they already exist or not.

Now, I don't know about the community as a whole, but to me, the things you mention doesn't interest me in one bit, and if it is implemented, I'd probably turn them all off anyway. Not counting the complexity of implementing, integrating the feature correctly into the complex existing codebase (which is why development has been really slow lately), and different opinions on how things should work, the first obstruction is actually to have any developers/contributors interested in the feature itself.

You are, of course, welcomed to implement it.

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Re: Feedback: Bringing OTTD to the next level?

Post by andythenorth »

I am +1 to alternative ways of progressing the game in OpenTTD. I wore out the sandbox play about 10 years ago :twisted:

Casual game mechanics like 'level up', and earning different types of currency, XP etc are quite crude and obvious, but they get me hooked on specific casual games for weeks at a time.

Tech trees are a game mechanic that can be interesting.

'Daily Challenge' style mechanics are also crude and obvious, but quite compelling in casual games.

OpenTTD GameScript (GS) could provide some of these game mechanics, but there are limitations, some of which are ~impossible to overcome:
  • GS has limited tools for understanding and controlling industries. This matters because so much gameplay is dependent on industry locations and production levels
  • GS can't track cargo delivered from point A to point B. It can track cargo collected at point A or delivered at point B, but not between A and B
  • GS has no reliable mechanism for controlling the availability of vehicles, especially when they're provided by newgrf (mods), this limits any tech tree ideas
  • GS is limited in what it can execute per game tick, for performance reasons
We do have some strong GS like the various citybuilders, the challenges like NoCarGoal and Silicon Valley, and the goal-farming scripts like BusyBee and Villages is Villages.

I have ideas for GS that would offer scenario goals like Railroad Tycoon (e.g. cross continents), or tie vehicle availability to goal achievement (research tech tree level for £xxxxxx). But they're not currently practical. Attempts to develop a GS/newgrf spec that could support them are stalled as it's conceptually hard (and there are plenty of other fun things to work on that are easier to complete).

Also worth saying: core OpenTTD development is now mostly maintenance focussed, there are relatively few developers active, and large new features are now rare. There is a lot of newgrf modding activity though, and a fair level of activity around GS and AI. :)

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Re: Feedback: Bringing OTTD to the next level?

Post by Redirect Left »

As a question - are GameScripts (real life) date and time aware, so depending on day of initialisation they can alter or otherwise manipulate the goal, to pull off the 'different goal for different days' in one? or would anything like that be based upon game ticks and somewhat unpredictable as to what you're going to get given?
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