i think you forget that even though you let a vehicle loading for ever, or for long (with timetable), from the moment that the station has too much cargo waiting the ratings are going down.
the higher frequency of loading = the more positiv impact on rating
the more cargo waiting = the more negativ impact on rating
So with that in mind i think the stations rating are relatively nice balanced.
The rating is going down when you have > 1000 units of cargo waiting at the station. I usually try my best not to have so much cargo waiting at the station.
The problem of the exploit is mainly with stations that don't produce enough cargo when not at "very good". With this exploit you can have constant "very good" rating and have always enough cargo for your vehicles even if they don't frequent the station that often. It makes profitting from small cities and otherwise unprofitable industries very easy. With this exploit you can easily and quickly profit from poorly planned routes that should normally cost you much more money, effort and planning. With this exploit it doesn't make much sense to have the "Days since last cargo pickup" parameter for station rating at all IMO - you could just get rid of it completely and base all the rating only on amount of waiting cargo - making the exploit unnecessary. Which leads me to my belief that the station rating mechanism is fundamentally broken anyway and needs an overhaul which probably wouldn't be trivial but that is perhaps for another discussion.
And if piglet is cheating, then maybe don t do any "Hub" station for your passengers, cause that s basically the same cheating.
Could you please elaborate on how hub stations are similar to this exploit we are discussing? I don't think I understand.
your vision : stop people from being able to use piglet because it is cheating
my vision : let people free to choose, and also let the server admin set a rule that players should not use piglet
The point is I am not free to choose if I want to use my timetables effectively. I am forced to play with the exploit at all times.
(that remind me of the station spread abuse, did we got rid of it ? no . Server admin can choose to let players use it or not, via a set of rules.)
I was not aware of this exploit and would never use it. It is ugly and is easy to not use. I also pay big maintenance costs for each station tile in my games and also limit the maximum size of the stations so I can at least combat this somewhat. I also play with station joining disabled. My intentions with my difficulty settings are that only carefully planned stations and routes should make you money. I am constantly tweaking the settings but it is getting close.