if you look at the ideas/wishlists/annoyances for no matter which transportation game, there is one thing always brought up: the economy/industry model. Some like this, some like that, ...
I have looked at the different approaches from the games I know and have played (TTD, RT2, RT3) and from what I heard about (3DTT, simutrans). I found out they can be split into 3 categories with only some different settings.
In order to reach as much people as possible, I suggest to implement all 3 systems, and let the user decide which system to use and to modify the settings. We could then include some presets too (RRT-style, RT2-style, ...).
Now, for the interesting part: what are those 3 categories and their settings?
- Contract based
- players have to transport a fixed amount of cargo from a fixed point to a fixed destination, for a fixed price. If you succeed, you get the money, if you don't succeed, you get some sort of penalty or the contract may even be broken completely (details yet to be worked out).
- players can offer better contracts to industries to take over contracts from other players or invisible traffic.
- the industries choose the contract with the best price/speed/quality/goodwill/realistic/... combination.
- Destination based
- Each unit of cargo has a fixed destination, it will try to find the best (=cheapest/fastest/...) route by its own. It will hop transportation methods and use different companies on 1 run.
- Each train has a fixed fare-price for each type of cargo. (This doesn't need to be set for each train, you could say to a general manager : "take the running costs*2" or some other formulas so all fares are automaticly set for the micro-management-hating players.
- You just transport the cargo's to where they want, you don't own them, they are still the boss.
- Price based
- Your company buys the cargo from the market
- You can do with the cargo whatever you want, it's completely yours
- You sell it again to the market where you arive.
In all these cases, some kind of "market price" should be maintained in all cells on the map: It is where the industries base their contracts offer on in the first method. The price difference also gives the max. (total) fare price a cargo might pay in the second method. In the third case, the price difference IS the amount of money the transportation company gets.
Now, how there prices are affected by supply/demand is a second part where you can have different options:
- How does supply / demand / oversupply / shortage / ... influence the prices?
- Is there some kind of "invisible" traffic to compete with? This could be the default-contracts for the industries, at a high price and slow speed, just to make sure the economy doesn't "drop dead" when the players are not transporting some kind of goods.
- Is conversion (eg: iron->steel) instant or does it take time?
- Is there a maximum conversion rate ?
- To who (eg: which company) and/or how (eg: contract/price based/destination based) will I offer my produced cargo? This can be based on best conract offered / company with the best goodwill / first come first serverd / ...
- When/where are new industries created?
- When are existing industries removed?
Now, if all these things are implemented in the game, and these settings are stored in the scenario's/maps, we can create a whole lot of different playing styles and a very very big replay-abillity.
As an example, I will show what these settings could be for the TTD, RRT2 and RRT3 system. If you know of a system you would like, which you think is not possible with these settings, please post it here and I'll try to squeeze it in anyway.
- traffic-payement : price based
- market-price : prices are pretty much fixed, I don't think they are influenced by oversupply / shortage very much. There is also completely no invisble traffic.
- production-system : There is a max / year, this changes with how good the industry is served and the general economical situation. Transformation is not instant. I don't know if cargo is divided over the stations based on goodwill or if it's completely first-come-first-served
- traffic-payement : price based
- market-price : prices are influenced by oversupply / shortage and hauling distance this last one is completely pointless and unrealistic, because you can have profitable runs by hauling grain from 1000km away even if there is a farm only 5km away, so I didn't include it in my settings. There is also completely no invisble traffic.
- production-system : There is no max production, and transformation is instant. You arrive with some loads of iron, unload, and you can immediately load up the produced steel. The cargo is always sold to the first train who arrives in a station covering the industry
- traffic-payement : a mix between price based and destination based (you receive the price difference as if it were a price-based economy, but you can't decide 100% where to haul your cargo to).
- market-price : prices are influenced by oversupply / shortage very very much. There is invisble traffic, with the speed of movement based on cargo-type and terrain-type.
- production-system : There is a max production, but you can upgrade the industries to increase this maxium. Transformation is not instant. The cargo is always sold to the first train who arrives in a station with a destination that offers a higher price
If I would contribute to this game, I would like it the most to work on the possibillities of these different models...