Financial effect of start year

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Baldy's Boss
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Financial effect of start year

Post by Baldy's Boss » 18 Jul 2016 06:46

Both of these companies are here presented on their 66th birthdays...one started in 1837 and the other in 1865.
Both have fleets of about the same size.
Both have the same interest rate settings.
Yet the later-set game has the company worth over three times the value of the earlier-set game,along with revenue being high by a lesser factor.

What effect does start year have on finances?
Does the different world size play a role?
What are the most important factors comparing these two companies' performance?
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Transportman
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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Transportman » 18 Jul 2016 08:21

Is inflation on? If it is, it might be that the later-set game has seen more inflation (I don't know in which years inflation is actually in effect).
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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by leifbk » 18 Jul 2016 09:32

Inflation is active during the first 170 years of the game, regardless of start year.

Overall, vehicles rise dramatically in capacity and speed during the years 1860 to around 2000, and the rise seems to peak in the period 1920 to 1970. This will of course vary quite a bit depending on which vehicle GRFs you're using, but in general they tend to follow real-life transport history. (Somebody ought to compile a graph of this.)

I never play with inflation on, because I usually start a new game between 1700 and 1800. The entire period 1700-1860 sees precious little improvement in transport capacity, and land-based transport with horse carriages at best will generate about a 2:1 ratio profit / total cost of ownership (TCO). Sailing ships combined with FISH 2 may deliver about 4:1. Compare this with a 1980s vehicle, which may easily give you a 10:1 profit. And this is why inflation sucks outside of the sweet years 1950-2050, which was, IIRC, the original game's time-span. I'd not recommend playing with inflation on unless your start year is within the takeoff period of the transport revolution, ie. between 1920 and 1950.

So, the answer to the original question should be quite obvious. A game started in 1837 will see little improvement in vehicle performance for the first critical decades, while a game started in 1865 will be able to utilize bigger and faster vehicles instantly, and from then on they're getting better all the time.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by leifbk » 18 Jul 2016 13:02

By the way, I wonder if there's a way to get a detailed log of events and transactions out of OTTD. Manual recording of purchase, annual expenses, income, and eventual retirement / replacement is extremely tedious and time-consuming. On the other hand, the program obviously keeps track internally of all these events. I'm not an experienced C++ programmer, but I can probably whip up a Perl script to munge raw data into plain text, if someone can point me in the right direction.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Sylf » 18 Jul 2016 13:39

I haven't taken a look at the games, but one thing I can think of:
different trains are available on the first day of the game.
If set the start year later, you start with faster, more powerful and higher capacity vehicles available for you to use. Those vehicles will obviously bring larger income immediately. Added to that, if your first year was in 1937, the rate of technological advancement in the game is much slower than some years later - you're further left behind in not having faster, bigger vehicles.

I don't think inflation has anything to do with the difference, if you're comparing two games, both are at same years into the game.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by leifbk » 18 Jul 2016 14:11

Sylf wrote:I haven't taken a look at the games, but one thing I can think of:
different trains are available on the first day of the game.
If set the start year later, you start with faster, more powerful and higher capacity vehicles available for you to use. Those vehicles will obviously bring larger income immediately. Added to that, if your first year was in 1937, the rate of technological advancement in the game is much slower than some years later - you're further left behind in not having faster, bigger vehicles.
To expand a bit on that point: The potential profit margins are a lot higher in 1865 than in 1837, which will allow for a much faster early expansion phase. Normally, any profit earned during the first couple of decades will quickly be reinvested in more profit-generating infrastructure. It's a pure exponential, positive-feedback, runaway loop: The more you earn, the more you'll be able to invest in order to earn even more.

The growth rate tends to flatten out when the management of existing infrastructure keeps you occupied most of the time.
Sylf wrote:I don't think inflation has anything to do with the difference, if you're comparing two games, both are at same years into the game.
Maybe not. But in any case, inflation is a powerful shot in the foot, at least for pre-1900 games.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Baldy's Boss » 18 Jul 2016 15:29

I always play with inflation on and as a rule build nothing but railroads (though I may acquire companies that are diversified).I have been experimenting with start years.
It sounds like my notion of starting a game in 1714 and building nothing but horse-wagons may be doomed to failure?
I started with Transport Tycoon(1930-2030) and never played TT Deluxe(1950-2050).In OpenTTD I have started games in or before 1940.
I see no point in playing past when one can no longer replace vehicles with new improved ones,so have rarely ventured past the grading point in 2051.
I have a game started in 1901 that has reached 2049 and is still profitable,and one started in 1887 doing well in the 1960s.
It seems to me that if technology is still improving when inflation stops,profitability will be great,but I have to start before 1881 for that.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by leifbk » 18 Jul 2016 15:47

Baldy's Boss wrote:It sounds like my notion of starting a game in 1714 and building nothing but horse-wagons may be doomed to failure?
With inflation on, certainly yes. The running costs will eat up your income long before you have access to anything with a better profit margin. But it might be instructive to try it.

18th century transportation is quite a challenge. I typically have a company value of about 10-20 millions GBP in 1800, after 100 years of play and no inflation. That's puny, compared to what you may have after 100 years if you start in 1900. The situation in 1800 in my long Ships & RVs thread pointed to in my sig below, where the company value is a whopping 50 millions GBP in 1800, is rather untypical. In my current game, the starting year was 1801. It's now 1910, and the company value is approaching 150 millions. And I don't consider making money as a primary goal of the game. I mostly enjoy watching those tiny blotches moving back and forth on the screen.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Baldy's Boss » 18 Jul 2016 17:20

leifbk wrote:
Baldy's Boss wrote:It sounds like my notion of starting a game in 1714 and building nothing but horse-wagons may be doomed to failure?
With inflation on, certainly yes. The running costs will eat up your income long before you have access to anything with a better profit margin. But it might be instructive to try it.

18th century transportation is quite a challenge. I typically have a company value of about 10-20 millions GBP in 1800, after 100 years of play and no inflation. That's puny, compared to what you may have after 100 years if you start in 1900. The situation in 1800 in my long Ships & RVs thread pointed to in my sig below, where the company value is a whopping 50 millions GBP in 1800, is rather untypical. In my current game, the starting year was 1801. It's now 1910, and the company value is approaching 150 millions. And I don't consider making money as a primary goal of the game. I mostly enjoy watching those tiny blotches moving back and forth on the screen.
The "Georgian Coach & Wagon Co." starting in 1714 (the year George I became King in Great Britain) would be intended to never build anything but horse wagons as long as it lasted,to see how long that would be...it sounds like you're saying it couldn't make it to when inflation stopped in 1884.(Green Victory Railroad,started in 1865 at the end of the USA's Civil War,doesn't run road vehicles but some competitors in 1931 still have horse wagons).

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Eddi » 19 Jul 2016 13:22

let's put it this way: inflation increases costs faster than incomes, to around a factor of 5 after 170 years. so if a vehicle makes 5 times its running costs at the start of the game, that same vehicle will barely break even after 170 years.
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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Simons Mith » 19 Jul 2016 16:23

There also seems to be an implementation bug in the way inflation limits are applied:

If you turn inflation on in year ten, then turn it off in year eleven, say, you get one year's inflation as expected. If you turn inflation on again in year 179, you get a second year of inflation, as expected. But in year 180, inflation turns off forever more, even though the game has only actually had two years of inflation.

This is because the inflation code deems '170 years since inflation started' as the limit, rather than looking at the actual cost multiplier. If inflation shut off when the cost multiplier got too high, then the arbitrary 170-year limit would disappear, and inflation would be restricted by the number players actually care about rather than a secondary number that just happens to hit the multiplier limit at about 170 years.

I think I even logged this on the bug tracker, some time back.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by lcd_47 » 20 Jul 2016 11:34

Looking at the code, inflation stops 170 years after the game's start regardless of when it was enabled or disabled, or when it reaches a theoretical maximum (but that's an overflow condition, it can only get there if you set interest rate to some suicidal value).

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Simons Mith » 20 Jul 2016 18:18

So, that sounds like a trivial fix; can you really just ditch the date check altogether, and dial back the overflow cutout to x5 or so?

I have a gamescript which dials back inflation by the simple expedient of randomly turning it off and on a user-controlled proportion of the time, but thanks to the 170 year cutout it just stops working after a time. As its purpose is to support games starting in the 1800s with inflation on, it's currently of limited use.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by lcd_47 » 20 Jul 2016 18:27

Simons Mith wrote:So, that sounds like a trivial fix; can you really just ditch the date check altogether, and dial back the overflow cutout to x5 or so?
It's an overflow condition as in, the internal representation has to fit in a certain number of bits. Nice crash waiting for you that way.

But you can drop the the date check, and you'll enjoy inflation for ever and ever, happily ever after.

Adding a cutoff in terms of the initial prices is not immediately trivial, since this information is not kept from one month to the next, and inflation still has to make sense when loading a saved game.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Baldy's Boss » 20 Jul 2016 19:15

Better to add a user adjustable setting than change default behavior unadjustably.
Manually turning inflation off and on is more of a hassle than having a rate and duration that you can specify and then let execute.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by lcd_47 » 20 Jul 2016 19:19

Either way it would involve changing the savegame format, and thus break compatibility with multiplayer games.

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by Transportman » 21 Jul 2016 17:01

lcd_47 wrote:Either way it would involve changing the savegame format, and thus break compatibility with multiplayer games.
Why would that be?
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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by lcd_47 » 21 Jul 2016 17:11

Transportman wrote:Why would that be?
Because you need to persist the current inflation level across saves, rather than current prices?

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by PropH » 21 Jul 2016 17:50

[+] Spoiler
/* The cargo payment inflation differs from the normal inflation, so the
* relative amount of money you make with a transport decreases slowly over
* the 170 years. After a few hundred years we reach a level in which the
* games will become unplayable as the maximum income will be less than
* the minimum running cost.
*
* Furthermore there are a lot of inflation related overflows all over the
* place. Solving them is hardly possible because inflation will always
* reach the overflow threshold some day. So we'll just perform the
* inflation mechanism during the first 170 years (the amount of years that
* one had in the original TTD) and stop doing the inflation after that
* because it only causes problems that can't be solved nicely and the
* inflation doesn't add anything after that either; it even makes playing
* it impossible due to the diverging cost and income rates.
*/

Btw, all you need to do:
[Normal way]
1. Create a setting to enable unlimited inflation (HowTo)
2. Slightly modify first line of this function, so it will look like that
[+] Spoiler

Code: Select all

   if ((check_year && (_cur_year - _settings_game.game_creation.starting_year) >= (ORIGINAL_MAX_YEAR - ORIGINAL_BASE_YEAR)) && !name_of_your_turn_on_unlimited_inflation_setting) return true;
3. Apply the patch and enjoy
[Short and not very nice way]
1. Delete line, that was listed above
2. Apply the patch and enjoy
Idk would multiplayer work or not
Sorry for my "great" English

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Re: Financial effect of start year

Post by lcd_47 » 21 Jul 2016 18:01

The new setting is not client-based, so it would have to be saved in savegames. This means the savegame version number would have to be increased. Boom.

Deleting the line would work fine though. As I said, inflation forever and ever. :D

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