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For those of you who don't know me, my name is M4J (or Mark) and I am the creator of the M4J Network on YouTube. The M4J Network is an OpenTTD series based around building a large-scale realistic transport network inspired heavily by the UK rail network. I won't post a link just in case that breaches the rules, but you can find me by searching for M4J_Gaming on YouTube.
I’ve had lots of exciting new ideas for the M4J Network, but in order to implement them I need your help. This post has already been published in 3 different locations (my Reddit community, the OpenTTD Reddit community, and the M4J website) so if you see this in different places you don’t need to respond more than once. I’ll list the ideas below, as well as including how I need your help to make them happen.
A brand new series to run alongside the existing M4J Network
This series will involve recording individual services as they run along the network, for example service 2GXX on the Gardcity Great Western line (Gardcity St Peter - Plindham Junction semi-fast for those wanting to know). Each video will show the journey in a single direction in its entirety, including the trip from the depot to the first station. There will be a map shown at all times showing the train’s location as well as showing the stations it will be calling at. This map will update with each station. Here’s where I need your help:
1) Map designers - Although I have made maps of the network in the past, I would prefer it if someone could help me by designing maps to be used in this series. There will be 2 variations of the map, the first being a top-down view of the actual route the train will take, and the second being a London Underground style straight line map only showing the stations the train will call at. If possible, these maps will need to be at a professional standard, created on software like Adobe Illustrator or equivalent rather than Metro Map Creator.
2) Voiceovers - As well as showing the train’s location, I would also like to have a voiceover reading out the service information (e.g. "The next station is..."). Each franchise will have a different voice, much like in the real UK network. I will create a list of words and phrases that will need to be recorded. Each will need to be recorded as its own MP3 file, preferably on Audacity. These will also need to be of a professional standard, with a quality microphone used and with little to no background noise.
Anyone who contributes to the creation of this series will be fully credited at the end of each video.
Creating a new livery to be used with the existing BRTrains NewGRF
Currently, all my trains have a BR Blue variant livery where I’m able to use it. However, not all trains in the NewGRF have a BR Blue variant in order to stay realistic (e.g. the Class 370). As my network runs under the brand “M4J Rail” unless individual routes are claimed by a franchise holder, I would like to create a new livery using the M4J blue and red that I can apply to all British trains running on the network. I have experience using GIMP for pixel art, so should be able to create the liveries myself, but if anyone wishes to help with this too then I would be very grateful. Besides that, I only need help adding the finished liveries to the game, especially when it comes to selecting a NewGRF compiler to use. My plan is to decompile the NewGRF to access the PNG files, then create new versions that include my livery. Then recompile the NewGRF with the additional PNG files, assuming this would work? If it’s not possible to add it to the existing BRTrains NewGRF (for coding or legal reasons), then would it be possible to create a new NewGRF that just had the new livery and make it work with BRTrains? This idea will also be expanded in the future so that franchise holders can design their own livery that will be applied to all trains running within that franchise.
Currently I award franchises based on Patreon supporters. The full details can be found on my Patreon, but in summary:
a) If someone pledges above a certain amount monthly on Patreon, then after 3 months have passed they can select an unclaimed franchise on the M4J Network.
b) As a franchise holder, the Patron can assist in creating service schedules, adding or removing additional stations, routes and branchlines, select which trains run on their franchise, and name the franchise. In the future, they will also be able to design a logo for their franchise as well as a livery (as point 2 states).
c) If the franchise holder is no longer a Patron, their franchise ends at the end of that month. If they then become a Patron once more, they can select either the same franchise or a new franchise after 2 months of support.
At the time of writing, I have only one Patron with a franchise. Ultimately I would like more, so I am lowering the amounts required on Patreon, as well as adding new rewards for each tier. The new rewards are as follows:
i) A one-time pledge/donation on Patreon can be rewarded with a year-long franchise. This will start on the day of the pledge, and run for a full 12 months real time. Anyone who takes this offer will have access to the same privileges as listed above.
ii) Train naming. As well as naming and running a franchise, Patrons can also name trains within their franchise. This will be limited according to the amount pledged, with a maximum of 1 train in the lowest tier. These trains will run as normal, with their chosen name added to the vehicle name after the service information. Named trains will be eligible for renaming if the Patron chooses.
iii) Bridge naming. A lesser reward, but Patrons can choose a bridge within their franchise that will be named after them, or given a name of their choosing.
Any feedback related to Patreon is greatly appreciated, as I want to tailor the tier amounts and rewards to make it appealing to as many people as possible.
A dedicated M4J Network Discord server
I use Discord a lot for work, so I had the idea to allow viewers the opportunity to join a Discord chat or server solely dedicated to the M4J Network. That way, ideas can be openly discussed, with images and videos also being able to be shared. Anyone who is interested in this, let me know if you would prefer an M4J Network voice and text channel on my existing Discord or a whole new Discord server entirely for the M4J Network.
Beyond the ideas above, if anyone has any further thoughts as to how to improve the M4J Network, or would like to get involved, then feel free to contact me. The best ways are through commenting below this post on Reddit, sending me a direct message on Reddit, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org (Please use “M4J Network” as the subject line).
Thanks for reading, and here’s to the future growth of the network and the series!