Author Topic: Making your game profitable  (Read 5262 times)

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Offline Anime

Making your game profitable
« on: June 08, 2015, 02:25:57 PM »
Hi everyone :)
Long time no see!
I've been gone for about 4 years  but i've started playing simutrans again.
I'm having trouble getting my networks to be profitable though. Care to share any tips/ tricks? Especially for in the early beginning of the game.
(The map i was working on is about 600x600 and has about 35 villages, i didn't use any industrial transport so far)


regards

Offline Ters

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Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 02:56:39 PM »
You should mention which pak set you are playing. The different pak sets have different costs and prices, which influences how it is best to play.

Offline Anime

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 03:11:50 PM »
Aye. i totally forgot. i'm playing pak 128 :)

Offline DrSuperGood

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 04:27:23 PM »
Drop by fifty's online pak128 server. There are 4 profitable companies including my own. You can lift ideas from them and ask for tips if anyone is playing at the time.

Generally it is best to start with industry. Passengers are viable for a start but nowhere near as easy as industry, especially in early years before planes.

If you have an Oil-Fired Power Station with an oil source some distance away then you can supply that. They have huge demand so you can really make money from distance. Coal-fired Power Stations are similar but slightly less profitable (they use less). Waste also works but due to the volumes involved usually is not that profitable (too much on maintenance) This is my "cookie cutter" approach to starting in pak128 which starts slow but allows me into more profitable schemes.

Fifty's approach is to hook up a compound chain and then optimize for maximum through-put. Compound chains are the most profitable industries because of the volume of goods they allow you to ship. A food processing plant can make millions very easily for example.

If you have access to airplanes (late starting date) then you can use another starting approach. Get all cities near the edges of the map and construct an airport for them connected to the houses with busses. Then place a central airport in the middle of the map (preferably near a city as well for more passengers). You can then connect them all with airplanes. Airplanes in pak128 are very badly balanced and can make a lot of money even in the 1940s.

Like the previous method, you can also do one with compound industry chains and freight planes. This is by far the most profitable start as you can always link up the furthest possible sources which results in insane profit. It also is super easy to do as airports take 1/100 of the time to build than rails or roads. Most servers ban this as "cheating" due to its ease.

If pay for distance between stops payment model is used you can also out-right cheat by exploiting the mechanic. The cargo-bounce exploit can be used to turn even nearby unprofitable goods into massive money earners. Using this on anything oil or coal related can easily earn you several million a month with a properly built cargo-bounce line. Such a line consists of a boarding stop, 2 repeating "intermittent" stops (the same two repeat 10-50 times in a high-traffic loop) and then the destination stop. Since you get paid between stops (if the appropriate payment model is used) you get paid for each time the convoy advances in the loop. The loop adds "artificial distance" to the journey allowing you to convert an low-profit journey into a literal money tree as if you were moving the goods across the entire map multiple times. Since this is blatantly an exploit most server owners will out-right remove you and possibly ban you if they catch you doing this. In principle it is similar to a "re-direction" stop since it allows you to get paid for extra distance however most people accept re-direction stops as part of making a transport network more efficient (they do not add fake distance, purely allow you to be paid for distance you are forced to travel such as around a lake).

Once you get used to the mechanics of Simutrans it is easy to make profit in both pak64 and pak128. Good luck.

Online gauthier

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2015, 07:05:46 AM »
If you start with passengers, your main concerns are:

_ Convoys must always be almost full (except for local buses). You should always set at least one stop with 90~100% minimum charge (including local bus lines). This aspect is less problematic in more advanced stage, especially because local buses become unprofitable in late games, no matter how full they are. Anyway these are important in early games.
_ Avoid setting up train lines in early games (1930~1940), they are too expensive and early trains become obsolete very quickly. You should prefer intercity buses to begin with, they can be very profitable if used well.
_ Regarding intercity lines (buses, trains, or whatever), choose the highest speed possible (and reasonable, don't use a high speed trains on commuter lines ! This advice is rather for early games). Fast convoys are expensive but very profitable whereas slower ones are cheaper but gather too little money and easily lead to bankrupt.

Some general advise regarding passenger networks:

_ Make your network "star" shaped, avoid loops. Passengers choose their path only according to the number of changes they have to do, they can easily choose stupid paths if your network is densely interconnected. The only way to handle this is making "stars" (in a city: all bus lines go from/to one train station; in a suburb all cities are connected to a central city via radial lines; etc...). This is less problematic in advanced games, but it is a major concern when starting a new game, as you cannot tolerate any unnecessary loss of profit.
_ As personnal experience, I never ever got to make a subway line profitable. Make one only if you have no other choice (bus/tram lines of the city completely overcrowded).

Offline Anime

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2015, 09:03:05 AM »
Thanks for the tips! Any tips on what type of vehicles i should use? Is it best to use slow vehicles with high capacity or fast vehicles with low capacity?

Online gauthier

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2015, 09:42:47 AM »
I play almost only trains, so here is my advice for them:

For passengers:
_ in early games (until 1950), use the fastest trains you can afford.
_ in later games: choose trains in a realistic way. Short-range lines with lot of stops (suburb/regional/subway lines) should get slow but powerful and high capacity trains whereas long-range lines with stops far away from each other (intercity lines) should get express trains.
Trains between 100 and 140 kmph are okay for suburb lines, regional lines can get faster trains (up to 160 kmph and even to 180 kmph in late games).

In early games you should avoid doing too much terraforming, tunnels and bridges as these are expensive, building tracks with curves and slopes is okay. At this era you won't make difference between regional and intercity trains, just use the fastest and most powerful locomotives you can. Some decades later, fast locomotives (especially electric ones) appears. Ugrade in priority your intercity lines, the fastest the most profitable. On the "classical" lines you built, you should be able to run trains up to 160 kmph, and even to 200 kmph for the best lines.

In 1930, don't use tracks with limit speed higher then 80 kmph (and 60 kmph for freight lines), your trains will hardly reach this speed.

You should spare some money to set up high speed lines as soon as the first high speed trains appear. You will have to build much smoother lines (needs lots of terraforming, bridges and tunnels) dedicated to your high speed trains, otherwise they would not be able to reach high speeds. But once such lines run, they gather loooots of money.

For goods:
Speed is not as important as for passengers, check the speed bonus of each good in the goods list to see if it's worth doing upgrades on your fright network.

Anyway, starting with freight and building a passengers network then is not so easy, freight lines are cheap to set up but don't gather much money, while passengers network is expensive to set up. It's hard to get enough money from freight network to set up a passengers network.

Offline Anime

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2015, 10:20:16 AM »
Okay! Thanks :) And what are you thoughts on a lot of short trains/small stations vs  a few long trains/long stations (especially with transport of goods)

Online gauthier

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2015, 02:25:26 PM »
Considering buses, I always use two or three tiles for each stop (more for hubs of course). If I make smaller stops, they get overcrowded even with the highest-capacity stop. This size is a good compromise between capacity and covered area (and thus distance between stops). For the same reason, my subway stations are not longer than 3 tiles. 2 or 3 tiles is also a good length for trams.

About trains, when you start a game, you would better make short stations and use short convoys as station maintenance costs are high. Of course, start with the lowest capacity stations, and when passengers level increase, make the station longer until you reach desired length for the long term. Then, if passengers level keeps increasing, upgrade your platforms with higher capacity ones. It's hard to keep playing with small convoys all the game, the amount of passengers gets too high in some areas, so you have to make much more convoys than if you had long convoys and long stations, and your network quickly saturates.

A saturated network is a big trouble for two reasons: it can jam anytime and convoys are much slower as they have to stop often behind the previous convoy (therefore you loose much money since you can't get speed bonus, and, as passengers flow is slower, your network gets even more overcrowded than if you had less convoys).

In my games I often use 5 or 6 tiles long stations for usual train lines (less for very light lines), and 7 or 8 tiles long stations for high speed lines (high speed trains take less passengers and needs more space between convoys to keep speed high, so having long convoys is a better solution).

Anyway, after some years of game, having long stations is not so costly because you can use very low capacity platforms (lowest is 32 passengers per platform tile).

EDIT: For goods: as freight convoys don't need to be so fast, the best solution is to have long and heavy convoys to make most profit from the loc. Anyway, in 1930 locs are so weak that 6 tiles is already very long even for freight trains.

EDIT²: By the way, keep in mind that price and running cost of a locomotive depends much on its limit speed (because of speed bonus which is very high for passengers), so if you make freight trains, use a slow, but powerful, locomotive.

Offline DrSuperGood

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2015, 03:24:15 PM »
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You should spare some money to set up high speed lines as soon as the first high speed trains appear. You will have to build much smoother lines (needs lots of terraforming, bridges and tunnels) dedicated to your high speed trains, otherwise they would not be able to reach high speeds. But once such lines run, they gather loooots of money.
They do not need to reach high speeds as this is not experimental.

You get paid for the average maximum speed of the train. As such the actual average speed is irrelevant (the train could be stuck for months and you will still earn the same). You only need to worry about track design in high-capacity networks.

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Anyway, starting with freight and building a passengers network then is not so easy, freight lines are cheap to set up but don't gather much money, while passengers network is expensive to set up. It's hard to get enough money from freight network to set up a passengers network.
Nonsense. A good Oil-Fired Power Station can net you in hundreds of thousands in the standard length of month as long as the oil sources are reasonably far away. Any money they earn is pretty much pure profit since the infrastructure costs/maintenance are low and you lose very little due to convoy devaluation. If you take on a compound chain you can earn millions a month but those can be hard to set up initially.

Quote
About trains, when you start a game, you would better make short stations and use short convoys as station maintenance costs are high. Of course, start with the lowest capacity stations, and when passengers level increase, make the station longer until you reach desired length for the long term. Then, if passengers level keeps increasing, upgrade your platforms with higher capacity ones. It's hard to keep playing with small convoys all the game, the amount of passengers gets too high in some areas, so you have to make much more convoys than if you had long convoys and long stations, and your network quickly saturates.
Problem is in pak128 that you cannot have "long passenger trains" for most train types. For example the Tigress 400 km/h can only be 5 tiles long at most (you cannot join two together).

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A saturated network is a big trouble for two reasons: it can jam anytime and convoys are much slower as they have to stop often behind the previous convoy (therefore you loose much money since you can't get speed bonus, and, as passengers flow is slower, your network gets even more overcrowded than if you had less convoys).
Average speed has nothing to do with revenue in standard Simutrans. A train can stall for years (eg a deadlock signal problem) and when it comes in it will still earn the same money had it not been stalled at all (minus any differences in speed bonus from years advancing obviously, but assuming it is 2100 or something then no difference at all).

Experimental Simutrans functions differently. There you get paid for actual average speed and not the average maximum speed. However pak128 is not design for experimental (only pak128.britain is) so should not be used in the first place.

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and 7 or 8 tiles long stations for high speed lines (high speed trains take less passengers and needs more space between convoys to keep speed high, so having long convoys is a better solution).
Tigress 400 km/h cannot be longer than 5 tiles without losing speed bonus due to never being able to reach top speed. That is the fastest train in pak128.

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EDIT: For goods: as freight convoys don't need to be so fast, the best solution is to have long and heavy convoys to make most profit from the loc. Anyway, in 1930 locs are so weak that 6 tiles is already very long even for freight trains.
As long as you use the engine power efficiently there is mostly no concern for freight convoy running costs. The break even point is usually around 20% loaded one-way which leaves a lot of profit.

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EDIT²: By the way, keep in mind that price and running cost of a locomotive depends much on its limit speed (because of speed bonus which is very high for passengers), so if you make freight trains, use a slow, but powerful, locomotive.
Price of convoy is irrelevant outside the "value lost" when you first start it and every month it is owned. The first start value loss is the actual cost of the convoy since that is how much your net worth will be decreased by buying it and using it. If net worth goes below 0 you bankrupt, I have often run >20M into the red in actual money but since my net worth is >0 I have no problems.

The loss in convoy value every month can be considered a sort of monthly maintenance for that convoy that decreases over time. Convoys almost always make profit faster than this loss of value hence why it is of little concern.

Online gauthier

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2015, 03:17:48 AM »
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You get paid for the average maximum speed of the train. As such the actual average speed is irrelevant (the train could be stuck for months and you will still earn the same). You only need to worry about track design in high-capacity networks.
I didn't know about that. Thanks for this precious information !

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Nonsense. A good Oil-Fired Power Station can net you in hundreds of thousands in the standard length of month as long as the oil sources are reasonably far away. Any money they earn is pretty much pure profit since the infrastructure costs/maintenance are low and you lose very little due to convoy devaluation. If you take on a compound chain you can earn millions a month but those can be hard to set up initially.
When I start games with freight, I always look for oil possibilities. I started a game with oil power plants, but even with that, and after extending my freight network to many industries, it was hard to start a passengers network.

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Problem is in pak128 that you cannot have "long passenger trains" for most train types. For example the Tigress 400 km/h can only be 5 tiles long at most (you cannot join two together).
Tigress should be able to multiple units, it's a bug since I made most passenger trainset of pak128 able to couple up. I will fix that. Thanks for reporting :D
Anyway, in pak128, it is possible to have long passenger trains.

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Price of convoy is irrelevant outside the "value lost" when you first start it and every month it is owned. The first start value loss is the actual cost of the convoy since that is how much your net worth will be decreased by buying it and using it. If net worth goes below 0 you bankrupt, I have often run >20M into the red in actual money but since my net worth is >0 I have no problems.

The loss in convoy value every month can be considered a sort of monthly maintenance for that convoy that decreases over time. Convoys almost always make profit faster than this loss of value hence why it is of little concern.
The "value lost" is still high in the next few months after you bought the convoy. It has to be considered. I entirely agree with you about net worth, I also play this way (I even think that net worth should be displayed at the bottom screen instead of cash which is a pretty useless figure).

Offline el_slapper

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2015, 11:34:30 AM »
My usual start in 1910 is to put a tram network on each city with more than 10k inhabitants, and then look if there is industry lines doing by truck while using mostly the existing road system. I'm using the Berliet M22(that can be found on the SNFOS website, from which I downloaded everything. That's the only one I drew myself, though). And then, Fast-Forward up to 1918.

Trams don't net a lot of money, but a network with circular, shared routes, is in the positive if the city is above 10k pop, in my experience. So, in 1918, when the first real trains, planes & buses arrive, cities have grown, and the cash-flow is positive. Plus your bigger cities already are fully covered, and ready to reap benefits of intercity transport.

Which is not easy in those times, as others noted. Early planes should be limited to small routes, I often end up with 50+ Handley-page clogged at my airports. Even when not linking my main town. Trains can make some money, but be sure to have them full. And the network needs to be perfect. Which means a lot of terraforming...that you can't really afford yet.

Offline Anime

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2015, 08:24:36 AM »
I' ve learned a lot from your posts. I should really focus more on busses in the beginning. I tend to go for trains and then bankrupt myself in 2/3 years :') What about mail transport? Is that even worth considering in the beginning? (1930-1945)

Online gauthier

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2015, 12:24:23 PM »
Begining with trains is possible, though very hard. As I said, my strategy regarding trains is to have the fastest possible ones (for passengers at least, beginning with freight trains is much easier). In any case, buses are essential to your network. A good strategy if you want to begin with trains is setting up a train line between two decent-size cities (not too far away, otherwise you will lose too much money in the track), and then gather the passengers from all the towns around each city served by the train using buses (using faster buses for intercity bus lines is a good idea). Thus, your bus networks will feed your train line with a nice amount of passengers, so you can easily make profit out of it.
Don't buy too many locomotives at first, in 1930 you will probably use Rvg 2D0 but this loc is quickly outdated and will give you poor profit, you'd better wait for Rvg 2C1.

I never play the postman, adding mail service to passengers service quickly becomes a nightmare when your network is close to saturation.

Piece of advice to avoid bankrupt: don't care about your cash, but keep an eye on your net worth. It must always be positive, as well as your operational profit. When you buy a convoy, be sure to have at least 50% of the convoy's worth as net worth, it's barely what convoy devaluation will make you lose.

Offline el_slapper

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2015, 05:21:51 PM »
Mail is for experts only. I did toy with it a few times, but never with the success it deserved, because I was not accurate enough in setting up the network. Forget it for now.

Offline DrSuperGood

Re: Making your game profitable
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2015, 06:54:40 PM »
Mail in pak128 needs about a 0.02-0.03 value increase. Currently it is in very low amounts and worth about as much as passengers. Although it works great when thrown in with passenger networks for extra money, it is not at all required and most people skip out mail entirely as it is difficult to collect efficiently with passengers (limits convoy choices on some lines such as busses with mail trailer). Some lines (trams) need special mail pickup services (road vehicles) which increase setup work a lot.