Author Topic: Bluffview - a late game example  (Read 4358 times)

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Offline wgstewartjr

Bluffview - a late game example
« on: November 12, 2012, 12:19:06 AM »
I recently finished up my most recent playthrough of Simutrans and wanted to share my final game and strategies I used with the goal of contributing my ideas to the collective and, hopefully, provide some assistance & examples for any new players to the game.  Today, I want to introduce my map and then in subsequent days, discuss some of the more significant constructions   

My goals with this playthrough were to implement a hub strategy I had been thinking about and to use shipping and subway transportation options I had never tried before.  I had never used shipping before, mainly because of the maps I selected and I had never used underground before because my previous experience with underground was when it was first implemented and a wrongly placed rail signal could easily crash the program.   


Saved game link:
http://simutrans-germany.com/files/upload/Bluffview.sve










I am using Simutrans version 111.3.1 r5843
http://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=10292.0

The only pak I am using is the Dreamliner Pak.
http://addons.simutrans.com/?pak=64&cat=vehicles&todo=show&id=69

(Also, apologies if I am breaking any forum etiquette rules.... I am not a frequent forum poster, but really wanted to have this be my contribution to the community... so I am happy to adjust going forward  :)

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 12:23:32 AM »
Demographics:  I started in 1930 with map #38 with sixteen cities.  At start, total inhabitants were about 23,000 and the largest city held about 8k.  My city is now in year 2065 with 1,025,000 people with the largest city holding 114,000 people.  I currently have approximately 1,200 convoys in operation and over 400 lines. 






Financials: I earn annual revenue of $310,000,000/year with operational profit of $93,000,000 for a margin of @ 30%.  I have $4.25 billion in my bank account.  I personally use margin as the way to score myself.  I have only used the Public player to build out about 80% of my subway networks.  My rationale for this is that since this is the first map I have extensively used underground on.  I did not begin the process of building out the subway network until after the low speed tunnel was made obsolete.  As I am not using trains that can take advantage of the high speed network, I decided the maintenance cost of $600 per tile per month on the high speed tunnel (vs. the low speed tunnel which whose maintenance cost is a 1/3 or $200 per month per tile) was too punitive on my margin.  If I had not used the public player, I would have an additional $24,000,000 of maintenance a year and my margin would be closer to 21.5%.





City Naming Convention:  I name my cities with three letter airport codes and name them based on based on their relative locations on my map to their general location on a North America map.  This allows me to quickly understand where I am on the map

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 12:33:13 AM »
General overall early-game strategy:  Provide a bus circle line in cities greater than 2,000 inhabitants and provide an intracity bus to EVERY city to encourage the growth of their cities.  By focusing on buses, I am utilizing the infrastructure (i.e. roads) the game starts me with. This way, I am not wasting capital to build rails.  As the cities grow, build a circle line within the cities.  As cities grow, build a transportation hub between cities so that you have enough space to grow the transportation hub without destroying too much of the city and also recognize that cities will grow along transportation routes (i.e. will grow towards and around the transportation hub).  My circle routes never grew to be more than 9 stops.  If additional stops needed to be added, split the circle into multiple circles.  When a circle line gets to be more than eight convoys, consider replacing with a subway because the additional traffic will not make the circle more effective, I find the additional convoys just become parking spots for passengers and does not really push more passengers through the system. 
As for freight, I look for short freight opportunities that can be accomplished through using trucks, again so that I do not have to invest capital and monthly maintenance upkeep for infrastructure.  Typically, I only start looking for rail opportunities after I have 1,000,000 in my bank account. 

General overall late-game strategy:  Each city is connected to a transportation hub that is centered around an airport.  There are six such hubs in map.  Each city also has its own subway that is connected to the transportation hub. 





Generally speaking, I would say natural resources are gathered on the small slither of land, shipped to the SE mainland where finished goods are produced, and which are then moved by rail to the significant population centers in the North.There is a significant amount of shipping traffic between the mainland and the sliver of land on the left edge of the map.  Most of the shipping is going directly left-to-right on the bottom of the map. (Black lines on the screenshot).  I also have bi-directional rail backbone that goes from bottom to top on the map (Yellow lines on the screenshot). 





If I had a regret with this map, it is that I did not build out a passenger rail network.  This network is dependent upon plane travel.   By the time I considered a passenger rail network, it would have to almost be entirely underground because the cities had grown up so much. 

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 12:44:35 AM »
Current station status:  At this point, I only have a couple of freight stations that are persistently over-crowded and right now the standing freight in those station are currently being worked down after significant bottlenecks and should resolve themselves going forward.  There are no persistent passenger over-crowded stations. 

Significant contributors to achieving late game success:  I would say a significant contributor to both my margin and achieving the goal of no passenger over-crowding is dependent on the Dreamliner plane and use of subways.  In the late game, the economics of airplanes with included in the normal paks are such it is difficult to make a profit unless both legs of the plane flight are almost completely filled.  Given that one transportation hub will generate passengers at a rate different than the destination, if you are waiting for 100% at each location, the location with the fastest rate of generation will overflow while it is waiting for the plane to return.  The beauty of the Dreamliner is that if it is 100% filled on one leg of the flight, the return leg can be 20% full and overall, the line will still be profitable.  That means that to produce a persistent over-crowding situation, one location will have to generate passengers at a rate greater than 5-to-1, which realistically will not happen given the relatively equal size of all passenger hubs.

While I originally had Bus Circle lines, I found them to be rather inefficient at moving people around the cities when they became large.  I would see ‘bus trains’ of 100 passenger double decker buses that would just be moving passengers around a circle clogging up the city roads.  Also when I would add a convoy to the line, it would just be added on to the end of the ‘bus train’ and not really increase the capacity of the line.  I find the subways effectively move people around and when I need to add an additional convoy, it is actually able to absorb the additional capacity.

Finally for today, are satellite views of both above ground and underground for my map:

I placed the same yellow and black arrows to cement the general direction of freight.  The yellow stars represent the locations of the hubs on the mainland




A view of the subway system with stars representing the physical location of the hubs with the colors corresponding to the overall map




Satellite view of the island on the west side of the map.




Satellite view of the island subway system.





Offline isidoro

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2012, 11:36:11 PM »
If I had a regret with this map, it is that I did not build out a passenger rail network.  This network is dependent upon plane travel.   By the time I considered a passenger rail network, it would have to almost be entirely underground because the cities had grown up so much. 

Why don't you just demolish the buildings to make some empty space for the railway?

Offline sdog

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2012, 01:44:36 AM »
Thanks a lot for posting this here, that's a very detailed and good description of your game. Such things are often very helpful for beginners, and give devs and pak mantainers an idea how their work is actually used. (Most haven't really played the game for a long time, as it quickly changes in bug hunting and similar.)


(Also, apologies if I am breaking any forum etiquette rules.... I am not a frequent forum poster, but really wanted to have this be my contribution to the community... so I am happy to adjust going forward  :)
Don't worry, nothing is wrong here, also the multiple posting is necessary here.

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2012, 05:59:28 PM »
Before writing about some of the designs of my stations, I feel it necessary to discuss in more detail some of the strategies I have developed over the years, as these strategies are prevalent throughout my map and I think it will be more useful to describe them upfront then having to continually explain the same choices multiple times.

Convoy, Line, and naming strategies –
I love lines.  I am not afraid to only have one convoy in a line.  I have 420 line in Bluffview and about 1200 vehicles…. So about 1 line for every 3 vehicles.  I do this is for a couple of reasons.  The primary one is that the line management window gives you more information about your transportation route than if you just looked at the vehicle window.  You can see more impactful trends that affect the aggregate of your transportation route, rather than what is affecting a single convoy servicing a route.  Via the line management window, you can filter for the name of the line, see all of the convoys assigned to it and all of the stops for the line.   Also, when I need to add an additional convoy to an established, overcrowded route, all I have to do is assign the convoy to the line in the truck depot and it’s done.  I don’t have to reschedule the entire vehicle.  Also if I want to modify the route of a particular line, when I modify it through the line management window, the changes are applied to every convoy in the line and I don’t have to change the schedule of every single vehicle. 






For goods vehicles, my lines are typically set up between two points with 100% pick-up on one route and then return empty, which I discuss in more detail below.  My passenger lines change dramatically over the course of the game.  Starting primarily as busses between cities, growing to intercity circles, then to multiple circles connected to a central hub, and finally throwing out the circles and replacing them with subways and shuttles between subway stations and neighborhood stops. 

My use of lines has also influenced my naming conventions.  I no longer individually name each of my convoys.  Considering the number of convoys I have (and replaced) over the course of the game, I find I don’t get that much helpful information from the convoy name, especially when I replace convoys and have to rename them.  I find naming the line much more useful and informative because it is more efficient to manage transportation networks on a route level rather than an individual bus level and a simple name will convey exactly which route I am managing.  I typically use something like “NYC W Plank Train” so that I know which city the line is located, which factory is producing the goods (West Forest), what good is being produced, and which type of transportation is moving the cargo.  This is even more useful when dealing with my passenger networks, which I will describe in more detail below.  Finally, renaming 400 lines is less typing than renaming 1,200+ convoys.

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2012, 06:13:43 PM »
Passenger strategy
As I mentioned previously, my initial passenger strategy is to provide bus lines between small cities at the start of the game and circle lines surrounding a Hub in cities with greater than two thousand people.  With this strategy, I leverage the existing infrastructure built upon creation of the map AND only have minimum cash outlays.  I find that my capital has been fully returned within a couple of months.   The first thing I do with a new map is to rename my city names to short three letter codes such that are subsequent stops have this letters in the beginning of their names.

Early Game




When cities in close proximity to each other have reached the circle line phase, I begin planning a regional hub that will service all of the cities in the region.  By placing the hub in-between the cities, I have more land with which to implement my design and I will encourage growth towards the regional hub as I have found the city building engine tends to prefer building over existing roads rather than create new ones and then build more structures over the new roads.  In my most recent games, I have built the regional hubs around an airport with connecting bus circle lines going back into the cities to service its bus stations.  In this example, the three city circle lines were attached to the airport






I don’t want my circles lines to have more than ten stops or it becomes difficult to efficiently move people through the system.  If I need more stations, it is time to create separate circle lines as I have found there is not significant intra-city travel. With the exception being there can be significant traffic to a factory.  In these cases, I typically will create a separate shuttle from the Hub to the factory because at this stage of the game, factories are typically founded outside of cities and having separate routes allows you to more effectively manage this traffic, which has very different dynamics than normal city traffic. 

I name my stations with the following convention (city name, color, station # within the route), for example “NYC Blue 6”.  I use color names to differentiate circle lines within the city because it is an easy way to tell lines apart in some of the larger cities which can have up to four circle lines servicing them.     

Note:  As I have been able to make the regional hub level profitable in relatively early stages of the game, I have found the small plane sizes adequately transport any inter-city travel without having to build out costly and land using passenger rail networks, though I believe in my next play through, I will try to incorporate two-way rails at this early stage because the more options and the more diverse they are to manage overcrowding at the regional hubs in the later stages of a game, the better.
 
Finally, when the circles lines become overcrowded and traffic jams are impacting my other lines, I replace the circle lines with a subway system, trying to use the existing bus stations as my subway stations.  Now, not every bus station will become a subway station.  The non-subway stations will be serviced by mini shuttle that ferry people between the stop and subway station.  My goal is that for every subway station, there are no more than two bus stations supporting that subway station, but there are subways that are supporting three bus stops and there are subways that support zero bus stops.  It just depends on how efficient it is to build the subway tunnels.  Even in my late game, one mini shuttle (and its $0.25/tile cost) can support two non-landmark, non-factory bus stations.  When selecting which stops should become subway stations, I try to select any bus stations supporting a landmark (such as a cathedral or sports stations) or factory become a subway station because otherwise, their bus stations can become overcrowded when trying to manage their passengers with mini-shuttles.   My naming convention under this model is similar as above as subway stations are named by (city name, color, station # in line).  Bus stations look similar except the color is abbreviated and an additional letter is added to the station signifying which subway station supports the bus stop.  For example “NYC BL 6 A” or “NYC BL 6 B”, where GL = Blue Line.  The abbreviation of the color also helps quickly visually identify which stations are connected by subway and which ones are just bus stops.   This become important when subways become crowded because if I see all of the passenger waiting lines connected on stops where the color is written out, I can visually see the problem is probably with the subway capacity and not the bus capacity.






Lines are named after the subway stations they support, so the shuttle serving NYC Blue 6, NYC BL 6 A, and NYC BL 6 B is called NYC Blue 6.  Again, this allows easy identification of problems and action to relieve it.  If I see NYC BL 6 B is becoming overcrowded, all I have to do is pull up a bus depot, purchase a mini-shuttle, assign it to NYC Blue 6, and push the depot’s ‘start’ button, and the overcrowding is solved.






Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2012, 06:22:33 PM »
Overall goods strategy -
My overall good strategy in early game is to again start with trains and then upgrade to rail as I earn the excess capital to invest in the infrastructure AND the maintenance cost does not have a significant impact on my monthly cash flow (i.e. prevent me from continuing to build out my infrastructure in other productive ways).  I also plan for my Goods convoys to be filled completely in one direction and then return back to the producing factory empty.  Other than trains delivering paper, I have found trains to be profitable if they leave 100% full and return 100% empty, with the caveat being that as the timeline progresses, older, slower trains will receive the smaller revenue speed bonuses, so I have to periodically upgrade the engines / cars to maximize my operating profit.
 
I have found having trains stop at five different locations is an easy way for some outbound stations to become bottlenecks and/or the convoy to lose significant amounts of money.  If there is an easy opportunity to fill up at another outbound station I will consider it, but I have just found it is better to have dedicated trains that can ‘park’ at their spur and depart when they are 100% full rather than having a train running around to make multiple pickups.  By running around and making multiple pick-ups and deliveries, it will be difficult to schedule a line to manage both station overcrowding and operating profit.  I would have to choose if I wanted my train to wait until it was 100% fully loaded before departing to ensure highest operating profit with the trade-off that other stations will not be relieved of their inventory timely, or do I want my train to constantly move around and service all of the stations knowing they will likely not be 100% full for more than 50% of the trip. 
If I do design a train transport route to run more than 0% on the return trip, I still try to make sure the train is only travelling between two points by setting up a separate route to deliver the good making the return route to the station when the train was dropping off goods on the original route.  I find this mindset allow me the best flexibility to respond to changes in demand by adding/subtracting convoys in the most profitable manner. 

In this example, I have set up two different stations for each timber yard and each station has its own train that will access the rail backbone network (Yellow arrows) when full.  I do not have one train that attempts to manage both inventories.




Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2012, 06:31:08 PM »
Outbound goods station strategy –
At an outbound goods station, I want to ensure there is sufficient convoy capacity such that the destination factory will at some point be ‘overwhelmed’, forcing the production factory to cease moving goods to the outbound station, and resulting in the transportation system working through any inventory stored in the outbound station.  Note that the producing factory will continue to produce goods and store them internally up to a cap (i.e. not release them to the outbound station) until the backlog has been relieved at the production factory.  For those new to Simutrans, I have described and given an example of what I mean by ‘overwhelmed’ in a section below.
For trucks, I try to design outbound stations to have as many freight yards as I have truck convoys that are picking up goods.  At the receiving factory, I have one freight yard for receiving goods and then one for each truck carrying finished goods away.  At the point in the production cycle such that the destination factory is overwhelmed AND all of the goods from the outbound station have been delivered, the convoys will need a place to park.  If they do not have their own factory yard, they will stack up in the streets, which can cause traffic jams.

As in this example, there is a freight yard for every single outbound shipping truck (red diamonds) and then I added one extra yard to receive inbound freight (yellow diamond).  This is more easily managed with the placement of choose signals (blue diamonds).  If I did not have the extra yards, you can see how the two trucks not parked in the yard would traffic jam the street and prevent other convoys from passing.
 




You may be able to get away with having less than one yard per convoy in a rural production yard where the only traffic on the street are you truck convoys, but if factory is located within a city (or a city has grown around the production yard) the traffic can block your other convoys and bottleneck your transportation routes.  Therefore, to avoid a traffic jam on the streets, it is good to have a freight yard for each convoy to call home while it is waiting for production to restart.

For trains, I typically employ the same strategy, though I am more willing to build extra track on the rail spur that reaches out from the rail backbone and will stack the waiting trains on the spur rather than give them their own separate stations. 

From this screenshot, you can see how, with the use of signals, there are enough train blocks off the rail backbone (yellow arrows) to 'park' all 4 of the trains running this route through the iron ore station.  Even if this mine was not producing ore to be delivered, the trains parked on the spur would not hinder trains on the main line from passing.




Ships are relatively easy.  Again I try to provide enough convoys to ‘overwhelm’ the destination factory and make sure the ship lines are designated to only ship when they reach 100% full capacity.

Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 06:32:39 PM »
Example of ‘overwhelmed’ factory.
For example, in the following screenshot, when you look at the consumption of coal, there is more coal that has been delivered (557t) than the maximum internal storage by the steel factory (427t).  Therefore the coal mines supporting this steel mill will stop supplying coal to its outbound station until the amount available is below the amount that can be used.  In this case, Iron Ore would still be produced at the mine and delivered because the amount on hand (417) is less than the maximum that can be held (1466).  Any excess coal held in the outbound station will continue to dwindle until the backlog at the receiving factor is relieved (by even one unit), at which time the raw material factory will begin production again.  Another thing to consider for your planning purposes is the amounts on the production line within the factory window.  Next to ‘Steel’, you see 11/244t.  This is the internal storage of the factory.  If the steel destination had been bottleneck for a long period of time, this amount will grow to the full 244t.  Once the destination factory’s steel falls one unit under the maximum that can be internally stored, the full 244ts at the steel factory will be released to the outbound station. 




Offline wgstewartjr

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 06:42:18 PM »
Why don't you just demolish the buildings to make some empty space for the railway?

Mostly because I just get very attached to the city buildings after they are erected.  Especially the larger ones.  Probably a symptom from playing too much SimCity when I was younger.  You would work so hard to get the tall buildings that the last thing you would ever want to do is do something to bring them down.  At this point, to create a separate passenger rail network would require extensive underground work to preserve the city buildings or a massive tear-down of existing buildings / neighborhoods.  The at this point in the timeline, 2060, the only passenger trains that are financially viable are the fast ones and by placing them underground, I would be restricting their speed and guaranteeing an operating loss on them. 

It's not as if I don't have ANY passenger rail, it is just in snippits and leverages the infrastructure / is restricted by the freight rail network.... kind of what happens in the U.S. (based on my understanding of the U.S. Passenger rail industry anyway).

All this being said.... maybe I will take a copy of save file and make an 'experimental reality' with demolished neighborhoods and dedicated passenger rail....

Offline isidoro

Re: Bluffview - a late game example
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2012, 02:16:49 AM »
[...]
I love lines.  I am not afraid to only have one convoy in a line.  I have 420 line in Bluffview and about 1200 vehicles…. So about 1 line for every 3 vehicles.
[...]

I vaguely remember someone saying that some time it was considered to deprecate and eventually eliminate vehicles without lines from the game.  So, you are not alone in that, I guess...