Author Topic: Customizable fees per transport  (Read 918 times)

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Offline MirceaKitsune

Customizable fees per transport
« on: September 24, 2017, 08:33:45 PM »
The usual disclaimer first; I'm just a few days into Simutrans, thus I might not be aware of either the targeted gameplay nor some of the less obvious features. Anyway I wanted to express my thoughts on what seems like a very obvious missing feature. Honestly I don't think it's something very important, but it would make more sense and add to the control you have over what you're doing.

I noticed that the player, despite being able to build roads and railways and setup stations and all that, has absolutely no say on the fees of their transportation system. There does seem to be a setting to change the fees of transports, however it looks like a global world option and not something that's part of the actual mechanics. It makes little sense to me: Why would you not be able to choose how much you charge for your own services?

What I'd suggest here is something among the lines of: The global world setting for the fee remains intact, but is only treated as a default parameter. You can then configure which percentage of that default setting you wish to charge for a service. The setting can either be an option of the line, an option of the station, or even an option of the vehicle... whichever makes most sense really. If you set the price lower than the default, you're more likely to get passengers and cargo... whereas if you set it higher, passengers and cargo are less likely to show up.

For example: If the default fee for a train transporting 1t of wood from a Tree Plantation to a Sawmill was 500$, you could set the fee to 50% to only charge 250$ in hopes of encouraging the production of even more wood, or oppositely set the fee to 200% to charge 1000$ if you need more money. What are your thoughts on this idea?

Offline isidoro

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 10:03:31 PM »
Perhaps, that would make more sense in a competitive environment, such as in multiplayer.

But, in that case, or even when playing alone, one has to model how ticket prices affect usage of the lines.  And that, maybe may lead to simulate economy in the game as a whole.

Offline Vladki

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 10:31:58 PM »
Something vaguely similar to that is actually being worked on in simutrans-extended. Look at threads about passenger and mail classes.
It is about having multiple classes of pax/mail with different revenues, but also with different demand. So you can choose whether you will provide expensive first class service for a few travellers or cheap commuter service for everyone.

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 11:06:16 PM »
Perhaps, that would make more sense in a competitive environment, such as in multiplayer.

But, in that case, or even when playing alone, one has to model how ticket prices affect usage of the lines.  And that, maybe may lead to simulate economy in the game as a whole.

Actually the idea came to me in singleplayer; I noticed that one of my buses kept producing negative income, so I thought to myself "if only I could make this line a little more expensive, perhaps I could fix that". Oppositely some stations were getting too few passengers, so I also thought "it would be cool if I could reduce the price to encourage more".

Offline isidoro

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 10:35:30 PM »
That's not so simple, I'm afraid.  Ticket prices is only a part of demand.  In real life, if you raise the price of a ticket in order to win more money, that can lead to less revenue.  Less people may use the service because of the expensive ticket price and the total amount of money you get can be less.

Conversely, if a station has a low demand and you lower the ticket price, it doesn't automatically mean that more people will come.  It can happen that the service is poor, the competition is better, not enough advertisement, or just that there's no demand, no matter the ticket price (imagine a train to the Sahara Desert).

All those variables are very difficult to simulate.

In multiplayer, on the other hand, it could make more sense.  If two companies offer the same service from A to B, simucitizens could consider travel time, ticket price, etc. to choose between boarding one or the other.

Online Leartin

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2017, 04:40:08 AM »
There is a government-issued price barrier, to avoid random price changes due to the transportation monopoly in the Simutrans world.  :police:


Okay, more to the point: In Simutrans, you get different fares for different means of transportation. You even get different fares within one mean of transportation if speedbonus is active. You could think of that as an automatic pricing system, where faster train cost more, planes cost more than trains etc.

However, all of that does not affect a Simuthanians decision which route to take. If you have a modern plane that earns you plenty of speedbonus connecting two faraway airports, and an old carriage with negative speedbonus connecting the same airports via road, a Simuthanian does not care for the price, or the length of the trip, they simply take whatever arrives first at their airport.

If you could just change the ticket prices without any effect on the amount of people taking your route, you'd always just use the highest price and never vary, making it a completely useless feature. But if it was possible/affordable to change the routing based on a ticket price system, don't you think it would already be done for the plane-carriage-case?
Do you have a monopoly, or is there a hidden competition? If you have a monopoly, nobody has a choice but to take your service, so you could always set prices arbitrarily high - no real gameplay value. If there is a hidden competition, what stops everyone from switching to that competition as soon as you are a few cents more expensive? You'd need to simulate some kind of economy to work in and - frankly, that's territory for Simutrans EX, too complicated for basic Simutrans.


Also, if there was something done in that general direction, I don't think setting fees directly would be desireable. I'd rather introduce "comfort levels" for vehicles, which could affect the price and the rate of use without strange additional "ticket price"-interfaces.

Offline Vladki

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2017, 06:19:25 AM »
In extended, there is a default hidden competition: private cars. Passengers decide according to the total travel time, including walking to/from stop and waiting. Different classes are being worked on.

In standard it as all very simplified. Passengers use private cars only if they cannot get there by bus/train/etc... The choice between different routes is by number of transfers, IIRC.




Offline Ters

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 05:02:54 PM »
In standard it as all very simplified. Passengers use private cars only if they cannot get there by bus/train/etc...

This is not true. They simply don't go anywhere at all, and are listed in statistics as something like "no route". Private cars are just eye candy without any destination what so ever.

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2017, 06:36:47 PM »
By the way... one example as to why I would have wanted this: I attempted to create a suspended tram network across a city, using a cheap train and stations placed about 10-20 tiles apart. I had a lot of passengers, but shockingly I received almost nothing for transporting them! In some cases I literally got just 1.00$ for bringing 64 passengers from point A to point B... literally just one dollar for half a dozen people transported :o I figure it must have been some weird bug I triggered, but I replaced that with a light rail (tram) and get a sane income now.

Offline Vladki

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 06:46:45 PM »
This is not true. They simply don't go anywhere at all, and are listed in statistics as something like "no route". Private cars are just eye candy without any destination what so ever.
OK, true. But I thought that the amount of private cars appearing in the city is in some relation to "no route" passengers. In other word, the more people travel by public transport, the less private cars are spawned.

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2017, 07:58:31 PM »
OK, true. But I thought that the amount of private cars appearing in the city is in some relation to "no route" passengers. In other word, the more people travel by public transport, the less private cars are spawned.

I wonder if it at least represents the population density of that city, that would be nice. Otherwise I think it's random: Once I drew a road in the middle of nowhere, and a car immediately started going there.

Offline Ters

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2017, 08:12:52 PM »
I believe the number of city cars depends on population, which in turn is kind of dependent on the number of passengers you transport. So the number of cars is probably actually related to how many passengers you transport, not how few.

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2017, 10:54:46 PM »
I believe the number of city cars depends on population, which in turn is kind of dependent on the number of passengers you transport. So the number of cars is probably actually related to how many passengers you transport, not how few.

Does this refer to how many passengers you transport between cities only? Like does the population of a city increase if you bring in people from a larger city (who's population should then decrease), or does the population of a city increase on its own from you transporting passengers around the place (same with mail and other services)?

Offline DrSuperGood

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2017, 01:46:31 AM »
There is practically no economic model in Simutrans. If players could set the transportation costs there would be nothing stopping them charging millions per tile, people will still happily pay.

As it is nothing stops players cargo bouncing with the most commonly used payment model, distance between stops. Using such a technique 2 hick towns connected to airports can generate hundreds of millions just by bouncing passengers between corners of the map.

Simutrans Extended solves this by adding an economic model to some extent. Passengers will only depart if they will reach their destination within a time limit or with the appropriate comfort. Eventually ticket prices could even be made adjustable since higher prices means the passengers give shorter time limits or expect more comfort.

Offline Isaac.Eiland-Hall

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2017, 03:54:42 AM »
Another way of looking at it: Every single part of a game must be calculated and/or randomly or procedurally generated in some way. Trying to figure out how to make passengers or factories pay differing amounts and still have things be possibly profitable and logical would be.... massively insanely difficult. What mechanism would you use?

People already say it's hard to make a profit until you get very skilled. Variable pricing would just make things that much worse.

I highly recommend setting beginning mode, which ups the pricing across the board a bit. That makes things easier while still giving you a game to play. :) So that's the mechanism to affect pricing. :)

Offline Ters

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2017, 06:00:10 AM »
Does this refer to how many passengers you transport between cities only? Like does the population of a city increase if you bring in people from a larger city (who's population should then decrease), or does the population of a city increase on its own from you transporting passengers around the place (same with mail and other services)?

No, passengers do not move homes from one city to another. Passengers also normally form in pairs going in the opposite direction, to reflect the fact that people usually are going there and back again in real life, ensuring that your vehicles have a roughly equal load both ways, but saving Simutrans from having to remember where passengers came from. The more your transport (of anything if memory serves me right), the more the population grows. Along with industries spawned by increasing population, it basically reflects the growing economy caused by a well established transportation system in broad strokes.

There is practically no economic model in Simutrans. If players could set the transportation costs there would be nothing stopping them charging millions per tile, people will still happily pay.

Not to mention the lack of inflation. The basic rate to transport a ton of something the same distance is the same in 1900 and 2000. The speed bonus means that you have to use a faster vehicle to achieve basic rate, but that has more to do with expected quality of service than inflation.

Also, wind mills can still stay in business along with modern grain mills long into the future, despite having inferior production rates. And the "owners" refuse to upgrade. They just don't build new ones anymore.

Online Leartin

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2017, 07:50:42 AM »
Another way of looking at it: Every single part of a game must be calculated and/or randomly or procedurally generated in some way. Trying to figure out how to make passengers or factories pay differing amounts and still have things be possibly profitable and logical would be.... massively insanely difficult. What mechanism would you use?

Except that passengers and factories already DO pay differing amounts due to the speedbonus. Which is quite difficult to really understand, but thankfully, you can play the game without really understanding it for the longest time, since what it does mimics reality. You may not exactly know why your own lines suddenly don't make profit anymore, but you can relate to reality and think of upgrading them.


So you could have a mechanism like this:
1.) Give vehicles that can transport pax a comfort level. As a basic implementation, that's just a variable assigned to a vehicle. A more advanced implementation might include vehicles that can increase or decrease the comfort level of the whole convoi. (eg. a steam locomotive might decrease since the steam blocks the view/windows can't be open. A bord bistro might increase, etc.)
2.) Increase the payout with the comfort level, the higher the comfort level, the higher the transport fee. Of course, comfortable cars are also more expensive.
3.) Allow a configuration file to establish pax subclasses and their chance in each year. Whenever a pax spawns, it will be of one of the subclasses, decided by chance.
4.) Allow the same configuration file to establish minimum and maximum comfort level each class is willing to use. This can change over time as well (probably increasing)
5.) Do routing for each subclass, while only using connections with vehicles of an appropriate comfort level. This should cause as much additional performance demand as introducing additional good categories does, or like starting a mail network. So while there can't be an infinite number of subclasses, a few shouldn't have too large an impact.
6.) Pax will only enter vehicles of appropriate comfort level. This is to avoid using just one appropriate vehicle to unlock large parts of the map for all subclasses. It also means that if two different means of transportation connect the same two stations, some pax might only choose one, while some pax will only choose the other.
7.) THIS COULD ALL BE HIDDEN FROM THE PLAYER. As in, the game would continue to only display "Pax" without giving any indication what subclass each Pax belongs to. If you would explain it, it's just a bunch of mechanics. If you don't explain it, it's as simple as "If you have a higher comfort level, people pay you more to travel with you, but not everyone will afford it.", and casual players might not be confronted with how it works at all. Power Players can get the general information about which subclasses exist and which comfort levels they accept in a seperate window, much in the way how the speedbonus is only visible in the goods window and does not distract beginners.

EDIT:
The basic rate to transport a ton of something the same distance is the same in 1900 and 2000. The speed bonus means that you have to use a faster vehicle to achieve basic rate, but that has more to do with expected quality of service than inflation.
That's how it is done, but if it was displayed differently, you would have a decrease of the base rate over time, requiring you to offer more (faster service) to get the same payment.

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2017, 11:56:40 AM »
The mechanics I was thinking of are simple in essence: Each line is given a price offset, which defaults to 100% and you can increase or decrease it as you please. If you lower it, the income you get per transport is smaller but you're more likely to attract passengers or increase production... if you higher it, the income you get per transport is greater but you're more likely to deter passengers or decrease production.

Again I don't think it's an essential feature or anything, just got the feeling that it may help in tweaking each line a bit. There are lines that have more passengers than what you can easily carry, so you could increase the price to gain a bit more at the expense of making a few of them go away... likewise there are factories that can't produce enough goods, so you could decrease the price to give them a boost and keep them supplying in time.

Offline isidoro

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2017, 09:41:58 PM »
@Leartin: your idea seems nice to me, but I would add travel time to comfort.  And I'd make that a preference, not an absolute rule.  A passenger class may prefer quicker more comfortable vehicles if they can choose about several, but would take what's available otherwise.

Just like real life: I prefer to go visit my aunt by TGV but if there's only a bus connection, I'll have to use it.

Online Ves

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2017, 10:46:35 PM »
Its as if you almost to the precise points are talking about this:



Translations are not in order yet, why some texts looks weird and the classes are called p_class[ x ] and m_class[ x ] (passenger and mail classes). :)
James has done a huge deal on this subject already..

Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2017, 12:02:01 AM »
Its as if you almost to the precise points are talking about this:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4464/37330237962_7a0f52be48_o.png

Translations are not in order yet, why some texts looks weird and the classes are called p_class[ x ] and m_class[ x ] (passenger and mail classes). :)
James has done a huge deal on this subject already..

That looks pretty nice! Is it an upcoming feature in the engine or paks?

Online Leartin

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Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2017, 05:07:59 AM »
@Leartin: your idea seems nice to me, but I would add travel time to comfort.  And I'd make that a preference, not an absolute rule.  A passenger class may prefer quicker more comfortable vehicles if they can choose about several, but would take what's available otherwise.

Just like real life: I prefer to go visit my aunt by TGV but if there's only a bus connection, I'll have to use it.

It's a range. If you visit your aunt with both TGV and bus connection, you are probably in the majority of modern day second class citizens. But would you use TGV first class? Probably not, because it's too expensive for what you get. Would you use a 100 year old third class train wagon? I would not even be able to, the seats would be too small. Or were there even seats?

If it's a preference, it means your pax might be happy with low-comfort connections until you offer a high-comfort connection

Online Ves

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2017, 06:52:55 AM »
That looks pretty nice! Is it an upcoming feature in the engine or paks?
That is Simutrans Extended, it's another branch of Simutrans which is still in development. There is a section in the forum, you can head over to it and check it out and read how to download it.

Offline Vladki

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2017, 07:40:18 AM »
Just to add info about extended. Comfort & catering levels are already a part of it for some time. They affect revenue on long distance trips. For longer trips you have to provide more comfortable vehicles to get maximum revenue, and catering for extra bonus. But you won't get catering bonus for short trips. (it is more complex than what i wrote, if you are interested check the forums). Pax have a time tolerance over which they won't travel at all.

So in your example: travelling to your aunt by horse carriage would be probably over the time tolerance and won't happen at all. Travelling by TGV would be ok, perhaps even with catering bonus. Travelling by old 3rd class coach might be in time tolerance but so uncomfortable that the revenue would be very low and perhaps not profitable.

The classes are a new addition, which I can't really comment on.




Offline MirceaKitsune

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2017, 12:14:22 PM »
That is Simutrans Extended, it's another branch of Simutrans which is still in development. There is a section in the forum, you can head over to it and check it out and read how to download it.

Aha... figured. I heard about Simutrans Extended a few times, and I'm tempted to try it as well since it sounds very interesting and promising! Thanks for the heads up... in this case it seems like my idea kind of exists in some form.

Online Ves

Re: Customizable fees per transport
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2017, 01:14:42 PM »
Aha... figured. I heard about Simutrans Extended a few times, and I'm tempted to try it as well since it sounds very interesting and promising! Thanks for the heads up... in this case it seems like my idea kind of exists in some form.
You should definitively try it!
Be aware that what I showed you is not ready yet but it will eventually come into the nightly builds.
Also, the paksets are not balanced so you cannot play it as a finished game at the moment, but merely use it as a sandbox and play around with the features.