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Offline jamespetts gb

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Server rules for online play
« on: December 22, 2012, 08:51:28 PM »
Following some discussion in this thread, it is a good idea, I think, to ponder on what might be some worthwhile rules for playing on the Bridgewater-Brunel online server. This discussion might also be relevant to those who wish to set up their own Simutrans-Experimental servers.

The need for rules of this sort arises because there will inevitably be the possibility of conflict, and it is not always possible to write means of resolving that conflict into the code of the game, because an element of human intelligence is required (for example, to infer intentions or to check somewhat imprecise conditions).

I tentatively suggest the following set of basic rules - I suspect that I have omitted a great many things that ought to be there; this, I should note, is just a starting point for discussion, but one ought to start somewhere.



Suggested server rules

1. Players must not engage in any activity intended solely or mainly to interfere with other players' transport networks rather than enhance their own.

2. Players must be polite, respectful and honest to other players at all times.

3. Players must fulfil any game related promise made to any other player during the course of a game unless it would be impossible to do so.

4. Players must not remove unowned roads (including roads in cities) such as to remove a road connexion from any place (including any player's stop(s), city buildings, attractions or industries) that has such a connexion without reconstructing a road to give a connexion of approximately no less quality, accessible to the player(s) in question (if applicable).

5. Players must not remove unowned roads (including roads in cities) such as to cause any route used by any other player's vehicles to become substantially longer than it was before such removal without reconstructing a road to give a connexion of approximately no less quality, accessible to the player(s) in question.

6. Players must not structure their schedules so as to have their vehicles waiting for such a time on public roads that a traffic jam forms.

7. Players must not name their companies such that the name can readily be confused with another player's name.

8. Players must not change the primary colour of their company to the same primary colour as used by another company.

9. No one person may control more than one company without the express permission of the moderator/public player.

10. More than one person may control a single company, in which case, both such players are expected to manage any conflict between them themselves, and the public player will not intervene in any such conflict that might arise save in exceptional circumstances.

11. The public player shall interpret and adjudicate upon these rules, and players must respect the determination of any such adjudication.

12. Players who have declared that they are no longer willing to play with one particular company, or who have been absent for such a period that the moderator/public player considers in his absolute discretion that the company has been abandoned may in the absolute discretion of the public player have their company unlocked and made available to any other player(s) or potential player(s).

13. Any player in breach of these rules or who otherwise acts in a way that is independently unlawful is liable at the absolute discretion of the public player to a warning (which may be formal or informal), the unlocking of their company and  the transfer of it to another player or an IP address ban (or similar).

Edit: A few more suggestions.

A. Players must not upgrade navigable rivers to canals without allowing access to all who wish to use it; players must not upgrade navigable rivers to canals at all when to do so would not allow any craft not previously able to travel on the river to do so.

B. Players may not build ways for the sole purpose of reserving space.

C. Players granting access to another player's railway vehicles ("railway" here including all rail based way types, including rail, narrow gauge, monorail, maglev and tram) may stipulate conditions for such access, and may withdraw access without notice if those conditions are breached. If there is no breach of condition, a player must give a fair warning of not less than 3 game months before withdrawing access rights to rail type vehicles.



I should be interested in people's views on these suggested rules.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 09:11:37 PM by jamespetts »

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2012, 10:22:13 PM »
great! I agree with all of these, and have some additions of myself, or some I took from the old standard rules thread.

Note about A:
Not sure about this one, although sharing canals can do no harm of course. But sometimes a river may be destroyed for a road or a rail. If such a rule is instated, perhaps it should be extended to any type of way built on former river tiles. This will have some sense, as rivers are usually flat lanes that go through cities, and are thus often quite desirable.
B. and C. are in place.
.



Additions:
a. Players may request modifications in other players' infrastructure, which do not weaken the latter in anyway or cost money, to allow for better planning (e.g. realigning in some cases, shortening or lengthening a bridge, moving a way a few tiles right or left so as to shorten it, etc.). These requests should be published on the game starting spot (e.g. Chillhead), and met within 48 hours, after which the public player will perform them instead.

b. For future games, until pax and mail generation problems are solved at least, pax should have right of way in conflicts that arise concerning planning, over mail and other goods.

c. Players must not duplicate another player's active route for more than 3 stops or 40km (the shorter of the two), unless the other player has been consistently failing to serve the concerned line over at least one game year (could be set to more than that), and should probably warn them before. In such a case, duplicating the failing route should be encouraged by the public player, as it affects other networks performance.

d. Airports may not be built in urban areas. Airport owners can be required to relocate their airport if reached by urban expansion.

e. Only the public player may build power lines. The public player is obliged to supply electricity to any factory upon request by any legitimate player, and to relocate any power lines upon request by any player.

General rules
Players must use public infrastructure where provided and not duplicate it.
Obey requests by the public player to move/remove/upgrade infrastructure or vehicles, or alter schedules.
The public player has the right to alter or destroy player infrastructure that obstructs public or other players’ infrastructure, other players’ movements, is excessively space-consuming, or conflicts with the character of the map. In non-urgent cases the public player will place signs requesting changes and give the player a reasonable amount of time to respond; in urgent cases (e.g. queues obstructing other players’ vehicles) changes may be made without notice.


As you can see, some of these rules call for some monitoring and involvement of the public player to work properly. We should consider for bridgewater whether this is possible and/or desirable.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2012, 11:24:17 PM »
I did look at some of those rules from Moblet's thread, but I tend to take the view that many of them are too restrictive. I'd prefer not to have a rule if there is no real life historical precedent for it.

As for A, the reason for that was to prevent people just drawing over river tiles with equivalent canals, not with the intention of upgrading them, but with the intention (and effect) of excluding other players and/or gathering tolls without improving the navigation. If a river was previously navigable and open to all, it should remain open to all when upgraded, although, if a player has made it more useful by making it navigable by more types of craft, that player deserves a toll at least from other players for using it.

Your (a) is problematic as it requires precise time monitoring by the public player, which is often impractical. It also encourages the use of signs for communication, which I should rather discourage (although not prohibit entirely). Also, there is no historical precedent for this: once a line of a canal or railway, say, had been established, I am not aware of any requirement that the owners of canals/railways were under to re-route themselves to benefit a rival transport operator.

(b) is rather vague; what sort of conflicts do you have in mind here? Also, why should passengers take priority over mail or goods?

(c) suggests the stifling of competition, when competition is to be encouraged. If a player can provide a faster service than another player, why should he/she not duplicate the route and take the revenues?

(d) this is an interesting idea, and one which potentially can be enforced by code. I don't agree with requirements to relocate airports (not least because it would require constant monitoring, and possibly highly disruptive and potentially unaffordable works at very short notice), but there might be something to be said for (optionally) prohibiting the construction of air infrastructure in city boundaries. This has been under consideration for a while.

(e) I do not really understand the rationale for this one - this requires the public player to be active in building power lines, but also deprives private players of the opportunity to do this. A lot of work was put into the code in Experimental, not in Standard, to allow multiple supplies of power to a city or industry; the absence of this in Standard is the only reason for this rule of which I can think.

As to the "general rules" - why ought people not duplicate public infrastructure if they choose, if, for example, they fancy themselves as better civil engineers? They might be right that they are better civil engineers. They might build better roads than the public player; why ought they be stopped?

The idea of a general rule of obedience to the public player is an interesting one, although I'd rather give players more freedom.

As to the public player destroying other players' infrastructure, since the rules are intended to be a set of rules about what the players themselves may do, this need not explicitly be stated; but I rather take the view that it would only be in exceptional circumstances (rogue tiles of road, leftover rail/canal, etc. in the way of important things, or breaches of the rules) that would justify this sort of intervention. I can't see that it would be right to destroy a player's infrastructure because it "conflicts with the character of the map", whatever that might mean. The trouble is that if one starts putting things in the rules the things that the public player may do, it gives rise to the inference that the public player may not do anything not expressly stated in the rules, which would be undesirable.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2012, 12:02:33 AM »
Historically, some rail lines were built to deny other companies from using that route.

I think Canadian Pacific built their line through Eagle Pass, despite there being an easier route further north, to deny the Americans the use of that route.

Probably not shown on wiki, but it was part of the tourist attractions scattered about on the trans-canada highway at BC.

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2012, 12:14:56 AM »
in-quote:


Your (a) is problematic as it requires precise time monitoring by the public player, which is often impractical. It also encourages the use of signs for communication, which I should rather discourage (although not prohibit entirely). Also, there is no historical precedent for this: once a line of a canal or railway, say, had been established, I am not aware of any requirement that the owners of canals/railways were under to re-route themselves to benefit a rival transport operator.
*** the time limit was just a general idea. I do think there should be some time limit (either game years or real time), but it doesn't necessarily have to be rigid (e.g. "at least 2 days" etc.), and also an agreed communication mode (be it signs, chat or forum).

It should be remembered that in real life, space considerations are easier to maneuver through, whereas in the game due to its nature and scale sometimes consideration is needed in engineering, even post-factum. These situations are what we've seen much of in the past 20 game years or so. A player created a cross-map road that in many points is very hard to cross with a railroad (this is why roads should not be duplicated with no need - unlike public roads, private roads cannot be level-crossed). For instance, in western Coatsand, there was a combination of a bridge and an elevated cut way built by SET (part of that mega-road). I wanted to cross beneath the bridge, but it was too short for two tracks to go beneath it, and I couldn't cross the elevated cut way (no suitable place for tunnel). I wished for the bridge there to be lengthened. Another example is stops (used or unused) that unless moved to an adjacent tile (without changing any existing route) would prevent an important stop on a bridge to be built above it, etc.

But the new implementation of 'no private roads in cities' may help with this issue a great deal, and perhaps render this rule redundant. Perhaps it should be considered to extend this setting to any type of way - so any way built in a city will be unowned?

(b) is rather vague; what sort of conflicts do you have in mind here? Also, why should passengers take priority over mail or goods?

*** the conflicts I described above sometimes can't be solved without somewhat impairing an existing route. In such a case, I think that pax, being very very time sensitive, should have priority over other goods.

(c) suggests the stifling of competition, when competition is to be encouraged. If a player can provide a faster service than another player, why should he/she not duplicate the route and take the revenues?

*** In the totally corrupt city where I live, a light train was built northeast to southwest, as a B.O.T by a private company. The entire bus system in town was changed, and in the contract signed between the city and the light rail company it was put that no municipal buses shall compete with the train for more than X stops/meters (and also that buses should do nothing more than feed the train, and that all city inhabitants become slaves of the company). This resulted in a drastic impairment of city transportation, but that's what was agreed. I think it makes sense, that a well-performing route should not be duplicated one-by-one, unless it can provide a substantially faster service, but that's just a thought.

(e) I do not really understand the rationale for this one - this requires the public player to be active in building power lines, but also deprives private players of the opportunity to do this. A lot of work was put into the code in Experimental, not in Standard, to allow multiple supplies of power to a city or industry; the absence of this in Standard is the only reason for this rule of which I can think.
*** yeah I guess this is not so relevant to experimental.

As to the "general rules" - why ought people not duplicate public infrastructure if they choose, if, for example, they fancy themselves as better civil engineers? They might be right that they are better civil engineers. They might build better roads than the public player; why ought they be stopped?

*** like I wrote above, unlike public roads, private roads cannot be level-crossed.  So making more roads than necessary make it harder to cross sections. But this isn't very important I guess. Also, often there is a need for a separate route.

The idea of a general rule of obedience to the public player is an interesting one, although I'd rather give players more freedom.

As to the public player destroying other players' infrastructure, since the rules are intended to be a set of rules about what the players themselves may do, this need not explicitly be stated; but I rather take the view that it would only be in exceptional circumstances (rogue tiles of road, leftover rail/canal, etc. in the way of important things, or breaches of the rules) that would justify this sort of intervention. I can't see that it would be right to destroy a player's infrastructure because it "conflicts with the character of the map", whatever that might mean. The trouble is that if one starts putting things in the rules the things that the public player may do, it gives rise to the inference that the public player may not do anything not expressly stated in the rules, which would be undesirable.



So yeah, maybe this doesn't require rules. The basic guideline is that the public player is actively moderating the game, and making sure everything is done well and giving out orders even when there is no immediate conflict (i.e. acting as "the government"). This way some conflicts perhaps can be prevented altogether. Destroying a player's infrastructure should of course be a last resort in the case of a player consistently ignoring public player's (or other player's) requests (which is not unheard of). Posting requests and warnings should prevent the need for extreme measures. And also like I said before, this is something I wouldn't ask of you specifically, but perhaps for other games it will be relevant.


Another issue that came to mind: connecting on foot and connecting in general. I don't know what to make of it myself, but currently we need some system to address this. I understand that when I was unable to play Æo connected to Kirkmouth and nearly finished me off :)

Also  on a more general note, on some games (by all means not all of them) it is not encouraged that players should quickly take over the whole map. In standard, since there are no real limitations on the service given to pax, a player can do this in 2 hours. In experimental this is harder to do, and you have to be as good as Æo (or exploit the mail generation problem) to successfully retain a very large portion of the map. Also, in experimental, players can actually compete over the better service (although there are still severe limitations on this) and compliment each other's networks, so this is obviously a very different (and much more fun!) case.  However, limitations (that are mostly concerning the over-generation of pax) are still imposed on this, and some moderation to keep things balanced and well-functioning is still needed, I believe.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2012, 12:35:49 AM by asaphxiix »

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2012, 01:00:29 AM »
Yes, I suppose that anti-competition rules might be more important in Standard (particularly in older versions, where which route that was taken was essentially arbitrary), but I have designed the specific features of Experimental to make competition between players in multiplayer games work, so this ought not be necessary here. I hope not to repeat the example of your corrupt city!

As to way conflicts, this is an interesting point. I think that a better system would be for players to attempt to negotiate a solution between themselves, and, if they are unable to reach an agreement, to petition the public player for an adjudication on route accommodation. If the public player finds in favour of the requested accommodation, the public player might either direct one of the players to re-route, or re-engineer the relevant part with public infrastructure. A problem with this, though, is that, if a player has to re-route, this will cost money, and there is currently no way of transferring money between player accounts such as to facilitate compensation payments.

On level crossings, do you think that it might be worthwhile to allow level crossings to be built over other players' private roads? There might have to be some rules about not allowing trains or road vehicles to block the crossings if that is done.

As to the over-generation of passengers, I should rather concentrate my efforts on actually solving the problem than designing rules to mitigate its effect.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2012, 02:03:03 AM »
one major problem, that I've noticed, is that when pax networks are connected and one of them jams, the other player(s) also suffer as a result. It was a particular problem when SET jammed his pax line.

If you look at monthly finances, you can see that massive refunds, very erratic revenue, were being handed out to my network and NLT.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17111233/client2-network.sve

It may have been accidental, but it's a particularly effective way of bankrupting other players.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2012, 02:46:48 AM »
This is why I modified the code in 10.16 so that refunds are never taken when a player is overdrawn: refunds should no longer bankrupt a player. Does this code not do its job?

Incidentally, much of this problem is down to the excessive number of passengers, which I am in the process of working on by my calibration project. Any comments on the discussions in that calibration project would be most welcome.

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2012, 03:38:44 AM »
The last post there is very interesting, and it all sounds right when you write it. However I do not feel I have enough udnerstanding of the issue to respond really.

regarding the no refunds when overdrawn feature - I think it's a good workaround, but perhaps not really satisfactory - even if you're not bankrupt, it's still not nice to lose tens of millions in a short time... And also, it kinda takes away the danger, and I do think there should be some danger, it should just be more stable. 

Offline greenling

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2012, 10:45:28 AM »
Excuse me, why make new rules for online games, if the chatmodus in the Simutrans exp.exe still does not work? ???

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2012, 12:13:44 PM »
Asaph - we shall have to see the extent to which refunds are an issue once the passenger numbers are balanced properly.

Greenling - what do you mean by "chatmodus" here?

Offline chicken

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 07:54:51 PM »
I've found obviously cleared rights-of-way and bits of track in otherwise completely untouched cities on the server. Is that okay for us to use?

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 08:16:59 PM »
These should not be left over; I suspect that liquidation does not work properly. I see no reason why players ought not be allowed to use these. I don't think that we need anything explicit in the rules about this, though, do we?

Offline ӔO

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 10:35:38 PM »
Those unowned tracks are because of a bug ( http://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=11119.0) that should be fixed in the RC build.

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 10:57:40 PM »
Not just the RC - this should be fixed in the current version, although there will be some legacy roads/tracks that were built when this bug was still current.

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2013, 03:41:46 AM »
I think the no refund on negative account balance works great. It's very difficult to bankrupt someone else by sending them a ton of pax that their network cannot handle.

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2013, 12:13:38 PM »
I don't see much point in having refunds if their effect is thus limited - but I hope that once pax numbers are rebalanced, refunding will be a limit of only extreme cases (where traffic stops altogether), as I understand it's supposed to act, and proper time tolerance will make it (and the new limit on it) redundant.

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2013, 07:55:05 PM »
One more thought, that I keep forgetting.

Players should keep their pax/mail transporation network in one piece. Which means pax/mail should be able to make it from any point of the network to any other point without using someone else's network.

Freight Goods, being what they are, which is point to point, are exempt.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2013, 07:56:03 PM »
One more thought, that I keep forgetting.

Players should keep their pax/mail transporation network in one piece. Which means pax/mail should be able to make it from any point of the network to any other point without using someone else's network.

Freight Goods, being what they are, which is point to point, are exempt.

Interesting. What's the rationale for this rule?

Offline AP

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2013, 07:57:36 PM »
Players should keep their pax/mail transporation network in one piece. Which means pax/mail should be able to make it from any point of the network to any other point without using someone else's network.

Not so sure about this. I mean, if a player out-competes another player on a route, should the player continue to operate sub-optimal lines to maintain network integrity? What about players concentrating on city bus routes but not intercity rail routes?

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2013, 08:25:30 PM »
Interesting. What's the rationale for this rule?
Well, in real life, although there may be joint or shared lines, it's pretty rare to have a transport system where the child network is completely disconnected from the parent. Which would be why you don't see, say, SNCF, operating its own, independent, network in the UK.

Or, more succinctly, planting one seed should result in one tree with its various connected branches and roots.

It's also easier for one player to maintain one large tree than it is for one player to have someone else bridge between two trees. For instance, if the player who owns the bridge isn't upgrading to account for extra flow due to expansion, then the player with two trees will have to bridge it themselves in the end anyways.

Not so sure about this. I mean, if a player out-competes another player on a route, should the player continue to operate sub-optimal lines to maintain network integrity? What about players concentrating on city bus routes but not intercity rail routes?

There are many ways of handling being out competed. You can improve the network, lower volume, reduce frequency or abandon it completely. The customer shouldn't be inconvenienced with a disconnected network, even if the line runs at a loss. Many poor railway companies must deal with stiff competition from buses on their branch lines, but they keep the lines.

It's possible to operate intercity bus routes, which cost significantly less than railways.


Branching out with docks and airports would be fine too, since that would still be connected.

Offline AP

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2013, 09:00:06 PM »
But there's little point forcing players to operate routes that no passengers will use. If passengers chose to use the competitor's lines instead I see no logic to forcing players to maintain integrity.

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Re: Server rules for online play
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2013, 09:47:03 PM »
I don't see that the proposed rule is born out of any economic necessity or historical precedent. It does not follow from the fact that X is usually done that X ought be mandatory; nor does it follow from the fact that it is usually easier to do X that X ought be mandatory. In any event, this particular X is not in reality universally done, nor always easier: the people who operate the 'bus and train services on the Isle of Wight also operate 'bus and train services in other parts of the country, but do not operate the ferries. There are many 'bus companies that operate services in towns where they do not provide links to other towns in which they operate services. Things would be more difficult, not easier, if they were forced to link fully.