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Author Topic: A description field for vehicles?  (Read 1179 times)

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Offline Ves

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A description field for vehicles?
« on: December 10, 2015, 06:57:50 PM »
In order not to go offtopic in the other thread....

The idea of a description is an interesting one, and has been discussed before. It does, however, have a number of problems - not necessarily insurmountable ones, but ones that make me think twice before implementing it and question whether it is a worthwhile use of time compared to other projects. Firstly there is the problem of where the text would actually fit in the already overcrowded depot window. Secondly, there is the time that it would take to provide a useful description for each and every vehicle (and there are lots of them, and they are growing). Thirdly, there is the point that, given that these are all real vehicles, players can in most cases just perform a Google search to find out about the real life versions, which should give information as to how they were used, which, if the simulation is realistic enough, should suffice. Fourthly, working out what information to give is really not straightforward at all. Many vehicles of all types are capable of being used for multiple different duties in different circumstances. An express railway locomotive from the 1860s may be hauling secondary passenger trains by the 1880s, branch line trains in the 1900s and be a station pilot in the 1920s (as was the sole surviving example of the Midland Railway's 156 class). A railway locomotive designed mainly for freight might find use on suburban passenger services in some instances, or on secondary passenger services on steeply graded track. A road motor coach intended for long distance comfortable travel might equally be used to link a city centre with a nearby airport 15km away. A small jet aircraft might make short hops between an island and the mainland or long journeys on a minor route. Giving short descriptions is likely to mislead the player, and giving long descriptions is likely to confuse the player. The player may find a use for the vehicle that the pakset author had not anticipated.

I for myself never thought of googling a particular vehicle, however ive for a long time missed some brief description to what this vehicle does best. I dont think googling is an option to most people, as you firstly must remember the vehicle name (I dont think copy/paste is possible), secondly find a suitable webpage containing the information, and thirdly, there might be tons of other information on that page not interesting to you, but you still must read it in order to find what you are looking for. Fourth reason, a Simutrans vehicle may not be completely true to real life, as some compromize or fictionalization might have been done. At least some of the vehicles in pak.sweden will have some minor compromizes.

I would say that its when the locomotive is new (or second hand-new) the descriptions are most usefull. When you have the locomotive in your fleet, you can anyway do with it what you want based on your own experience with it. Also, if I in a description field writes that "this loco is usefull to haul heavy load" or just "heavy good locomotive", I, as a player, get a pretty good picture of what capabilities this loco has without reading any info.
Throughout the times, vehicles change objectives as you say, but that doesnt say that the vehicle still is not best at doing what it once where built to. If it has been rebuilt or modified to make new kinds of assignments, the Simutrans-corresponding vehicle would anyway be upgraded to another vehicle with its own description field.
Obviously, its up to the author to write some proper text in those fields, and I agree that badly written text can be just as usefull as nothing.

Regarding all the brittish vehicles, there are alot! :) Just because there is a description field, doesnt mean that every vehicle MUST have a description.
How I would use the description field would be to either quickly summarize the working areas of a vehicle where its maybe not so obvious, or describe some features of a vehicle (which is important to THAT vehicle, eg new kind of chairs or flushable toilet etc). Maybe also a short historical comment.

Yes, the depot window is a bit full already, and with the addition of the new features of experiemental, it probably wont be lesser info.
A solution to this (and by the way the depot in general), could be to sort all information in categories and make it possible to minimize a category if you are not interested in that. It could look like:

Stats (Maxspeed, weight, brakeforce etc)Costs (all costs)
Cargo (loading time, good type, maxload etc)Power (Kw, tractive effort, traction type etc)
Description

When a category is minimized, the single most important information from that category could be displayed like good type, cost, maxspeed and Kw.
The depot window would automatically resize to be as small as possible without any text beyond the edge.