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Author Topic: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")  (Read 9769 times)

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Offline sanna

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Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« on: September 17, 2009, 09:31:55 AM »
Hi,

Playing pak128.Britain 103 on Standard rev 2646 in the 1890's, I find that speed bonus for road traffic is 9 km/h (my gardenseat two-horse passenger traffic at 15 km/h rakes in money), tramway traffic is 10 km/h (my Toastracks at 40 km/h is gushing in cash), but for railway it is 115 km/h.... Now I can purchase locos that drive that fast, but it still seems odd that a Toastrack (cost 0.86/km) makes more money  transporting 40 passengers 2 blocks than a train driving 60 passengers 70 km/h (cost 0.94/km) to a nearby town.

I would suggest that 115 km/h is a bit high for railway traffic in 1890... Is it some local config modification that I have done that causes this behaviour?

For reference:http://simutrans-germany.com/files/upload/goods_list_pakBritain.png
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 12:47:08 PM by The Hood »

Offline The Hood

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 10:01:13 AM »
Thanks for the report.

I agree, it doesn't seem logical.  However the speedbonuses and maintenance costs were all calculated so that there is a broadly equivalent profit per passenger per kilometre between all vehicles, as long as they are in the right era.  The reason the speedbonuses are so different is that if they were similar, either the trams / buses would make a huge loss (because they were so much slower than the trains) or the trains would make a huge profit. 

However, if you have a train making very little profit per passenger per kilometre compared to a tram or bus, I would like to know:
1) which train you are using with which carriages, and how many
2) what the game year is exactly
3) how full the train is compared to the buses / trams

It may be that there are some balancing problems.

Offline sanna

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 11:07:37 AM »
Thanks for the report.

I agree, it doesn't seem logical.  However the speedbonuses and maintenance costs were all calculated so that there is a broadly equivalent profit per passenger per kilometre between all vehicles, as long as they are in the right era.  The reason the speedbonuses are so different is that if they were similar, either the trams / buses would make a huge loss (because they were so much slower than the trains) or the trains would make a huge profit. 

However, if you have a train making very little profit per passenger per kilometre compared to a tram or bus, I would like to know:
1) which train you are using with which carriages, and how many
2) what the game year is exactly
3) how full the train is compared to the buses / trams

It may be that there are some balancing problems.
1) When I was testing I was actually using a single quite slow and old - but it will not be retired until 1924 - train (the LBSCR class A1 "Terrier") with a max speed of 70 km/h with three LBSCR passenger carriages (two braked ones and one unbraked on). There is also a GNR mail carriage attached to the set, but I was counting on making no profit on that one. The whole consist has a maintenance cost of 0.94/km and it has been running pretty close too passenger full each trip - free capacity only in the mail carriage. An example month it transported 441 units with an income of 1 720 (profit 1 073) while a toastrack in a single month transporting 361 passengers had an income of 10 707 (profit 10 326) - also running pretty much full all the time. A Gardenseat transporting 101 passengers in a month (maint: 2.30/km) made 1 794 (profit 1 329).

2) 1890 exactly, so I should have said 1880's instead of 1890's....

3) All buses, trains and trams are running close to full capacity.

I am now in the process to upgrading the loco to a Midland 156 and am looking forward to seeing what this will do to my crumbling passenger traffic....

Offline The Hood

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 07:16:14 PM »
OK, firstly they are all profitable, which is good news...

I've checked in the balancing spreadsheet, and what you are describing does fit the values I've given them, so everything is working as "intended", although whether that is the best is up for debate.

The Toastrack tram is brand new in 1890, so is at peak profitability (as the design gets older, because of increasing speed bonus speeds, the profit will decrease to nothing over time).  For the tram it is 19.15 per pax-km in 1890 (very high) but drops very rapidly to 0.72 by 1923.  The A1 terrier is at 2.54 in 1890 (it is 4.92 in 1872 on introduction and 0.42 in 1924 when it retires).  Similarly the omnibus is 25.32 in 1882, 22.65 in 1890.  

This suggests the profitability of the trams and buses is excessive (what about your company profitability - is it generally very easy to make a profit as a whole?).  If maintenance on these vehicles is increased, they cannot generate a profit towards the end of their lifetime, because the speedbonus ramps up so quickly for road and tram as traction turns from horse to electric / diesel...  On the other hand, changing the speedbonus to have more gradual increases results in either extremely high profits or failure to generate profit for other vehicles elsewhere in the timeline.  By contrast rail is fairly steady in terms of speed bonus speeds by 1890, as the real growth in speed happened in the 1820s-1850s.

So in short, I don't have an easy solution.  I'm open to suggestions, or even offers of other people looking at the whole cost balancing process.  This feedback is really useful to help make the pak play better, so if anyone else has similar stories, I'd like to know here too.

Finally, I'd be interested to know how other paks got around this issue of sudden increases in vehicle speeds.  Are any of the other paks really playable in the 1890s?

PS I wouldn't bother with the MR 156 in 1890, it's already an old design and not so profitable by then.  Go for the B1 Gladstone or the LNWR Jumbo (but both of these require longer trains to make profits, because they are more powerful locos).  If you can wait a few years, the MR Spinner and LSWR M7 are both really good bets.

Offline sanna

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2009, 04:03:07 PM »
Quote
This suggests the profitability of the trams and buses is excessive (what about your company profitability - is it generally very easy to make a profit as a whole?).  If maintenance on these vehicles is increased, they cannot generate a profit towards the end of their lifetime, because the speedbonus ramps up so quickly for road and tram as traction turns from horse to electric / diesel...  On the other hand, changing the speedbonus to have more gradual increases results in either extremely high profits or failure to generate profit for other vehicles elsewhere in the timeline.  By contrast rail is fairly steady in terms of speed bonus speeds by 1890, as the real growth in speed happened in the 1820s-1850s.

Just a quick comment as to the profitability of trams... I decided to take advantage of the high profitability of the trams, and built quite large "commuter" tram networks connecting first one group of three cities on one end of the map, and another group of two towns in the other end... these two groups I then connected with a train. The train is doing all right, hard to differentiate out its maintenance cost from the big lump..., but the trams are really profitable. It is summer of 1891 and I am currently making a profit of 140 000 a month... after 1 1/2 years of play, my total profit is over half a million... So I am building up a large purse to be able to upgrade to keep the competetive edge as the Toastracks' profitability declines... It is kind of fun, but not really challenging....

Offline The Hood

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2009, 09:42:19 AM »
Sounds to me like trams may be too profitable then... Does anyone else have any experience or comments on this?

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2009, 12:03:15 PM »
I'm interested to note how this fits in with the discussions going on in relation to Simutrans-Experimental, in which people are not managing to make much of a profit at all. If Pak128.Britain is to be realistic, a well-designed passenger network should generate high levels of profit, but it should be easy for that profit to diminish very rapidly if circumstances change or design mistakes are made.

Offline The Hood

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Re: Speed bonuses
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2009, 12:46:32 PM »
Of course, one issue is how realistic the simutrans standard economic model is, and how much that can reflect "good design" / "bad design" in networks and turn that into profit / loss.  Same goes for experimental.  pak128.Britain standard will aim to optimise the behaviour of profit and loss for the standard exe, which may result in odd behaviour in experimental (we'll have to see I guess).  I understand pak.German is challenging throughout the game timeline, so I've started a thread to find out how they do the balancing with a view to doing something similar in pak128.Britain. 

It would also be good for people to discuss what they want from a balanced pak128.Britain here.

I've renamed the topic as it has digressed a bit from speed bonuses now though...

Offline sanna

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2009, 12:50:17 PM »
Could it possibly be that maintenance for tram infrastructure is too low in the early years? The very first electric trams have overhead powerlines (build cost 180, mainten. 4) from the start in pak128.Britain.

Found this quote in World railways of the nineteenth century p 490(http://books.google.com/books?id=ESnBiR7vLPQC&pg=RA4-PA488&lpg=RA4-PA488#v=onepage&q=&f=false)
Quote
In 1884 the Blackpool Tramway was opened....The line however, was not successful, due primarily to prohibitive maintenance costs.
It seems that conduction (whether rails themselves, which did not allow sufficiently high power to be really useful, or underground conduit which was very expensive) was a real problem for the early electric trams. Maybe the earliest set of conduction should come with a substantially higher maintenance cost, and be replaced with a cheaper system some years later?

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2009, 12:53:24 PM »
That's a good idea, I had thought of that (the Blackpool system initially used an electrified trough in the street, which got clogged up / corroded with all the sea salt.  Overhead wires were introduced a few years later (which the toastrack tram uses).  But either way infrastructure costs don't get taken into account when calculating vehicle profit/loss in simutrans. 

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 12:59:11 PM »
I suspect that having a dual conduit/overhead system might get a little bit complicated. However, if your assessment that the trams were "too profitable" did not taken into account the cost of the overhead wires, then, provided that the maintenance cost of the overhead wires is set sufficiently high, the profitability may well be correct after all. The only thing is to ensure that the maintenance cost of the steam tram locomotive is much higher than its electric counterparts (as is realistic in any event). Even horses cost considerably more to maintain than electric vehicles themselves.

Offline sanna

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2009, 02:33:49 PM »
The figures I reported was operational profit - sorry for not making that more clear. It is of course difficult to easily see how much of the monthly maintenance that goes to overhead wires, and how much to each type of track, but the maintenance costs in total are easily dwarfed by the income.

I have kept expanding the network, adding a few Gardenseat feeder lines to the main network, and am currently (September 1892) at +200 000/month net income - preceded by a dip when I reorganized the network into a more efficient network. The monthly maintenance is at almost 30 000 and my total net income last year was 1 233 591,62 and so far this year 1 112 818,97. My current balance is 2 632 727,10.

Just to make sure that terminology is not further messing up anything, here is a shot of my finances window (early in the last month):

Sorry for the vagueness.

I still maintain that the trams are too profitable *smile*

Offline Dwachs

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2009, 04:39:53 PM »
I tested pak Britain with my modified AI. It uses mainly road transport and transports only goods.

The results however were poor. The AI barely makes profit. It seems maintenance costs of streets, depots, stations are too high. It needs more testing (and optimizing of the AI) too.

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2009, 04:55:41 PM »
Thanks for the feedback - as you say it needs more testing, so anyone else with any reports please let me know!

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2009, 07:44:53 PM »
Maybe instead of reducing the maintenance costs, the revenues for goods could be increased?

Offline neroden

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2009, 05:50:04 AM »
I agree, it doesn't seem logical.  However the speedbonuses and maintenance costs were all calculated so that there is a broadly equivalent profit per passenger per kilometre between all vehicles, as long as they are in the right era.

I will point out that this is not actually quite the correct thing to do!  In many eras, one mode of transportation was quite dominant with others only being used in specialized situations.

It's probably not worth messing with it for simutrans-standard, because only simutrans-experimental has the features needed to do the modelling correctly.  However,

(1) Prior to the invention of steam trains, transport by ship was *much* more profitable per passenger-km (or goods-unit-km) than transport by road.  (After that, the ships were too slow... before that, the ships were often *faster*, but they were cheaper to run even when they weren't faster.)  If time isn't an issue, barges are still very cheap to operate and therefore give excellent profits.
(2) Transport by train has always been more profitable per passenger-km (or goods-unit-km) than transport by road -- provided the train is carrying a large volume, and the road has to be built and paid for.   The advantages of road transport are in low-volume applications, and because the capital expenses are lower.
(3) Trams are more profitable per passenger-km than buses -- but have much larger capital costs.

So
(1) there should be a capital cost/operating cost tradeoff.  The methods of transport with high capital costs should have higher operating profits and vice versa.  Perhaps your spreadsheet already includes this; to do it correctly you have to annualize the capital cost over the vehicle lifetime, but only in simutrans-experimental do the vehicles really have lifetimes.  Otherwise, you have to work out an expected return on capital per passenger-km; a twice-as-expensive bus should give you, perhaps, twice as much money per passenger-km.  This is actually part of the ship advantage; when they're fast enough and the water's already there, ships are exceptionally profitable, but the capital costs of canals are outrageous.
(2) There should be a volume bonus.  The operating profit per passenger-km should be just slightly higher when you use larger-capacity vehicles -- provided the vehicle is full and running at full speed, of course.  This makes people "right-size" their bus, train, and ship fleets, as in the real world.  (However, since waiting time 'doesn't count' for speed in simutrans-standard, people can just leave a large bus and wait for a long time for it to fill up -- so this balancing only works in simutrans-experimental.)  Running as many small, cheap vehicles as you can until you hit congestion is often highly profitable in simutrans-standard, and that's unrealistic particularly for goods which aren't time-sensitive.  You could also keep the operating profit constant and make the capital cost per passenger (or unit good) lower for higher-volume vehicles, which has similar economic results, but it's more realistic for the operating cost to be lower.
(3) There should be a slight bias towards the historically correct method of transport and away from "outrageous" choices, although if (1) and (2) are implemented and the simutrans-experimental revenue model is used, this will mostly, though not entirely, happen on its own.  The most oversized super-giant buses should be less profitable and more expensive to run than similarly-sized articulated trams (people will still use those buses occasionally to avoid building a tram network); trains should be the most profitable long-distance transport in the late 19th century (but people will still use buses for low-volume long-distance transport), while ships should be the most profitable in the early 19th century and before (people will still use land transport because canals are very expensive to build, but they won't use land transport along the coastline).

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2009, 07:37:42 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts.  In principle, that's all great and ideally where we want to get to with the pak - so there is an incentive to build sensible networks that are historically plausible (not necessarily accurate, for example allowing high speed rail with APTs from the 1970s is possible, just the concept was ditched politically - in simutrans the decision should be yours...)

As ever the problem is getting the balance right and actually setting it up to do this.  To be honest my main focus at present is drawing stuff (as I seem to be the only person doing that).  I can spend time doing balancing, but I'm more than happy if someone else wants to take the sources and play with the costs and come up with a better solution than the present one.  After all the current one was an educated guess, only intended for beta release anyway.

Anyway keep the discussion and comments rolling, and hopefully someone will offer to have a go at doing some better balancing tests?

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2009, 08:47:22 AM »
Very interesting thoughts, Neroden! Your contributions are most insightful and extremely useful. As The Hood said, we are a little low on capacity for people working on Pak128.Britain at present - I have done some work on it, but my time is very limited, especially as I have to focus what Simutrans time that I have on maintaining Simutrans-Experimental and deriving exprimental versions of Pak128.Britain.

Would you be interested in helping to re-balance the pakset? It's all open-source, so it's easy for you to get access to the sources and tinker to experiment. There are a lot of things that need to be changed for the Experimental version in particular (currently, for example, electric trains cost more to run than steam trains, which is daft; there is, apparently, a fairly obscure reason why this must be so for the Simutrans-Standard version, though). Also, we have not yet even started on the fixed monthly maintenance costs in the Simutrans-Experimental version. Do you have some idea of the real-life approximate relative purchase and running costs of the vehicles represented?

Any help in this respect would be very much appreciated :-)

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2009, 05:45:48 PM »
To try and get a better idea of what needs doing on balancing, could anyone with balancing comments please upload a save somewhere so I can take a look - I'm getting conflicting reports of too easy to make a profit and too hard to make a profit, so I need to see what is down to player style and what is unbalanced pak.

Feel free to continue discussion as well here...

Offline neroden

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2009, 07:27:33 PM »
Very interesting thoughts, Neroden! Your contributions are most insightful and extremely useful. As The Hood said, we are a little low on capacity for people working on Pak128.Britain at present - I have done some work on it, but my time is very limited, especially as I have to focus what Simutrans time that I have on maintaining Simutrans-Experimental and deriving exprimental versions of Pak128.Britain.

Would you be interested in helping to re-balance the pakset?

"Yes, but...." (see below....)

Quote
It's all open-source, so it's easy for you to get access to the sources and tinker to experiment. There are a lot of things that need to be changed for the Experimental version in particular (currently, for example, electric trains cost more to run than steam trains, which is daft; there is, apparently, a fairly obscure reason why this must be so for the Simutrans-Standard version, though). Also, we have not yet even started on the fixed monthly maintenance costs in the Simutrans-Experimental version. Do you have some idea of the real-life approximate relative purchase and running costs of the vehicles represented?
Really, no.  :-( I can balance vehicles against each other, but real-life numbers are not something I have at hand, particularly monthly maintenance figures.  I know the 100-year trends and the basic principles (higher volume vehicle = cheaper to run per unit), but with rare exceptions not the per-vehicle stuff (particularly for Britain!).

Perhaps if you can get a first pass using real-life numbers I can do something to fix them against each other....

----

Regarding profit I've only played in the "early years", up to about 1900, where it is too hard to make a profit.  Maybe it's too easy in a different time period.  :-)  In fact I would expect this.  One of the oddities of Simutrans is that stations cost the same amount in any time period, in contrast to equipment prices which go up (track has to be replaced with better sorts of track, so arguably it goes up too).  The station costs are what was killing my game, but for a game set in 2000 they would have been negligible.

Offline neroden

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2009, 07:34:56 PM »
One of the oddities of Simutrans is that stations cost the same amount in any time period, in contrast to equipment prices which go up (track has to be replaced with better sorts of track, so arguably it goes up too).

Further comment on this: in real life, many construction costs have gone up by a factor of over 1000 over the last hundred years; costs of purchasing trains have gone up by a factor more like 100 over the same period.  So if you're making the trains moderately realistic in price, the effective decline in the relative cost of construction will cause a major skew and make it much easier to make money in later years.

One alternative is to distort the train prices to match, though it's probably easier to keep track of what you're doing if the engine is changed to allow varying construction costs over time.  Unfortunately that's a big change (though they've done it in some other transport games; I remember the continuous inflation in Locomotion).

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2009, 07:49:50 PM »
Neorden,

thank you very much for your input. Not many people have access to real life figures, so don't worry about that: I'll see if I can find someone who does to give some basic calibration inputs; if I did that, could you then extrapolate from that, perhaps?

As to the construction costs, that is an interesting topic. Currently, the construction costs of ways, bridges, etc. can be made to inflate over the years simply by making newer types cost more and making older types obsolete. This cannot be done with stations because the cost for stations is, oddly, set using a system known as "level", where one specifies a single "level" figure that gives both the station capacity and the cost, the two being in a fixed ratio to each other, that fixed ratio being customisable in simuconf.tab. It is a rather odd way of doing it.

It would not be enormously difficult for me to change that to a per-station cost system in Simutrans-Experimental (perhaps the easiest way to do it without breaking the level system for existing paksets would be to have a "cost_multiplier_percent" setting in the .dat file which would simply modify the existing level), but the real question is whether it would be worthwhile having that implemented only in Simutrans-Experimental, and whether we have enough pakset authoring capacity to make Pak128.Britain compatible with this new feature by adding multipliers for all the various station types. I'd be interested in feedback on those issues.

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2009, 07:52:47 PM »
For the number of stations in the set, I think it wouldn't take too much effort to change pak128.Britain to a new system if you implemented it in experimental.  I'd love to see a new approach to station costs make it into standard as well.

Offline The Hood

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2009, 12:11:35 PM »
I'm still after any more in-game feedback on costs and profitability.  I'm hoping to do a round of re-balancing soon, which should be a bit more thorough than the last one and take more account of capital costs.  Please let me know (even if you think it works great at the minute).  In particular:
- what part of the timeline works or doesn't work;
- thoughts on how long it takes to recoup infrastructure or vehicle investment;
- thoughts on whether certain vehicles are too profitable or not profitable enough

Any feedback is very useful - it means I can make the pakset better.

Offline dannyman

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Re: Balancing discussion (was "Speed bonuses")
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2009, 07:37:27 PM »
Hello,

I'm in the 1940s here.  My observations are:

- In-city, most bus lines lose money.  I'm used to making money in other paks.

- In-city, trams are highly profitable.

- Lorries for goods (in-town or one town over) were losing money for me in the 1930s.  My cold goods transport from the slaughterhouse straight to the butcher in a nearby town is making money in the 1940s.

- Freight trains are moderately profitable, passenger routes are very profitable.

- I haven't tried mail, because when I got started in 1930 the local transports were a very expensive van or a guy on a bicycle.  It looks like the situation has improved and I really should take a crack. :)

Sincerely,
-daniel