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Author Topic: Make public stops more user friendly.  (Read 4875 times)

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Offline DrSuperGood

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Make public stops more user friendly.
« on: August 26, 2014, 06:00:36 PM »
Public stops are a feature that fewer people use than they should. The ability to share goods between companies is very useful and unless an experimental like stop share system is introduced we are stuck using public stops to do our sharing. However they are far from usable in their current state with a lot of difficulties in multiplayer which discourage people using them.

In single player there is no real need for them unless you play with multiple companies. When you do they are fantastic since you can plan every detail about them. Made a mistake? No problem. Want to change them? Also no problem. Since it is single player you have unlimited access to the public player so you are free to design and modify public stations to suit your greatest desires.

In multiplayer however, where they are most needed, this is far from the case. To prevent abuse, the server administrator has to password lock the public player so only he (or his trusted moderators) have access. This results in a huge problems when it comes to creating public stops as a normal user. Sure the administrator can design fantastic stations, fifty did wonders a year ago in his pak64 server, however this places a lot of responsibility on the server administrator to be active. As a normal user you can only make public stops, but not modify them as you lack sufficient permission. This means the smallest mistake or if layout changes are required you are out of luck and either have to leave parts of the stop abandoned or you will need to consult the server administrator who may or may not be available to help. You can even end up in the ludicrous situation where you are paying for the upkeep of a way underneath a public stop but cannot destroy the way as you lack permission to destroy the stop. What is even more strange is that you can modify and destroy public ways to your heart's content, just not public stops.

Why public stop anyway? Sharing is great, and really adds to the game. An example was in the last pak128 server from fifty I was starting to make my own passenger network but depending on and adding traffic from an existing passenger networks of other companies. Not only did this allow me to clear some of the backlog already at the exchange hubs but also it allowed me to add extra traffic helping everyone. However without the ability to modify such public exchanges they can quickly end up a huge mess. An example of this was on the other servers (prissi's?) where huge public exchanged were formed with tons of messy stop structures as each person designed their own. Worse was I accidently made a few by mistake when trying to make roads public. Due to lack of activity from administrators these were left until the server eventually shut down.

So how to solve this?

1. Public stops are modifiable like public ways. You can add, delete and rename them as much as you want.
2. Public stops on top of privately owned ways can only be modified by the private way owner. This stops abuse to some extent as players can rent their own public stop space such as airports platforms and things.
3. Admins can choose to prevent or control public stops. Maybe there are reasons to do so and there should be no reason a busy administrator cannot take charge.

That is really all that is needed. I understand that this might open new ways to troll multiplayer servers but maybe the usability out weighs that. I certainly would be more encouraged to make public stops as I often mess up when designing a stop and the ability to modify them would allow me to fix my mistakes. Anyone else agree? Maybe there is a better idea?

Offline Vladki cz

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2014, 07:18:01 PM »
I think that allowing transfers between stations that are on neighbouring tiles would be much better than the concept of public stops. It is not needed to have walking transfers like in experimental, just allow transfers to other station thet is right next to another. Thus each player will pay his own maintenance and still get the benefit of trasferring cargo (and passengers). I always considered public stops as a sort of cheat.

Offline Ters

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2014, 07:58:15 PM »
The disruptive powers a griefer gets by being able to delete public stops is very high. Deleting a public road can block the flow of goods and cause huge backlogs eventually, but deleting a stop will completely reset a route instantly, dropping all cargo enroute. Even if players have full control of their own parts of the public stop, there is still the problem that someone could, intentionally or accidentally, delete a shared extension building required for certain types of goods (like a post office).

Allowing private platforms, ramps and stops to be part of a public terminal without becomming public themselves, and keeping the public core locked from non-admins could perhaps work, unless it's an area intended to be shared that is frequently messed up. I have no experience with multiplayer, apart from activating an AI player in a game played years ago.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2014, 10:39:38 PM »
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I think that allowing transfers between stations that are on neighbouring tiles would be much better than the concept of public stops. It is not needed to have walking transfers like in experimental, just allow transfers to other station thet is right next to another. Thus each player will pay his own maintenance and still get the benefit of trasferring cargo (and passengers). I always considered public stops as a sort of cheat.
Maintenance is not really a concern. The utilization of a public stop is such anyway that its maintenance cost is trivial. >50k units of cargo (pax or freight) are common for hubs. That said I would not be against a maintenance based solution for the extra challenge.

Connecting adjoining stops of different players is probably too technically challenging. Even experimental cannot do this (instead passengers "walk" between them). It would also be a solution and probably the best solution but would be very difficult to develop.

Until then a good solution with maintenance may be that users of the stop are charged in toll based on the maintenance from the stop. This charge starts at 0 (first month free) but is then the total maintenance cost divided by the number of convoys for last month. When traffic is raised it will cost you more for a month but equally well lowering traffic will cost you less. Probably not too difficult to implement either. Obviously the toll shows as earnings for the public player just for consistency.

It could be further improved by keeping track of maintenance and income. What you can then do is compensate for insufficient or over payment in later months so on average its maintenance pays for itself. If a stop then fails to break even (this would only happen if no shipments occur or they occur too far apart) then you can automatically destroy it, thus preventing dis-used public stops.

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The disruptive powers a griefer gets by being able to delete public stops is very high. Deleting a public road can block the flow of goods and cause huge backlogs eventually, but deleting a stop will completely reset a route instantly, dropping all cargo enroute.
Which is why I suggested that public stops atop private ways (yes, try it in RC120 as it is possible) cannot be deleted by anyone other than the private way owner. You cannot grief that way unless the ways the stop is on is also publicly owned.

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Even if players have full control of their own parts of the public stop, there is still the problem that someone could, intentionally or accidentally, delete a shared extension building required for certain types of goods (like a post office).
Right now they can just change the entire map to water, bulldoze entire cities, block your convoys on public roads with invalid destinations, clog up airports so your planes are stuck in transit, max out in-transit of goods at one of their tops, block your ships with land rises, fuse parallel roads together... Yes it is one more form of griefing they can now do but far from serious. If an accident occurs people will forgive you, after all we all do make mistakes.

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Allowing private platforms, ramps and stops to be part of a public terminal without becomming public themselves, and keeping the public core locked from non-admins could perhaps work, unless it's an area intended to be shared that is frequently messed up. I have no experience with multiplayer, apart from activating an AI player in a game played years ago.
Currently anyone can make a public stop. In fact I could destroy a city for you by surrounding it with roads and making public stops on all of them. Wait that is yet another way we can currently grief...

At least being able to destroy them would give more control to the players. I do agree that the idea of publicly owned stops might not be too good but the fact is we already have them. All I am asking is that they be made slightly more user friendly even if it adds extra ways of abuse, as the ways players have to abuse the game are so numerous it makes little difference.

A toll system like mentioned earlier would help combat the maintenance problem.

Offline Ters

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 05:00:42 AM »
Which is why I suggested that public stops atop private ways (yes, try it in RC120 as it is possible) cannot be deleted by anyone other than the private way owner. You cannot grief that way unless the ways the stop is on is also publicly owned.

Wouldn't that only affect road vehicles? I was under the impression that other vehicles can't move on other player's infrastructure and that you can't even connect to the network. And there is still the problem with important extension buildings.

Right now they can just change the entire map to water, bulldoze entire cities, block your convoys on public roads with invalid destinations, clog up airports so your planes are stuck in transit, max out in-transit of goods at one of their tops, block your ships with land rises, fuse parallel roads together [...]
Currently anyone can make a public stop. In fact I could destroy a city for you by surrounding it with roads and making public stops on all of them.

Neither of these have an instant knock-out effect on your existing network. Some of them can't even affect your existing work at all. Many of them can be worked around before serious side effects develop if you notice them as they happen. Deleting a key stop will instantly do damage that it will take many game months to overcome on a big map with interconnected networks. I have managed to do this to myself in singleplayer by accident.

Offline BBGunn

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 05:15:09 AM »
I think that allowing transfers between stations that are on neighbouring tiles would be much better than the concept of public stops. It is not needed to have walking transfers like in experimental, just allow transfers to other station thet is right next to another. Thus each player will pay his own maintenance and still get the benefit of trasferring cargo (and passengers).
I would love to see this, myself.  This goes along with what I see here in Osaka, Japan.  Stations are separated according to company, but you have many stations from different companies situated next to each other, and connected to each other to allow for easy transfers.   The closest thing to public stops I can find around here are the two stations on the Kansai Airport line, which are shared by JR West and Nankai Railways.  But even so, they don't share platforms; there are dedicated platforms for JR trains and others for Nankai trains.

Offline wlindley us

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 12:40:02 PM »
In the United States, this has been traditionally handled by Union Stations, the first of which was Indianapolis Union Station, opening on September 20, 1853.  A Union Station was generally built by a company jointly owned by all the participating railways.  Each railway held a percentage of the stock in the Union Station Company.  These stations handled passengers, mail, and express packages, held the telegraph stations, and handled the shunting within the platforms and coach-yard district.

Perhaps the way to make joint stations work in Simutrans is to permit a group of players to control a joint player-company.  Can we do this already in multi-player by sharing the password amongst a group who agree to a "Union Station Company Code of Conduct" −?

Then all we need is some way to "sell" an existing station to another player.  Which sounds like a useful feature on its own.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2014, 04:10:07 PM »
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Wouldn't that only affect road vehicles? I was under the impression that other vehicles can't move on other player's infrastructure and that you can't even connect to the network. And there is still the problem with important extension buildings.
Actually all ways are public, anyone can run convoys on any other players ways. Experimental restricts this based on sharing rights but it then also shares stops.

Canals and roads are the most common. Rails can also be shared but not directly connected to. The rail owner will have to connect to a neutral rail piece (which they can make) and then the other company connects to that. Trains can then happily run on ways owned by other players. Fifty did this last summer with another player.

Offline prissi

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 03:05:38 PM »
By the way, you can only delete unowned roads, not public owned roads ...

As possible way out could be a "unterchange flag" (maybe an interchange building) that must each company doing interchanges add to a stop. This building (or how it is realized) would then allow transfers. It would be non-removable though.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2014, 11:51:50 PM »
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not public owned roads ...
This is not the case in standard with the servers I have been playing. There a big problem was people taking ownership of public roads or breaking them. You can happily make roads public and change them as much as you wish. Without this playing multiplayer would be very difficult and pak128 servers would become minefields of public owned roads from players skipping maintenance costs.

It is the case in experimental and highly annoying as a lot of such roads have appeared for no reason and block construction.

Offline Ters

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2014, 05:04:48 AM »
By the way, you can only delete unowned roads, not public owned roads ...

This is not the case in standard with the servers I have been playing.

Indeed. It's the same for me in non-mulitplayer, and I'm pretty sure this is not one of the settings I've changed from the default (if it even is configurable). Ways (all waytypes apparently) owned by public player is free game, just like unowned ways.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2014, 05:30:51 PM »
Since we have been playing under these rules reasonably well for 1-2 years I would prefer that they not be fixed if it is a bug. I would rather it gets extended to stops as well since ways and stops go hand in hand. A check to stop people bulldozing public stops on owned (not public, not not owned) ways would stop most abuse and certainly not render the game any worse.

Offline prissi

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2014, 10:42:00 AM »
The issue with public stuff (i.e. also deleting public (grey) road) has been discussed a lot. It has been allowed and forbidded many times. Maybe there is a setting needed for that?

How about having station buildings public by ways private to mark a changing part of a public stops seems reasonable. But a public way and public stop building should flag a non-changeable part.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2014, 02:58:40 PM »
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How about having station buildings public by ways private to mark a changing part of a public stops seems reasonable. But a public way and public stop building should flag a non-changeable part.
Yes and only public service provider should be able to make public stops on public ways. Owned stops on public ways should not be allowed to be made public, and like wise owned ways under public stops cannot be made public. This stops people making sections of public road with public stops to annoy people while still letting them make ways public and stops public (which are needed in some situations where you do not need/want to take ownership of un-owned ways your line construction had to change).

On a lesser note it is not possible to make bridges and slops public. It is however possible to make flat ways and elevated ways public.

The bridges should be able to be made public to mirror how elevated ways can. Sloped ways currently have to be made flat, turned public, elevated and then joined so they are already possible just not at all user friendly (no reason why it should be so difficult). Tunnel entrances I recall also have problems with being made public. Once could argue that there should not be a public tool for ways as people just abuse it to skip maintenance however since there is one and it is quite useful in multiplayer for stuff that is not owned yet you do not want ownership of why not go all the way.

Offline Ters

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2014, 03:59:46 PM »
Sloped ways currently have to be made flat, turned public, elevated and then joined

Very strange, because a way on a slope is just a way like any other. Maybe the tool just doesn't understand slopes, since it was made to make stops public and stops can only exist on flat ground, at least that's what the name of the tool implies in pak64.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Make public stops more user friendly.
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2014, 10:44:22 PM »
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Very strange, because a way on a slope is just a way like any other. Maybe the tool just doesn't understand slopes, since it was made to make stops public and stops can only exist on flat ground, at least that's what the name of the tool implies in pak64.
Yeh I would guess the fault is with the tool logic. It probably searches for objects on the wrong level or has some exclusion. Anyway it applies for slopes, tunnel entrances and bridges (entire bridge as they are single objects?).

Some times when making a train line I have to manipulate public roads to avoid crossings (speed limit on tracks and also interferes with traffic on road) so I need to make a new public way that is compatible with my line structure in the form of an overpass or tunnel. This is when you will find these restrictions annoying and especially in the case of tunnels and bridges it forces you to retain ownership even though you want it to be public and un-owned like it originally was.

This also raises the issue that the make public tool needs a "drag" capability to make entire sections public at once instead of a tile at a time.