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Ship holds not flexible enough

Started by DrSuperGood, December 30, 2017, 08:42:57 PM

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Being able to customize the hold of a ship is a fantastic idea, after all in real life ships used to carry a large variety of cargo. Problem is currently it is not quite as useful as it should be...

In the 1750s the ships have 7 available hold slots. One might set up a regular service of such ships to move passengers around. The problem is that it is only worth moving passengers around with them. Sure there might be a hardware shop that needs tools but adding a packaged goods hold to the ship eats up 1/7 of the passenger capacity to move 1/400 or less worth of packaged goods capacity. This is even more the case with mail where one ship visiting every few months with just 1 hold is more than enough to move all the mail. If one adds such a hold to a regular service ship the result is a massive loss of potential profit, as that hold could be filled with people, even at a very low class, rather than empty with the occasional odd unit of mail or good.

In real life the ship would simply hold 1-2 less people and replace them with a sack of mail or a create of goods, after all they wanted to maximize space usage. In Simutrans Extended Pak 128 Britain one has to reserve 1/7 of the ship for that, of which most of it sets empty and disued while people might be packed like sadines in a tin in the other holds.

What is needed is a "dynamic" hold which accepts any of a list of cargo kinds up to a total volume decided by cargo type weights (a multiplier, not physical weight per unit). In the case of early ships this would be a general purpose hold for freight, mail and very low passengers. This way one could assign 1/7 of a ships holds to general purpose cargo, have a fantastic passenger service, get regular mail deliveries, deliver the odd unit of freight to local industries and still fill the remaining space with slum passengers if so desired. Considerably more realistic than currently.

Generic freight should generally have very low passenger comfort, after all they literally are sleeping with freight. As such it would have its own price category, below very low with a selectable option of none to mean that the holds will not be used for passengers. Similar options should be added for mail as one might not want such holds being used for mail on freight only lines.


This would require some quite fundamental changes to the code, and would take a considerable amount of work. If one were to do this, one would be better changing the way in which vehicles work so as to be able to accept more than one different type of load so as to do away with holds entirely. This would be a very major undertaking, and, if I have to do this, it is likely to be very many years before there are no higher priority tasks.

Would you be interested in working on such a project?

Edit: Incidentally, one of those higher priority tasks is precisely the balancing of costs/revenues against one another such that it does make rather more sense to transport industrial produce than it apparently does now. One can, of course, always simply use smaller ships for the industrial produce.
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If you're going to change that, consider addressing that a single bulk goods hold should never contain both iron ore and coal, or one liquids hold both petrol and chemicals -- in real life, you would not want that!  Likewise for the various station extensions... it's a bit of a can of worms, isn't it.