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Author Topic: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games  (Read 247 times)

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Offline jamespetts gb

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Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« on: January 05, 2020, 05:02:49 PM »
For some time, the current development projects thread has had a section on mergers and insolvent administration in the following terms:
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Although I don't think that implementing a stock market is a good idea (Simutrans has a different focus to Railroad Tycoon), allowing a simplified form of takeovers and mergers is a good idea for multi-player games, I think.
A merger should simply be when two players mutually decide that they wish their transport companies to merge into one, controlled by both players (just as multiple players can simultaneously control a transport company now if they both use the same password, or the account is not password protected). If one player requests a merger with another player, and the other player accepts, then all the assets of both players should become owned by the player with the lowest player number, the higher number player should be reset to a neutral state, and either password used to access either of the two previous companies should be useable for the new company (or, alternatively, if it is not feasible to have two passwords for one company, all clients playing as both merging companies should be sent a game message showing a new password which will in future apply to the new, merged company).

A takeover should occur either by mutual agreement, in the same way as a merger (except that whichever player is taking over the other player retains its identity even if it has the higher player number, and there is no change of password), or when a company is in insolvent administration.

A company should be in insolvent administration for a fixed period set in simuconf.tab (default: one year) instead of being liquidated whenever it is insolvent ("bankrupt" in Simutrans-Standard terminology). Within that time, it can be taken over as a going concern by any player (who will take on all of its assets and liabilities), or liquidated at the end of the period. There should be multiple options for liquidation, selectable in simuconf.tab: full liquidation, in which all infrastructure simply disappears, but vehicles are placed on the secondhand market (see the feature description above) for a fixed period (default: 1 year), after which they will be withdrawn, presumed scrapped; mothballing liquidation, in which vehicles are placed on the secondhand market as before, but the infrastructure is replaced by mothballed equivalents (see the mothballing feature above - some consideration will need to be given to what to do with stations - have a system for mothballing them, perhaps; preserve them as they are, or remove them?); and nationalisation, where the infrastructure is taken over by the public player (vehicles again are sold on the secondhand market).
Recently, I have modified the planned feature as follows:

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Currently, no transport company can take over another. When a company becomes insolvent, its assets are liquidated after a set period; there is no option for another player to rescue the insolvent company. A solvent company cannot be liquidated. This leads to anomalies in multi-player games when players abandon the game or their companies fail.

A better system would be to allow takeovers. A takeover of a transport company should be possible either where (1) the player has elected to allow a takeover; or (2) the company is in a state of insolvent administration (see below). The company taking over the other company should be able to do so at the cost of the net book value of the assets of the company to be taken over, unless that value is negative, in which case the company pays nothing. In either case, the company taking over would take control of all the assets of the company taken over (apart from its headquarters, which would be destroyed), but would also take on responsibility for all its liabilities. A company should only be able to take over another company if it has the cash to pay the price of doing so and would not immediately itself be insolvent by taking over the other company's liabilities.

A player might voluntarily elect to put a company up for takeover in a multi-player game if he/she no longer wishes to play on that server, or no longer has time to do so; or alternatively, if he/she realises that her/his company is in trouble and would prefer to start afresh, leaving a more successful company to rescue what is left. Alternatively, two players might wish to co-operate and play one company, in which case, one player may take over the other's company, and then give the other player the first player's password so that they can both play the same company. In both cases, a player slot will have been freed for a new player to join.

Whenever a company becomes insolvent, it should continue to operate for a period of time (default 1 year, configurable in simuconf.tab) in administration. During this period, the player would continue to be able to control the company, but it would be liable for takeover by any other player. If at any end of month during that time the company ceased to be insolvent, it would leave insolvent administration and full control would continue to rest with the player, the company no longer being able to be taken over (unless the player subsequently voluntarily permits this as above). If at the end of the specified period the company has neither been taken over nor ceased to be insolvent, the company should revert to a dormant state for a further specified period (default 1 year, configurable in simuconf.tab): all convoys should be automatically ordered to return to their depots and be put up for sale (see above on a second-hand market in vehicles), the company should cease to be playable, but remain available for takeover. On takeover, all vehicles would automatically be withdrawn from sale. Any takeover of a company in this state would have to pay only the value of its assets and would not have to take over its liabilities. If at the end of the further period, an insolvent company were not taken over, it should then be liquidated in the same way as at present, and all the company's vehicles would be scrapped.
The principal change is to abolish the idea of mergers, which would be tricky to implement because of the need to combine passwords, and I suspect would not be used a great deal based on the fact that I have not ever seen two players co-operate to control a single company in a network game to date.

Given that abandoned companies, which eventually become insolvent and are liquidated, are a common occurrence in multi-player games, and such dormant companies can often clog up the player list and game world to the exclusion of new players who want to join, and also that the liquidation of a company can be disruptive to other players who rely on the liquidated company's networks, expediting this to some extent seems potentially worthwhile. This version of the set of features is likely to be easier to implement than that originally planned and probably easier for players to understand.
I should be interested in constructive feedback on the revised proposal.

Offline Freahk

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2020, 08:12:34 PM »
other players who rely on the liquidated company's networks
A liquidated player does not have a network anymore as the network becomes mothballed. At least as far as I observed.
However, the idea of takeovers instead of liquidation is great.

Offline wlindley us

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2020, 11:09:33 PM »
Support.

This should greatly improve long-lasting games.

Offline CK

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2020, 10:19:03 AM »
I support this, although I would prefer to have the option of only taking over a company's rights of way as opposed to all their assets (including possibly dated vehicles which would have to be replaced en masse)

Offline Freahk

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2020, 11:04:50 AM »
You could withdraw these lines if you don't want them. I don't think this should be a takeover related feature.

However, I guess overview about used vehicle types is a more general issue that could be solved by a vehicle type grouping in the vehicle list but that's off topic here.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2020, 11:26:58 AM »
Thank you all for your feedback. I suspect that Ves's vehicle manager project may well help to increase the usability in dealing with dated vehicles in taken over companies.

Offline Ves

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2020, 08:38:44 PM »
Thank you all for your feedback. I suspect that Ves's vehicle manager project may well help to increase the usability in dealing with dated vehicles in taken over companies.
Hopefully, very much yes! ;D

And, I support the changes!

On the whishlist I would like to be able to sell off parts of a network, meaning both infrastructure, vehicles, maybe even the schedules it self.
If the suggested implementation could perhaps bed for such features in the future (for instance by making it easy in the code to switch owner of objects) such features could be added on later. And of course that would need a new window.... 8)

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Insolvency and takeovers in multi-player games
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2020, 09:17:13 PM »
Hopefully, very much yes! ;D

And, I support the changes!

On the whishlist I would like to be able to sell off parts of a network, meaning both infrastructure, vehicles, maybe even the schedules it self.
If the suggested implementation could perhaps bed for such features in the future (for instance by making it easy in the code to switch owner of objects) such features could be added on later. And of course that would need a new window.... 8)

I anticipate that the latter feature would be much more difficult to code (by quite a long way - many times more difficult than the rest of the features combined), but I can try to take into account the possibility of doing this in the future when designing the code for this.