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Headquarters function

Started by wlindley, January 29, 2022, 11:11:19 AM

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(All this might apply to Standard as well.)
Until now the Headquarters has had minimal game function. What if it worked something like this?

  • You cannot build your Headquarters inside city limits of a city already having another player's HQ [1]
  • The City Council loves you: Within the city limits containing your HQ, the cost of land to build right-of-way is reduced to 1/n its usual cost[2]; likewise with cost of terraforming; and you are permitted to bulldoze roads (without guff from the Public Player saying there's no alternate route). [3]
  • Maybe even: The Regional Government loves you: On a map having more than one Region, land cost in your HQ's "home" region is reduced by 1/m [4], but land cost outside your home region is increased to 1+1/m. [5]

  • Gameplay: Building your HQ adjacent to current city limits, and letting the city expand to annex that land, lets you have your HQ inside the same city as a 'senior' player.
  • Where 'n' is a function of how much the city council loves you.  It might be fixed at 2 or 3, or might change in some yet-to-be-decided way.
  • Gameplay: This is a strong incentive to build your HQ in a city where you want to lay a canal or railway right through the center of it, since you can act as architect of that city's urban form
  • Similarly to 'n' above, 'm' is a function of how much the region loves you. It might be fixed at 3 or 4, or might change somehow
  • With the mechanics as described, as 'n' increases the cost of land within a city goes from 1/2 to 1/3 to 1/4; but as 'm' increases the cost of land in the home region goes from 50% to 66⅔% to 75% and the out-of-region costs change from 150% to 133⅓% to 125%. If n and m were equal, this would give gameplay mechanic where the stronger your home city affiliation, the less your home region is willing to give you a discount, but also the less problematic it is to expand into other regions.
All this would work even better if each Region somehow declared a Capital City. In the Britain pak, a mechanism where such cities (and only such cities) would receive an (already-in-game) Cathedral would be prototypical.


I definitely think that the headquarters should have a function, but I think that its function needs to be based on reality. In reality, many railway companies had their headquarters in London, for instance; and that did not affect the price that the railway companies had to pay to buy land because that price was based on the market price of the land, not political favour.

The headquarters needs to be a means of expressing administration costs, which rise as the size of one's transport empire rises. The leading idea currently is to have limits on the numbers of depots that each player can build without building a particular size of headquarters, and giving each size of headquarters a maintenance cost based on the real overhead cost of transport companies based on historical records.
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I have only just started looking at these forums and have not been playing for very long (about 6 months or so) so forgive me if this idea has already been floated and/or rejected but what about a system in which all players get charged some administrative overhead in relation to their network complexity (as measured by the number of depots, stops, lines, ect.). Then, instead of acting as a limit on how many depots a player could build the HQ instead serves to reduce or discount those administrative costs to reflect the efficiencies gained by having a more centralized/streamlined administration. Each HQ level would increase the magnitude of these savings. The HQ's costs could then be balanced such that for a small company the cost of maintaining the HQ would outweigh the savings but at a certain point this balance would tip in favor of building or upgrading the HQ.

The two major downsides I see with this approach are in communicating these dynamics to players and in the increased coding requirements over a more simplified system. As regards to the second point I would be willing to try to undertake this project if there are not serious objections, although between my unfamiliarity with the simutrans code and the fact I am currently in the process of a job switch I fear it may be some time before I would have a workable prototype or really any work to show. 


Thank you for your thoughts and welcome to the forums!

The main issue with attributing an administrative cost to an individual item such as a station, depot, etc. is that this would then become indistinguishable from the maintenance costs of stations, depots, etc., which would already need to have an element of administrative overhead in any event (somebody has to pay the depot superintendent and the person who keeps a record of the workers' clocking in and clocking out times and somebody to keep the drivers' uniforms in good order and order new ones where necessary, etc.).

Since the plan is to calibrate the cost of items based on the real life cost of those items, and since, in real life, the administrative costs of, e.g., a depot were distinct from the administrative costs for the company as a whole, this sort of system is incompatible with the planned means of calibrating prices. What is needed is depots (etc.) whose costs are calibrated to match the costs of real life depots, and headquarters whose costs are calibrated to match the costs of real life general overheads.

One alternative to the system that I suggested above of having the headquarters limiting the number of depots is to have headquarters limiting the geographical range of depots from the headquarters; this might be in addition to rather than instead of limiting the number.
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I seem to have misrepresented my idea slightly although I suspect your reservations would remain.

In the system I was envisioning, the general administrative costs would grow non-linearly with the number of "items" (stops, depots, ect.) built by a player as opposed to being an additional per-item charge. These costs would represent things such as marketing, scheduling, corporate accounting and other costs which should increase with some relationship to network complexity (although I am unsure what exactly that relationship might be).

Put another way, the suggestion of tying the general admin costs to the number of "items" was merely a way to measure how complex/big a player's network is. The administrative costs could just as easily be tied to another measure such as the number of lines, amount of goods transported or some financial statistic.

I think a geographical restriction tied to HQ would be workable. My reservation with a fixed depot limit tied to HQ level is that it would be somewhat arbitrary and 'gamey' to me. My suggestion above was an attempt to try to impose similar limits on expansion without the hard cut-off imposed by a strict depot limit.


If you intend a non-linear relationship between the number of depots (etc.) and administrative cost, may I ask what relationship that you did envisage?
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Certainly it is strange to be able to run a large company without building a head office.  Therefore, I think it makes sense to have the headquarters from the perspective of economic simulation.  I think it's a good idea to build a headquarter first, and then lift the restrictions on the construction of various buildings.  It feels more realistic that the level of station buildings that can be built will increase according to the level of the headquarters.  Also, if you want to limit the distance to build depots or station buildings, you need to display the effective range of the headquarters (like signal boxes), and you need to construct a branch office to expand your transportation area.


Necropost notwithstanding, this is an amazing idea and I can see this working exactly the same as signals with a range and a limit on fixtures.

I could see the depots being a driver for stations.

Depots act as "offices" and can service a certain number of stations and/or a certain radius
A limited number of depots can be built without an HQ (starter passenger companies with local lines, man & van freight operations)
Once the operation goes regional/national, an HQ would be required (as in real life).
Each upgrade to the HQ increases operational cost 1k/10k/100k/1m per year as the business grows to represent corporate overhead. Each upgrade enables more depots/greater radius/bigger fleet.

As is the aim of development, this would be representative of the real world. Large bus companies (like stagecoach UK) would have a head office and regional depots with operational offices. airlines operate on a hub and spoke model with regional service depots and offices. It would also require some tough decisions to be made mid game to upgrade HQ (and  increase overhead) or rationalise routes. This reward the player that wants to remain a small operation and challenges the player that wants to be a multinational business.

This would also have a fundemental impact on the online game - Ensuring that the regions are developed more cohesively before international/interegional routes are established.