River City

I went on a boat ride earlier in the week, to get some references and inspiration for TaI (“Pineapple Houses”, I suppose). I took about 250 photos. Here are five.
rc1 rc2 rc3 rc4rc5I have come to two conclusions: firstly, that I need to repeat the exercise with a better camera; and secondly, that one only has to look around to plenty of good material for a building set. Obviously, these big modern buildings aren’t all TaI will need; a few photographic expeditions to other parts of the city will be required, also.

Basic ship geometry

Here’s a test render. It looks huge, but this is the actual 4x sprite size!

bootThis is two tiles long and not-quite-one-tile wide. It looks a bit dull at the moment, but with cargo-specific detailing, water reflections and proper materials it should end up quite nice. I hope.

Messing around in boats

Ships are probably the most neglected transport method in NewGRF. The only two complete sets are mb’s venerable NewShips from 2003 (!), and andythenorth’s FISH / SQUID.

Andy’s ideas for FISH are constantly changing, and he’s asked me to contribute some graphics for the set. If I’m doing ship graphics, I may as well create Pineapple Ships at the same time. So, time to set designing!

The default ships are pretty uninspiring:

shipsPart of the reason for this is that there’s little to distinguish between different ship models. They all travel at roughly the same speed; they don’t have tractive effort or power simulation; and – unlike all other transport types – their routes cannot become congested, because they pass through each other and an infinite number can use one dock. In a word, ships are boring.

  • Because ships are boring, players don’t use them much. They’re mainly used to transport cargos across water (obviously) which isn’t easily bridgable, and as a first (from oil rigs) or last (across the bay) stage in a feeder system.
  • A variety of sizes are required. True, there’s no real gameplay difference between having one big ship or three small ones. But having a lot of ships on one route, all crowding and overlapping each other, doesn’t look very nice. We can make ships look nice, even if they’re boring to use.
  • Ships can be refittable – indeed, they were refittable in the original TT. This, possibly, makes them more flexible, especially with the refitting in stations feature. They’d be much more flexible if they could have multiple holds (“articulated” ships), but that’s a discussion for another day.
  • Hovercraft. Hovercraft hovercraft hovercraft.

So, my current thinking on Pineapple Ships is this:

  • Three generations of cargo ships (small, medium, large). The earlier generations will not expire: they will remain with the same stats throughout, but have their graphics updated (eg, steam to MV). The goal is to cover the different size bases while not cluttering the purchase list.
  • Separate piece/goods carriers, bulk, and tanker ships, each refittable (within its cargo class) at the dock.
  • Fun special ships! Ferries, hovercraft, and maybe a barquentine early on.

As with the Pineapple Trains, the overall aim is to create a feeling of simplicity and vanillaness, but with the extra playability provided by OpenTTD features like refitting and simple variable running costs. And pretty extra-zoom graphics.

Watch this space.


 

In other news, the Pineapple Trains update is completed!
powerupdateThese five new locomotives are now available from the in-game content (or will be shortly – uploading 160mb takes a while!), and the version number of the set is now 1.1. Enjoy, and as usual please report any problems in the forum thread.

100%

Many strategy-game players (and designers) seem to believe that maximum efficiency is the default state; if you don’t have 100% ratings for everything, all the time, it means your strategy – or the game mechanic – is defective. This is certainly the case in OpenTTD, and is something I try to subvert when I can. The Pineapple Trains, for example, are fast but underpowered, meaning a heavy train might take half its route to reach its nominal top speed (if it reaches it at all), rather than hitting top speed before it’s out of the station as more “realistic” train sets do.

With that said, I am hesitantly adding a little more power to the roster in the next update to Pineapple Trains. The update will include five new locomotives, bringing the total count up to 20. Included are a third “Stanley” steamer – a large-boilered 2-8-0; two low-speed, high-power electrics; and the return of a TT classic:
turbosThis latest incarnation of the Turbo is a DMU, with passenger capacity, but you can still use it to haul coal if you really want to. :)

Look out for the Pineapple Trains “Power!” update, coming to the in-game content system, Bananananas, in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, you can find the forum thread for the set here. I should think about resurrecting the wiki, too…