Author Archives: Pikka

The new year is a great big fish!

Happy 2020 everyone!

This post is going to be long, and a bit of everything: I want to talk about some recent releases, what I’ll be working on over the next year, and talk a bit about the design philosophy behind the NewGRFs and other content I’m producing at the moment.

First, though, I’d really like to thank everyone who has supported me on Patreon over the last 18 months. It’s been a bit of a rough year and I haven’t done as much with Patreon as I’d have liked, but the support has paid a few bills, and otherwise been a guilt-free hobby fund which has been an enormous help with staying motivated and creative. If you like my work and want to support development this year, please do consider becoming a patron – just a few dollars a month really means a lot! Patreon will also be a good way to keep in touch with where I’m up to with my projects – I’m committing now to making at least one post a week this year.

There are five major projects I’m planning to complete or make major progress on in 2020.
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Hello (again), World!

Hi! Welcome back to the blog! A lot has changed, but a lot has come ’round again.

The last couple of years I haven’t done much with OpenTTD. I’ve been busy with university, dabbling in local politics, and generally making a nuisance of myself. But a few weeks ago, I was in my university’s architecture department, and found myself looking at drawings of isometric cubes. “This feels familiar”, I thought…

The fact is, Transport Tycoon and OpenTTD are very special games. For those of us who grew up playing them, the satisfaction and nostalgia of the gameplay is undeniable. For those who enjoy creating and customisation, the scope of possibilities in NewGRF, NoAI, and gamescripts is massive. And for new players, it’s a game that’s mature, cross-platform, lightweight, and free.

I’m hooked. I’m back.
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Happy 2016!

So, another new year is upon us! What are the haps, you may be wondering?

The Kickstarter in August, obviously, didn’t reach its goal. Big thanks to everyone who supported it – it was a valuable experience, and plenty of food for thought.

Perhaps, after 21 years of playing and 10 years of NewGRF creating, (Open)TTD has had its day? The potential of the Pineapple models is somewhat wasted when rendered down to (even 32bpp EZ) sprites, and the features we’ve all talked about for so many years now are never going to happen. Chris Sawyer made a great transport game all those years ago – no-one, including himself with Locomotion, has ever managed to create a rival. Maybe it’s time I had a go?

So, watch this space for what will, for now, be known as Project 2512… in between university, and work, and everything else that life throws at me this year. 🙂

zBase comparisons

In response to the kickstarter news, DarkenMoon97 on Reddit asked about the comparison between Pineapple and zBase, the existing 32bpp base set for OpenTTD. zBase is great – I’ve used it for years – but Richard (understandably!) didn’t have the time to put as much detail into it as he could have – his priority was creating a “complete, functional and useable base set” as a proof-of-concept for 32bpp graphics.

Here are a few comparisons of zBase and Pineapple sprites (the Pineapple sprites are, I should stress, works-in-progress):
zbase1
zbase2
zbase3

Another difference between this project and zBase is that in addition to the Pineapple base set, I’m also creating a suite of NewGRFs in the same style, and template images and models to help other creators move to high-resolution NewGRFing. Pineapple is an attempt to shift the standards for OpenTTD, not just to create another base set. 🙂

Pineapple Trains v1.3

1.3 is now available on Bananas, the OpenTTD in-game content service.

This update is mostly about EMUs; additions and adjustments.

New vehicles:
muupdate– The Corvine Interurban has been added as a very early electric locomotive with passenger capacity.
– The Unity Thunder has been introduced in 2008 with similar stats to the old VFT.

Vehicle adjustments:
– The Manley Express had an incorrect top speed due to a typo, so it’s been bumped up by 8km/h.
– The VFT is now faster and more powerful (and more expensive).
– The VFT, Turbo, and Thunder now have the “tilt” flag set (this was supposed to be set before but wasn’t); these trains should reach top speed more easily now.
– The Millenium X2001 has had a capacity increase, but now has a malus to cargo payment decay so it won’t pay as well on long-distance routes. This will make it more useful
for its intended use – short-distance people-mover (eg between a city and an airport).

Other changes:
– A parameter to disable the variable running costs has been added.
– The default setting for the passenger car model parameter has been changed to “single vehicle with random special vehicles”.

Because of these parameter changes, this release is marked as incompatible with earlier versions – you’ll have to start a new game.

First attempts at recolour mapping… successful?

colour_maskingThe base set vehicles will need to use recolour masks, rather than having different sprites for each livery. This quick-and-dirty test worked surprisingly well! I think I might just need to increase the self-illumination of the mask a bit to avoid getting dark blue pixels in the corners.

The Kickstarter is going live on the 6th of July, so I’ll be posting a lot of new content over the next couple of weeks! Stay tuned. 🙂

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…

Where’s the 1460/1502 for Trainz?

If you tried downloading my QR DEL Class pack recently, you may have found the download link is broken.

I have renamed the file because Chinese bots have been blindly downloading it a hundred times a day, racking up gigabytes of data usage. It’s still there: to download, simply change “Pack_1.zip” at the end of the filename to “Pack_2.zip”.

A Matter of Perspective

Transport Tycoon’s vehicle sprites are, as I’m sure we all know, not strictly dimensionally accurate.  In order to make his life easier, with a 2:1 dimetric projection and a movement system based on whole pixels and powers of 2, Chris Sawyer decided vehicles displayed in diagonal directions should have sides 0.5x the length of vehicles displayed in the horizontal direction, instead of the mathematically correct ≈0.72x.

perspective

This is unfortunate for us latter-day artists who want to draw something “realistic” (or, worse yet, use 3d rendering), but there is nothing we can do about it (at least for trains and road vehicles, which need to be chainable) *cough cough*, and it is at least somewhat understandable from a technical point of view.  However, there’s another TTD vehicle graphic anomaly which is avoidable, nonsensical, and ugly, and which we persist in recreating:

Chart of bad diagonal heights

On the left are TTD original sprites and OpenGFX; on the right are sprites from various 3rd party train sets – I hope no artists feel I’m singling them out, because my point is to illustrate that we all do it.  And what we all do is make our diagonal sprites smaller in height, by one or two pixels, than our horizontal sprites.

There is no geometric reason for this.  It’s a pain in the backside to draw, because you have to convert 8px of vertical information into 7px.  It makes the diagonal sprites look even smaller compared the horizontals, in addition to the excessive shortening in length.  The only reason we do it is because we’ve always done it.

Therefore, among the many TTD graphic conventions I’m abandoning for 10CC and other future work, I am no longer reducing the height of my diagonal vehicle sprites.  The resultant “full height” diagonals are, in my opinion, much nicer to look at.  They’re also a lot easier and more pleasant to draw. 🙂

F-Units with lightweight carriages