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:
Part 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!
These 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.