In the beginning was…
I started creating NewGRFs for TTDPatch in April 2005. At first I created “add-ons”, much like I had been for Auran Trainz and Locomotion before the banality of those games pushed me back to TTD. I made some buses, a few train vehicles, and a bridge.
Starting with UKRS v3 in January 2006, I began making “sets”, NewGRFs which completely replaced an aspect of TTD gameplay. With Av8, first released in October 2006, I also began working with TTDPatch (and later OpenTTD) developers to add new features to the game. Av8 has expanded over the last six years to include, at last count, 65 aircraft; UKRS was joined by NARS, and the overhauled versions of those sets are some of the most popular NewGRFs for OpenTTD.
This is the history. So, what’s wrong with this picture?
Av8 has included, for a little under a year, an aircraft called the YAMC YS-11. I have never built one playing an actual game. I doubt many of you have ever built one either. It’s simply superfluous to TTD gameplay, as are most of the vehicles in Av8, UKRS and NARS. While they all have their niche in the real world, TTD gameplay is so open and flexible that, usually, near enough is good enough. Most people playing a game with UKRS2 or NARS2 – myself included – won’t build more than a dozen different locomotives and, usually, the same dozen each time.
Now sure, “survey” sets like the Japan Set and World Airliners have their place – people like to play with vehicles they know from the real world – but I can’t help but feel that my NewGRFs are starting to miss what made TTD fun. Do brakevans in UKRS2 add anything other than menu clicks? Does having four locomotives with near-identical stats in NARS2 add anything other than unloved cruft in the buy menu?
With gamescripts adding new horizons to the gameplay potential of OpenTTD, I think the time has come for a re-focusing of my NewGRFs. Therefore, I announce that the next updates for UKRS2, UKRS2+ and Av8 will be the last. As of March 2013, these NewGRFs will no longer be maintained or updated.
So, whither my NewGRFs? What is in store for the future?
Firstly, a few things are not changing. Variable running costs, custom sound effects and (sorry!) aircraft range are among the features which either add to, or have no effect on, gameplay. While my NewGRFs will be simpler and smaller, they’ll still have the same attention to detail and polish – hopefully more!
My next three projects, in no particular order, are:
GECKO Economic Industries
Formerly TaI, formerly PBI, formerly UKRSI, the latest incarnation of my industry set replaces TTD’s clunky production mechanics with a fluid, natural “AI’, and features enhanced interaction between industries, towns and players.
GECKO adds a few new industries – a gasworks as a pre-20th century power station equivalent, a fertiliser plant, and the brick chain from UKRSI – but the overall industry scheme remains more like default TTD than a complete replacement such as FIRS or ECS.
10CC is a set of gameplay-oriented train NewGRFs. The core NewGRF contains the wagons and four fictional 21st-century monorail and maglev locomotives. Additional NewGRFs contain rail locomotives, with each featuring ten 20th-century locomotives from a particular country or region. 10CC UK and 10CC USA are the successor NewGRFs to UKRS2 and NARS2, respectively.
The country NewGRFs are all balanced against each other and more than one can be used at a time. Parameters will allow each player in multiplayer to be limited to locomotives from a particular country.
Av9 is the successor NewGRF to Av8, with a leaner, more gameplay-oriented vehicle list.
So, what do you think? I know I can’t please everyone, but am I barking up the right tree? Please leave a comment here, or on the forums.