June 10, 2016 at 23:39 #21646electricmonk2kParticipant
So, Urban Games has finally announced the long awaited sequel to Train Fever, and have also announced that the previous Train Fever patch was the last patch. However, the announcement of Transport Fever may have reached many people who have not yet heard of Train Fever, and because they can’t wait until October, they want something they can try now, so they’ll inevitably end up at Train Fever.
As all great musicians do an encore, I think that perhaps Urban Games could bring the same model to game-developpers and follow in the footsteps of their fellow artists, and release an ‘encore-patch’ for good old Train Fever. While Urban Games are focused on Transport Fever, there are still a few improvements that could be added to Train Fever with very little effort, yet greatly improve the experience. Train Fever could then be put on a sale at Steam, and this will bring in some new players who won’t be so frustrated by the UI. Plus us old-timers will appreciate it too. Don’t forget that until Transport Fever is released, Train Fever is an advert for Transport Fever.
The first two points are of particular importance and should in theory take little effort to implement. If the encore-patch is to only add these two, then it will suffice.
- Changing mouse-cursor according to the mode. If you’re only going to add one improvement from this list, please do this one. Making it very clear which mode the interface is in just by looking at the mouse-pointer would be a major improvement to the user-interface. The mouse-cursor should change according to what mode it is in (select, build, upgrade, add-station, demolish, etc.). This would come in handy if bulldozer-mode is selected – it will reduce the chance of someone accidentally demolishing something when they were intending to select something. Likewise, the cursor should also change when in ‘add station’ mode (it will reduce the chance on someone adding an unwanted station to a route when they wanted to select the station to see it’s info), and also when in construction mode and road-upgrade mode. Currently, the cursor changes when in electrify-mode or make-highspeed mode, so we know there is already code in place that can change the appearance of the cursor. Although the artists would have to design a new cursor for each mode (select, build, upgrade, add-station, demolish, etc.), these cursors can of course be used in Transport Fever too. Being able to tell at a glance which mode the cursor is in would all of a sudden make the interface feel a whole lot less awkward.
- Tip of the day. One of the things that Train Fever is lacking is a series of “Did you know…” tips that are shown when a map is being loaded (or in a dialog once the map has loaded). These would come in handy, as many people have trouble trying to figure out the quirks, such as wondering why their lines are not working. This would be a good opportunity to mention the “20 minute rule” somewhere in-game, as well as mention that a town can only receive as much goods as it demands (this confuses players who’ve played TTDLX and assume the cargo-delivery model is the same). I have created a separate thread for “Tip of the day” suggestions at http://www.train-fever.com/forums/topic/tip-of-the-day-ideas-tips-to-be-shown-while-loading-a-map/. Of course, these tips will have to be localised for each language that Train-Fever is in. Maybe the community could help here.
The following points are optional. I think they might be easy to implement, but don’t give as much benefit as the other two suggestions.
June 10, 2016 at 23:44 #21647electricmonk2kParticipant
- If clicking on the build-menu header (where the text “Tracks” “Roads” “Landscaping” etc. appears), the menu should be collapsed and the mouse-cursor should revert to select-mode. For some reason, users expect this to happen, so making it happen will resonate better with the users. Clicking on one of the build-icons to revert to select-mode is counter-intuitive. As an alternative to clicking anywhere on the titlebar, there should be a cross (or some other icon) on the titlebar that can be clicked on to collapse it.
- The roads in the upgrade roads menu (the menu with an icon with a road and a plus-sign) should have a plus-sign drawn on the icon for each road-type (like there’s a plus sign drawn on the menu-icon) so the player can more easily see they are in upgrade-road-mode rather than build-road-mode.
- Smaller terraform tool. There could be a fourth terraform-circle available which is half the size of the smallest one currently available.
- There should be an option in the “interface-settings” to set whether frequencies are displayed as either seconds-only, minutes only (with fractional minutes), always use mmm:ss, or use either seconds or mmm:ss depending on whether the number of seconds is above a certain value (the latter is currently the only option we have for displaying times).
- Whenever the “Error not enough money” dialog pops up, it should say how much is required. This could come in handy if you press the “clone train” button and don’t have enough money and want to know the cost (you cannot work out the cost of the train by selling it if not new).
- The total length of a train or road-vehicle should be displayed somewhere. This is useful to see if it can fit a platform whose length is known.
- Speed-limit signs for high-speed tracks: The red circle should become a brighter red, or even orange (or alternatively, the low-speed tracks should have a dark-red circle).
- Warn if the player is about to demolish a station currently served by at least one line by using an “are you sure” dialog (this may be over-the-top for inline bus-stops).
- Sometimes, when using the track-build tool to find out the height-difference between two distant points (if the gradient is flat) or to see how deep/high a track will end up with a constant gradient, if there is a road between the two points, the track might be bent just after or just before the road so that a level-crossing can be formed. So I propose that when holding down SHIFT (which currently disables snapping), roads should be ignored. However, this might interfere when the user does want to build a level-crossing and they want to disable snapping.
- Option to disable scrolling when the mouse is at the edge of the screen (eg. by holding down a certain key).
And here are a few more I thought of. These would probably require more effort, and therefore not be worth implementing in Train Fever, but could perhaps be incorporated into Transport Fever.
- In the “List of vehicles” dialog, there should be an extra column to show whether or not the vehicle has been put in ‘stop’ mode by the user. Optionally, when not stopped, it should show the current speed (but this might require the window to be refreshed more often, but it already gets refreshed when the amount of goods changes).
- Segment-query tool (gradient, curve-radius, length). With this tool, you can select a particular segment, and you will be given details such as the length, curve-radius, gradient, etc. . Minimalistically, the text-colour could just be red if the vehicle is stopped (this means we don’t add an extra column, but we can now no longer display the speed)
- Show segment boundaries – outline all track as in select-mode. This shows the boundaries between all the track-segments. This can make things like building level-crossings easier as you can see where the road-segments join (which means a level crossing cannot be built at that point). To do this, either all track-segments could be highlighted (the code to hilight individual segments is already implemented, so jut do it for all segments), or draw something wherever there is a segment boundary.
- Show speed-limits option for all track – not just track currently being built. Lower limits should be displayed in front of higher ones – this is good for finding those tiny segments that slow down trains. When rendering these, use some kind of z-buffer where lower speed == closer to screen. To prevent toomany speed-signs being shown, only show them within a certain radius of the camera’s location projected vertically onto the ground.
- Rename towns. If the towns use an index into an array of pre-defined names, it shouldn’t be too hard to change it to use a dynamically-allocated string of arbitrary length. Even if someone renamed all their towns “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”, the sting size would still be insignificant compared to the size of the heightmap required for even a small map. If the developers are concerned about the memory-fragmentation involving dynamically allocated-strings, they can always be garbage-collected each time a town is renamed.
- Some of the recently-ish added features (such as settable town-density and heightmap-loading) that are currently only accessible by adding or hand-editing some .lua file could become part of the user-interface.
- X-ray mode: This has already be implemented (it shows when building track underground): It should however be an option in view-mode to enable it for all tunnels even when not building, so we can see all our tunnels at a glance.
- A very minimalistic mini-map that only shows where the town-centres are, where industries are, and where the water is. This can be handy for planning the overall strategy on a large map. With some more effort, this could also show the altitude by colouring the land appropriately, but then it will have to be updated each time some terraforming occurs.
- If attempting to build a railway across a road (in order to build a level-crossing) at the point of segment-boundary, the error-message shown should be “segment boundary collision”. Maybe this error-message could be used elsewhere.
- If attempting to build a second track across a segment (that isn’t part of a double-tracked railway), it currently just says “not enough space” – it should either tell the user to properly double-track the railway or to build the railway across the road further away from the other track.
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