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Timberwolf's UK Road Vehicles

A road vehicle set for OpenTTD featuring buses, lorries, trams and others from early horse-drawn wagons to the present day.

Sample.

The set attempts to include a wide variety of vehicles from British haulage history. It prioritises gameplay, and vehicle statistics are chosen in the interest of making road vehicles a viable alternative to rail transport - capacities are larger than real world prototypes, and the top speed of early vehicles has been boosted. Parameters are available for players who prefer more realistic capacities and speeds.

Both default industries and FIRS are explicitly supported - other industry sets such as ECS may also be playable although vehicle graphics may not exactly match the carried cargo.

Parameters

The following parameters are available:

Gameplay and Visual Parameters

  • 56mph speed limiters: When this is enabled, any vehicle built after 1991 will have an appropriate speed limiter fitted - 56mph/90kph for lorries, and 62mph/100kph for large coaches and buses. This is based on the build date, not the vehicle introduction date.
  • Smoke effects: By default vehicles produce exhaust smoke and various power effects. Some players may find this visually cluttering and prefer to switch the feature off.
  • Purchase Cost modifier: The default purchase costs are chosen to provide a good balance with the original Transport Tycoon vehicles. For a harder or easier game these can be increased or decreased, from 0.25x (a quarter of the default costs) to 32x. High amounts will make it very difficult to establish routes early in the game.
  • Running Cost modifier: The default costs are chosen to provide a good balance with the original Transport Tycoon vehicles. For a harder or easier game these can be increased or decreased, from 0.25x (a quarter of the default costs) to 32x. The higher levels will make it almost impossible to make a profit, especially with early vehicles.
  • Running cost penalty for old vehicles When vehicles reach the end of their working life they will become more expensive to run. Higher settings cause this this to happen faster and the increase in costs to be larger. For casual network games and other situations where players may not be able to replace expired vehicles for several decades, 'mild' is recommended as it will still allow most well-designed networks to break even or return a small profit.

Vehicle selection parameters

Selection parameters have been streamlined in Road Vehicles v3 as fine-grained control is possible by using the "Hide" option in the vehicle menu. A few simple parameters are retained for easy interoperability with the various other UK-themed bus and tram sets.

  • Enable Buses: Enable buses, minibuses, taxis and other road passenger vehicles.
  • Enable Lorries: Enable lorries, vans and other road cargo vehicles.
  • Enable Trams: Enable passenger and cargo trams.
  • Enable Easter Eggs: The set includes a couple of cars I've owned that would not typically be used for taxi or cargo services, and a further piece of whimsical silliness spawned by a New Year's Eve discussion in #openttd. Some players may prefer not to have these in the purchase list due to lack of realism.

Running Costs

You will need to replace your vehicles even with breakdowns set to "off"! As road vehicles reach the end of their useful life their running costs will increase, leaving you facing a trade-off between decreasing profits and a large bill for new trucks and buses.

The default "spicy" setting is balanced to make keeping a particularly good class of vehicle running for a few extra years a viable option if the route it serves is highly profitable.

Vehicles that were unsuccessful, unreliable or only built as experimental prototypes tend to have shorter usable life in game; be warned that if you use them, you will spend a lot more on replacement or running costs than the more proven options.

Tip: If you're playing Villages Is Villages with economic settings enabled, increasing your operating expenses with some older vehicles will make it easier to save up cash for a megaproject, without losing it all to dividend payouts.

Vehicle Types

This set includes a wider range of vehicle types than vanilla Transport Tycoon, which offered only large rigid lorries and intercity coaches. The various types and their gameplay purpose is explained below.

Buses

The following bus types are available:

Double Decker

Double decker buses.

These buses have high capacity but low top speed, combined with good loading speeds. They are most useful in city environments where distances are short and passenger volumes are high.

Single Decker

Single decker buses.

These buses have a smaller capacity than double deckers, but keep the same good loading speeds. Although top speeds can still be relatively slow, they are combined with low running costs which makes these buses ideal for routes in smaller towns which are short but don't have too many passengers.

Coaches

Coaches.

Coaches are the closest to the buses featured in the original Transport Tycoon, and several of the same prototype vehicles are included.

They have more powerful engines and higher speeds, but lower passenger capacity and slow loading speeds compared to the urban bus types. Coaches are best suited to an intercity network where large bus stations on town outskirts can compensate for the slower loading speeds.

Articulated Buses

Articulated buses.

Appearing later in the game, articulated buses are an alternative to double deckers. They have high passenger capacities and unmatched loading speed due to the large number of doors. However they also take up more space on the road and are more limited in the types of bus station they can use, only being able to call at drive-through road stops.

Midibuses

Midibuses.

Sometimes a town doesn't generate enough passengers to justify any of the full-sized bus types. To keep station ratings high, it may be better to supply a frequent service using 2-3 buses with around 20 passengers capacity than a single 60-passenger bus.

These smaller buses allow setting up these low-demand services cost-effectively without having larger buses that run mostly empty to keep service frequent.

Lorries

Unlike the original game, which offers a single lorry for each type of cargo, most lorries in this set come default to carrying Goods but can be refit to any other in-game cargo. To change the cargo type of a lorry, use the refit button when it is in a depot:

Refit.

The following lorry types are available:

Articulated Lorries

Articulated lorries.

Articulated lorries are the largest road cargo vehicles seen in the UK, and carry large amounts of cargo in separate trailers.

Early articulated lorries are very slow, but once faster and more powerful versions arrive in the 1960s they are likely to be the mainstay of any road cargo network, moving large amounts of cargo with a relatively small number of vehicles.

Due to their heavy loads articulated lorries can be very slow on steep inclines, and they are only able to use drive-through road vehicle stops.

Rigid Lorries

Rigid lorries.

Rigid lorries are the most similar to the lorries featured in the original Transport Tycoon. They are heavy vehicles built on an extended chassis and can carry large amounts of heavy cargo, although not as much as articulated lorries.

While their capacity may be lower, rigid lorries often have superior power-to-weight and slightly higher top speeds compared to their articulated counterparts, and are useful when carrying heavy bulk cargo over hilly terrain, especially in the 1970s and earlier before high powered European tractor units were introduced to the UK market. They are also more versatile in being able to use both types of road vehicle stop.

Small Lorries

Small lorries.

Sometimes you don't want to transport as much cargo as possible in a single vehicle, and speed or the ability to deliver to many different locations are more important.

Small lorries cover this need by offering limited cargo capacity, but high speeds and low costs. They are at their best used for cargo like FIRS engineering and farm supplies where frequent small deliveries are more important than the overall volume of cargo. The higher speeds may also be useful for time-critical deliveries such as Goods in vanilla OpenTTD.

Trams

The following tram types are available:

Passenger Trams

Passenger trams.

Trams need their own dedicated rails, but can move many more passengers than a bus. Most models were introduced from the 1890s to the 1930s, then again starting in the late 1990s. Between these years players will have to rely on the few tram models built for the Blackpool system which were often cheaply adapted from buses or suffered reliability problems.

Early trams are most useful for inner-city networks and routes between nearby towns, but some later models introduced in the 1990s and 2000s are fast enough for longer services.

Cargo Trams

Cargo trams.

The cargo trams in this set most closely represent the kind of industrial shortlines that were common in the UK in the Victorian era and as late as the 1960s in some cases.

Similar to this prototypical usage, cargo trams are most useful when cargo needs to be moved between two industry buildings over a short distance. Although most cargo tram engines have low top speeds, the ability to haul multiple wagons gives them a high capacity and a short distance industry chain can be cost-effectively serviced with only a small number of cargo trams.

Light Rail / Hybrid Rail

Light rail.

In addition to trams, this set includes vehicles which would be more accurately considered light rail, and hybrid trams which are deliberately designed to operate both as trams and mainline rail vehicles.

As this falls between two types of transport offered by OpenTTD, players can select how they want these vehicles to appear by a parameter - as trams, as rail vehicles, both, or neither.

While offering high capacities and speeds compared to smaller trams, these vehicles also take up a lot of space. Using them is a fine balancing act between moving large numbers of passengers on key routes while not blocking other road vehicles and creating excessive traffic.

Small Vehicles

Small vehicles are included mostly for completeness and the desire to represent more varieties of road vehicle found in the UK.

However there are situations in which they can be useful, either when OpenTTD generates tiny towns or using industry sets and daylength patches that result in low production values.

Example usage of small vehicles.

The following types of small vehicle are available:

Cars

Cars.

This comprises both ordinary cars used as minicabs and dedicated taxi cabs. (Cabs can be changed to a special "black cab" livery using the refit menu)

Cars have a limited capacity but offer high top speeds. In addition the greater comfort means passengers are willing to tolerate longer journey times, and you will find cargo payment rates do not decrease as quickly with time as other vehicle types.

They are most useful for providing services to small villages with only 1 or 2 houses, particularly when these are are long distance away from other towns. This is particularly the case when using a daylength patch or NewGRF which reduces the number of passengers produced within a given time period.

Vans

Vans.

Vans only carry small amounts of cargo, but they are capable of high speeds compared to lorries. When delivering time-sensitive cargo over long distances this can be useful, especially when production volumes are low.

As in the real world, vans are also a good choice for transporting smaller amounts of mail - if you have a town where the passenger volumes only justify cars or the smallest buses, vans are probably a good option for providing the mail service.

Minibuses

Minibuses.

Sometimes a car is too small, but only slightly. In this case the set offers a few passenger conversions of vans. They are faster than even small buses, but only have a limited capacity. These may be a good option when towns that have been serviced by cars start expanding and overwhelming their passenger service.

Building

If you are more interested in building the set, there are a few important details to note.

Workflow

Timberwolf's Road Vehicles has a workflow that at the time of creation was unique amongst OpenTTD NewGRF sets, although it owes a lot of its inception to Richard Wheeler's Pixeltool (http://www.richardwheeler.net/interactive/pixeltool.html).

Rather than using sprites, I use voxel objects created in MagicaVoxel to create the set. This is why the only PNG files you'll see in this repository are the ones for the documentation, and the purchase sprites for articulated vehicles which have been manually created.

Instead, a vehicle in this set starts its life as a voxel object:

Voxels.

The steps it takes to become a sprite in an OpenTTD NewGRF are as follows:

  • Voxel objects for various cargo types are created using Cargopositor.
  • The resultant voxel objects are rendered using GoRender.
  • This produces PNG files which are combined with data and assembled into an NML file using Roadie.
  • NML is used to compile the final .grf file.

A lot of the work in this set has gone into GoRender and working out how to create graphics which look hand-drawn enough to fit into the Transport Tycoon visual style and scale acceptably to the low default sprite resolution for players who don't use higher zoom levels.

Tools

As the above suggests, this set uses a number of tools I've built.

These are all written in Go, and building them is relatively simple as they have no external dependencies - assuming you have a functional Go environment, go build is sufficient to build any of them.

If you have built renderobject.exe (from GoRender), cargopositor.exe and roadie.exe, and have a working installation of NML (https://github.com/OpenTTD/nml), it will be sufficient to run build.sh in order to create the set. The somewhat strange mix of OS naming paradigms is because most of the computers I have available are using Git Bash on Windows. If you are not using these then build.sh should be simple enough to reveal how each step works - the only complexity is the check to not render a PNG file which already exists, and this is only necessary if you are worried about the amount of time NML will take to assemble the compiled set if it does not have any image files cached.

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Road vehicle set for OpenTTD

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