I've been playing RT2 on and off for years, and I'm glad to know there's a dedicated community for this iconic game after so many years!
I've decided to give it a try to develop a scenario - and I'd like to ask for help in understanding how to realize some ideas I have in mind.
I enjoyed both TSC's metra-type scenarios, but always thought they were a bit...plain, and kept wondering if they could be made different.
My biggest issue with how metra-type scenarios are rendered in TSC is that IRL mass transit authorities are usually owned and subsidised by some kind of local government, but in the game they mostly function as if they were private companies - i think that's a pity: attempting to simulate some of the quirks of running a public-owned mass transit agency would provide for quite a different gameplay.
I also enjoy city-building games (for example Cities Skylines), and building in a map representing the area surrounding Seattle makes for a fun challenge in that realm, too: I was considering to build a city there using Cities skylines, but I also figured that pretending to run as the chairman of that city's transit authority in RT2 could be just as rewarding.
For that reason I took a copy of TSC's "Seattle Metra", and began altering it following both lines of thought: the map has been altered (mostly in regards to density and building placement) according to my plans for the fictional city I intend to build elsewhere, while the scenario should reflect my own ideas of how playing a publicly owned transit authority (as opposed to a private railroad company) should feel like in RT2: Hence the title "A different Sound".
I still hope that even with the idiosyncratic map modifications taken into account my scenario attempt could still found of some value by some other players.
Here is the map:
The previous images offer a glimpse of the relative density and distribution of buildings in the map - they also illustrate how said density and distribution would be different than in prototypical Seattle.
I opted for this setup for the following reasons:
1)This map is linked with my ideas about how to develop a similar map in a city-building game : a somewhat denser kind of city (in respect with the typical american city in general, and perhaps Seattle in particular - that metropolis looks really, really spread out) better fits with my own playstyle in that context.
2)In the realm of RT2, this specific distribution provides an additional challenge as the outlying areas are "truly" low density (and thus unable to generate enough cargo to keep finances afloat), while the urbanized areas are dense, hindering railway expansion through extremely high demolition costs - this facet will be important in the scenario's dynamics - I envision that mayors and planning councils from cities across the map (on whose opinion the player will depend in order to keep his position as chairman, and thus win or lose the game - more on that later) will keep pestering the player to expand the network, usually with fairly tight deadlines, while densely settled urban landscape will make it difficult (and expensive) to comply with their requests.
In addition to the above, I personally like the look that more density gives to urban areas: it makes them look somewhat more realistic.
3)A smaller scale urbanized area also makes for smaller, tighter employment clusters.The distribution of buildings in both TSC metra maps seem to be painted with fairly broad strokes, while I wished for something more granular.I've attempted to use closely spaced region placement to simulate that, and I would have followed this approach even if I wanted to recreate the "real" Seattle, and not some kind of fictional, loosely inspired take on it.
In gameplay terms this might also mean that sometimes using smaller station sizes (med or small rather than big) might be more convenient: although I must admit that in the end I never suffered any serious consequence for using the big size stations in my modified map.
TL,DR this map is a fictive take on Seattle which I imagined for another game, but which is set up in a way that perhaps could make things somewhat more challenging in the context of TSC.
As I previously stated, I am of the opinion that running a transit agency should feel radically different from running a private railroad: some differences may be readily apparent, but I feel like the most important one is that the chairman of a transit agency answers to political power, and is selected, and remains in position, according to his own ability to abide to its requests well enough (and I'm well aware this is a huge simplification about how things play out IRL - but i think it should be fun to simulate in game).
Because of this, I believe that the quantification of success on this scenario should depend on the player's ability to remain at the helm for a long enough time - the chairman would be put there as if he was serving a term, and the stakeholders (that is, the representatives of the local communities served by the agency) will decide from time to time wheter to extend the term or replace the chairman (game over) according to their perception of his performance (in RT2 terms "goodwill", which shall summarize the stance of both the local communities at large, as well as that of the local governments)
If I set the start date in 1962 and the end date to this current year, then the game can be nicely divided in three equal parts: being at the helm for 20 yrs shall grant the player the bronze, managing to hold on for 40 yrs shall give the silver, and winning another confirmation at the end of 2022 shall immediately award the gold.
Adherence to specific performance targets (e.g. connect X to Y), which often compose all or most of the victory conditions in many RT2 scenarios, would be used here as a tool to set up the specific circumstances in which the player may fail or succeed on his goals. For example, the player may be asked to connect X to Y within a given amount of time, success to do so would ensure positive company goodwill in territories X and Y, ensuring that at the periodical check the aforementioned territories would vote to keep you in position (positive goodwill=confidence vote) - conversely, failing to abide requests from local authorities will temporarily drive company goodwill down (massively so with the representatives of the territory whose requests the player failed to met, and to a lesser degree with all other territories that gave full access to the company), making it more difficult for the player to survive the periodic "goodwill check".
The player's objective would be that of having good enough goodwill, in enough territories, for long enough.
Some other elements I'd like to introduce are funding, subsidies and some of the political drama originating from funding transit agencies: without the ability to resort to the stock market, the agency's (company's) capability to fund expansion and take care of existing infrastructure shall rely on fares (i.e. revenues), and funding (as it happens with most transit agencies across the world).
Funding is, as we know, a rather sensitive topic: local communities may or may not benefit in the same measure from the services given by transit agencies - for example a town at the frige of a metropolis isn't really going to benefit from that shiny new light rail they plan to build downtown, and will be against shelling any additional taxpayer money to fund that project.
Also, politicians of different persuasions may have a different opinion on the extent by which mass should be subsidized, or funded.
Because of these reasons I can see how the chairman may overtly spend company money to increase public support for mass transit, or covertly fund some politicians who may be more favorable to mass transit so that they can have an easier time being elected.
Finally, stocks, bonds and player salary.
As far as bonds are concerned, I don't believe this shouldn't be allowed in the standard fashion (i.e. no ability to issue a bond from the book) - the opportunity to get additional funds would be given through popups whenever the company is in a bad financial situation (e.g. lack of profits for two years straight), or after the player has been tasked to complete a specific quest (e.g. get newer engines, connect X to Y, etc).
In both cases accepting to float a bond (i.e. get more funds) shall result into a loss of goodwill, which in this scenario is the literal lifeline - and in the latter case the proposal would only be successful if the company's goodwill is above a certain threshold in most territories.
I don't think that access to the stock market should be allowed either: while this may or may not be true for real-life transit agencies, I think that being able to get money from issuing stock would undermine all of the setup i've described so far.
The player's salary would be the only way to increase his net worth: while said player would start with a minimum of cash as well as all of the company's stocks (in principle i don't think the player should hold stock in the company/agency, but this is necessary as it would ensure that no game-generated shareholder committee can ever fire you), but i'd make sure that the player can't increase the dividend (which would be set to 0), nor sell stocks, nor force the company to buy them back.
Oh, and I forgot about bankruptcy: I'm going to prevent the player from declaring it, but if things get bad enough an event would remove you from position, which would result in a game over.
So, in the previous two sections I've described my agenda - but honestly I have next to no idea about how to set up most of the mechanism i've described, and thus I'm asking for help in figuring out how.
1) The most pressing issue would be that of simulating a system of periodical checks and "confidence votes": basically I need to find a way to make sure that
a) the game engine checks, at a fixed term (e.g. every 5 years from the start of the game), the goodwill score in all of the territories the company has access to, and wheter that score is above a certain parameter.
b) the game engine checks wheter, within the territories which are subjected to the previous check, the territories meeting the goodwill threshold are more or less than fifty percent of the total.
c) and finally the game engine ejects the player from the chairman position if the previous check fails.
I truly have no idea about where to begin there.
2) Once the previous issue had been sorted out, I need to set up victory conditions so that the game doesn't end as soon as the minimum threshold for bronze have been met (that is, remaining at the helm for 20 yrs), but lets the player go on as long as his goodwill is decent enough to pass periodic checks - and computes the number of years the player stood in charge to determine the medal's metal.
I might need some help there, too.
The only exception would be in case of bankruptcy-like situation (i.e. low credit rating, "C"or worse), which will always result in immediate loss, even if the thresholds for medals have been met - but i think I know enough to set up that one.
3) The following doesn't involve any crucial scenario mechanism: it is a secondary concern, but one i'd like to adress somehow.
In RT2 maps have an uniform economy growth rate (i.e. +/- n.n% per year). In real life cities do not grow uniformly: some areas may experience a boom due to urban expansion or redevelopment, while others may experience stagnation or even decline.
-Can I set up a different economic status for each territory?
-Would this aforementioned territory-based economic status ensure that buildings are more likely to pop up/ remain in certain areas of the map as opposed to others regardless of preset regional (i.e. map) growth rate and density parameters?
While it would be good enough, from a gameplay standpoint, to simulate uneven regional population growth through increased or decreased commuter production in certain areas, I'd like to see in the game certain areas in which buildings sprout up at an accelerated pace while other remain stagnant (to simulate urban expansion/sprawl) - if only it is possible in any way.
I hope that my ramblings haven't overwhelmed you, and I look forward to hear your take on my questions!
I see that a base is upgradable. Just like in the mobile version of C&C. That saddens me a bit.
Then I see the various types of infantry. And their descriptions.
I like the Rangers. They are exactly like how I had my Rangers (same name too) in my personal board game. A simple somewhat faster and longer range version of the riflemen..... Oh, the troopers are melee units. Ok I simply had more steps then.
Not sure about the RPS system of the game and if there are clear differences in body and weapon mechanics. But the Wardens look like good fodder or meat units. I hope this holds true. Because different infantry that have the same weapon type and armor type. Yet having different value's on them. Make micromanagment in squad design very interesting. I hope this holds true.
Hmmmm, only infantry so far. Let's wait and see. The game sure looks and feels unique.
FYI regarding the Islands in the Sand scenario that you guys host here I've managed to locate another copy of it in a Apolyton Civ site backup and their copy contains sound files missing from your Fed2k version. If admins want the missing sound files you can get them from a copy I've put on archive org here: