So I’ve been on another one of my caffeine binges and decided to round up my feedback into one post instead of spitting out individual suggestions on Discord. These are things that I believe wouldn’t be hard to implement, as a whole, as they mostly involve tweaking a number instead of introducing new features and models. I imagine some of these will already be planned features, but I will mention them nonetheless. If anything, it should serve to reinforce the desire to see them implemented.
On the sales model:
I really like the new model, overall. I like how cars now sell in multiple categories properly, even if I have seen a GT car selling as an SUV. Still needs to optimize performance, as my I5 8600k is stuck at 100% after the 80s in the campaign due to the number of models and calculations, bringing with it a few interesting glitches I’m sure you are already being bugged (heh) about. I do think budgets need some adjustments:
Lower Premium demographic’s budget. As it stands, they can easily afford a V12 unless you go overboard on profit margin, while in my mind they’d be getting V8s/I6s in the earlier game and V6s and even I4s in today’s time. They also buy Luxury cars that should be unaffordable to them due to their sheer size compared to the Luxury market. It makes it difficult to segment these markets.
Lower Utility Vehicle budget. For one, they have a higher budget than Utility Sport, meaning any SUV that’s not a premium vehicle (even premium ones) are instantly sold out to utilities, meaning you don’t even have to design a ute/pick-up to capture that market. Lowering their budget forces you to do more utilitarian builds with basic interiors and less comfort, as well as force you to make tougher choices. I think about 15-20% for late game is probably good. Early game it’s a bit of a tighter market.
Delivery vehicles: currently, there is no competition for them, any panel van you make will capture as much of the market as you can manufacture. There is also the very interesting aspect of huge vans scoring highly in the Light Delivery category. Perhaps adding a negative modifier to footprint on L. Delivery similar to City, as they are supposed to be akin to a Fiat Fiorino or Peugeot Partner. Heavy Delivery should probably require a bit more horsepower, as a 3m wheelbase van with 8000L of cargo volume powered by a 1.2L I4 producing 70hp in 1990 is probably not actually driveable, and vans that size in real life come with much better powertrains.
More love to 6 and 7 seaters. It might just be me, but perhaps family utility vehicles should get a category like “seating”, similar to how Super cars have 1/4 mile times and luxuries have smoothness. This would neutralize the comfort penalty they get for adding extra seats. As it stands, there is no benefit to adding a third row to a SUV or station wagon, nor is there a point to making a minivan for the families out there that have no TV in the bedroom.
Decrease Turbo prestige. Turbos in the 70s and 80s especially are ridiculously overpowered. I agree with them getting a small bonus to prestige in that era, especially in sports cars. In any campaign, sticking a turbo with 0.1bar of boost on a V12 or an I6, which get great low end torque with how turbos are in LCV 4.1 guarantees you will have the absolute best luxury car because it just carries SO MUCH prestige, especially when coupled with the ridiculously low noise numbers. Since turbos are getting revamped for 4.2, I’d suggest increasing their noise a bit, perhaps scaling with boost level. What you lose due to muffling the exhaust, you gain with turbo whine, blow-off valves and wastegate shenanigans. I’d argue by the year 2000, turbo prestige should be zeroed out completely, instead of tapering to 0 in 2020.
Make V6s more viable/I6s less viable. Later on, unless you plan on using longitudinal FWD (say, for a car that also has a RWD trim or to take advantage of your familiarity), there really is very little point in developing a V6. A reasonably small oversquare I6 can fit into any car that would forseeably have one, and they even fit easily on transverse configs if you stay below 3L. Their incredible smoothness and the (IMHO) overrepresentation of smoothness in premium categories makes them on par if not better than much larger, more prestigious V8s, even more so when you take the better spool of the current turbo on the I6. I’d also add that for some reason, I6s are much more fuel efficient than I4s and I3s, despite the extra friction.
Buff flat-plane cranks. As of right now, you can easily make modern 8000rpm V8s (in 2020) using cross-plane cranks with no disadvantage compared to a flat-plane. You get 30 extra smoothness, 1 fewer hp in an NA engine and 1 extra kg. Not really a trade off. My understanding of engine dynamics is not that deep, but I do know flat-planes are better suited for high-revving engines due to their lighter weight, to the point Ford decided to go with a flat-plane for the 5.0L V8 in the Mustang. As it is, the only reason to use a flat-plane is if you are making a car for Beamng and you want that flat-plane sounding goodness. I’d suggest making the RPM limit on cross-planes lower than flat-planes, increasing their cost and giving them a bigger penalty for high-end torque. While not realistic, one idea would be to lump this effect with the valve float/cam timing, such as making crossplanes shift or scale the cam timing in relation to flat-planes, bringing on the valve float effect earlier.
More height adjustment on coil and leaf spring suspensions. While I seriously question this decision, Americans sure love to stick leaf springs in their muscle cars and luxury vehicles. This is currently impossible to do in Automation because they become monster trucks as soon as you put leafs in the rear. The same goes for ultra-economy cars, in which a semi-trailing arm may still be an expense you are just not willing to bear. In general, I think the worse suspension options need a bit of a buff, as you’ll generally get incredible results sticking double wishbones everywhere. Speaking of suspension, driveability and practicality seem to like really high suspensions, making small family hatchbacks that min-max look like janky offroaders. Perhaps a little tweaking on this as well, since I know there are plans to rework suspensions at some point.
Emissions and fuel efficiency:
Now, I know for a fact that this is definitely in the to-do list, but I will still still say it here for completeness’ sake: emissions limits and taxes. I’d argue both of these to be necessary to justify the use of cats in the campaign for any reason other than roleplaying.
- Tax on emissions. Increase the engine/car cost as a percentage of emissions. Higher budget categories are able to absorb that cost and tolerate big engines running rich and using iron blocks for that sound dampening. Low budget categories are finally pushed into using aluminium/AlSi small engines. It also helps justify using DOHCs later on, as currently SOHCs are the way to go for efficiency/weight/cost compromise.
- Maximum emissions (looking at you, Gasmea). Similar to minimum safety ratings, a maximum emissions number for cars, forcing you to decrease engine size, spend the extra money on that fancy cat, run it leaner and decrease the car weight just to sell it. In line with their inspirations, Gasmea would be the most stringent, followed by Fruinia, Hetvetsia, Archana and Dalluha. It would be lovely to make Gasmea-spec cars with lower power output, running on premium fuel just to meet emissions while selling the same engine on regular fuel and causing COPD on anyone unfortunate enough to breathe near one of them in Hetvetsia.
- Gas Guzzler taxing. As in Germany, which taxes cars according to their engine size/fuel efficiency, the US and their efficiency taxes and many, this could be a nice addition. However, I wouldn’t consider it a priority, given that in Family, Utility and other mass market categories fuel efficiency already makes such a huge difference in competitiveness. (https://www.acea.be/uploads/publications/CO2_tax_overview_2018.pdf this document succinctly outlines European taxing on emissions/efficiency, for some ideas on how to implement it realistically and easily.)
A way to implement this emissions tax would be something like car_price + emissionsrate^year_modifier. Possibility to also add a ratedisplacement tax in Fruinia especially.
Servicing cost: I noticed that there is a service cost multiplier for servicing when you change camber, varying from 0.85x to whatever. I’ve played around and while it does increase service costs, it doesn’t seem to affect the affordability of the cars at all, nor their rating beyond what it does to driveability. Perhaps adding this category along with reliability would help differentiate Pass. Fleet cars from Family cars, and add another dimension to design, with considerations such as more reliable parts that are expensive to maintain vs cheap parts that, while still reliable, are much easier to fix. Currently, even budget categories much prefer direct injection to multi-point fuel injection, to the point where the extra engineering time and material cost is absolutely worth it (even more so if you also have performance/luxury vehicles in your fleet to give you familiarity). By exacerbating the servicing costs of DI and making them care more about it, you could justify going either way. More reliable and efficient, but when it breaks, much more expensive.
Cooling tweaks: currently, anything utility gets pumped to 100 cooling, anything luxury/sport/eco has cooling brought to 0. Pass. Fleet are happy at 50, often happier than at 75. I don’t much know what to do about this while staying realistic/practical, but I do wish to bring your attention to this. Perhaps just increasing the reliability penalty for lowering cooling beyond 40 or so. If it is on the table, I can see moving the engine cooling tab over to the engine designer, perhaps with the intercooler, as it is more related to engine reliability than car reliability, and would probably be interesting to be able to see better the effect cooling would have on reliability (and sustained power?). I don’t know what to do about this, but I do think this could be tweaked in the future.
I won’t mention here the interior trim revamp, turbo reworking and intakes or Wankels , as I know all of these are already in the plans and I don’t think I’d have anything useful to add, but I do look forward to seeing what you guys can whip up in 2021.