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Families, facelifts, and limitations to variance


#1

Hello,

Now that families are there, I’ve started replicating some mythical engine families, and I’m (somewhat) frustrated that the real life engines vary much more than what is allowed within the same Automation Family.

I don’t expect (if only for gameplay reasons) to be able to reach the levels of modularity manufacturers achieve now, but there is a real limit to what we can do with stroke variations compared to what manufacturers did

The Cleon Fonte, the BMW M30, Alfa Bialbero, Fiat Lampredi, Ford Kent… Need all to be split into two families (short and long stroke) which, I agree, is not a gamebreaking issue, but a tad frustrating.

The Kent might be one of the most extreme ones, with a constant 81 mm bore and a stroke that goes between 48 and 73 pre-crossflow (it gets worse with the crossflow variants).

The same go for the valvetrains - I understand the gameplay issues there also, and, sure, the OHV-OHC evolutions, though nowhere rare, imply enough of a redesign to be considered a new family, but SOHC/DOHC, 2/3/4 valves within the same family are an extremely common occurence throughout the 80s and 90s in Euro and Japanese manufacturers.

The Renault F, Peugeot XU, VW EA827, to name a few (but they did the same in Japan) did have the same motor in different flavors / tune.

The famed (in France, at least) Peugeot XU existed in carburetted, injected, in SOHC or DOHC/16v form, with or without turbo, in the same years - and even in the same displacements (not to mention the diesel which shared quite a lot of machinery).

Also, on the car side, I’d like to have more visibility on what the body mesh actually does, so that I have a clearer vision on the differences between the hatch, coupe, and sedan when designing - will I gain in cargo space if I mesh the trunk in my sedan to be a tad longer, for instance ?


#2

This has been addressed a number of times in a number of different threads. The devs have confirmed that the level of control we have now is more or less finalized, especially until the campaign is in a workable state. See:

Engine Facelifts
Direct Injection May be Getting Special Treatment

These issues will also be addressed partially in the campaign by things like “Engineering Familiarity” which will reduce engineering overhead for producing engines that are similar or identical to engines the company has built before.


#3

I agree that the subjects regarding the engines have been adressed, somewhat, yet the three topics I brought all have different possible answers / suggestions.

tl;dr :slight_smile: :

  • As of now, Automation is limited in the modularity of the blocks when compared to reality (and I’m looking at 80’s engines, not the incredibly modular blocks built nowadays).
  • I’d like to be able to have more flexibility to the boring/stroking of variants of a same block, maybe a the expense of a increase in quality (modularity comes with a cost)
  • I’d like be able to “downgrade” my head/valvetrain within an engine family - I pay the initial investment for a DOHC/4v block, but I can then offer low-cost, SOHC/2v variants without having to develop a whole new family (modularity comes, again, at the cost of paying the developpment for the fancy variant)

And now the lenghty explanations

Regarding how much you can bore/stroke your family

Actually, this is an issue now, while I’m “stuck” in sandbox mode, and while my interest is in recreating some legendary engine families. Depending, I guess, on the engine designs, some engine families work only on the stroke (or only on the boring, though that’s a much less frequent occurence) do adress the different displacements. See the Ford Kent family, where you have a 50% variance in stroke design within the same engine generation.

More often than not, though the sliders bar me from recreating the real engines, I can reach a close enough displacement - Once I reached the limit on the understroking I might have yet some leeway on the underboring, so it could be okay as it is in campaign mode - but since so many true engine families reach further than what the sliders allow, it is an issue that could be adressed in a simulation

Also, it is an easy “fix” - no change to UI or process, this is just a matter of changing the cap on the sliders. If it is a balancing issue for Campaign game, a possibility could be to link the variability to the quality slider : if I want to build a “jack of all trades” engine family, I’d have to invest into the quality of my block.
That would also be quite consistent with the realities of engine design - having a greater modularity is a design choice, and a costly one at that.
But if I want to go all VAG, and to choose to invest massively in my “block of the future”, betting that a huge initial investment will pay off in having a block that can span some decades with only some facelifts, I’d like to have that option

Regarding the valvetrain

I agree, this issue has been adressed. This still does not mean I’m completely satisfied with the design choice (although I don’t really expect a change there).

I’d agree that offering the possibility to move from OHV to OHC within the same engine family - this has been marginal at best (some japanese families, and some specialized Lotus conversions come to mind), and it seems normal to me that such a radical design change imply a new family.

SOHC/DOHC, from a historical/engine design perspective, is really more discussable. In the cases where the whole engine family moves from SOHC to DOHC (BMW M30, Alfa Busso…), I’d agree that this is a major rehaul, and, actually, a new engine family, with a familiarity bonus.
Provided the UI doesn’t force me to manually recreate my whole family, in extenso, just to change SOHC to DOHC, I’m perfectly okay with the engine being a new family as far as design and retooling costs go.

But, especially in the 80’s-90’s (japan-europe), it was a common occurence to have the top-end, sporty executions to be a DOHC variant of the same engine. Within the same generation. And to build a whole engine family - with the costs associated - just for the GTI hot hatch would not have been economically justifiable.
Actually, this was a real strategy choice.
Should we just put a turbo on our old design, or build a new design that is modular enough to be fitted with a DOHC head ?
With manufacturers choosing one, or the other, strategy

The same goes for the valves - it is really common to have the same engine, but fitted with either 2 or 4 valves per cylinder (SOHC or DOHC)

My suggestion there, trying to take into account the gameplay perspective, would be to only allow for downgrade - quite the same logic, actually, that for bore/stroke.
If I build a DOHC/4v family, I should be able, using that block, to offer a SOHC/2v, or SOHC/4v variant.

This way, I cannot improve a outdated family, but I can design a modular family


#4

The whole thing behind head changes is that companies will basically be developing half or nearly an entirely new engine but just slap the same name on it. We don’t know how much effort or reengineering it took. Think about it: in terms of the campaign gameplay if you were allowed to change valvetrains on an engine what would stop you from making an engine in 1946 then constantly be making a new variant every year or for every model and switching the top end? You’d basically be invincible. Then how can you compensate for that by making engines deliberately worse or more expensive to make or something? The logic doesn’t work out there because an older engine would be worse and cheaper to make in the first place.


#5

That is actually… incorrect. There is a whole, very clear difference between updating an engine, and designing a new one is a very costly process (both in design, and factory retooling). There is a reason car companies sometimes share engines design (and then produce company-specific variants), both within and outside a automotive group.

Also, in terms of campaign gameplay, I don’t see the issue, actually. There is no way a '46 (or even a 60’s) design would be competitive further than the 80’s, when emissions become a major factor - just like in real life, actually. You still have an old design, with outdated air flows etc…

The moment where you decide to make the (huge) investment in a new design is a major strategic decision. BMW ditched the SOHC M30 to move to the DOHC M50 - a whole new design though heavily influenced by the M30 - in the 90’s, while at the same time, Alfa Romeo did port its Busso to a DOHC head to further its lifespan for another decade.
Alfa didn’t have the resources to design a new engine, yet the SOHC Busso wasn’t able to comply to Euro3 rules for emissions… And even the DOHC had troubles once the Euro4 rules came, and finally had to be dropped to a GM engine.

Keeping the Busso had several reasons, both economics and also some “marketing” ones - it was strongly tied to the company identity, and was somewhat mythical.
Yet, the 90-00 Busso is also a dinosaur, with a fuel consumption nowhere near what the more modern engines had. They managed to keep it competitive on the performance side, and saved some money by avoiding a new design, but at some cost on their overall car balance - and couldn’t compete anymore with the german premiums.

At the same period, the Nissan RB engine is, explicitely, and from its start, designed to exist in both SOHC and DOHC (with and without turbos). Because they add the need for the smoothness of a straight six, but had applications where the added cost and complexity of a DOHC head wasn’t needed.
It still costs less to pay a bit more in design, and a slightly more complex production line, than to design two different engines.

Carmakers do make “engines deliverately worse” every day - the VAG Diesel engines are notorious for offering significatively different outputs due only to the ECU tuning. The engines were designed (with the design cost associated) for their higher application, then detuned through ECU for lower-cost, lower-performance applications ; this is still a lot cheaper than designing two different engines.

I understand the limitations due to not wanting to redesign the UI, but as far as gameplay goes this is not a real issue, and the current system doesn’t allow us to reproduce some tipping points in engine designs.

For instance, the 4v valvetrain emergence in the 80’s. Sure, it’s not an issue in the 70’s where it is a very rare occurence on some specialty models, and it’s not an issue starting from the 90’s where emissions control made it almost mandatory on every car.

Yet, for a few years, 4v valvetrain were still expensive enough that you couldn’t generalize it, yet were a real selling point for the sporty variants (just like the electronic injection, then the Turbo was a few years before). You just had to offer a 16v hatchback, yet the volumes of these sporty variants prevented developping a whole new engine just for that variant - and you needed that 16v variant to sell your run-of-the-mill, ordinary models of Golf/Escort.

But while you can build a specific, sporty version by putting a second carburetor, or an injection, or a turbo, you cannot do it by putting a 4v/cyl valvetrain - which is historically, and technically, incorrect.
There is no solid justification, either in terms of gameplay or in terms of realism, to treat valvetrains differently.

We can live with this limitation, since it would imply some major UI redesign, sure… But trying to justifiy it by game balance or “companies don’t do that” is just wrong


#6

Ok sure the example I gave is something hypothetical and doesn’t hold up pedantism but it’s more to show the point. Indeed yes, using old engines and updating them means they will get uncompetitive after a while but I also don’t see how it wouldn’t work out in the end because it would end up cheaper to make and develop.

What you’re saying still works in terms of the game though, if you make two engine families which are very similar in terms of cylinder count, bore and stroke and materials but different valvetrains you get a familiarity bonus, they’re not so closely related that you can call it as one family but it is less expensive than developing two entirely new ones. If you use largely the same components you won’t lose your tech pool either.

Besides that’s not my reasoning there for the valvetrain family thing, it’s paraphrasing what the devs themselves said /shrug

quoted from daffyflyer:
`The number of valves is locked to prevent you from basically designing two wildly different engines (for example the SOHC, 8 valve Toyota 4AC, and the DOHC 20V 4AGE Blacktop) and reaping the benefits of a shared engine family. Those engines should [size=125]not be able to effectively share the same production line, nor should the 4AGE Blacktop get much of a techpool advantage because you’ve been building the 4AC for ages.[/size]

Techpool will most likely be gained by building the same engine for a long time. For example the Buick V6 got a lot better over the 40+ years it was in service, as the engineers learned more about it’s design. A big part of that is that they made no major design changes, they didn’t go DOHC 4v, they just refined the same basic engine over a very long period. That’s your reward for keeping old designs in service and perfecting their engineering`


#7

I agree we’ll have to see what exactly is the implementation in the campaign, we cannot extrapolate much from the lite campaign v2 since variants weren’t implemented at all :wink:

I saw the quote from daffyflyer you refer to… 4AG vs 4AC is perhaps the most extreme case of differing heads on a common block, but they were, indeed, produced on the same production line, designed from the start to be able to build the different configurations…

http://www.3sgte.com/page_24.htm

I understand why it makes the balancing complex, and how they want to avoid forcing everyone into modularity and lean management approaches to design…

But that bothers me that basically, in a game that spans the last 70 years of car industry, we forbid the modularity that is at the core of car manufacturing for at least the last 25 years worldwide, and almost the last 40 years in Japan.

VAG invested 50 billions in its MQB platform, to “reap the benefits of a shared platform” for cars as different as an Audi TT or a VW Passat. BMW B engines family is also a huge investment into modular engines that go from three to six cylinders, in petrol or diesel, to be produced on the same production lines.

Techpool is a fine answer up to the 80’s, and I understand how modular platforms would imply a hell of a redesign nightmare in the automation Car builder…

Yet, for a game which plans to focus a lot on the production part, to put so much hard limits of reusability and modularity is a bit frustrating