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[LCV3.7] Cars sale and design process seems "flat"


#1

Hey, I really hope I’m not repeating something, but I couldn’t quickly find anything like this I was encouraged by

Suggestions are more than welcome for the Tycoon Part of the game

I’m just ~80 hours into my first LCV3.7 play-through and it’s really great and I’m looking forward for the already announced features that will come in the following year :slight_smile: So do not take anything that I wrote here as a criticism of this game! It’s really good!

Motivation

When I was designing various cars, I’ve quickly started noticing some pattern, that the car design and sales process seems a bit flat. Like for every market (like “Sports car”), there seems to be just one single holy grail of the cars, that me and any other competitor should be aiming for. Maybe this is a misconception from my part (but in that case I would argue UI is misleading me into that misconception), but it seems like designing a new model/trim is a simple optimisation process of the “competitiveness” score, and this is a one direction process with maybe small affordability trade off.

What I’m lacking is kind of depth in that process. Designing a new car is not a straight forward process, there are tons of important trade offs decisions to be made on many steps. For example, there is hardly a one single car in the given market that’s objectively the best. There are some (or sometimes just one) cars that are generally speaking the most recommended, but it’s never as simple as “there is one obvious choice”.

Feature suggestion:

Instead of having a single potential best competitiveness score for the given market, what about an idea of adding some random spread for consumer preferences? Like some of the “sports” car demographics, could value things like practicality/comfort/reliability more or even had some hard preferences. At least 4 seats and manual transmission. Probably it would require some more complicated balancing, but with some tuning, I could imagine this giving those extra trade offs when designing a car, especially if it wouldn’t be financially viable to cover all of the bases. For example:

  1. design the car for an average buyer - probably the easiest
  2. design the car with some end spectrum buyers in mind
  3. pay a lot in in engineering time/car price trying to cover wider spectrum of the market, but if you over do it, you start losing the clients because of affordability.

The last point I would like to emphasise. I think it should be not viable to design a perfect car for the given market. It should be more like a trade off. If I focus on one aspect more, other things will suffer and If I don’t focus on something, my competitor will come up to fill in the niche. If I focus on “almost” everything… I’m Porsche and my cars are ~50% more expensive than the competitors, creating a niche for the other manufactures that can cut some corners and under cut my prices.

About the implementation, it could be simple, like every-time generating a new car buyer (or sample of car buyers to speed up things), randomize his preferences with normal distribution with some variance parameter. I think the more complicated part would be balancing…

… and presenting this in the UI properly.

  • Presenting some ranges in the market preferences window, instead of (how currently it is) some static fixed value of how important “practicality” is for the given demographic
  • Letting player “adjust” how the competitiveness score is calculated when I’m designing a new car/trim. For example, if I could consciously move slider that I’m designing a sports car for more practical/reliability oriented end of the demographic spectrum, and my estimated competitiveness score could be adjusted by that?
  • Some information what my competitors are actually doing? Like if some market is already heavily dominated by some bigger players, some info that could let me make an informed decision that it might be easier for my to focus on some niche demographic (at least with the first trim/version and then try to expand from there)?

Real life motivation

For example, let’s look at the market of real world “sport coupe/saloons”. Among cars like BMW M2/M3/M4, Mustang GT, C63, Lexus RCF, …, there is no clear winner for everyone, while each one of them could be considered a best choice for smaller niche sub-market of “sports” cars. Like M2 vs Mustang, for me Mustang is disqualified because of too small back seats, while from C63/M4/RCF, C63 is considered the best car, but I would really had to be hard pressed to pick automatic transmission only car, and I don’t care about comfort/practicality that much, so M2 is probably a better choice any way for me. Or another market. 911 Turbo vs Audi R8, or Boxster vs V6 F-Type. Objectively Porsches are probably better, but Audi/F-Type have something extra in some departments, that make them much more appealing for some buyers (V10…). And the examples go on and on. Yes, probably BMWs are in general better choices than Jaguars, but Jaguar has it’s own niche, where it’s more appealing/better.

Trying to catch this process in the game, could also add some more heritage/brand’s DNA to the tycoon part. Like I could be trying to compete in almost every market, but still keeping the “spirt” of my brand. Regardless of what the “spirt” is: reliability/affordability/sportiveness/practicality… Even super/hyper cars can be more or less practical or reliable.

Cheers :slight_smile:


#2

Thanks for making this post, this is a very interesting to me, but probably in a much different way than you anticipated. Almost everything you seem to be describing as “I’d want that in the game” already is in the game. So the real question becomes why don’t you see it, or why doesn’t it feel that way?

Like this:

Designing a new car is not a straight forward process, there are tons of important trade offs decisions to be made on many steps. For example, there is hardly a one single car in the given market that’s objectively the best. There are some (or sometimes just one) cars that are generally speaking the most recommended, but it’s never as simple as “there is one obvious choice”.

I think that’s a perfect description of how the game mechanics work at the moment. The desires of the demographics can be met in very different ways. For example when you are building early sports cars in Fruinia you will see when clicking on the target market in the side stats (which compares your car stats to those of the average top 3), that they have no sportiness but quite high other stats. You can get to that same score in a virtually unlimited number of ways.

It is all about compromise between the markets. Do you REALLY want to optimize for one demographic? That usually is a bad idea, because that means that you cater to a smaller niche instead of covering more demographics with the same car. Sure, you’ll sell a few less cars in your main target demographic, but that often is made up for by more sales to other close by demographics scoring higher due to the compromises you made.

what about an idea of adding some random spread for consumer preferences? Like some of the “sports” car demographics, could value things like practicality/comfort/reliability more or even had some hard preferences

That already is the case. If there are two cars in the market, let’s say there are a Fun Premium and a Sport, and the Sport scores 100 in Sport and 70 in Fun Premium, while the Fun Premium scores 100 in Fun Premium and 85 in Sport. That means that (naively, simplified… the numbers would tilt a little more in favor of the specialized car, but not by all that much):

100 vs. 85 — 55% of sports car buyers will buy the sports car, while 45% will actually prefer the fun premium.
100 vs. 70 — 59% of fun premium buyers will buy the fun premium, while 41% will prefer the sport.

That means the sports car buyers don’t just go for the sports car(s) at all! They do have other desires that will be covered by (many) other types of cars, too, to varying degrees. That simulates what you describe as your feature request and is purposefully designed to accomplish exactly that.

A demographic is a collection of buyers with a certain averaged set of desires. Those buyers have budgets distributed as a Gaussian curve which feeds the affordability calculation.

Now you could say: hey, that is not exactly what I’m describing! Sure, that is true. You need to understand though that what you are proposing with:

what about an idea of adding some random spread for consumer preferences?

has the same outcome as what we’re doing already. How can you tell why that Sport buyer went for the Fun Premium? The added practicality, lower price, better drivability? You can’t tell, it just happened… in a lot of cases. :slight_smile: Why does Family Sport have an overlap with Sport?

Maybe the sports car buyer looked at the situation and thought that having another car in the garage wouldn’t be the best thing and the Family Sport accomplishes most things anyway.

Maybe the Family Sport car buyer looked at the options and concluded that there really isn’t a good compromise and needed that purebred sports car instead.

Because demographics are blobs like that, with their thousands of decisions spread out over that many demographics, the path to the buying decision isn’t important - the outcome is. You can’t track them all individually, they act as a blob with wildly different reasons for their purchases. The way the system works in the game is as close to reality I can think we can get without tracking individual decisions, which would be horrendous on the implementation and feasibility side. Beyond the fact that it is entirely unnecessary to reach the desired outcome.

Regarding the competitors: yes, they will be fleshed out more in one of the coming LC updates, that is planned!

Alright, looking forward to your reply.
Cheers


#3

but probably in a much different way than you anticipated.

Not really :slight_smile: It doesn’t surprise me :slight_smile:

Do you REALLY want to optimize for one demographic?

Hmm, I would have to re-think that, but more or less I was doing just that. So far I was mostly focusing on making three main models, covering more or less those markets with different trims:

  1. Light Sport Budget/Light Sport/Light Sport Premium + convertible variations
  2. Super/Hyper
  3. Premium/Luxury/Luxury Premium + convertible variations

and depending on the body type, my mood or engineering times, I was squeezing in GT/GT Premium/Sport in one of those three.

The thing is, that I wasn’t usually forced (or didn’t notice!) the trade offs when designing those cars and trims, apart of affordability. When I decided on a body and engine, I was usually able to pick one drivetrain/gearbox/driving aids/safety/suspension tune, and mostly fiddle with interior or sometimes different engine in different trims to bring the price down for other markets. I didn’t see trade off in making the suspension more comfortable or sportier for those different markets. Or reliability. The same is usually true for the gearbox. And if I didn’t cover something, like usually I was struggling with low affordability for the Premium market, I had on my list “to do” to create a new model to cover Premium/Premium Budget and maybe some other market that I would discover close by.

Recently I started playing with Family Sport and City categories, and I think I’ve started to notice more trade offs in those segments, but I would need to sink more hours into the game to analyse that :slight_smile:

You need to understand though that what you are proposing with has the same outcome as what we’re doing already.

I agree that you can achieve probably almost the same thing with pre-defined demographics, and I was even thinking about that before posting :slight_smile: Especially if you provide large enough number of them. But I guess my point is that it currently provides smaller fidelity to what I was expecting? Like the current choices I’m making/trade offs you are suggesting seems like on the level of designing a BMW M2 vs Jaguar F-Type - whether to design sportier RWD Family car and beef it up for a sports car, vs designing a dedicate sports car for that market? While I was hoping for having more nuances, like M4 vs RCF or R8 vs 911 Turbo. With more fidelity, more choices that I was describing above might stop becoming so obvious?

If you want to keep things simplified, with fewer demographics, less fidelity, maybe we are currently missing a game mechanic that actually incentives having fewer more balanced models instead of more models that are more specialised? Or maybe it’s already happening, but I didn’t notice? So far it seemed to me (mostly based on sales forecast) that currently cheap engineering costs (I’m always running at 100% funding) compared to building factories results in higher expected profits with more models? But maybe I was being mislead by the sales forecast, as maybe it doesn’t take into account that my two models that are being engineered would compete with one another?

I’ve watched one of your recent dev updates, that you are planning to introduce some engineering limits, with some engineers experience etc. Maybe indeed that will do the trick and force players to make choices more carefully, since they will not be able to escape with more independent models/engine families? I just hope that it won’t be static cap :slight_smile:

disclaimer: take anything that I’m writing with a grain of salt, as I don’t know the game very well so far. So maybe there are things that I haven’t yet tried out. Maybe part of the problem is that the tycoon part is so young, that it’s hard to find inspirations/ideas/discussions/tutorials online (except of your youtube videos :wink: ).


#4

I would like to add a couple more points, as I’ve invested some more hours lately, expanding into other markets, like Premium SUV, Premium Offroad and City/Family/Fun. It seems like there are more trade offs to be take there, not everything is as straightforward, but still, I think the campaign lacks the more fine grained trade offs. Couple of the most outstanding ones:

  1. As @Navara mentioned in another post recently, Advanced Automatic seems to always/almost always be the best choice.
  2. Seats counts effect on the competitiveness is weird. I’m making large luxurious SUVs, and best seat count is… 4. Adding 3rd row is always a bad decision, even adding 5th seat is a bad idea. Another example, when I’m making a compact car with one trim for Family or Fun, it works perfectly fine with 4 or 5 seats, but if I make a City/City premium oriented trim of the same model, it works best with the back seats taken out? What’s taking up this space? Cargo? I barely could understand, super small 2 seater body might score better in City category (although, how many 2 seaters city cars are there? almost none), but if a car has place for back seats, it’s always more desired to have them, except of sam vans/cargo cars. Or when I’m making MPV car, 6 seats in 3 rows almost seems to work the best?

Those examples are I think straight on incorrect. But they are I think symptoms of this underlying problem of too big and uniform markets, with lack of fine details. Yes, rebalancing preferences so that SUV market would prefer 5 seats over 4, or MPV prefer 7/8 over 6, are probably an easy solution to address the rather minor issue of realism, but my point is there should incentives for players to sometimes create 7 seater SUV. Or 8/9 seater MPV.

Btw, one more remark. I think you as the game developers, picked really hard topic for a tycoon game :slight_smile: When playing Airline Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Game Dev Tycoon, …, players usually do not notice simplifications, as they usually know very little about the game’s topic. Especially they often do not have any presumptions about the how those markets should work, which let them immerse in the simplified game better. Not so for Automation Game player base :wink: I think this makes skimming over some details/simplifying some aspects more challenging for you.