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Let's rant about manuals needing to be buffed


Now that after all that time I see this discussion and it has settled down, I can say the following after having read it all - let me make a few points.

  1. I don’t think the size of the penalty is wrong. A nicely set up adv. auto vs. a manual is a car that feels like it drives itself vs. a car that feels like work everywhere you don’t have fluid traffic. Now I think it is fair to say that drivability probably shouldn’t be hit that hard because even if it feels like work, it is not that much less drivable (outside being a beginner, which this is not about). Quite a bit of this penalty can be moved into comfort and maybe a little into practicality (as was mentioned) due to the city driving aspects of manuals. This will shift automatics further up the demographic budgets, because higher budget demographics tend to be more concerned with comfort.

  2. Unless someone can present solid data on how automatics are more expensive to service for an average driver, I don’t think the current values need to be changed.

  3. Region specific penalties is something I would like to avoid when it comes to specific design choices. What we do have as a parameter is average driver skill in a country however, and that already affects how much people care about drivability. I shall take a look at that and see if the progressions are the way they should.

  4. I think there was just a single person mentioning engineering time as a side note. Higher costs mainly come from that and this has not been discussed herein. “Sandbox balance” can be confusing in that regard because that environment shields you from the bad consequences of choices that fail the viability tests of opportunity cost and development costs. The latter are in the sales price to some degree, but that is very hand-waving.

  5. With all that talk about drivability vs. brakes and tires, you forgot the actual playability of the game. :slight_smile: Sure, if a car cannot be stopped quick enough (that being an understatement), that should probably be worse than a 23% penalty to drivability score… same with the tires because of wet and otherwise tricky driving conditions. But what you are forgetting is that these penalties are so large already that they don’t make for viable cars. (Point taken about manuals and drivability) So what would happen if we made tires and brakes fuck your car twice as hard? Things would be more difficult to tune because anything that isn’t right becomes rather wrong. How would that play? Isn’t the game fucking beginners hard enough already? :stuck_out_tongue: Git gud is a motto we uphold for sure, but this might go too far into that direction.

  6. The lack of discussion on progression is a little upsetting to me. This discussion mostly compares only the modern versions (design year 2000+) of the transmissions. We do have quite deliberate progressions in them that make autos start pretty shit and become better over time, especially when it comes to drivability. They are not static choices. An old slushbox is not that much more drivable, but a 2020 advanced auto damn well is. :smiley:

Anyway, the next big rebalancing of all kinds of car and engine stats is planned for LCV4.2 and I shall note down the observations here and put them on our ToDo list so I’ll investigate them further then.



“Automation: Dark Souls Edition” DLC anyone? :rofl:


I do believe I can offer some insight on the progression of Slushbox versus Stick. (These are not answers to Killrobs answers.)

  1. In the campaign, (assuming you start in 1946) a stick will have some familiarity developed as a result of the fact that it’s literally the only choice. Depending on your engineering decisions, and long term planning, this can net you a lot of familiarity, or it won’t net you much of anything. A company producing exclusively sticks will be relegated to the sports car market however, since automatic is generally superior for all other purposes, mainly drivability. Early manuals can beat automatics up to a point where even sporty markets want automatics because of the massive dribability difference.

  2. Pulling some old campaign cars for reference, most manual car builds will end up cheaper than a slushbox build, and the difference between gearboxes is much more pronounced, with a difference of roughly 5 to 15 percent price in materials alone for top spec units. When you factor in PU in a Small 1 factory, that can be a difference of $3,000 or more assuming a relatively normal setup out of the same factory. A five speed stick is still cheaper than a three speed slushbox in the early 70s. The engineering difference is roughly five months when comparing a 5 speed to a three speed slush assuming you routinely facelift cars with the Manual before Automatic is available. Once you modify that with actual engineering, that can mean the effective difference of a year of engineering if you pump quality into the drivetrain, as familiarity is a huge reducer of cost.

  3. When looking objectively at the stats of a early 70s slushbox versus a stick. The slushbox will absolutely murder your sport rating if it exists on your car, while a relatively well tuned manual will give a bit of sportiness at the result of quite significantly harming drivability and comfort. This is one point that may need to be addressed. On slower, less sporty cars in cheaper markets, such as, say commuter budget, the markets will still strongly favor the automatic over the stick. This is increasingly true as you acquire larger factories and cheapen out each individual car immensely since the PU difference starts to become negated. The price difference becomes roughly $200-800 in the '80s if a Large factory is involved, again depending on setup.

  4. In terms of later game, one thing I believe is off with manuals is that they aren’t “prestige” items like they are currently. Sure, the advanced automatic is generally easier to drive, but it’s not got that “cool factor” of having a manual in 2010, which is a thing. Manuals, in my opinion should start to gain a prestige bonus, maybe around the start of the 2000s. Doesn’t have to be much, but it should be there.

  5. In terms of late level gearboxes, I noticed that the Sequential and DCT, assuming otherwise the same setup are identical in terms of sportiness rating, which seems… wrong? The DCT is more comfortable (which I’m also not 100% sure about) and better to drive (which would make sense I suppose). Acceleration is better though, which should be a given.

  6. 50’s slushboxes are absolutely amazing compared to a stick, as a result there is a seemingly large issue that the markets really want a slushbox in the '50s. Testing it on a few cars in the campaign, unless your car makes a lot of power, and falls under the sportiness markets as a result of has power, the manual is just objectively worse to use in all cases versus a slushbox. A four speed manual in '52 has a cumulative -26.4% versus an automatic which has a cumulative -7.1% in terms of drivability, comfort and prestiege, since we’re ignoring sport penalty, as the car isn’t designed to be sporty in the slightest designing for the family/commuter markets using a 1.5L pushrod I4 producing 40 HP. (For reference, the car scores -33.6% in sportiness for the gearbox.) The difference is next to no trim ET due to the first car being a stick, one less PU, and a $4 materials difference. This makes the automatic almost objectively the best choice early on into the game, and it does snowball later down the line with familiarity. The competitors appear to do this too, judging by stats.

In summary, overall, I feel that the balance towards manuals is off and some tweaks need to be done. I suggest a few things to improve the balance when 4.2 comes along.

  1. Early Automatics need to be worse, probably by targeting their reliability and comfort (can’t imagine they shift smoothly). Possibly increase power loss and economy loss that becomes less severe over time.
  2. Manuals should have much less severe penalties for being a manual. I believe one solution for this would be largely reducing their overall drivability and comfort penalty, unless their spacing is extremely close together, in which case it should be slightly worse. I feel as though a stick with fewer, wider spaced ratios should be easier and more comfortable to drive.
  3. Advanced Auto is in a good place overall IMO, when compared to a regular Auto performance wise. I do feel as though it’s far too cheap to use. It’s not a very big jump to just go for it as soon as it’s out. I feel like it should be more like a swap to EFI kind of jump, which is kind of a huge decision. Right now, with the way familiarity works, there’s literally no reason to not go for it immediately.
  4. Manuals late game probably need some sort of positive prestiege multiplier, primarily due to real world rarity, but it should also give them a bit of a nudge into being more useful late game when electronic manual alternatives come out. Right now, the only use for a manual in the 2000s is for track cars.

Can’t think of anything else right now, but I’ll probably think of more later.


Maybe do a HUGE increase in prestige based on early multi gear count.
(with a quick falloff when they get more common)

Like how many 5-speed manuals was there in the 70’s? 6-speed ones in the 80’s? (outside racing that is)
5 or 6 speed autos in the 80’s-90’s?


This is a good point. I’ve noticed that gearbox gear count prestige is a static modifier. A 4 speed gearbox in the 40s will still have a negative small percentage value. I do think it would be a good balance idea to have the quantity of gears have more of a dynamic effect on prestiege than they do now instead of being permanently static values from '46 to 2020. This could maybe inadvertently buff Automatics a bit further than they need to be, but a 9 speed Advanced Automatic should have some prestiege associated with it.


To further throw gasoline on the fire, a pre 1960 manual transmission is probably going to lack synchromesh on the first gear, which decreases driveability more… :joy:

No, I’m not asking to compensate for that. :sunglasses:


Interesting. I’d like to add one thing - spacing should make a big difference. Just yesterday I travelled a long distance in my mom’s 206. It has a VERY tightly spaced manual 5. While in the city it is mildly annoying due to frequent gear changes, it gets really annoying on the highway. Constant 3500 rpm is NOISY. Right now it seems to affect mostly the efficiency.

Furthermore, to elaborate on points already made - while I generally agree with reducing the drivability penalty for the manuals (or even better moving it mostly to comfort*) I think it’s just one side of the coin. The other is rather average performance of the modern advanced autos in performance applications. What? DCTs are for that? Sure, but tell that to BMW, Jag, Alfa, Lexus, Merc (I think), Ford and many others. ZF 8 speed and some others can deal with that just fine. Meanwhile in Automation I couldn’t really get below 4s acceleration time in a super sedan with 630 hp and 1000 Nm - parameters exceeding those of comparable real cars, all being below 4s.

In short, I support Admiral’s point of making early automatics worse, but I’d add to that making modern ones a tiny bit faster. A steeper progression for automatics overall, from quite a bit shittier than they are now in the early years, to a tiny bit better in the modern times.

*- driving with a manual becomes a background task once you get it, but it never stops being an inconvenience in city driving.


Just skip gears, you can get away with it on a tight ratio 'box.