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Managing Cars and Factories


#1

I’m looking at the main hub screen and I have some suggestions that would both compact the screen so the player doesn’t have information overload and would make the screen more informative:

  1. Model & Trim Names - display it out as Model Name Trim Name, instead of Model name as a row and then each trim as an additional row

automation_modelname_after

  1. The next several columns display the Engine used in the trim, the maximum possible number of vehicles to build in a month, the number actually produced, and then overflow inventory and profit.

The problem I’m running into is if an engine factory can only handle 1 engine project, then why separate the two concepts? Why aren’t engine projects/factories just the same entity?

The same goes for car projects and car factories.

Edit: I’m creating more images to express the thoughts I have in mind for this. I want to provide you something useful in terms of examples and feedback.


#2

Latest game, company went BK.

My big frustration was, I had a bottleneck for production of an engine. And so I did the following:

  • build new engine factory
  • select the addons needed to make this engine
  • spent twenty minutes trying to find a way to assign this engine to this factory

The game doesn’t seem to allow it or the method for how to do it is not clear. I would have thought that produced engines are placed in a “bucket”, and then engines are “used” from that bucket by cars assigned to use that engine.

I went so far as to do a fake Facelift on a car, so I could reassign the engine I wanted to place in the duplicate factory. But I wasn’t able to make that work.


#4

Yes, there are more use cases for having projects and factories separated.

Sometimes I’m producing some of the trims in independent factories. Let’s say four trims in two factories. Now I want to upgrade my car with a newer model, but I don’t want to/can not spend so much time engineering all four trims at the same time. Thanks to having more factories, I can first more quickly roll out newer models for the main stream models, while keeping the production of some niche trims intact. I can then upgrade the niche models in a face lift later.

The same applies to the engines. Quite often I keep producing previous variants of the engine after introducing newer versions. Sometimes it’s hard to justify re-tooling cost of luxury/sport variants if you are just introducing new budget variant. Or the timing of the engine engineering and retooling doesn’t line up with all car projects. Think about situations where you have many engine variants used in many car models and trims.

As far as I know it works exactly like a bucket, but it’s pretty obfuscated. What I did in the exact same situation was to create an empty engine facelift, without changing the engine variants at all, just adding new factory for an existing variant.

Note, UI (at least in 3.7) can lose the count of produced engines. All of the variants are produced into the global bucket from all of the factories, but the number of produced engines is not visible. UI is showing just the numbers from the latest factory.


#5

Hello everybody,

I want to highlight a problem with choice redundancy. I was looking at specifically the Automation slider for the factories, and ran a few iterations, and came up with the below:

The effects of what JUST THE AUTOMATION slider does is really only apparent when the data is played out like it would be in a spreadsheet. (I am aware now, proofreading this post, the above screenshot has computational errors. Corrected screenshot is at the bottom.)

However, is this the sort of busy work you expect the player to do? I found it took almost 10 minutes to do each set of numbers, just for the data entry and and troubleshooting the excel formulas to present the data I wanted to see. And I think these sliders are inelegant and too complicated, because the effects from it are not apparent to the player.

And then the problem I have with these sliders and both the overload of useless information and obscurity of useful information is also at play in the engine and car designer.

Here is my suggestion:
Factories start at zero automation and you “buy” automation as a production unit. So for example, this Medium 3 car factory has a potential production output of 414,000 and requires 4,220 employees spread over 2.0 shifts to achieve that. This means each employee - who has a wage and varying training levels - provides about 49.05 production output. And each employee has a monthly wage and varying training levels.

So what if the player could “buy” blocks of automation within the factory - as a permanent stat bonus - that included a recoup calculator.

  • For the current year
  • For a factory of this size
  • At your current automation % (early automation is cheap 0-30, mid-level is pricer 31-60, high-level is much more expensive 61-90, and maximum automation is a non-efficient steam achievement 91-100)
  • then the cost of a “unit” of automation is X and the absence of wages means the factory will recoup this investment in Y number of months

Because the automation is an integer, if the player upgraded the factory to a larger size with a then-larger pool of “potential” production units, the raw amount of purchased automation remains constant, but the % of automation for that factory would decrease. In this way, a player couldn’t cheese by maxing out the automation of a small factory and then upgrade to a huge factory. That 80% automation would decrease to w/e the PO of a huge factory is.

And then I have similar criticisms about the Tooling Quality slider, the QA Threshold, and the Worker Wages.

For example, if I take worker wages at 0%, I have 5,559 cars being produced and efficiency of 79.3%, at a running cost of $24.7 million (as wages increase, so does staff cost and material cost, because they work harder and so use more material). So as a baseline, I’m getting 1 car for $4,443 in operating costs.

If I increased worker wages to the max, 52%, I end up with 6,320 cars @ 32.1M per month, or 1 car for $5,079.
If I decreased worker wages to the min, -28%, I end up with 3,959 cars @ 17.7M per month, or 1 car for $4,471.

Paying workers the maximum makes each car cost $636 more, and average quality goes from 99 to 101. Somehow, cutting wages results in cars costing more and the average quality drops from 99 to 95. So I have all this information and very little context for what it means or what makes a “good” decision.

Should I be doing intersectional data analysis of of all possible variations of automation, tooling quality, qa threshold and worker wages? That would provide the “most efficient” means of producing the cheapest car at a desired quality level, but it would also be tedious and time consuming. If it takes 10 minutes to do my analysis of just every 10th increment of the automation slider, times 10 runs for tooling times 10 runs for qa threshold times 10 runs for worker wages, I’m looking at 167ish hours of work to determine this knowledge - for this one factory.

In a lot of strategy games, you have actions to take that are almost always a good idea to do. This button builds “more” army. “More” army is better than “less” army, so it’s almost always a good idea to build “more” army. But then the game gives the player feedback not too much army! This army cap is either the limits for the program or the limits for your size.

The game is called Automation, but I’m not certain about when automating my factories makes sense or not, not without first doing a bottomless pit of data entry into an Excel to actually see the numbers.

Is this design as intended? I feel like “buying” automation for my factories ought to almost always be a smart thing to do, but as the screenshot below shows, the best value comes from 80% automation, at a 60 month per car cost of $4,551. And that’s only playing with the automation slider. If I looked into the other three sliders, undoubtedly the “ideal” number would change.

Great, for as far as I’m willing to go, I found the sweet spot. But do you intend for players to do this much work? Am I giving up too easily?


#6

Another example;

Somehow, a factory with 60% automation makes more engines than a 100% automation factory, but the most efficient per cost of engine is 50%. So in this one, the default option is the best.


#8

Followup,

I ran a Casual campaign just for the purposes of trying things, and once you get 6 or so car factories and 6 or so engine factories, and multiple models each using one or two engine selections, then it can get really hairy keeping it all straight.

For instance, if youselect to Replace Variant on an engine, the game doesn’t warn you that every other trim using the predecessor engine variant will be caught flat-footed. I wish the factory would produce both variants in the quantities needed.

THAT OPTION EXISTS, IT’S CALLED COPY, NOT REPLACE. Yes, however this is an instance of computer programming where the software does literally - precisely - what it is told and damn the torpedoes. There can be some user friendliness and that is what I’m high-liting here, that because factories will only produce cars or engines according to an overlaying Project, that means that as a design feature, the project has to be kept in mind first - and so the structure of the game allows for very inflexible playstyle.

What I’m saying is, right now, either you get it right upfront, or you’re screwed and forced to pay for a mistake for 18-36 months, or however long it takes your engineers to do the new facelift to make things right.

I suggest that options are made available to the player to adjust car assignments to factories, engine assignments to factories, and engine assignments to cars.

The project system is good and is excellent when used correctly by the player - however emergent gameplay situations can arise where Projects are too rigid, inflexible, and result in incredibly inefficient gameplay moments - where you the player are powerless to correct a mistake.

Elon Musk improvised a new assemblyline in the parking lot of his gigafactory. I’m not asking for that level of flexibility, but a little more than is present.

Edit: As a followup - why does a facelift on a car where no changes are made need dozens of months of engineering? I like the facelift because it refreshes the car’s score - but damn if it isn’t annoying that it won’t take effect for almost two years, and the factory is down for a month or so. There has to be a better way.

Also, how would you go about updating a vehicle to a new model? We get the refresh function, but what about a next-generation function, so a nameplate can carry forward across decades but not still be it’s goofy 1940s self.


#10

Hi Hshan,

Here’s my issue with the current system; it prevents even wildly wealthy and successful players from doing something as mundane as “updating the car for the next model year”.

If I have a '55 something, and I want to update the facia or offer a special one-off paint color for this one model year, I can’t do it. If I initiate a facelift in February, if the car is ready by November of the next year, it would be a miracle. So year-on-year changes are impossible - the game does not allow it.

If the score goes up, changes are made.

So if I record the numbers for the suspension setup of a car and then do a facelift, the numbers will have changed? How much is the facelift just doing something small like changing the bumper or the wheels (or other fixtures)? An artificial 20 point bump just for the “newness” would be great - but it’s not like I’m introducing the company’s first automatic transmission or a new family of engines. I’m running into 30 month engineering delays to build a car that’s already been built with only changes to the fixtures, and possibly replacing the bench seating with buckets. These facelift engineering times are way insane.

On the one hand, the game gives players all these hyper-precise dials and tools to fuss with to make cars exactly just so, but then regardless of how gentle or extreme the changes to a facelift are, the engineering times to rebuild the car are terribly punishing - worse so if you also make changes to the factory. There is no “reward” for gently polishing a car over time. You may as well do open-heart surgery because it’s just as expensive time-wise doing either.


#11

Quick update,

I’ve observed that if I have two factories making the same item, and one is smaller than the other, the game will max out the smaller one and the leftovers are put onto the larger one.

That’s fine, but it does mean I get the Factory Name Here is being overworked! warning every single month. It’d be nice if the workload was spread evenly across all the factories assigned to make that product.


#12

I think @david488 you touched quite a bit of good topics. It would be nice to have cheap facelifts to allow for some special versions. I think it would be nice, if you could click “do not refresh the car” and the engineering of untouched parts would be for free. It would allow also to do a trick like first roll out sedan body, and once it’s done engineer more quickly a convertible/coupe variant. But is it worth implementing and with what priority?

About the factories, I agree that there is a problem, as I had very similar issues as you described. It’s very hard to make informed decisions with so many sliders. Like in 4.0 I’m leaving all of the quality control sliders at the default positions :frowning: At the same time, it’s easy to end up with some weird situations where I have no idea what is being produced where at what cost and with what quantities. Maybe instead of fixing those problems via UI it could be simplified in someway.


#13

We don’t expect the player to do any of that busy work that you have gone into detail with here. What we do expect the player to do is to:

  1. Figure out what situation they are in and conceptually know what they are after.
  2. One by one, move the sliders around until they find the spot that comes closest to what they are envisioning. This is done by observing the production stats on the same screen.
  3. Repeat that process if desired to further optimize it.
    This process should take an experienced player about a minute.

What the game cannot tell you is what is “good”, because “good” is vastly different depending on all kinds of situational parameters, the cars you’re trying to make, and your vision for the company. That is just not possible to do.

None of the choices on the factory and engineering screens are redundant, and since 4.0 they all have significant long term impact on your company.

You are also trying to do a few things that are just not implemented in the game yet, like assigning factories without the need for a facelift, that is coming with LCV4.1, you should have a look at the YouTube videos on our channel discussing those things. :slight_smile:

One of the problems with the UI that we have is that depending on what you want to do and aim for, the things that are important on the page change. This makes it hard to get a more focused UI for the factory setup, but I certainly agree it needs to improve to provide more information on production stats.

Out of interest, have you read all the descriptions for the various sliders that are provided to you via their info headers when you click them? I’ve tried to write those as clearly as possible, but you may not have found the information you were looking for?


#14

Hi Killrob! Thank you for providing a forum for feedback and responding to it.

I admit to having glossed over the tooltips. Unless they provide the equations for how the numbers interact, I’m usually ambivalent towards tooltips.

I will return to them and re-read what you’ve input.