Let's rant about manuals needing to be buffed

Okay, so. I’m very much of the opinion that the manual gearboxes are unrealistically (and undesirably) undesireable in the current game balance.

I very much see the cause in the effect picking a manual gearbox has on drivability.
To demonstrate my point, I’ve prepared this '02 four fixture wonder econobox test mule:

Allow me to show you some interesting drivability figures.

Config Drivability
Adv Auto 52.3
Automatic 46.7
Adv Auto, but with -15 quality 160 mm drum brakes on full comfort brake pads 40.1
Adv Auto, but with rear tires 140 mm wide (instead of 165 mm) 40.0
Manual 38.6

Automation seems to think that a manual gearbox is somehow a bigger nerf to driveability than not stopping in any foreseeable time. Or oversteering everywhere.

That does not seem right at all. Like, my mom does think that an auto would be a nice thing to have if she could afford to maintain one. But she certainly would not get an auto but have to not stop in return. The current game balance is absurd at worst, and americentric at best.

Speaking of being able to maintain an auto or not, the service costs of an automatic do not seem right at all.

Let’s use our shitbox test mule again.

Config Service costs
Manual 3598.8
Automatic 3656.6
Adv Auto 3666.4

That does seem right at all either. Manual gearboxes are practically serviceless. Switching to either type of automatic should not increase the service costs by measly 2%, especially in a car where there’s not much else to maintain.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion it should be fixed. Like, I personally feel Automation should be slightly more favorable towards manual gearboxes than the reality is, you know, to fulfill the escapism needs for manual circlejerk car nerds like me, but even if you disagree, I also feel it’s actually more unfavorable towards them than real life is.

I feel like some of it is a way to emulate the “some people can’t drive stick” factor, but I feel it should be a region specific penalty and not something that is inherent to the Car Designer’s calculations.

Any thoughs you want to give?


It is quite clear that automatic are not common in Europe and for long enough they were implying (or were perceived as) higher gaz consumption, questionable performances etc.

Obviously, in the 60’s USA you do not care much for the gaz consumption - but neither in USSR but there service cost/repairability in a farm would matter. So you are right about how regional factor affect this choice.
To represent that in the game, however, is not obvious.

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I agree with you about the way the scores reflects the choice of a manual box.

And I agree with you on the geographic nuance for Fruinia or Archana!

When we go for European bodies in the 50’s, you can’t expect them to have a 3speed auto… And at the same time we have a 2 speed manual box that wasn’t thinkable at the time, even a 2cv had 4 gears.

They were all with 3speed manual or 4 with overdrive until like the 80’s?

Synchromesh on 1st was far more important at the time.
At best we had CVTs on DAFs

Back to the autos,the comfort given of the autobox is irrefutable so I guess a few more points in drivability is fair,but the maintenance of autobox is far more expensive when you add the torque converter than a manualbox oil change which is basically an engine oil change. On the other hand there’s the clutch to replace after 200 000 kms, so, all in all…

I do wonder where the regular auto falls in that drivability comparison you did, but I agree on all your points.

The manual does need a bit of a buff to drivability (I daily a stick with steel toe boots every day). And the adv auto service costs should be a bit higher than a measly $10 above regular auto, as they usually require better trans fluids, and/or have more inter-connected parts either physically or via a computer system.

I also wonder how much a high performance build with higher torque and top speed would affect the service costs between the 3 transmissions. For low performance, the service costs between a manual and auto would be closer I would think, as higher torque impacts each differently due to their differences.

I definitely agree on that point, and it would add more to the campaign mode as well.


I mean manuals killing market scores is realistic. I prefer driving them in beam but don’t see how them carrying s penalty in the market is inherently a bad thing, the fact of the matter is that a manual is unsellable in today’s market and there’s a reason they’re being killed off. Modern automatics are just better from a logical standpoint.

In a campaign you’re supposed to be making cars which would actually sell, and cars with manuals don’t sell period. That’s not even getting into the EPA certification required of cars with different transmissions which makes producing cars with more than one transmission option a nightmare.

For sandbox mode, yeah make all the manuals you want. But there’s no reason they ought to be “buffed” to the point of discarding realism.

What a way to completely misunderstand my point.

There is a good reason I did my testing on a car that would have a manual gearbox in reality - a 2002 european market shitbox, very similar in specs to my first car, a '98 Skoda Felicia.

Let me be very clear, such a car would absolutely not be automatic. Not where I live.

In Germany, (or at least in 2018/2019 Germany), manuals are still in about half the cars sold.

And that’s at the end of the campaign, when the modern automatics are actually better “from a logical standpoint”. We’ve got the remaining 70 years of campaign to worry about.

So before you whip out your “manuals killing market scores is realistic” argument and before we get to whether they should be buffed to the point of discarding realism (and let’s be honest, I think they should), we need to first ensure that the game balance matches reality. Because right now, the game overcompensates in the other direction.

The regular auto has 46.7 driveability. Lemme edit that in actually.


…quoting your title?

But not everyone lives where you live. Low spec kei cars in Japan are all automatic or CVT

About half? That’s a pretty sharp decline which kinda proves my point…manuals are on the way out.

It’s good where it’s at, man. It’s a non issue and the devs shouldn’t have to waste their time on tweaking something that already works for everybody else. Because you’re essentially asking them to implement your personal biases into the game so as to make it more “fair”.

Here’s the thing. Maybe not everyone lives where I live. However, where I live is a significant enough part of reality that it would alter the gameplay of the game. And, I mean, you’ve made your position clear. You’re not going to propose discarding realism, right? Why should it be discarded in this case?

Yeah, can’t disagree here. When will they finally die off? Will it be in 2025? 2030? 2040? Will it be anywhere between 1946 and 2020? Because, if the answer to that last one is “no”, then it’s outside of the scope of the game. It’s absurd to base the game balance of the entire campaign on the last 5 years (6.7%) of its time frame.

I would appreciate if you did not try to misrepresent the popularity of my standpoint. You are the fourth person to reply, and the first to disagree. Now, who knows, maybe people likeminded to me are in minority. I cannot disprove that. But trying to twist the balance into me vs everyone else puts in real doubt whether you’re trying to conduct this argument in good faith.


the fact of the matter is that a manual is unsellable in today’s market and there’s a reason they’re being killed off

As example of an European country with several notable car compagnies, in France some stats show automatic gearbox was around 3% of the vehicules sold in 1995, 9% in 2010, 30% in 2017. There is obviously a massive increase these days.

We cannot follow you when you wrote “In a campaign you’re supposed to be making cars which would actually sell, and cars with manuals don’t sell period.”. Even now, even with the major progress made for automatic gearbox, manuals still sell. In the automation campaign timeline, manuals sold too many to recount.

It’s good where it’s at, man. It’s a non issue and the devs shouldn’t have to waste their time on tweaking something that already works for everybody else. Because you’re essentially asking them to implement your personal biases into the game so as to make it more “fair”.

Why are you talking “for everybody else”? While I am sure we can agree that is not a major issue, a blocker item or else, we can also think some tuning can be done.


My 2 cents, I agree the penalty looks too large for regions outside Gasmea. It also seems weird that poor brakes or tires seem to affect it slightly less, but I also think as much as a bad handling tune ruins a car’s performance, that sort of thing is not always relevant in an everyday driving situation like transmission choice is (not arguing thats the way it should be so much as i think thats how the game would justify it). Also with service costs, I don’t know anyone who has needed regular service with an auto transmission and fluid is inexpensive. Manuals are potentially cheaper to service because they’re less complex, but some people do fry their clutches. Maybe its a different story with old automatics. So uh…yeah I think they are penalized in drivability too much but i dont think the service costs need to change. (meanwhile theres no way to use the old hydra-matics and the like in game)


Regarding the servicing cost, to be fair, what is usually very expensive with car is the man hours.
(hence why so many garages don’t fix anything anymore but replace parts; and why car manufacturer makes stuff easy to replace and not easy to fix). So agreeing that automatic gearbox is considerably more complex than an manual would imply higher cost.

Aside from that, while we all agree about drivability, old transmission should probably imply malus both in sportivity and fuel consumption.

That would naturally balance the choice and go toward historical context. Obviously, you care less about gaz consumption in country with oil like USA than in Europe. Obviously you notice less laggy perfs with V8 200bhp than with a flat-2 of 24bhp.

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Manual gearboxes are not serviceless, you have oil to change just like autos and a clutch that autos don’t even have. Autos can be cheaper by them not abusing themselves, a bad driver can destroy clutches and teeth plenty quick.

An auto also does better in drivability when the driver is a moron. Wrong gear choice is a fantastic way to fail to maneuver nicely. The data is based off the average driver, somebody who has little to no interest or mechanical sympathy for cars, shit drivers drive better when there’s no more pedals than feet.

Do remember that a manual gearbox put more stress on the engine components than an auto gearbox.

Some makers today claim that their manual boxes are sealed with “lifetime” oil, not needing any oil changes.
That is Lifetime approx. 220K km - 250K km. In theory at least.

For the people you describe (little to no interest or mechanical sympathy for cars), the oil change of the manual gearbox is not a concern. The frequency of the clutch change is more than enough (up 150 000/200 000 depending on the usage).
For an automatic, often 60000 km is considered a maximum.
It is not uncommon to find a drivable old vehicule that never had any oil change in their manual gearbox in their lifetime. Not good for them but no consequences like it would for an automatic unserviced, which one would require massive cleanup far from cheap.

We can discuss merits of automatics and manual for hours.

Once again, in considerable part of the world they were a very minor thing until recently and are still now a minor thing.
So for the timeframe of the campaign, having automatics everywhere is a joke. Travel around the world, go check what was common from 1950 to 2010 in South America, Western Europe, Central Europe, Russia, Northern Asia, Southern Asia, etc.


I don’t have much to add except lets not lose sight of kubboz’s original point what what it means for the game…


What Kubby is saying here alone proves that manuals are indeed being nerfed too hard. Why does a car with significantly bad braking and steering capabilities/bad wheels get away with better drivability and comfort points just because of chucking an automatic in it? It makes no sense


because people are more willing to drive the latter than the former

Because oversteer at the limit doesn’t matter to people who will never use the limit.

because people are more willing to drive the latter than the former


Whatever opinion we may have on what people may, in 2020, want to drive is quite irrelevant.

The topic here is the campaign of Automation starting post WW2, in a world ressembling ours, in which automatic gearbox was an anecdote in many countries if not continents.

So it is possible to tune the game to better represent the fact that automatic was widely adopted in some countries and not in other?
Maybe it can, there are preferences per country and such. We just have to think what were the reasons why automatic was a common basic thing in some countries and not in other.

Clearly, why in North-America and why not in Europe, that were industrially as advanced, facing the same climate/environment.
My guess is one of the original difference is the avalability of cheap gaz in the USA and the fact american roads are big, large, where muscle car and this kind of thing can make sense.

So can Automation factor such things in? Well, I guess tuning the fuel consumption and service cost would make sense, because it would make automatic much less an obvious choice in countries that need to save gas or that cannot afford extra service cost just to please grandma while you only can afford a small van to go accross mountain with your whole village and yaks.

(and that would probably be out of the scope of the first Automation, but clearly service cost of a technology depend on how widely it is being used in the region)


I’d like to see the driveability of manual gearboxes improved.

But it needs to be more nuanced than it currently is. Manual gearboxes should have a high driveability when the engine has low power and torque and then progressively scale down as the power and torque increases.


Because the gearbox “clunkiness”, clutch operating difficulty and disruption to driving smoothness increase as the components are strengthened to cope with the extra physics load.

Automatics should be inversely proportional to power/torque. Small engines, up to recently, didn’t work well with an automatic attached as the driveability benefits of the loss of the clutch was outweighed by the substantial reduction in usable performance for daily driving. This worked for retirees but everyone else much preferred the manual option.

I also agree that servicing costs of automatics need to be increased.


Manuals have less servicing requirements than automatics, clutches last the life of the car (to a new car buyer, so 10 years, lol) when driven “normally” and automatic gearboxes have higher failure rates than manuals.

Other Notes:

This is because Japan has a rush hour traffic problem and manual gearboxes suck in stop/start traffic because your clutch leg starts to hurt. This issue is proportionally worse for heavy clutches so big engined cars would be far worse than little ones. However this is still an example of regional diversity not the inherent superiority of the self-shifter, lol. Kei cars are considered appliances by the Japanese and their owners don’t care how it drives, rather that it is an easy and cheap way to get to work.

But Automation covers the entire timeline of the Automobile, 1946 to 2020, and the trend towards automatic gearbox preference is a recent one. So the calculations shouldn’t include a nerf of ANY option based on tastes, trends or fashions. The calculations should only reflect the basic structure of the design and let the market metrics determine its ability to sell.


The decline of manual gearboxes is due to a combination of factors:

1 - Manual gearboxes are perceived as hard to drive

2 - Automatic gearbox options now better the manual option in fuel economy and numerical (0-100Km/h etc.) performance

3 - The perception of cars as transport rather than something to be enjoyed

Therefore Automation should revise the manual gearbox stat upwards, but less so when the engine is bigger!