Shianra

Information, tools, and thoughts on tabletop games, video games, and their worlds

Basic Network

Ok, so I said one of the ways we could continue in this game would be to create some more of these point-to-point connections. But how would we go about creating ones which connect to the Power Station train station we’ve been using already? How can we can reuse existing tracks and station platforms? These questions bring us to the second part of this basic guide – creating a basic network.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Now, we won’t be building the most efficient network on the planet, but it will function and we should be rolling in cash by the end of it. To show how these methods are applicable across all maps, I’m going to start a new game on the map shown to the right. It uses the same settings as the last map, but we will be dealing with a different distribution of industries, towns, and landscapes.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Covering the basics

As shown in the image above, we have gone and created a basic point-to-point connection between a Coal Mine and a Power Station like we did earlier. It has two trains on it like before, but we have used up a lot more money than last time because we got rid of the small river (which you might be able to see in the initial screenshot) and levelled out the terrain more. A full £300,000 loan had to be taken to accomplish this, but it’s not a big deal since it won’t be too long before we have it paid back in full.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Now, as shown in the image above, we have added two more platforms to my Power Station station, and used those in creating another point-to-point connection which has two trains on it like the first. This isn’t the most cost effective option, but we will be adding more trains on this southern side soon, so it’s good to be prepared. However, so far we haven’t done anything different to what we’ve already done.

Connecting yet another station

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

A little further to the south there is another Coal Mine, as shown in the image to the right, and the perfect opportunity for us to experiment with connecting a new station to some already existing tracks. As a bonus, it even had a really good amount of production last month – 216 tonnes of coal to be more precise. I’m seeing pound signs all over this one!

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

We start this the same way as any other point-to-point connection – get the station down first, build some tracks, add a depot, and then throw in some signals, like shown in the image above. It might be worth noting that I am keeping consistent with which side the signals go on – the side that allows travel to the Power Station station are on the right, whilst the returning side is on the left. This is important because it will allow us to join our tracks much more easily.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

The next step is something we haven’t done before. As shown in the image above, the new tracks have been connected to the existing tracks and the conclusion of the bend. In order for this to work, the signals have to be placed so that a train cannot get stuck in the intersection itself for no reason. We can achieve this by simply making sure that the distance between the signals is at least the length of the trains that will be using the track. Also, as mentioned earlier, the side which goes to the Power Station and the side which returns are consistent with the existing tracks – the right side is still the Power Station side, and the left side is still the returning side.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Zooming out, we can see the results of our efforts in the image above. All we have to do is build a train or two like we have before and send them off to work.

This time, however, the distance between this new Coal Mine and the Power Station is a lot larger than that between the Power Station and the initial two Coal Mines. Because of this, we should be earning more from this new set of trains than from the earlier ones, assuming no other factors are coming into effect. If we were to let this run for a couple of minutes, we should see that it won’t take long at all to save up enough money to start building some much bigger networks. However, there are some other things we need to deal with first.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Tunnels and bridges

After looking at the overall shot, you might have noticed that the train tracks seem to go through a Forest at one point. This is because there were two feasible options when dealing with this obstacle – going around the Forest, or going under it, and we opted for the latter. This was easily done by going to the Landscaping tool-bar and selecting the Lower corner of a land button, which is the first button in the bar. Then, by clicking on the four points, as highlighted with grey circles in the above image, the land is lowered in those areas clicked. Once that’s done, using the Railway Construction tool-bar, we can select the Build railway tunnel button and click on one of the slopes we created to build a tunnel between the two points.

On the other hand, there might be a case where a bridge is a better option than a tunnel, such as when crossing bodies of water or large valleys. In order to build a bridge instead, all we have to do is select the Build railway bridge button and then click and drag from the point at which we want the bridge to start to the point at which we want the bridge to end.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Making room for even more trains

With the amount of coal coming out of the new Coal Mine and the distance between it and the Power Station, it became evident that we could afford to add a third train. This would mean that the two platforms at the Power Station are now receiving five trains. So, like shown in the above image, we added another two platforms to make sure that there’s never a train waiting. This isn’t actually necessary and we could feasibly get by without the extra platforms due to the distance between the Coal Mine train stations and the Power Station station making it highly unlikely that there would be more than two trains arriving at any one point in time. However, there’s another reason for doing this, and we’ll get to that now.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

Easing the load: Feeders

We’ve gone and added some more platforms and tracks to our first Coal Mine station and added a third train. But why are we doing all of this? Well, there’s actually another Coal Mine to the north-east, but because of the distance, we would probably want to put three trains on this one as well and the entry/exit tracks to the Power Station station would start to become a bit crowded at times with out current set-up. So we’re taking this opportunity to see what a feeder is and how it works.

A feeder is a vehicle that picks up cargo, transports it part of the way to the destination, to another station where the cargo gets dropped off and picked up by another vehicle to be taken the rest of the way. Feeders can be useful in several situations. For example, since large stations and airports can’t be placed in the population centre of most towns because there isn’t enough room for them and the town most likely wouldn’t allow it. The solution here would be to build the large station or port on the edge of the town and build a feeder, or feeders, between the town centre and the station. Another reason for using a feeder might be if there are two industries near each other whose cargo we want to send the same way, but the two aren’t close enough to build one station that covers both of them. It would be a waste to send two whole sets of trains along the tracks, so a feeder could be used instead to make one station a main station and the other one a simple station that merely sends its cargo to the main station.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

In order to set this feeder system up, the Coal Mine station was connected to the first Coal Mine station in the same manner as we’ve been doing so far. However, the trains going from the new Coal Mine station to our first Coal Mine station have different orders as a result: “1: Go to station (Full load any cargo) [far end]”, “2: Go to station (Unload and leave empty) [far end]”, and “–End Orders–“. The Unload all button allows us to get the “Unload and leave empty” status at the second station. Once we set this up, we can just watch it for a while to see how it works.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

This is the very basic network that has been created. Although this is still very simple in comparison to the other kinds of networks that we are capable of creating in OpenTTD, it functions well enough to provide us with a very nice amount of income to fund future projects, as we will be able to see when we check our finances.

OpenTTD: Creating a basic network

The Finances window to the right shows the company’s finances for the year that the feeder was built (1958), a whole year after following that of running without any construction or new vehicle costs (1959), and the start of the next year (1960). We’re now making quite a nice amount of money and we can start making some more complex tracks in the future, once we get through some more details about how OpenTTD works.