Super Energy Metropolis Prototype 2 – results

Okay, so here are the results of Super Energy Metropolis 2. First, let's look at what happens when we try the dominant strategy from Prototype 1:

This does not look healthy
This does not look healthy
So, what's clearly going on here is that pollution is DEFINITELY having an effect on our population. Also, it's easier to tell what's going on with the little dots in the buildings.  Now, you can't see it because this is just a screenshot, but our product output has slowed to a crawl. All those green workers (deathly ill) will still work like normal, they just won't get anything done. This is because they are dragging themselves in to work, coughing up their own lungs as they struggle to stand, and then dragging themselves home.

So, this prototype is mostly successful, in that it solves most of our old problems, but there's still some issues here, and some brand new problems as well.

More analysis after the break :)

Just a reminder, here's our pollution system:

Road and Factory pollution patterns
Road and Factory pollution patterns

And pollution DOES stack.

So, here are the basic observations:
  • As long as you don't build a road or a factory next to another factory, people can heal up BOTH while they're resting at home, AND while they're at work, because the factory doesn't produce pollution in its own square. I don't know why I implemented it this way, because this totally assumes that facilities pollute the countryside and not their own working conditions.
  • Building a road right next to a house will make that house polluted, which means a person can not use it to heal up to maximum health.
  • Building factories next to each other QUICKLY creates deadly pollution levels
  • There is still little incentive to produce roads because of the static pollution they produce.

Also, forgot to mention this in the previous post, but we've added a new "priority" control that lets you decide whether your people should focus on "build" tasks (constructing roads, houses, and factories) or "produce" tasks (working at factories). This will later be expanded as more features are added later.

Here's an example setup:

Experimenting with different transportation setups
Experimenting with different transportation setups

The Northern houses use roads to ferry them on to work quickly. However, we have to keep the road one square away from their house to avoid contaminating the house. This results in them having to travel through one square of work ANYWAY. Then, they zip through the road squares and off to work. The time they save traveling quickly is offset by the pollution they experience in the dirt square before the road, as well as the extra distance to the factory.

In this prototype, it makes no sense to build a road that's not connected to a building directly, because otherwise you still have to travel through dirt squares, and polluted ones at that, if you leave off the first and last road square to a building. It therefore makes no sense to build roads at all, because you might as well just build the factories themselves a square away from the homes that supply their workers, as the Southern city models.

Now, I knew going into this prototype that it was a very unrealistic model (roads have environmental effects such as erosion and lowered rainwater absorption, etc, but they do not produce smog just by sitting there unused), but I was really surprised by the unintended consequences of over-simplifying the model like this.

So, let's look at the Southern cities. They get to work, heal up while they're there, and then go home and heal up, too. The only place they suffer pollution is in the one transit tile between home and work, so their net health gain is positive.

Taking a look at the Northern city, they have to transit to work, and since the road is directly connected to the factory, they don't heal up when at work. Overall, they break even at "good" health but don't ascend to "great." Also, they take longer to get to work (they have to travel one dirt tile ANYWAY) and have lower productivity. The Southern city has a much higher output AND higher health.

So there are clearly some problems here. Now might be a good time to start delving deeper into research and getting some numbers for these things. I still want to do more prototypes based on my instincts, but I'm seeing how research is becoming more and more necessary to direct even these simple design questions, now that I can see how an oversimplified model can drastically change results.

Here is what I found to be the ultimate strategy (more or less) for this prototype:

No roads, houses built close to factories, but spaced out.
No roads, houses built close to factories, but spaced out

This is basically just another revision of the "pack 'em in like chickens" strategy from the first prototype, but all in all it's not nearly as odious a strategy : build work places close to the houses the workers live in, and keep them far enough away to contaminate work and living conditions.

Of course, seeing as this game is supposed to be about TRANSPORTATION, this prototype doesn't cut it. It's still a success in that it answers some questions and tells us where to go next.

My thoughts for the next version:
  • Pollution needs to be modeled more accurately. Ie : pollution is caused by ACTIVITY.
  • We need to de-abstract people's movement a little. Why do roads cause pollution? How about, we make people turn into cars when they're on a highway, and zip to their location really fast. Much faster than now, say something like 4 times as fast as a person walks. (Good enough for now because we aren't modeling realistic land area usage yet, so even our distances are abstract).
  • Cars will pollute while they're on the road. They won't produce much individually, but collectively they'll produce a lot if the same stretch gets congested
  • Factories produce pollution only when people are working at them.
  • Factory's pollution radius should be larger than just a square. If pollution levels get high enough, it can have an effect on the whole area, not just a small amount. This also adds to the "stacking" effect of pollution.