The Witcher Netflix Teaser

Just a quick one today. Even though the Netflix series is based on the books rather than the games, I think it’d be fair to say the interest levels in The Witcher series are high.

If you’ve only played the games and are wondering where his other sword is — it’s on Roach. Equipping both swords simultaneously was a game convenience not core to the books!

Well there we go then. Still titled a teaser, but we have the first real trailer for Netflix’ The Witcher series. Although I suppose honestly, the ‘teaser’ descriptor does fit. It isn’t your typical spill-all Netflix trailer after all, so you can at least watch it without much fear of major spoilers.

But it also wasn’t enough to really create a clear picture for me on whether it will be amazing or utter crud. It could just sit right in the middle as an average show, but I’m not convinced that will necessarily be the case either! The budget seems to be there which is nice. But otherwise… Unsure!

Blaugust Reminder

If you haven’t yet signed up for Blaugust, go ahead and do it now! Sign-up is necessary for the event, but it’s a super quick and easy Google form.

So come along and get involved! :D

Chasing Truck Fever Part 3: Spend Less, Earn More

This is part of a series in Transport Fever to chase down the ‘Truck Fever’ achievement. Detailed first in Part 1, including a little setup on Calvin and Asher, who will be used as sort of a light story telling element alongside the game.

Setting up had been expensive. It was true you had to spend money to make money, but even Calvin began to realise that leaving not much more than a fart in the wind of their starting funds for operating expenses was perhaps… not entirely wise.

He had no interest in drawing down another loan, trading on his father’s name, but had allowed Asher to draw up the documents even so. It provided the fellow with a little peace of mind, so was worth the irritation. The hope was that in a few months the document could be ripped up.

And for a while, things were good. There was a celebratory round of drinks held as the loan contracts were torn and sent sprinkling out onto the street like confetti.

But perhaps this celebration was premature. As the wagons they owned aged, and horses died and needed replacing at ever increasing rates — the operating costs began to soar, while the income remained steady given the decision to hold off on capital expenses while a financial buffer was built.

It became clear to Calvin and Asher that it would be necessary to start a programme of work to replace the current fleet just to maintain position. After a quick discussion with the local banking office — there was some good news at least. They were prepared to tolerate a small degree of running in the red for operating expenses. Nothing could be purchased mind you without a positive balance, but there was a gentleman’s agreement in place not to come in pursuit of their assets for slight dips.

But otherwise, from there began a series of frustrations and pain. After a flurry of initial replacements — which did drop operating costs for a time — a significant advancement in how these cargo wagons are put together released to market. They could hold more AND travel faster. They required a larger horse team and so cost more to operate, but the speed and cargo increase more than made up for this expense.

Except… It didn’t. The problem was in sharing the road with the older wagons. There was no room to safely pass with the heavy stream of traffic in both directions. And so they were more often that not stuck riding at the heals of a slower traveler.

Asher tried hard to keep his worries to himself, but wore an unconscious frown more often than not. Calvin spent most nights in the bar nursing a drink. They both knew what they had to do, but struggled to put it to words.

Without additional capital, sure, they could keep this business going — but growth…? It seems they had failed at both aspects of the current plan. They were spending just as much if not more to keep the fleet up to date and running smoothly, and not earning more in turn.

Calvin downed his now mostly warm beer in a single chug and got up to leave. He wasn’t happy, per se, but at least with the decision made he could feel more resolute. Tomorrow he and Asher would take another loan and expand their area of control with all modern technology. Ideally on the power of his own name. But he had decided he would draw in his father’s if necessary.

Chasing Truck Fever Part 2: Permit to Roll

This is part of a series in Transport Fever to chase down the ‘Truck Fever’ achievement. Detailed first in Part 1, including a little setup on Calvin and Asher, who will be used as sort of a light story telling element alongside the game.

Calvin blew out an exasperated breath, stepping out from the bureaucratic prison that was the permit office. The sun rode much higher in the sky than it had when he entered that morning. Midday at least. So not years of his life lost after all. Just several hours. Asher emerged next and blew a near identical sigh. “I’m not entirely sure, Sir, whether our ordeal at sea or our ordeal in there,” Asher said with a nod back toward the ornate wooden doors, “was worse.”

A slight pause in Calvin’s step was the only sign, but Asher caught it. He opened his mouth to apologise but Calvin turned first, and with a tight smile said, “The sea. Definitely the sea. As odious as being in there was, I at least knew we would leave alive.” Calvin’s smile grew broader and a little more genuine, “I was pretty sure, at least.”

The pair walked back through the streets of Long Beach to where they had setup shop. A small office above the general goods store. Apparently Long Beach was a big town so far as this frontier land, but it was hard to avoid drawing comparisons to back home. There were almost no horse drawn carts. Porters at best had hand-wagons. Armed with the sheath of papers obtained from the permit office and a modest capital investment from Calvin’s father — it was time to get to work, building a logistics network the likes of this country had never seen.

Probably worth noting…

Time in Transport Fever is a little… odd. It’s not uncommon by any means for the genre, but time runs significantly faster than the actual distances traveled would indicate. From a story perspective, I’ll probably consider ~10 years game time to be ~1 year of passed time for the characters… Somehow. We’ll see how it goes. ;)

It was time to order construction of a vehicle depot and a few freight stations. However this didn’t completely go without incident. Asher thought it best to spend minimally and construct the passenger depot at the edge of town, with stagecoach stops in the town to cart people back and forth.

Calvin wanted to place the passenger depot in the town centre. Become part of the hustle and bustle. Sure it meant paying through the nose to take over a couple of properties, but one day that would pay back.

The conversation grew heated, but ultimately Calvin won. They called it a compromise through placing the freight depots on the edge of town in uncontested land. But the passenger depots were placed right in the middle, and Calvin wore the smile.

Then it was a matter of getting the oil line up and running. Something like this:

With the infrastructure in place and the plans drawn up for the routes. There was just one thing left to put in place.

Lots and lots of horses — pulling a variety of passenger carriages and freight wagons.

The company bank account at the end of the (game 10) year period was a meagre $17.5k, down from their starting pool of $1.2m.

It seemed to paint a poor picture. It certainly worried Asher to no end to not to have a healthier amount left over for operating expenses. Capital expenditure was all good and well, but one poor year or unexpected need for replacements could destroy them.

Calvin understood he was driving them close to the wire, but there was still demand taking far too long to fill. The balance sheets with capital expenditure removed were positive and that was good enough for him. He was beyond loathe to admit it, but in the back Calvin’s mind was always the knowledge that he could trade on his father’s name for a significant degree of local investment in the way of loans if it really came to it.

He would rather walk backwards, barefoot over coals than to do so. But it was an option. Still, it was clearly weighing on his friend. … Huh. Friend. The thought still took him by surprise at times. Asher was currently looking down at the maps in their office with the frown that had become his constant companion.

“Look Asher,” Calvin started, “We’ll slow down our rate of purchase of more horse teams. Build a bit of a buffer in our books again. But soon after,” he paused with a gleam entering his eye, “We should look to extend our reach to another town.”

Chasing Truck Fever Part 1: Planning

So uh… Here’s something I didn’t know until it was too late. Out of curiosity about what the later game technology looks like, I started a custom game in the year 2000. As the achievements started rolling in for various ‘not going bankrupt milestones’ over the years, I realised the mistake.

Unfortunately, the achievement I had been planning on aiming for (Penny Pincher) also streamed by with an automatic completion. Honestly, I felt a wee bit cheated! No doubt, it was my mistake. But I had assumed (incorrectly) that part of the achievement requirements would be not to have started in, or after, the year you had to reach for it.

Not to worry though, I scanned through the achievements yet to be earned and found the following interesting one:

I did a bit of research and despite the name, in addition to Trucks you’re allowed to use boats, trams and even air if you get that far. Just not trains.

You’re also required to have 50 million in the bank all at one time, it’s not enough to have simply earnt 50 million over time without trains.

So this will be the first goal I strive for! :)

Setting Up and Surveying the Land

I set the map to use a USA base for its generation. World size is Huge, in a 1:2 ratio of width:length, terrain type is Hilly (there is another achievement I may want to go for after finishing up with Truck Fever). The year is 1850 and the difficulty is Hard.

Might need to click through for detail.

I found a near perfect starting location. Long Beach — the centre town shown on the river bank, between the blue lines (my planned primary trucking line) — is, by 1850 standards, a monster. It has a population of almost 250 before I’ve even done anything.

First order of business will be to setup passenger services between Long Beach and the two neighbour cities. Gilbert on the left, and Green Bay on the right.

Following the purple lines I traced out, there are three more towns. Muuuch smaller than Long Beach. But could still be given the chance to grow with a passenger transit service if I can afford to set them up.

Then the green line. My plan when putting this together was to create a river shipping line from the crude oil source to the refinery, then returning with the fuel to then truck to the nearby cities with preference going to Long Beach’s development first.

I’m beginning to second guess this idea though. On the return ship with the processed fuel, the ship lines would not be directly paid. They are expensive to run and I’d still need cargo wagons to distribute. If I need them anyway, then I might just skip the ships entirely.

We’ll see. When (if) I get into a comfortable money position I might simply test it out and pull up stakes quickly if it isn’t looking like a profitable move.

The area presents other long term opportunities, even just with what’s in view of the screenshot! I can see Coal and Iron readily available for metal beams, I can use the refined oil product to create plastics and then bring these together for consumer goods.

Finding the Story’s Voice

I’ve been thinking a bit about how I want to tell this story, too.

The main idea I keep coming back to is a pair of fellows, fresh imports from Britain. One, a son of a successful Transport Tycoon. The other his manservant and advisor.

When I was going for Penny Pincher (and I still might pretend for the game’s sake I haven’t achieved it), I had thought the story to be that the father had loaned the initial ~$1.2m in capital and said no more. Failure was not an option.

Succeed or watch the inheritance go to his younger brother.

The son would be essentially a good fellow, but given to flights of fancy and ego projects if left unchecked. His name is… Calvin Carter. (Thank-you British Name Generator.)

Calvin and his manservant — Asher Morris is his name — have been together since Calvin was a young child. They are of a similar age, but have never been what you would call close. Until the journey over by ship. The seas were beyond rough. Passengers were lost.

Whether it is sheer survival of a shared experience, or that they each remind the other of a home now left far beyond, they bonded beyond class. Calvin respects Asher’s opinion and will generally at least listen.

The rest we’ll have to discover as we go. :)

Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

“What the hell does the error, ‘Unable to find path to stop’ mean?” book-ended my first session with Transport Fever. I’d started play at an unwise time of night for a game I was still learning to be fair. But it was juuuust about enough for me to decide the game was ‘too quirky’ and put it down.

I’ve since come to love Transport Fever enough that it’s going to warrant a series. Considering a run at hard mode, starting in 1850, while attempting to achieve Penny Pincher, wherein you take no additional loans beyond what you start the game with until the year 2000.

I’d love for more people to be able to get on board as well, so hopefully sharing some of my early frustrations and their solutions will help, in addition to perhaps just some nice to know tips. So here’s the first of these, dealing with this blasted error!

Starting out, that little nondescript error box can become a nightmare.

Trains and the ‘Unable to Find Path to Stop’ Error

The most common reason for this is that your track isn’t actually connected like you think it is.

This will happen most often when either the angle of attack for joining the lines isn’t right. You might need to bulldoze further back where you’re trying to join to come in with a softer angle.

Even at a reasonably zoomed out view, it is possible to identify when this is happening. You’ll see far more speed indicators when it is creating a line that crosses over rather than joining. When it is ‘right’ there will be three key speed indicators surrounding the point of the join.

Here we go, this will work.

In addition to seeing only speed indicators for the track immediately before the join, at the point of the join, and immediately after — we can also tell this is right by the track positioning control doodackey being dead centre on the track we’re joining.

Unable to Find Path to Stop can Occur with Trucks, too

You might find it to be a connectivity error with the roads, but this is generally much easier to spot than the train example.

Most likely if you get this with trucks (or buses) then the line you’ve created is a complete mismatch of station/stop types.

Transport Fever does allow some flexibility here. Passengers will happily disembark at a freight station. Cargo can even be unloaded at a bus station if the catchment area includes the industry or property types that will consume it. This is actually quite useful when you’re dealing with just a small town in the 1850’s.

But passengers and cargo will never load at an incorrect station type.

After stations are placed you’ll need to visually identify them for type. Left is a small passenger stop, with seating. Passenger train stations will similarly have benches. Middle is the freight station with plenty of loading space. On the right is simply the road vehicle depot.

If you’ve inadvertently setup a passenger to passenger line, and you attempt to assign a vehicle that carries only cargo to it (or vice versa) — you’ll see your old friend ‘Error: Unable to path to stop’.

Interestingly, setting up a train incorrectly in this way will allow the train to run regardless of the type mismatch. Possibly this is because it could be ‘fixed’ with adding an additional carriage of the right type.

Signals Might be to Blame

Signals may well require a post all of their own, but your first adventures with double tracking and signals may well cause the re-emergence of the ‘Unable to find path to stop’ error.

You’ll have found that simply creating a double track doesn’t mean your line will automatically use it. You will need signals to make it operate efficiently with more than one train.

Track is correctly setup with a join at both this station and the other, but the line still wants to travel both directions up one side. Not exactly conducive to having multiple trains run the line.

Here are some things to note:

  • Transport Fever pathing prefers traveling on the right side, even if you’re playing the Britain map.
  • You don’t want to create any stops at a signal which will result in blocking other trains or traffic.
  • Without signals, trains will check the entire section of rail ahead of it is clear, up until the next station.1
  • Trains in Transport Fever will never crash. At worst, they’ll get stuck.
  • Where you have contest for right of way, generally an unsignaled train will have right of way over a signaled train. Queuing and wait rules will be smartly managed though.
This one signal was enough to update the line’s routing. But not quite enough to fix all issues!

Facing the direction of travel, I placed just one signal on the right side. I placed it far enough back that any train exiting the station still has room to get by on the left.

If I had placed the signal much further forward at the split, we could still run into situations where two trains found themselves in a stand-off and unable to move.

You need to place another signal at the other station as well to prevent the same happening there. Flip the camera as necessary to again align yourself to direction of travel and place the signal on the right side, before the merge.

This is your minimal set of signals, and this should work in that trains should be permitted to be assigned to the line. If you have simplified your signals down to this level, and you still can’t — check your joins or other sources of potential trouble again.

Signals Continued…

…I mean we got this far. May as well finish the basic introduction!

Signalling for the Train Depot

I might have to adjust this in the future if my train length grows.

Your depot may not require this, especially if you’ve simply attached it to the end of a station. But I figure this shows the principles in action again so might be useful.

The trains inbound to the depot will come from the right as we’ve discussed. I want them to be controlled off the main line and out of the way so that other trains can still carry on without interruption. To that end I pushed the signal as close to the join as I possibly could that still allows trains outbound from the depot to get by.

Similarly, trains leaving the depot should give right of way to any train already at full speed on the main line. I’m controlling them with the signal as close to the main line as possible to create space for any potential train incoming to the depot while one waits to leave.

That situation should be fairly rare, but as I noted under the image, if my trains start getting longer I’ll have to bulldoze this on/off section and rework it for additional length before the join.

Signal Pairs on the Main Line

This deals with the principle that in Transport Fever trains will look ahead at the next entire segment of track. If it has a train on it (even if they’re going in the same direction) the next train will not go until it is clear.

That is currently a huge block of track uncontrolled by signals that trains would have to wait to be clear before starting at the moment.

Fortunately, this has a simple fix. You apply signal pairs at regular intervals down the length of the track.

You don’t need them to be too close, but you will need (at minimum) one segment for every train you plan to run, otherwise eventually you will get something stuck. Being too far apart is not great either though simply due to the wait times if one section does happen to be blocked.

Here’s what I changed mine to:

Much better. Trains should be able to freely flow along this path.

And that’s it for the basics! Hopefully it helps. :D

One Final Bonus Tip on Pairing Bus Stops

Knowing that Transport Fever travels on the right (even in maps set in Britain) can certainly help when placing your bus stops in avoiding your carriages taking truly bizarre routes through town.

But you can simplify it a heck of a lot further by simply placing two bus stops together, one on either side of the road.

Transport Fever will automatically consider these as a single terminal/point for the purposes of creating your lines and will route to the correct side of the road depending on the needs of your path.

On the left, can see the bus stops have been automatically considered as a single point with two terminals. Lines using this will be free to approach from whichever side of the road is best. On the right, is a single bus stop. Lines using it from the ‘wrong’ side will need to turn around, often in a loop.