I don't like that you can cheat by using emergency shuttle lines


#1

I’m not sure why, but this really grates with me. I feel like once a line has been placed you shouldn’t be able to clear it, reroute to a new nearby station yes, but I think once a line goes through a station it should always go through a station. You could have the option to no longer have the line stop at said station but it should still pass through it.


Possible exploit to look at
#2

But is it really cheating? In “real life” metro trips that don’t start at the first station and/or don’t end at the last are hardly new. What are they if not pre-organized “emergency lines” to handle peak traffic? True, they may also be necessary to allow cars to change from one metro line to another — a problem Mini Metro doesn’t have. On the other hand, what metro service “in real life” shuts down completely because 7 people are left waiting in a station for more than 20 seconds that one time?

Consider that, in order to have those extra lines to spare for emergency, you have to give up lines that you could be using to make your network persistently better; even if you didn’t need those lines, you could’ve acquired other upgrades. Essentially, you’re spending one (or even two weeks’) upgrades in insurance that a single unlucky combination of factors can cut a game short.

You could destroy emergency lines by making it so that new lines need some time to actually be dug, and until the line is dug the passengers aren’t removed from the station. That would make the game less immediate and fun however, and it increases the risk of gameovers due to the necessary massive refactorings you’ll do during the game (after all you have to start with just 3 lines where 5 or more would do and the random spawning and upgrading of station doesn’t give you any hint of where the network will grow.)

The real problem here, if any, is that there is a need to buy this insurance in the first place — a single accident and it’s over. Having, say, three lives wouldn’t really help, however, although it’d allow you to delay the purchasing of the emergency lane.

I can’t think of alternative lose states that wouldn’t destroy the delightful minimalism of the game.


#3

You’ve really summed up our position on the issue. It’s not a tactic that we foresaw or want to be as effective as it is, but ultimately it’s inevitable given that Mini Metro’s core mechanic relies on line placement being free and instant. It’s a fine line between what’s a valid, short-term rerouting of track, and what’s a rescue line.

Maybe there’s a different loss mechanic that we could use? Ultimately you want to get people out of the stations they’re waiting at and to their destination, and nothing does that faster than a rescue line. We could mitigate the tactic by forcing a delay on removing a line (even if only the 3rd, 4th, etc., line) which would make it difficult to survive simultaneous overcrowdings. However we don’t want to complicate the game with arbitrary rules, or ruin the core appeal of the game just to remove an exploit.

We are going to be trying out a couple of small changes in the next alpha to see how they affect the issue. We’ll be cranking the overcrowding timer up significantly (60 seconds perhaps) which will give most trains ample time to get to the station. Then it becomes an issue of capacity instead of timing. As it stands, 20 seconds often isn’t enough time, so the player is forced to make short-term changes to solve the immediate problem. The timers will tick down faster however if there are multiple stations overcrowding simultaneously.


More interaction through clicks
Removing Stations instead of Ending Game
#4

Maybe there should only be one global “frustration meter”, instead of just having one at each station. When any station is overcrowded, it would flash like it does now, but there would be no individual countdown timer. Instead, the frustration meter would get a + next to it for each over-capacity passenger waiting. Then the meter counts up at a speed proportional to the number of +'s next to it.

When there are no +'s at all, the meter would slowly decrease. The longer there are no +'s, the faster the rate at which the meter decreases. In this way, the frustration of the whole network would be eased very quickly when there are zero overcrowded stations. Something like this could really only be accomplished by a well-constructed network. Someone who is using a rescue line as a strategy would be constantly putting out fires. This would never give a chance to the whole network to calm down so the frustration meter could reset.


#5

Erick’s global frustration meter is an interesting idea. It is possible that it will remove some of the fun by eliminating the specific pain points that prompt the player to rearrange track… but it’s also possible that players will adapt to the more general view while still ‘associating’ the failure with the couple of stations that were overcrowded. If it were implemented, I would suggest that some sort of exponential scale be applied to individual stations - a station that is only slightly overcrowded would contribute very little to the global frustration meter, while a station that is holding twice its capacity would contribute more than linearly. If visualized/presented to the player correctly, it would force players to ‘worry’ about individual stations, but still allow for the game to proceed if the overall network was functioning well despite a single misbehaving station.

Alternatively, the concept of “overcrowding” could itself be made more flexible. Instead of having a hard cap at 6, it could be that having 10 stations with 5 people apiece (50 passengers at stations) would contribute nearly as much to overcrowding as 5 stations with 10 people apiece (still 50 passengers at stations overall). As a result, a rescue line is mathematically next to useless because it’s not continually reducing your overall station occupancy - in fact it’s working against you by not continually moving passengers. However, this definitely moves toward a “maximum flow” model, which might be a little bit harder to conceptualize as a new player.

I think the devs’ plan also has a lot of potential - I hadn’t considered how the overcrowding is proportional in its effect to the length of the track. Lengthening the timer will at least avoid the frustration of seeing an empty train car that is two stations away and can’t get there in time.


#6

The problem with overcrowding is not that the system has too many passengers; it is that too many are concentrated at a place not able to contain them. It will be better to make 10 stations 20% overcrowded each count as much as 2 100% overcrowded each, because in big stations 1 more person is not that much of a problem than in small stations.


#7

I have wondered about the “station over crowding” thing myself. Here in the Twin Cities we have a light rail system that connects the Twins Ballpark, the International Airport, the Mall of America and many other stop and park and rides. At different times the ballpark, airport and MOA stations can get very crowded.

As an example…
Twins game is over. Station at ballpark is fills almost instantly. Those riders are going one direction, south, towards most of the other stations. Those other stations remain at relatively low passenger levels. Even if the airport and MOA were to have elevated levels of passengers, the would not affect the trains from the ballpark. The passengers from airport and MOA would be going north. There is no way the overcrowded ballpark station would “close down” the rail system. However, they would have known ahead of time to place larger and more trains on the line.

I am not sure what kind of changes they could make to minnimetro, but the over crowding thing is a bummer as it is right now.


#8

You are talking about peak-time service arrangements. In Mini Metro there is no peak times: every station spawns passengers at a constant pace, which accelerates as time passes by.


#9

Mini Metro does actually model peak-time, if you watch the clock (and figure out what the station shapes mean) you can see that the passenger spawns are timed to a schedule. However as the trains run on a completely different timescale to the clock it has little effect on gameplay.

We’ve considered a global congestion tracker. The one downside is the clarity. Although the current system has its issues (which we’ll working through with a graphic designer), it’s easy to see what’s going on, how to fix it, and (once you’ve played at least one game) what the stakes are. You can also attribute your loss to a single station which is somewhat cathartic I think—you can vent your frustration on that one station.

However I do think it’s worth a shot. You sold it fairly well. :slight_smile:


A rather controversial suggestion about the upgrade system
Beta 14 rule book
Alpha 13b rule book
#10

I do like the loss condition as it is.

The game as it is is fun, rapidly applying rescue lines is exhilarating. I like that the loss condition is fairly sudden, it keeps the game exciting. I also like that players have the option of using Station Upgrades kept in reserve to cover if a stations timer does expire. It adds to the strategy- do I cover my back if an emergency does arise, or do I select an upgrade which will improve the network’s quality to try and avoid emergencies arising in the first place?

In my PB game, all of my station upgrades kept in reserve were applied very quickly. Almost every station on my network was overcrowding at this point. https://scontent-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/t1.0-9/10325136_10202744300583090_6023715608898187704_n.jpg

And finally, it has been a joy to see the game grow and develop.


#11

Tonight I noticed another shortcoming with the current overcrowding arc. When looking at a paused screen you can’t immediately tell if the crowding is getting better or worse. You have to inspect the waiting passengers and see if there are more than 6 (or 12? for the interchanges).


#12

I would love to be able to continue to play after admitting defeat. Maybe if you lose a station, your game is over (your score wouldn’t increase), but you can continue to toy around with your lines, kind of like the way that Civilization lets you play after a winner is declared.

I think I wouldn’t mind the abrupt end that comes when a single station overcrowds if I could still play the game afterwards. Perhaps you get the option to enter Zen mode when you reach game over. This could appease the players who are more interested in a long game without eliminating the short game competitive mode.

This change might also allow players to toy with strategies and see exactly where they went wrong. Additionally, I saw in another post that some players are interested in seeing statistics, but the devs were cautious of how this would change how people play. Seeing this kind of information after the game is “over” but still in action would further allow us to analyze our strategies.


#13

I agree that the quick pace, sudden loss condition and frantic nature are what makes this game fun, and makes this game what it is. I’m glad the devs are being careful to keep it intact.

The big problem I think is using this method to constantly teleport a train around to wherever it’s needed. When I first thought of using an emergency line I used it constantly throughout the game and immediately doubled my previous best score. I think my emergency train was transporting as many passengers as any other train, if not more.

I think rendering a train unusable for some time after its line is removed would be a good solution. This lets you reroute freely, but stops you from teleporting a train around the map constantly; you need to actually keep a train idle (unused) for a little while before you can place it where it’s needed. An emergency train would then be forced to carry fewer passengers over all and choosing to use one would be a tradeoff.


#14

We’re planning on doing exactly this! If you have a city you want to tinker around with after the scored game you’ll be able to do so.


#15

This is aaaawesome!

(here you, go, 20 characters)