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Author Topic: Bay12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation [1992: More Huge Factories]  (Read 5773 times)

Sensei

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Welcome to Automation: The Car Company Tycoon Game!



With your help, it's time to start an automotive company! Dwarves have long been renowned for their craftsmanship in architecture, weapons, and armor, but now we will demonstrate our mastery of engineering by conquering the multi-billion-dollar automotive industry! Or something.

What is Automation? It's an indie tycoon game about building and selling cars. Mostly building them: The game started years back with only an engine designer, then expanded to designing the whole car, and then added the actual business management side. Consequently, the car design is more detailed than the business side, so during a campaign, you'll spend most of your time staring down the car designer. In fact, the campaign is currently called the "Lite Campaign" (V4.0) because there's a lot more slated to go into it. Still, I've had a lot of fun playing it and I want to do a community game.

Also, Automation has my favorite feature of any of the games in the small Car Tycoon genre: The BeamNG exporter. It can export working cars into BeamNG, the soft body physics-based driving game, so you can actually drive your creations. If you have BeamNG, you can drive our awful creations, and wonder why we tuned the suspension so badly.

For this LP, I'll be doing the majority of the car designing- naturally, since there's a ton of fiddly little sliders. Think of me as the engineer. You'll be the board of directors. You'll give directives on what kind of car to design, major features, and how we spend our money otherwise- factory upgrades primarily, but also dealerships, advertising, and R&D.

To start, we need to decide what kind of company we are. I'll run through the basics of how this works, then summarize again at the end. The game normally starts in 1946:

First, our country:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

There are five countries:
Gasmea is like the United States. They're the largest country in terms of number of car buyers, and those buyers are relatively wealthy. They prefer cars which are easy to drive, large, and comfortable. They also care about safety and gas mileage. It's also the most expensive country in which to buy land for factories, and labor isn't cheap either. Though they have the biggest market themselves, they only start able to export to Hetvesia. Fruinia doesn't unlock until 1970, and the rest of the countries in 1990, so we'd be selling most of our cars domestic.

Hetvesia is like Sweden. They have a small but wealthy market, and they value safety above all else, although they like good gas mileage too. They also have high labor cost, but the best labor skill level. They start with access to Gasmea and Fruinia, getting access to the eastern bloc of Archana and Dalluha in 1990.

Fruinia is best comparable to Italy. They have a strong taste for sporty and small cars, although they also highly value practicality (number of seats and cargo space). They have a small market but access to Hetvesia immediately, Dalluha almost immediately, Archana in 1960, and Gasmea in 1970. The fact that it can export to the East and West by mid-game makes it probably the best positioned country for exports. It has a small market itself with middling wealth, labor costs, and land prices.

Archana is basically Russia. They are dirt poor, and they only really buy utility, family, and delivery vehicles. They demand offroad performance, and in theory they like their cars comfortable, large, and easy to drive, but in practice they will buy the cheapest car you can put on the market. They have very weak safety laws and are the last country to ban leaded gas. Land and labor are both cheap, so it's a VERY appealing place to build a factory, but it has limited export: they start only with access to Dalluha, then Fruinia in 1960, and gain access to Hetvesia and Gasmea in 1990.

Dalluha is a filthy rich tax haven. They have the smallest, wealthiest market by far. They strongly prefer their vehicles to be as large and comfortable as possible, many of them will probably be driven by chauffeurs. It's only really profitable to sell to the Luxury and GT markets here, because the market sizes are small. They basically have the same export opportunities as Archana, being cut off from Hetvesia and Gasmea until 1990, but they do get access to Fruinia in 1950. Land and labor are expensive here.

Once we choose a country we need to choose a difficulty:


Everything we choose affects our score multiplier, if we care about getting a high score. Competition determines how good our competitor cars are. Most difficulties have this at less than 100%, but I like to leave it at 100% so we actually have to make good cars. Technology affects the quality of every component in the car, and the year at which certain features unlock. For example, bottom end affects how much power our pistons can take so it's good for performance cars. Fuel system affects fuel efficiency and power, transmission is most useful for unlocking front wheel drive and automatic transmissions early, and Body lets us unlock new shapes for our car early. This is by exactly 1 year ahead per tech level, and it can be a big effect. We can also get tech through R&D, after the game starts, but it costs us lots of money every month just to keep our tech level and stay ahead. Dealerships work similarly, they have a constant monthly cost and we can start with a higher base level.

The REAL determination of difficulty is our starting factory size. We need at least a Medium factory to build cars with steel body panels. This is the minimum size to add Steel Presses, and it's absolutely 100% necessary to target low or medium priced demographics, such as Family. By comparison, a Small factory can only work with aluminum in the early game- this limits us only to expensive demographics, and smaller numbers of cars. It takes a LOT of money to make cheap cars, and if you don't have a lot of money, you have to make expensive cars!

Main options would be:
Easy: Start with a large factory and tech. We'd basically be Ford or GM. People will have to buy our cars no matter how bad they are.
Medium Difficulty: Start with a Medium factory, money, and tech. Basically can't go wrong, good if you want a lot of input to make stupid cars though.
Hard Mode: Start with a medium factory, but no money or tech. The bare minimum to sell to large demographics like Family. This will probably produce the highest score, and it means we have to be savvy but we aren't restricted to luxury cars.
Super Cars: Start with money and tech so the game will be easy, but only a small factory. Good if you want to make the fastest car in the world.
Very Hard: No money or tech and a small factory. The Ferrari Experience.
Ultimate Insane: Start with $50M and no factory or land at all, in Dalluha if we want the highest score multiplier. We're just a rich person with dreams of entering the auto industry. One wrong move could bankrupt us and it will be touch and go the whole way, but it will certainly be dramatic.
DeLorean Challenge: Start in 1975 in Gasmea with $250M and a only a little tech. Can we live the dream of starting a new super car company, or is it too late to get into the industry?

Finally we need to decide what kind of cars we want to make first. Certain countries start with markets for certain kinds of cars, and then the rest unlock later. For example, Fruinia starts with no demand for regular Utility (trucks). Super Cars aren't in demand in any country until a few years after the start, and Hyper Cars come later. Remember, demographics like "family" and "utility" necessitate a Medium factory or larger.

There are a bunch of little variations, like convertibles and premium versions of main types, but the major groups are:
-Family cars
-City cars (small, saves gas)
-Premium/Luxury cars
-Sports cars (affordable for regular people, usually steel)
-Utility vehicles (trucks)
-Grand Touring (GT)- big, fast vehicles for highway use, can do with a small factory
-Track Cars- a very small demographic, I've never started off with track cars but I'm told it is possible.

If you want to get nitty gritty, here are the number of buyers (monthly) in each demographic in 1946, the start of the game. Many cars will sell to multiple demographics.
Spoiler: Gasmea (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Hetvesia (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Fruinia (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Dalluha (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Archana (click to show/hide)

Let's get started!
Cast your vote for:
Country,
Difficulty,
and Car Type (you don't have to use specific game terms).
Most of all, what should we name our company?

If we want, we can even try making up a challenge- such as having to build the fastest car in the world for every year, or trying to see if we can convince the world to keep buying RWD manual station wagons until 2020.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 08:32:15 pm by Sensei »
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King Zultan

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Re: Bay 12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2020, 07:05:22 am »

For country I thing Archana sounds like a good one, for difficulty I say we go for hard mode to show how hard core we are, and for car type we should go for family so we can produce cheap cars for the masses.

Bay 12 Motors sounds like a good name to me.

And you said something about a challenge, so I think we should try to make the ugliest station wagon we can every year, to go with some nicer looking thing if we can manage.
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Fishbreath

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Re: Bay 12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2020, 02:09:30 pm »

A. Posting to watch.
B. I would definitely buy a RWD manual station wagon in 2020.
C. I say Hard Mode and Fruinia.

EuchreJack

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Re: Bay 12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2020, 03:24:23 pm »

Wow, this game has come a long way!  It's actually a game now!

Ultimate Insane Dalluha!  But that probably won't let us see much of the game, so lets go with Hard Mode.  Either Archana or Fruinia would be fine, either of those would be my choice, but I'd rather not be the deciding voice.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 03:29:58 pm by EuchreJack »
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Iridium64

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Re: Bay 12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2020, 07:25:57 pm »

Let's go with Hard Mode and Fruinia.
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Sensei

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Re: Bay 12 Motor Company: Let's Play Automation
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2020, 02:13:09 am »

It looks like we're settled on Hard Mode. That means we'll have a medium factory and can sell to regular demographics, but we're not so rich as to have a big advantage over our competitors. Our nationality is down to just Fruinia or Archana- with two definite votes for Fruinia and just one for Archana, that seems to make Fruinia the decision!

The Bay 12 Motor Company: Founded in Fruinia, 1946



After the war, the Bay 12 Motor Company has very few assets. As you can see, our "family connections" have sold off our dealerships to competitors, at least the ones that weren't confiscated for use as army motor pools- we have no dealerships. In terms of the consumer auto industry, we have only base level tech. Furthermore, we have no liquid assets to speak of.

That's all going to be okay though! We aren't ruined yet! We have... our factory!
Spoiler: Car Factory 1 (click to show/hide)

It's a Medium 1 Car Factory with steel presses. That will let us make steel-bodied cars for regular consumers, probably around 2000 per month! We also have a Medium 1 Engine Factory, with iron casting facilities. These are respectively called Car Factory 1 and Engine Factory 1, in accordance with Fruinian military regulations. Those are over now, so I propose we come up with new names for our factories.

If we're penniless, how can we afford to manufacture cars? Well, that's simple. Here's a cut of the Hub screen (most of the information is blank until time starts passing).


See where it says $1.4B? That's our Company Valuation- the worth of all of our assets, which right now is just our two factories and the property they're built on. That's 1,400,000,000 dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at. We also have a credit rating: A+. I don't know exactly how that's calculated, but it has to do with the ratio of our assets to our liabilities (debt) as well as profit projections, I think. In any case, this basically means that the Fruinian National Bank is willing to let us take out hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, because they can repossess the factories if we fail to pay them. That way we will have enough money to design our car, tool our factory, build dealerships, and pay our workers until we start turning a profit. Hopefully.

Now, we need to design a car.

This was something we didn't discuss much yet. We can currently sell to Fruinia and our neighboring country Hetvesia, which gives us a lot of opportunity. There's two important pieces of market research I need to show you. The first is the sizes of each demographic we can sell to, in cars purchased per month:
Spoiler: Demo Sizes (click to show/hide)
Remember, we probably want to sell 1000-2000 cars per month, because of the factory size. It will also take us years to make our first car, and the markets will grow in that time. However, we are limited by Awareness which I'll talk about more in another post. For now you just need to know, we are going to be limited to about 50% of the actual market size because we will have few dealerships. The other important chart is the Value of each demographic.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
This is the total spending of each group per month, basically the price they're willing to pay multiplied by the number of them. We'll talk about prices in another post more. It can be a little deceptive: we'll never 171M per month selling to the Family demographic because we can't make 17,000 cars per month, for example. On the other hand, if our cars are good enough, we could corner almost the entire market in a group like Sport, Family Sport, or Family Sport Premium. Also, the more money there is, the more competition there is, so keep that in mind. It's easy to dominate in Convertibles, but hard to do it Family or Premium.

Once we decide who to target, we just need to build the perfect car for them!  Here is a list of all the body types we can build, this will be the biggest factor because obviously each market has preferences for the shape of their car. Two important things. First, each row is one body type. That means, we can build all of them as variants of the same car model. We can build only one model per factory, but multiple variants, so we could have a hardtop and a convertible for example. These variants are called Trims. The second thing to keep in mind is that each body is labeled with a Year, and a Length, in meters. The older a body is, the less attractive it is to buyers. Certain markets prefer bigger or smaller cars- as a rule of thumb, Fruinia and Hetvesia both like their cars smaller than average for their markets. Specify a body like: '40 Hatchback, 2.1m so I know which one you mean.

Spoiler: Newest (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Oldest (click to show/hide)

After we choose a body we have to choose our material (steel is the only real option), chassis type (ladder frame is almost certainly our choice, but we can go for space frame if we want fewer, more expensive sporty cars), engine placement (ladder frames do not allow rear engine!) and suspension. Unless we're making trucks, we can rule out solid axle, so I'd recommend double wishbone front and back for a premium car, or double wishbone front with semi-trailing arm in the back for cheaper cars. If you don't know what to pick here don't worry, I've got this part. However, we cannot change these later without designing a new car from scratch.
Spoiler: Chassis Screen (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Suspension Tooltip (click to show/hide)
This screen shows a bunch of stuff I'll explain more later, but note how suspension types affect things like "comfort", "sportiness", and Engineering Time.

Don't worry about that, but you DO need to pick an engine type. I'll explain this but first, pictures!
Spoiler: Inline 4 Piston View (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: V8 (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: V12 (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Boxer 4 Piston View (click to show/hide)

The Engine is the heart of our car! The noise, the power, the spirit! In 1946, we don't have every type available to us. Also, like cars, engines have a Family and Variants, so we can make different versions of the same engine in one factory- usually, one for sportiness and one for more mild use. Remember, the more cylinders, the more expensive it is and the more time it takes to design it. I'll explain our options:

Inline Engines are the most basic type, they have pistons arranged in a line.
An I3, or 3-cylinder inline engine, is the smallest and cheapest engine we can make. They're great for fuel economy and demographics like City, but it's hard to make a lot of power and they vibrate horribly, so they aren't luxurious. If we build these, we will also gain Familiarity with V6 engines when we unlock them later, making them faster to design. Found on tiny economy cars, almost exclusively.
An I4 is much more balanced than an I3, it can be made to be powerful or fuel efficient, so it's very versatile, and still pretty cheap. A great choice for Family or Light Sport- or both at once. It's a good choice for front wheel drive cars, when we unlock them later. They will also make it easier to design V8's later.
An I6 is a great choice for luxury or sports cars. They're vastly smoother, which wealthy demographics like. Six cylinders allows a good amount of power, but they're still cheap to design and not too complex. The only downside is they are long, so they're almost always used in rear wheel drive cars. They will make it easier to design V12's later.

V Engines have two banks of cylinders at a V angle. Most very powerful cars use V engines. They will take a lot more time for use to design, so we might want familiarity from simpler engines first.
V8's are common on sports cars, big trucks, and muscle cars. They're the most common "big" engine. They're acceptably smooth. Most of all, they're as short as an I4, so it's easy to fit a V8 with huge displacement in a car.
V12's are the most expensive engine we can design, with the most cylinders. They're the absolute smoothest engine as well. They can have small cylinders for great performance relative to their displacement on luxury cars or premium sports cars. Alternatively, they can be the largest possible engines, for the fastest supercars. Like the I6, fitting them in a car can be difficult. Engine of choice for brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Boxer Engines have cylinders sideways, directly opposite each other. They're smooth and very compact relative to their displacement, but wide instead of long. Engine of choice for rear engine cars with small rear space. Used in Volkswagen Beetles, Porsches, and Subarus. They come in 4 and 6 cylinder variants.

Hopefully that wasn't too much to take in! I can choose myself if you want, but you might also consider Valve Types. Like suspension, they can't be changed without making a new engine from scratch.
Spoiler: Valves (click to show/hide)

Choosing an engine type is a big choice for our company, because it will make newer engines of the same or related types (for example: I4 and V8 are cousins, as are I6 and V12) much cheaper and faster. So, we might want to pick one that does everything we want to do. Or, we can pick an inline whose V-engine cousin will serve us well later.

We also need to decide how big is our engine? We can make smaller variants, but not bigger ones, or we can design the engine large and make our first variant smaller if we really want- this will give us room to make a bigger one very easily later. For reference: ~1 Liter or less is smallish, but a good choice for 1946. 2-3 liters is good for more expensive cars and 4-6 is for seriously high-power cars. Lastly, is our engine undersquare (high torque, low revs), square (good balance of both) or oversquare (very high-revving performance or smooth luxury car).

Time to decide...
I know it's a lot to take in, but we need to start on the design because time is money! Answer these basic things, and you can give me more details to follow if you wish. I need at least these three details before I can fill in the rest:

What is our target market?
Which car body should we design?
Which engine type should we design?
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 03:08:48 am by Sensei »
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Iridium64

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I'm tempted to go after Passenger Fleet with the '45 2.5m van and a I4 engine, but I'm open to other possible plans since I'm not sure if it's actually practical.
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King Zultan

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I'm thinking we go after Family B. (I'm assuming the B stands for budget) with the '45 2.6m Station wagon and the I4 engine.

If I read all that right we can build a station wagon and a sedan at the same time, not sure if that'll help us or not.
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Fishbreath

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For myself, I'm partial to targeting the City Budget market, since it's so big, with one of the 2.1m coupes (dealer's choice) and an I4 engine (since an I4 has more possible applications than an I3).

I could be convinced of King Zultan's Family Budget wagon/sedan plan, too, though.

(Thanks for running this, Sensei—I've had Automation for a long time, and have never actually gotten a car company off the ground, so this is a valuable learning experience!)

mightymushroom

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I kinda want to aim for the various Delivery segments, they look to be growing well. Especially Light Delivery, is significantly underserved in Fruinia.
(I already have some name ideas: Light - Hauler; Medium - Wheelbarrow; Heavy - Minecart  :P)

With that in mind, I'd slightly prefer King Zultan's Family B plan since that body would let us build a pickup model at the same factory. I think.
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Sensei

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It seems like there's a lot of support for targeting budget demographics. In the words of the Automation game devs, this is supposed to represent competing with used cars, and it should be very difficult to sell into them. Don't worry though- in practice, we still totally can. However, the key to selling to this market is quantity- the bigger the factory, the better. What will probably happen is that we will be making few enough cars that demographics like Family or City will buy most of them, and the dealers will put a huge markup on them. We'll see what happens though- that's okay too, it should be plenty profitable.

It also remains to be seen how successful a pickup will be. The market is very small, but we'll only be making like 1000 per month anyway if we are splitting our factory between a family trim and a utility trim. If there is a van option, (and there might be, you have to scroll to the right to see EVERY variant, which I didn't do for you) I would definitely make a delivery version instead of a utility version.

I'll give it a short time to see if any more votes come in, but it sounds like we have a plan.
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A Thing

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I think I also support the Family B plan, with the same reasoning as mightymushroom that we can make them into delivery vans later. Delivery seems to be a decent market, and as far as I know is a very stable market. I imagine we can make some ok money off of the budget market too.
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mightymushroom

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Ah, I wasn't sure whether pickups matched to light delivery or not. If they only count as Utility, it probably wouldn't be worth it to make that our alternate trim.

(I haven't played this game, I don't know if there's a van option or not.)
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Sensei

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Time to design our first car! If anyone cares, I'm gonna start doing it live on The Bay12 and Mates Discord approximately... uh, now.

Edit: Stream is over! Next time I might give a little more warning ahead.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 06:49:23 pm by Sensei »
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EuchreJack

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I'm partial to using the 40' bodies at the very bottom, since they just look so horribly old.  If they're also the cheapest, all the better.
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