Let's take the A-Train: An all-purpose series thread

Full skipping ahead through the tutorial scenario is somewhat of a must indeed, once you are atop the learning curve of the game and the artificial reins set by the somewhat misled dev are holding you back.

Ahem, I hope everyone bought snacks with them.

Today’s scheduled train service leaving for City of Hopes & Dreams is about to depart the station. Please ensure you have finished boarding the train and have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor!

Let’s Play City of Hopes & Dreams - An Introduction…

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Welcome once more to A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism, where our fledgling private railway corporation is back again and ready to tackle a new assignment. Progressing down the scenario list, the time has to come to turn our attention to City of Hopes & Dreams. Where we will, once again, be assisting the local government with developing the region’s transportation infrastructure and unlocking its tourism potential. Only this time, we will have a vested interest in making sure this project is a runaway success.

Our first completion condition is to surpass 200,000 annual tourists within a period of five years, a straight forward task considering we achieved that last scenario. However, the second completion condition introduces something new to the table. To achieve success we will have to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) and launch our company on the Japanese public stock exchange. A process we will learn all about within due time.

As outlined above, we begin our latest business venture with close to 15 million Japanese Yen. The majority of the remaining scenario parameters are similar to those of the All Aboard Tourism scenario. However, the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that we begin the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario with a three star bank confidence rating and a starting interest rate of 11.2%. Slightly more favourable starting conditions should we decide to turn to the bank to supplement our initial capital.

An overview of the region shows us that it consists of the six districts of Kirikawa, Sugio, Oima, Isoya, Ajiro and Oma. Currently has the region has a population of 17,568 people, with the majority of those people residing in the Oma township. An economic breakdown of the region by industry type informs us that forests and agriculture are currently the dominant types of land-use.

There are three tourist attractions scattered across the region in the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario. Here we can see the most important of those tourist attractions, to both the local government and our company. Part of the Sun Belt Resort project, Iberia Land in the Isoya district is composed of the Viento de Espana amustment park, a large resort hotel, and some botanical gardens. Importantly, as part of our business agreement with the local government our company we will receive a significant share of the earnings generated by Iberia Land.

Located in the north-east of the map within the Oima district, the region’s second tourist attraction is a notable religious shrine. Whilst our company does not have any vested interests in ensuring the success of this tourist attraction it could still be worth integrating into our infrastructure plans for the region. Tourists can and will visit multiple tourist attractions in a region, therefore anything which has the potential to increase tourist traffic is still a boon for our company.

Directly north of Iberia Land and nestled away within the hills is Sugio Onsen. This hot spring, within the Sugio district, is the third and final prominent tourist attraction of the region. Similar to Oima Shrine, our company currently has no vested interests in Sugio Onsen. However, incorporating this notable destination into our company’s infrastructure plans could prove to be a wonderful idea.

Switching over to an overview of the region’s resources and trade opportunities, we can see that the region specialises in the production of fish and agricultural products. Meanwhile, any construction materials will have to be procured from abroad and transported into the region. Transportation connections are currently established with the mid-sized city of Sema by road and the metropolis of Toyonami by rail.

In the future our company could invest in establishing connections with the mid-sized city of Tomano to the west and with overseas destinations via the construction of a trade port.

Located within the village that lends Oima district its name is this fishing harbour. Currently, the fishery produces 10 arbitrary units of fish a day. Which our company could, depending on the trade contracts offered, choose to export out of the region to one of the three nearby cities or oversea via a trade port. At the outset of the scenario the mid-sized city of Sema, to our north, offers the easiest opportunity to begin generating revenue hauling resources.

The agricultural cooperative of Isoya district can be found close to the eastern edge of the region. At the beginning of the scenario the cooperative produces 10 agricultural products a day. Due to demand for agricultural products in the mid-sized city of Tomano to our east, constructing a road or rail connection could be a profitable venture due to the close proximity of the agricultural cooperative to the map border.

Moving on to the region’s transportation infrastructure, the local government has transferred control of all preexisting infrastructure to us. The epicenter of all transportation within the region is currently Oma Station and the associated bus stop. As illustrated by the Transit Map display mode, a rail service connects Oma Station to the metropolis of Toyonami to our south. Meanwhile, a bus route presently allows tourists to travel to Iberia Land upon reaching Oma Station.

Following the single-track railway to Toyonami we can also find Omayama Station. This small station serves the local populace and allows them to commute either into the urban center of Oma township or into the metropolis of Toyonami. Our company’s advisors expect the local vicinity to undergo a transformation over time and become more heavily urbanised. Thus, this station could potentially become quite busy in a year or two’s time.

Finally, to round things off, we will examine our company’s existing rolling stock and automobiles. Our begins the scenario with one two-car train of the Commuter Train 2 designation and two buses of the Rear Engine Bus designation. Currently, out of our total of three owned vehicles two are deployed and in operation whilst the third, our second rear engine bus, is sitting in storage awaiting deployment.

That wraps up this introduction to Let’s Play City of Hopes & Dreams. I hope you will join me next time as we begin discussing our potential business plans for the region. Until the next time we met aboard the A-Train, I hope you have a safe and wonderful journey. Sayōnara!

I just looked for this and couldn’t find it. Is this one of those things that only unlocks after a set event in the tutorial scenarios?

I believe so, yeah.

It is one of the stupidest aspects of the game, yes.

Roger. I can dig that they don’t want people to get overwhelmed, but hiding an advanced setting seems a little over the top.

It’s pretty mindboggling, but not unlike the Japanese frame of mind, to take away basic functions that somebody in the company deemed advanced, sadly.

Plans to do a short update to reboot proceedings, still ends up playing and writing for several hours…

Guess who is back with a brand new installment of quirky, charming Japanese railway business management. Life and pneumonia might have kept me either busy or knocked me down for a while but now I am back to suck more people into this wonderful game, bwahaha. Seriously though, 75+ hours of accrued playtime and still loving it.

Today’s scheduled train service leaving for City of Hopes & Dreams is about to depart the station. Please ensure you have finished boarding the train and have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor!

Let’s Play City of Hopes & Dreams - A new challenge approaches…

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Welcome back to A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism and the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario. On today’s agenda is discussing the ‘Initial Public Offering’ completion condition. This is a completion condition which we have yet to encounter and which is slowly introduced to players during the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario, which acts as the game’s second tutorial scenario when played on Easy difficulty. So, strap yourselves in because we are about to get all “accountant speak” up in here!

Broadly speaking, an Initial Public Offering (IPO) occurs when our private corporation begins selling our company’s stock on the public stock exchange. Which can also be referred to as a stock listing, since we will be listing our company on the stock exchange. Conducting an IPO can be an excellent way of unlocking additional capital, since any shares sold to the public during the IPO bolsters our company’s coffers. However, listing our company on the stock exchange does not come without its own unique risks and potential disadvantages.

Conducting an IPO occurs through the ‘Plans’ menu and will occupy a project slot whilst it is being executed by our company’s sales department. Importantly, at the beginning of the scenario we only have one project slot. However, if we enact the ‘Sales Department Expansion’ plan it grants us a second project slot and the ability to execute two plans in parallel. Thus, conducting an IPO can come with potential opportunity costs, as it will be 120 days that could have been allocated to executing other plans.

However, before our company can even begin to contemplate conducting an IPO we must first meet several key criteria. The first of those criteria relates to the current total value of our company’s net assets, which must be worth at least 9,500,000,000 Japanese Yen. Thankfully, this is something that we have already achieved. Our second criteria relates to something called Retained Earnings, which we will broach in detail later, and which must be at least 1,900,000,000 Japanese Yen. Finally, our third criteria requires the company to achieve a surplus for at least two consecutive financial years, prior to us instigating the IPO.

Determining our company’s Retained Earnings is as simple as consulting the Balance Sheet screen within the Reports menu. At the beginning of the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario we can see that currently our Retained Earnings are forecast to be in the negative, a loss of 270,180,000 Japanese Yen. This negative Retained Earnings value, or Retained Deficit if you would rather think of it like that, is due to the employee bonuses that will be paid on July 25th and December 25th of the current (financial) year. Therefore, we can expect our Retained Earnings to become positive by the end of the current financial year, as we are planning to achieve a surplus during the company’s first year of operation.

So, what are Retained Earnings I hear you ask? Well the in-game manual defines it as such:

Which is probably the best explanation that I can give since I am in no way at all a professional accountant. In layman’s terms, operating at a surplus will improve the value of our Retained Earnings or Retained Deficit whilst running at a loss will worsen it. The easiest way to ensure that our company’s Retained Earnings grow year-upon-year is to constantly achieve a profit at the end of each financial year.

At the beginning of the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario we are forecast to achieve a net loss of 734,470,000 Japanese Yen for the financial year. The bulk of this current predicted financial loss is asset depreciation, which according to my understanding spreads the cost of a tangible or physical asset over its useful or expected lifespan. It also includes the loss in fair value that assets typically experience as they age, because yes the game does indeed model our assets (i.e., buildings and vehicles) deteriorating over time.

Opening the subsidiaries menu and examining each of our existing subsidiaries we discover that Iberia Land, the Resort Hotel, and our Botanical Garden begin the scenario with no deterioration. Thus, these subsidiaries have a long expected, or useful, lifespan ahead of them. However, as the deterioration status of a subsidiary increases with the passing of time, typically over the course of years, it adversely impacts the sales revenue of the subsidiary. Fortunately, old and dilapidated subsidiaries can be refurbished to bring their premises back to being “just like new”. Which in game terms means the deterioration status of the subsidiary is reset. Amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for sales revenues!

Obviously, with a prudent business strategy our company’s financial forecast should eventually change from a predicted loss into a predicted profit. Thus, we expect to see this forecast gradually change over the duration of the financial year as our company begins generating revenue from a combination of existing and new revenue streams. Certainly, our company’s aim heading into our first year of operation is to invest in such a way that our total revenues exceed our total costs, in spite of the massive amounts of capital we plan to invest into the region.

Alas, that concludes part two of Let’s Play City of Hopes & Dreams and our initial look into the ‘Initial Public Offering’ completion condition. When our company is closer to conducting an IPO we will examine the factors, such as our company’s credit rating, which influence how much public capital our IPO raises. Next time though we will begin outlining our business strategy and, if time so permits, begin putting it into action. So, until the we next meet aboard the A-Train, I hope you have a safe and wonderful journey!

Yeah, it is available from the second scenario onwards. Though, since the Advanced Settings are global rather than scenario or save-based, several of the advanced settings work inside the first tutorial scenario once enabled elsewhere. So, more like hidden from being accessed during the first tutorial rather than them not functioning at all.

Though, how the developers arrived at what is deemed an “advanced setting” is curious at times. Some of the options locked away were available right from the get go in A-Train 3D // A-Train PC Classic. Would have considered the “Change Formation” function a pretty important basic gameplay feature personally.

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Strike while the iron is hot, as they say! Back with yet another installment of dinking about in A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism. Hope everyone brought their construction helmets and high-vis vests because we are breaking ground on a construction bonanza.

Please have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor and prepare to board today’s train, as our railroading adventure in City of Hopes & Dreams continues!

Let’s Play City of Hopes & Dreams - Planting synergistic bonds for the future…

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Welcome back to A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism and our let’s play of the City of Hopes & Dreams scenario. Our plucky little private railroad corporation has grand plans for the region and today we will be embarking on some of those plans. Today is all about making use of government subsidies, shareholder benefits, and some good old profit motivated transit-oriented development.

Our focus for today will predominantly lie within the Oma district as we make use of two subsidies currently being offered by the local government. Since we can only take on one subsidy concurrently at the moment we will begin with the subsidy for the construction of two or more bus stops within the Oma district. In return for completing this target the local government will subsidise 90% of any land acquisition costs we incur.

Thus, we set about constructing a new two-way bus stop to the east of Oma Station. We’ll make use of the existing road alignments and build the bus stop in line with the road that runs past Oma Station. Since we’re not building on a pre-existing paved road the construction of this bus stop will involve some land acquisition costs, totaling 6,390,000 Japanese Yen.

Next we will construct a bus stop next to the school in Oma Town. Since this will be construct on pre-existing paved roads there will be no land acquisition costs involved. While this means that we will not receive any subsidies for the construction of this bus stop, the location of the bus stop will more then compensate for it.

Selecting the school building will bring up its information panel at the bottom of the screen. Here we will notice that the Passenger Demand rating is Significant. As a result, ridership both to and from the school should be high once it is serviced by a good transportation network. Something we are very much planning to offer, as school services can be quite the nice revenue generator for buses.

While it will not be eligible for the local government subsidy we have signed up for, due to existing outside Oma district, we will also construct a bus stop in the middle of Isoya village. To my knowledge, bus stops have a catchment radius of 10 grid squares, so a diameter of 20 grid squares. Thus, constructing our bus stop in the middle of Isoya village should provide us with good catchment of the local population. Since our bus route from Oma Station to Iberia Land passes through Isoya village it makes sense to incorporate the population of Isoya into our company’s service area and pool of potential customers.

That completes our bus stop construction spree for the time being. Which means that we have met the target of the local government subsidy we signed up for. Thus, we can expect to receive 5,760,000 Japanese Yen from the local government within a period of 44 days. And while we are here, we will now sign up for the subsidy targeting the construction of two or more residential buildings within Oma District. Thereby, allowing our company to recoup 40% of the construction price when building residential subsidiaries.

Before we begin the construction of any residential subsidiaries though, we will first construct some paved roads in Isoya and Oma to connect up our freshly built bus stops.

Due to our company owning over one million shares in Hastings Construction at the beginning of the scenario we will also receive a 5% reduction to subsidiary construction costs. This shareholder benefit in combination with the local government subsidiary we signed up for will help our company substantially reduce our capital expenditure.

Now to get underway with our planned residential construction spree in Oma district! We shall begin right in the middle of town next to our train station and bus stop. Our goals are to increase the number of potential passengers, by raising the local population, and to develop the empty land surrounding Oma Station, potentially selling off the freshly constructed buildings at a profit. Just because we are a railway company that does not mean we cannot get involved in the property development industry as a side-business.

If you remember back to our first let’s play, of the All Aboard Tourism scenario, you might remember that buildings of the same type (i.e., Apartment 5) can have a negative influence on each other when placed too close together. Therefore, we will place this next subsidiary on the other side of Oma Station several grid squares away from our other Apartment 5 building. Whilst the beneficial influence of the nearby train station and bus stop will not be quite as high we do gain the beneficial influence of the nearby police station.

Next, we will switch from constructing the Apartment 5 type of residential subsidiary to the Apartment 6 type. Firstly, this will perfectly fill in the three grid square space between Oma Station and our new construction site. Secondly, we will experience fewer potential issues with negative influences due to Apartment 5 and Apartment 6 counting as different types of residential building for the purposes of building synergies.

Finally, we will fill in the small vacant lot across the road from the Oma station precinct with yet another type of apartment building. Again our company has chosen a different building type, in this case the Apartment 3 type, to minimize any potential issues with negative building influences. The size of the lot was also a factor in our choice since the proposed construction site was just one solitary grid square in width and length.

Now we will move onto constructing a couple of residential subsidiaries close to our new Oma School bus stop. Similar to before, our first goal is to increase the number of potential passengers, by raising the local population. Secondly, by developing the empty land surrounding Oma School our company also hopes to potentially profit off the real estate market in the future.

Once again we switch up building types to minimize any potential issues with negative building influences. Our first residential apartment looks set to strike a strong beneficial synergy with the nearby bus stop and school. Meanwhile, our second apartment building also gains a beneficial effect from the presence of a nearby fire station.

Afterwards, we move onto establishing some new residential subsidiaries for the same reasons as stated previously. Due to the area being less developed than the core of Oma Town, and lacking the presence of a school or other popular attractions, our company sets about constructing four new subsidiaries in the local area surrounding the East Oma bus stop. Due to the current status of the local area we will also start out by constructing some of the cheaper types of residential subsidiaries, as there likely won’t be enough initial demand to warrant bankrolling several massive apartments.

As a consequence of our construction spree we can expect our required workforce to balloon. Since our company is already lacking sufficient workers to cover all our current tasks, without effecting employee workload and happiness, we will set about recruiting more staff. After the 30 day recruitment process has been completed our company should hopefully edge closer to having the recommended number of employees, which is a total of 298 employees currently.

Next, our company will purchase two more buses to operate along our extended bus service from Oma Station to Iberia Land. The bus route will be amended to encompass the new stops of East Oma, Oma School and South Isoya. Consequently, the the one-way journey time has been increased to just under three hours. Hence, the new buses will be useful in ensuring that service frequency remains decent despite the added journey length.

Alas, that concludes the chronicling of our business adventures for today. I do hope you can join me next time as we continue establishing the roots of our business strategy for the region. Our goals for the first year of operation are lofty and there is still much to be done. However, before we depart our separate ways I shall leave you with a teaser of what is yet to come, as our fledgling company turns its sights to expansion of the railway network.

Until the next time we met aboard the A-Train, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable journey!

Been experimenting with some of the more advanced railway operation concepts. Which in this example involves the use of depots and deadheading. Through the use of deadheading settings we can give vehicles a different route to take during assigned deadheading periods, which occur prior to and after their service (operational) hours. Hence, we are able to park our out-of-service trains off the mainline in a small depot area each night.

Depots essentially fulfill two important functions within A-Train 3D // A-Train PC Classic and A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism.

Firstly, depots play an important role in vehicle maintenance, as a vehicle parked at a depot will experience a slowed rate of deterioration across its operational lifespan. As vehicles deteriorate over time (typically years) they incur higher operating costs, which obviously eats into their profit margins. The baseline rate at which vehicles deteriorate is determined by the durability rating of the vehicle type.

Secondly, depots give you somewhere to park vehicles outside of their service (operational) hours. Unless warehoused off-map or within depots, out-of-service vehicles will occupy platform space at stations and stops. Freeing up this space can have a variety of benefits, depending on the situation, such as simplifying the challenge of routing overnight freight services.

Because, who needs space inefficient passing loops, which can be costly to construct in space-constrained or high land value areas, if you can just route the train through an empty station platform.

There are various designs we can use when creating our vehicle depots. Here are two common examples that you see employed for trains. The first (top) design acts similarly to parking our trains off-map in neighboring towns, our trains commence and conclude their journey at one end of the railway line. The second (bottom) design is more flexible operationally, when used in conjunction with a station, and thus can be constructed almost anywhere along a railway line.

One method of depot design I have been experimenting with involves the “roll-in, roll-out” (Ro-Ro) philosophy common to many OpenTTD station designs. Here trains arrive at and depart from the depot in one common direction. Thus, simplifying several of the potential headaches that can occur with depot designs that rely on complex time-sensitive routeing. A potential issue more common to the second depot design, that was pictured above, due to trains often crossing shared tracks to enter and exit the depot.

Hopefully, this has provided you with some insight into why depots can be a useful addition to our transportation networks and given you some inspiration for potential depot designs. Deadheading uses several of the same routeing and timetabling mechanics and strategies we have discussed previously. However, I can always dive into the nitty-gritty of utilising deadheading should anyone want some guidance.

Discourse got big issues with hiding and showing things today, anyways…

That is very interesting. I was bothered by either having trains travel a lot to head back to depot, the time then used to get out of it; or sacrificing too much space to them. That’s quite the very elegant solution there.
I need to plunge back into the game, but I have been reading instead of playing in bed, to drift into sleep, recently!

Confirmed to be coming to Steam on December 7th, or 8th depending on your regional timezone. With Steam Workshop support included for the sharing of user-created scenarios, similar to A-Train PC Classic. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch version will also be getting a free update, at a later date, which will include many of the new additions and improvements.

New features likely to be shared between the PC and Switch versions include the two new official scenarios, the brand new building types, and a bevy of gameplay improvements. Gameplay improvements include features such as the new “stop timer”, to pause the game at a specific in-game date and time, and the expanded vehicle operation settings, such as specific departure directions from depots. It would make sense for the new Germany localisation, confirmed for PC, to be shared between platforms as well.

Already spotted a couple of unfamiliar building types, such as this (horse) race track building. Which I suspect are new to the game and will be added in with the PC release and Switch update.

PC-specific improvements will be features such as the option for increased draw distances, increased pedestrian and private vehicle density, increased shadow resolution, higher resolution textures, increased limit on company owned buildings and vehicles, and the addition of water reflections. As well as support for mouse and keyboard and display resolutions higher than 720p, obviously.

There will be support for the use of gamepad and touch controls on the PC version too, as there is with the Switch version.

Well shit, now I wish I’d waited!

The towns are cuter on a cute console ~_~

Yeah, but what with device usage patterns in this house I’m much more likely to play something on the pee see, not to mention this game seems made for a mouse interface. To quote Ziltoid the Omniscient: phooey, and double phooey!

Just do the sensible thing: buy another Switch, then buy the games again so Nintendo let you play them and… okay all in all, simply buying the PC version might not be a bad call!

I finally got this on Sunday after reading this thread weeks ago.

So far into the second tutorial, but I’m floored, in a good way. I really like the depth of the simulation and the limited control you have here.

Guess I’ll add another “victim” to my A-Train tally, hah. Glad to see another person hopping aboard and enjoying the game!

I might have gotten a bit carried away recently whilst playing on a custom map. Begun with the objective of delving into what buildings give each other positive influences and ended up building a bit of a metropolis. Came away learning that higher tier subsidiary types have some crazy potential for sharing positive influence among each other. Some potent synergies to be exploited in them there “hills”.

Here’s a view of the skyline from the Shinkansen station…

Shall be back with another part of the let’s play soon. Completing the first scenario on Expert difficulty sunk its teeth into me recently. The limited starting capital and one year deadline to complete the two objectives has made for a tough challenge. Narrowly missed out on beating it on my first attempt, so been fine-tuning my strategy and understanding of the gameplay mechanics.