This will be a bit controversial. As an introduction, I know a thing or 2 about game design, i made a mod for warzone2100 and more relevantly simutrans.
Proximity bonuses for building close to their producer HAVE TO be removed and replaced by something else. The reason being that it completely kills the replayability of the game. Yes, it’s fun to experiment with it and come up with the optimal setup, but this optimal setup is not hard to figure out. And even variations between a mediocre stetup and a good setup are extremely narrow. Having the option between building an appliance factory at 150% or 100% is not really an option. Players will quickly realize that they are asked ot always reproduce the same very restrictive pattern of building : Spam as much copper mine that fits on, build 2 layer of electronics and build the appliance factory precisely next to it at 6 “tile” away from the copper ore, in EVERY game they do. Zero decision making required.
I can propose 2 different solutions to avoid this.
The first would be to have a wide array of alternate buildings. I think the goal would be to allow players to “win” the game with 30% of the buildings. The other 70% not being needed. And of course allowing this for several sets of 30% of the buildings. Then, player would have decisions to do about which factory line they do and why, buildings will appears in dozens of diffferent pattern and that would alleviate the problem. However I don’t think this is quite feasible here, because of the theme of the game. Inevitably we’d need to have aliens housing who eat microchips for breakfast or other imaginative buildings and I don’t think this is where this game is trying to head for.
the second option i have, probably the most reasonable would be to create a cost for transporting materials. Either fuel for the trucks, or maybe garage to repair them as they are getting used and/or repair crew for the roads, little trucks redrawing the lines on roads. This would have the same effect of having players trying to keep the producer and the consumer of a product close together to avoid transport cost but they would be forced to be neurotic about building a perfect grid of building in an exact position.
As a closing statement, i want to emphasis again that i know that this system is kinda fun in the first play trough. And several people here will be defensive about keeping the mechanic, but please consider all i’m saying here as a whole before throwing me stones.
Except people don’t put themselves into that narrow mold. I haven’t been playing for a few weeks, but I checked out my city and confirmed that I didn’t follow the plan you suggest. I reached the endgame with a sub-optimal design, and when I go back to finish off a conversion to something near-optimal (that still won’t be following your pattern,) there will be design tradeoffs that will influence the appearance.
People’s cities on display show that creativity is not being stifled by the demands of achieving productivity bonuses.
Im pretty sure every game design system will result in an optimal strategy that people might feel locked into playing. The best solution for this problem is what [Geoffrey (Profile - Geoffrey - Dionic Software Forum) already mentioned. Just don’t feel too pressured to play optimally and try to find additional goals for yourself, like building aesthetically.
However I do like the second option you bring up: Transport costs
That is an interesting concept which could make the game more interesting as a whole.
And it would also mean that the positioning and layout of your city depends much more on the postioning of the ores which could improve replayability and variation.
One of the things that attracted me to this game was the mostly open world design and the ability to play the way I like. I had watched a few of the youtube channels and while I wasn’t sure my computer had enough power I went ahead and gave it a try. There was a learning curve which created some chaos and a lot of fun opportunity to correct the problems I created.
I noticed how most like to create compact efficient manufacturing and cities which I attempted in the beginning. When I decided to create what I thought was my big city I ran a main one road with a dozen angled branch streets so it looked like a Christmas tree symbol. Didn’t take long as the residences upgraded for the traffic congestion to set in and boom, gridlock. I added some alternate routes for traffic to go around the city, but still a problem To me this is the fun began.
I moved a bunch of buildings and created an elevated one way superhighway cutting through the city. Offramps with no left turns (still more buildings moved) and traffic began to flow. Since in my world I decided to only have residences on the bottom (Southern) half and various manufacturing to the north with everything connected by rail.
Throughout I created problems then worked out solutions (or at least work arounds and eventually got things up to planetary capital. Not being sure what to do then I just let it run checking back every few hours for any congestion. With everything running smooth it was time to make some changes I had been considering.
Every place has some exclusive locations so the ridge lines seemed like a location with a view. While still a work in progress I think it is also time for me to rethink my road systems and that is where I like your idea of transportation costs. Not sure how that would be implemented but that option would add another consideration to how stuff is delivered.
This build system promotes huge fields of specific patterns, I do agree.
I would rather be able to build a patchwork, OR, huge fields of production facilities.
I agree with op, and may be that the production bonus isn’t needed at all. It would give me better design options.