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September 18, 2021, 06:54:58 PM

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Author Topic: Revisiting the Traffic Simulator: Multimodal Transportation Opportunities  (Read 539 times)

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Offline LucarioBoricua

Today I want to announce a special project for the Network Addon Mod, we'll re-visit the Traffic Simulator to refine it and tune it for multimodal transportation behavior!

To carry out this project, we'll be forming a focus group consisting of both players, and NAM team members and associates alike. My intention is for us to test out which variables need adjustment to recreate more realistic commute behaviors in settings with significant transit availability, while also keeping undesirable commute behaviors at a minimum. Results from this testing may lead to development of new NAM features for everyone's enjoyment.

 

      NAM Team Participants

Project lead: Lucario Boricua

NAM Team Members: B22rian, Tarkus, Z

NAM Associates: ulisse99, Naomi57, Eric Blair, CasperVG, Matias93

 

      Simtropolis Participants:

chfzdn

Leo --

Still looking for volunteers!

 

      SC4 Devotion Participants:

Looking for volunteers!

 

How to get involved: community members interested in participating can post publicly in this topic, contact me directly through private messages (Simtropolis and SC4 Devotion), or through the respective Discord servers of ST, SC4D, and Rob's Red Hot Spot. Depending on the interest and skill level, I can arrange the provision of pre-edited versions of the Traffic Simulator files, or teach the participants how to edit the changes in themselves.


Required tools: either iLive Reader 0.9.3 (link here) or SC4 Reader 1.5.9 (link here)


Useful resources:



Which variables of the traffic simulator are we experimenting with?

  • Network speeds of the travel types: the traffic simulator defines the speeds of the various travel types (the travel modes) on each network. For the first round of experimentation, we will focus on the speeds associated with street transit types, namely pedestrians, cars, buses and freight trucks. Of interest is making streets meaningfully distinct from the other surface road networks. At present, I'm aware numerous players ditch streets altogether, as they treat them as inferior roads in terms of their functionality. A slight increase of pedestrian speeds and decrease of motor vehicle speeds can have positive effects in realism of travel behavior. This can minimize rat running (cars using local streets to bypass congestion), routing of buses and trucks only along higher hierarchy roads (more realistic bus and truck routes), and increasing the catchment area of transit stops (thus more realistic bus and train station spacing). A derivative project which could be done with these tweaks is creating a second override system for Streets, without motor vehicle paths, to create a draggable pedmall system.
  • Trip Starting Cost by Travel Type: the traffic simulator can add time penalties or handicaps to starting trips using a particular mode or Travel Type. Of interest is tweaking the starting cost for car trips, as this can mitigate the issue in which car trips outperform walking in super short distances, and at the same time increase the catchment area of transit stops, specifically in the vicinity of the residential areas and the start of commute trips.
  • Adding pedestrian paths to rail networks: as crazy as it sounds, there is a possibility of creating entirely new networks by adding or removing paths as part of an override system, while also setting different speeds to those used in the networks traditionally associated to them. This area requires bigger modifications elsewhere, but it remains as an option to expand the game's capabilities. Projects similar to this concept include the Hybrid Rail (dual networking of rail and monorail/HSR, including paths for both), the Real Highway (removing pedestrian paths from the Dirt Road, to create a versatile and realistic freeway/motorway network), and the Subway RHW FLUPs (overriding subway with Real Highway). My proposal in this area is using the Elevated Rail to create a cycling network through an override system, such that we could use the El-Rail tool to build a network with pedestrian paths and set to support a significantly higher speed than the walking speeds programmed into the surface road networks (Street, Road, OWR, avenue). We still need to research if such configuration even works, as there's known issues with incompatibility of certain networks with paths other than those explicitly intended for it.


How will testing start?

We'll start with the first two topics, network speeds of the travel types and trip starting cost by travel type. With these two tweaks, we expect to modify commute behavior in the game to recreate more realistic transportation behavior for pedestrians in multimodal transportation networks. Additionally, players who want to recreate pre-modern cities before motor vehicles and railways became a thing can also benefit from our findings to do their respective traffic simulator tweaks.

 

First battery of network speed tweaks for streets:

Code: [Select]
Network speeds for streets, km/h:


--BASELINE--

Pedestrian 15 (0)
Car 30 (0)
Bus 25 (0)
Truck 25 (0)



BATTERY I: Double offset BATERY II: Slower vehicles BATTERY III: Faster pedestrians

--TEST A-- --TEST D-- --TEST G--

Pedestrian 18 (+3) Pedestrian 15 (0) Pedestrian 18 (+3)
Car 27 (-3) Car 27 (-3) Car 30 (0)
Bus 22 (-3) Bus 22 (-3) Bus 25 (0)
Truck 22 (-3) Truck 22 (-3) Truck 25 (0)


--TEST B-- --TEST E-- --TEST H--

Pedestrian 17 (+2) Pedestrian 15 (0) Pedestrian 17 (+2)
Car 28 (-2) Car 28 (-2) Car 30 (0)
Bus 23 (-2) Bus 23 (-2) Bus 25 (0)
Truck 23 (-2) Truck 23 (-2) Truck 25 (0)


--TEST C-- --TEST F-- --TEST I--

Pedestrian 16 (+1) Pedestrian 15 (0) Pedestrian 16 (+1)
Car 29 (-1) Car 29 (-1) Car 30 (0)
Bus 24 (-1) Bus 24 (-1) Bus 25 (0)
Truck 24 (-1) Truck 24 (-1) Truck 25 (0)


Gonna provide the full batch of modified Traffic Simulator Z capacity options here for all players, for those who haven't done the modifications themselves. All the files uploaded here correspond to Test Battery A, make sure to mention that whenever you post screenshots and your observations on the results. These files are available for any player interested in participating, we look forward to seeing your results and experience!

Files can be found here! https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Q0I_JvRZqNwh1bQVA7CPSBwhdJklQmmU?usp=sharing
 
« Last Edit: September 04, 2021, 02:30:34 PM by LucarioBoricua »

Offline CasperVg

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Thanks a lot for this great initiative, Lucario! It about time we bring SC4 into the era of sustainable mobility :)
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Offline jeffryfisher

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How about tweaking the default each wealth-class's mode preferences? Easier than modding network paths etc, you might get close to the multi-modal utilization you want by changing those percentages.

For instance, my low-wealth sims (driven by necessity) split 50-50 between mass transit and "fastest", with zero committed to cars. Using this setup many of my sims try to find mass transit even when it's not convenient, walking and complaining until I build better in their neighborhoods.

BTW, I also tax my sims who still use cars (I set a per-mile ticket price to simulate gasoline tax), but that doesn't seem to deter them.
Modding PC games since 1993 (back when we needed hex-editors)

Offline LucarioBoricua

How about tweaking the default each wealth-class's mode preferences? Easier than modding network paths etc, you might get close to the multi-modal utilization you want by changing those percentages.

For instance, my low-wealth sims (driven by necessity) split 50-50 between mass transit and "fastest", with zero committed to cars. Using this setup many of my sims try to find mass transit even when it's not convenient, walking and complaining until I build better in their neighborhoods.

BTW, I also tax my sims who still use cars (I set a per-mile ticket price to simulate gasoline tax), but that doesn't seem to deter them.

The changes to commute strategy by wealth (mass transit, car and fastest) are doable with the Traffic Simulator Configuration Tool, but they don't tell the whole story. Tweaking speeds and the time cost to start trips (with the Reader programs directly) can be used to modify commute behaviors. Sims are completely insensitive to monetary costs in transportation, unlike taxation by RCI occupant, so you need to directly edit the variables which directly govern their transportation behavior. Once we start getting comparative screenshots showing travel behavior differences, you'll start noticing how the proposed changes to the traffic simulator start to make things behave differently.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2021, 07:49:28 PM by LucarioBoricua »

Offline LucarioBoricua

Let's get everyone up-to-date with what's been going on with the Traffic Simulator Tuning Experiment:

  • I do apologize for my lack of follow-up this first week, things ended up quite complicated this past week and I've barely been able to do SC4 nor NAM team stuff of my own.
  • There's some preliminary testing I was doing with Djohaal (Simtropolis) some weeks ago, which indicates that the pedestrian speed of 20 km/h may actually be too high for streets and pedmalls. This contrasts with an earlier proposal by Naomi57 (Simtropolis) on how to tweak the traffic simulator speeds for pedestrians. The behavior we get from it resembles cycling instead of walking. Sims opt to do full local trips by walking instead of taking transit or driving. It is, however, a good starting speed for a dedicated cycling network.
  • Last weekend we didsome internal NAM testing with Tarkus about which networks could be used for a dedicated cycling system and for a draggable pedmall system. Sad to say this, but it won't be based on El-Rail / GLR. Testing indicates that we get the same behavior we once had when we tried to use the conventional rail to do the double decker RHW-4 network, it defaulted to road speeds and capacities. This also means that the street-based override system, with slightly higher ped speeds and/or slightly lower motor vehicle speeds, remains the preferred option for a draggable pedmall system.
  • On the good news, however, we did realize that there is a suitable network for a cycling override, the Real Highway! It's actually quite convenient, surprisingly enough. The base network repurposed for the RHW, the Dirt Road, does support pedestrian traffic. The RHW, aside from ground-level RHW-2, is designed to only use car paths on its overrides, and as such, it only supports motor vehicles. We could eliminate the L0 RHW-2 pedestrian paths, increase the pedestrian speed on the Dirt Road in the Traffic Simulator, and create an entirely new RHW-based override system for the bicycle network.
  • I'm sure that we'll get concerns from players who might object to a cycling network which lacks the cosmetic element of cyclist automata. There's actual experience in summoning dedicated automata on modded networks, using LUA scripting. We can make sure that the cycling network uses the exiting pedestrian transit type under the hood, but also make sure that the network's visible automata are cyclists instead of pedestrians.
  • I've been talking with B22rian, a traffic simulator testing veteran in the NAM team, about how to proceed with this project. One thing he does want is to arrange some meetings in which the participants are all at the same place and time, to provide workshops, guidance and testing files more expediently. For that we're able to use the Discord server of SC4 Devotion. For those who aren't there, make sure to go to the site's home page and click on the Discord server icon.
  • Another variable we're exploring in this experiment is altering the Trip Starting Cost by Travel Type. This variable adds a time penalty for each transit type when computing the commute times of candidate routes. Under here, we can edit up to 3 values: default, car commute strategy, and transit commute strategy). The benefit of this variable is it can make walking more attractive only at the start of the trip, but it must be tuned carefully, as it's independent of the various transport networks, as opposed to the network-specific speeds. Its effect would instead affect all networks and require more thorough testing to ensure it doesn't break other areas of commute behavior in SimCity 4.

Offline LucarioBoricua

Re: Revisiting the Traffic Simulator: Multimodal Transportation Opportunities
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2021, 02:31:42 PM »
I'm pleased to announce that I've finally included all the files for Test Battery A of Simulator Z's multimodal modifications! Anyone interested can use these, to install, replace your respective version of NetworkAddonMod_Traffic_Plugin_Z_[capacity].dat file with the one of your choosing.

I will also say that, after some internal deliberation in the NAM team, that we might be doing far more ambitious traffic simulator experiments. I'll announce the corresponding details when we're ready.

Offline jeffryfisher

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Re: Revisiting the Traffic Simulator: Multimodal Transportation Opportunities
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2021, 10:58:08 AM »
I've finally included all the files for Test Battery A of Simulator Z's multimodal modifications! Anyone interested can use these, to install, replace your respective version of NetworkAddonMod_Traffic_Plugin_Z_[capacity].dat file with the one of your choosing.
If I'm understanding correctly, this would replace my custom sim-Z.dat produced by the TSCT. If I want to preserve / recreate my own custom transit fares etc, can I still edit your DAT using the same old TSCT? If so, what settings in TSCT does your mod depend on (that I should avoid or take extra care in tinkering)?

Thanks!
Modding PC games since 1993 (back when we needed hex-editors)

Offline LucarioBoricua

Re: Revisiting the Traffic Simulator: Multimodal Transportation Opportunities
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2021, 01:41:53 PM »
I've finally included all the files for Test Battery A of Simulator Z's multimodal modifications! Anyone interested can use these, to install, replace your respective version of NetworkAddonMod_Traffic_Plugin_Z_[capacity].dat file with the one of your choosing.
If I'm understanding correctly, this would replace my custom sim-Z.dat produced by the TSCT. If I want to preserve / recreate my own custom transit fares etc, can I still edit your DAT using the same old TSCT? If so, what settings in TSCT does your mod depend on (that I should avoid or take extra care in tinkering)?

Thanks!


In your case, since you have a custom Traffic Simulator, you should open iLive Reader (recommended in this case) or SC4 Reader to modify the relevant street speeds yourself, based on the tables shown at the start of this post. That way, you can preserve the rest of your custom settings and still have the opportunity to try out the modified speeds.