In the current state of the game I believe that steam power does not work like it does in real life. In the game as of now, fuel can just be put into a steam powered machine and you would get motion/power, however this system lacks any requirement for actual water to be boiled into steam, as well as a lack of regard for the required temperature to boil such water. Considering the addition of pipes and being able to easily move large amounts of water, I would like to propose an improved system for steam power.
The new steam power system would take into account water requirements, boiler temperature, and varying maximum speeds depending on the amount of steam being produced. The first step of the process is to add water to the machine's boiler and fuel to the machine's firebox. At first fuel will be consumed very quickly to rapidly increase boiler temperature. The firebox would have multiple slots to allow more fuel to be burned at once for faster temperature increase and a higher maximum temperature. Once the boiler reaches a certain temperature, it will begin to consume water to produce steam. The higher to boiler is above boiling, the more quickly water will be consumed and steam will be produced, the top speed/power output of the machine will be dictated by the amount of steam being produced up to a certain point where the machine is under maximum load (the original top speed/power output) where additional steam power will become wasted. Additionally the boiler will need some time to cool down after it has stopped being fueled, so players may need to stop fueling the boiler before they reach their destination.
With this new system, players will need to act more thoughtfully when using steam powered machinery, considering its long start up and slow down time, players will need to weigh if it is more fuel efficient to leave a small amount of fuel in the boiler to keep the temperature up or to let it cool down and use more fuel to heat it back up. This will also encourage a more widespread use of pipes.
An issue i can foresee with this new system is essentially being able to delete water from the world. Unless the steam that comes out of the vehicles comes back down in the form of precipitation, however that is likely much too big of a programming task for this game.
I would like to hear what you guys think of this system and if it would be a good addition or not.
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