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Work in Progress / Cars Incorporated, 2nd WIP

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Westmere
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Posted: 21st Sep 2011 03:18 Edited at: 20th Oct 2012 20:06
Cars Incorporated is a business simulation game I am currently working on in Dark Basic Pro with imagery being done with Paint Shop Pro and my limited Blender experiences. This is the second WIP thread for this game as the first one was closed due to long inactivity. Astonishing how fast time can move
Edit: I have a playable alpha-version (currently v0.20, release October 19th, 2012) available on my homepage for 1-4 players. Link.
You can find the latest update of this post here

Original post:
For comperative reasons to show some of the progress that has been made I will add old and new screenshots.

Unlike other business simulation games with similar topics Cars Incorporated will focus more on creativity. You don't just research pre-defined parts like car bodies or engines. Instead you get to influence them in much greater detail.

For instance, once a new engine generation has been researched you can spend research time on creating a version with improved performance, better fuel consumption or just more displacement (and thus more performance) for a bigger car model.

Looks like this: (new vs old, the newer version is the first picture)



When creating car bodies you can move dragpoints around to reshape the car, enlarge engine room, make a car more compact or change a car type, e.g. a sedan into a wagon. This process has already been available in a small demo.

This process has been improved a lot in the new version. While the old version relied on two 2D views for dragging the points and a small preview window which could be zoomed in by clicking on it, the new version keeps everything in the zoomed 3D view, even the dragpoints. Dragpoints can now be moved directly in the 3D view and you will see your changes instantly while moving the points around (the old version only updated the 2D view unless you pressed refresh).

The following screenshots compare the new editor against the old one. Please note that the new one uses a Generation 1 car which will be the earliest in the game with the least drag options while the old editor was set up with a Generation 3 car.

Editing mode: (new vs old)


"Preview" mode with polished surface: (new vs old)


The body itself is dynamically generated based on a definition of the car type and the position of the drag points. More details are to come (like the radiator). The current editor still needs some tweaks but runs fast enough even on a Turion X2 2.0 Vista-system.


DVader
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Posted: 23rd Sep 2011 06:50 Edited at: 23rd Sep 2011 22:47
First time I have seen this. It looks really cool. Looks like Detroit, which I always liked the idea of, but could never actually work out how to play. Let's hope this updated version will be easier to understand!

Edit - I see no one else has responded yet. I would give it a push by making a thread in the main DB forum and linking to this one. Not many peeps visit the WIP forum in comparison. I think you would get a few positive replies if you did.

Westmere
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Posted: 26th Sep 2011 01:40
Thanks and thanks for the hint. I'm not sure if a WIP has anything to do in the main DB forum though

About the rest you wrote: Actually the car "editor" of Detroit was what sparked the original idea for Cars Incorporated. I loved the fact that you did have some influence on how your car looked and I thought about how that could look today. The result of this is the car editing portion of Cars Incorporated.

I hope the game will be easy to learn but I guess I will figure that out once I release a real playable demo. Next release will probably be a demo of the new editor though.

BTW, here's another screenshot I haven't posted anywhere yet. Like the first one above it comes from the research page, but in this case not engine but car body development which includes a miniature preview of the edited body (which also is the button taking you to the 3D editor):



empty
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Posted: 2nd Oct 2011 18:37
Great idea!
We're working on something similar for the iOS platform. We chose a slightly different approach with different priorities, but still.

Would love to play this once it's ready!
Westmere
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Posted: 3rd Oct 2011 12:34
Thanks.

Is your game written with the AppGameKit? Would be interesting to see what your approach is.

empty
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Posted: 3rd Oct 2011 12:58
No it's written using a different SDK for several reasons. We might use it in case we'll port it to Bada, though.

During the concept phase I played both, Motor City and Detroit. For some reason Detroit didn't catch me much. Although we certainly borrow a few ideas from it (), it's a lot closer to Motor City. It expands a few sections and introduces some new concepts.
Westmere
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Posted: 4th Oct 2011 15:00
Oh well it's interesting. But I'd prefer an Android version over a Bada one (Samsung Galaxy S FTW).

I had thought about doing a mobile version with AppGameKit later on but I don't think I can bring the car editor in so that idea is pretty much dead for now anyway.

If you have something to show about your project you can write me an e-Mail, I'd be interested in seeing more but I would also like to keep this thread to my game

Currently I am trying to find a good domain name. Unfortunately Carsincroporated.com and cars-incorpoated.com are used by some US based car dealers or garages.
I might use cars-inc-game.com unless someone here has a better idea

Westmere
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Posted: 18th Oct 2011 23:03
Just realized I typed both the domains wrong in the last post

Anyway, I've set up a new homepage for the game.

It can be reached at http://cars-inc-game.com

It's my first attempt at creating a site with Joomla and it turned out quite nicely. I just hope there are no more errors on the page I haven't discovered yet

I would appreciate it if someone with an english configured system would go to the site and confirm, that it is displayed in English. It's set to pick the language from the browser settings. Shows up in german for me, I'd like to confirm that it does show up in English otherwise. Thanks.


Westmere
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Posted: 27th Oct 2011 17:35 Edited at: 27th Oct 2011 17:41
It's been a while since I posted some actual screenshots, so here are some newer ones including some information about them (click the previews to enlarge them):


Here we have two more screens from the car creation process. Left is the screen where you put together the parts you have developed to make up a car. To the right another screenshot of the body editor, this time a variant with soft-top. With the Generation 1 bodies (roughly 1900-1910) you can pull the roof out in the editor. If it is set to a lower position it will dissappear and form an open car. Later generations will have other parts to pull out allowing you to form different types of cars (vans, sedans, compacts, pick-ups etc). The car in the old screenshots that I still have to rebuild is a Generation 3.


These screenshots show the preliminary office view. As with the other screens I plan to redo those screens with Blender later on but for now it is more important to me that these screens actually work - thus the Paint Shop-Creations.
The left one shows the personnel management and as you can see underpaid workers (or engineers in this case) will go on strike. Strikes and other events will also generate messages you can view from your office. You can see one in the right screenshot.


Last but not least an important function I finished yesterday. When Cars Incorporated is launched it will download a small text file from cars-inc-game.com containing nothing but a version string (eg. "v0.01.1139 DEV"). It compares this string to the running version. If it indicates a newer version an additional button will appear on the right offering to update (left screenshot). If you click this it will take you to the right screen where it will automatically download the updated version. Once completed Cars Incorporated will launch a small seperate program and quits. The small program simply launches the self-extracting downloaded file and waits for it to complete (this is necessary so the main exe can also be replaced). After it has completed it will relaunch the game in a now up-to-date version.

Note: In the two screens above I "cheated" by internally changing the version from 0.01.1139 to 0.01.1039 so it could actually detect a "newer" version


Cwaldo39
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Posted: 29th Oct 2011 01:45
That's an amazing concept, I've never seen something like this before. Do you know when it will launch? How do you plan to market this game?

http://www.kraftwurx.com
TheeLord
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Posted: 2nd Nov 2011 06:04
Looking amazing still! Can't wait to see more.
Westmere
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Posted: 24th Nov 2011 02:58 Edited at: 27th Nov 2011 17:18
After connecting the major stuff inside the game and doing some bug hunting these past few days I just finished some actual play-testing and I thought I might share with those few following this thread.

At the end of this post you will find the first download link for Cars Incorporated EVER - exclusivly on this board.

Some notes before you try:
1. This is a developing version posted in a Development forum, so it's not all that polished. You can get an idea of what I am doing by looking at the Development Status page on the game's homepage.

2. This version does not yet have a game setup screen, so you will be playing with default settings: 2 player hot-seat, no AI (buggy anyway), starts in 1905, ends after 1910, 2,000,000 $ ingame cash, player names are "John Doe" and "Jane Doe", the companies are "Autobuilder" and "Cars Inc." - check the menu bar to see who's turn it is, changes every time you press "end month".

3. It also does not have a savegame selection screen, meaning that if you save or load it will always be the "default" slot.

4. No tutorial and no instructions on this one, as I would like to see if you figure everything out by yourselves.

5. Known Issues (please don't post about these, they'll be fixed).
- The game "thinks" for a moment after most clicks. Actually a reload pause as it reloads all data from disk on certain screen refreshs
- When pushing around the low corner point in the body editor the space between car and "road" will change, resulting in the wheels scaling. For some reason I haven't figured out the rear tires won't scale along. Just move a red "width point" so it will refresh.
- Some adjuster behave a bit erratic, partly because of the "thinking pause" mentioned above.
- The factory screen does not refresh correctly when you put in your last worker on a factory line. If you briefly change the region (top row) and go back it will be correct again
- If your research doesn't advance or no more parts are being built in the factory check with the personnel office. Your people are most probably striking because you are a tight-fisted b*stard (This is no bug, but you probably wouldn't look for a notification in the office's mail anyway)
- Think of the small test tube in the office mail as a trash can (that icon doesn't exist yet)
- These are very early years in the game, so you will not see newer tech levels, you can only improve what's there (hint: can boost sales). The body editor is also fairly limited for this reason. More will come...
- With only 2 players average car prices can get very high with both trying to maximize their profits. Since the difference from the average price is an important part in the sales calculation you would probably get ridiculously high sales. Harm your other player by keeping the price low (This will correct itself once you can play with AIs)
- maximum sales and required research amount do not yet change over time, however monetary values (production costs and wage demands) will, so keep an eye on prices and wages.
- if you're wondering about the game trying to access the Internet: It downloads a tiny file (< 20 Byte) containing the latest version info. This is needed to detect newer versions which will be offered to you on the menu screen if there is one (yes that part works). If you prefer to block this small internet access you can do that, the game just won't know of newer versions.

That's all that comes to mind at this time of the night (3 AM here). Feedback would be appreciated, both here and especially on the forum on the game's homepage.

It's been tested on a Turion X2 Mobile with onboard graphics as the lowest platform I could get a hold on. Runs fine there, but I doubt it will go much lower, especially the body editor.

Enough said, here's your link: [Download removed, see Edit 2]
It's a 7.1 MB self-extracting 7z-file, password is tgc (small letters, I did say it was exclusive to this forum, right!?). Enjoy and good night.

Edit: To avoid you from getting frustrated. The game will stop once the second player hits the "end month"-button in Dec 1910.

Edit 2: Removed download link as there will be an official demo download later today on the game's homepage.


TheeLord
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Posted: 26th Nov 2011 06:22
Wow looks great! I downloaded and played with it. It is coming along very nicely and it actually looks like you have many of the hard parts out of the way. AI is your next big hurdle I imagine? I thought of some ways you might be able to do an AI as far as determining which body style people want.

In each reach every couple years or 5 years or something slightly change (randomly) what people see as the "ideal" body style, do not reveal this to the player, the player would need to experiment until they find which way the customers are trending etc... So maybe customers would like a wide car and it would be trending wider, the car maker who catches on first will have an advantage. Just an idea for you to kick around.

On to what I found during play, everything works first of all! Great job there.
-Secondly if the game was complete and there were good AI opponents or human opponents it would definitely be very fun and addictive, I could tell that already!
-The sliders and numerical representations got a little tedious. Maybe add more graphics for various parts of the game.
-I couldn't really figure out the basics of the game, you should have at least a few tooltips to guide you through creating your first designs, adding researchers to the various things, hiring people, opening factories etc...
-A month end ledger would be a great help, every turn based game of this style needs it =)
-A graphical representation of the different factories would be awesome!

Can't wait for the next release, and I urge people to pay attention to this one! He has been hard at work on it and it is very well done. Anyone who likes business / tycoon / mogul games take note!
Westmere
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Posted: 27th Nov 2011 17:41
Thanks for the feedback, you shall receive a token of appreciation by e-Mail once I'm done with my other stuff today

About your suggestion:
The Sales calculation is based on a score system. For instance a car with 5 seats will get a higher score then the same car with 4 seats (if you pull the default car to it's maximum width it will turn into a 5 seater - 8 if you also make it really long, don't forget that this will also make the car heavier and thus slower and less fuel efficient, which also costs score points on other ends)
As of now Cars Incorporated does not make a difference between different types of cars, but I plan to put in a system where it will determine what kind of car it is depending on how you shaped it. Gen 2 bodies will have a trunk you can pull out. Make that really long and it will turn the car into a pick up-truck, much like moving the free floating green point behind the windshield above windshield level will turn the open car into a closed car.

Different types of cars will have differing emphasis on score generation. Some examples: Fuel efficiency will get you more points on a small or compact car then on a truck, trunk size will get you more points on a wagon or truck then on a compact and top speed will get you more points on a sports car then on a truck.

The emphasis however is something you will have to determine yourself, so the plan for that part is relatively close to what you suggested.

About the other points you mentioned:
- The new release which will be publicly available does feature basic AI. Probably starting with the release after that you will be able to see what the AI is doing other then by changing sales numbers in a list of top-sellers on the Sales site. Stats and infos on those cars will follow later on.
- I know what you mean with the sliders and numerical representations. They will work a little better once I reduce the "thinking time" mentioned above. I will probably also add a feature so you can directly enter a number in the sliders.
-Figuring out the basics of the game is what I wanted to see if you could. Tooltips for tutoring seem like a good idea and I will definitely look into this. They could pop up when you first open a page and tell you what you need to know. Did you figure it out in the end?
-By month end ledger you mean a screen that shows you what actions you took and which ones you didn't? Interesting. I might add that. Could be several pages which also include financial overview and an option to turn it on and off, accessible through the office.
-What do you mean by a graphical representation of the different factories? Could you elaborate?

Thanks for the feedback and urging people to pay attention to this Feel free to use the new social site plugin on the homepage to recommend it

Will post a new download link and update info later.


TheeLord
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Posted: 27th Nov 2011 19:16
You should add in seats to the interior to represent that visually.

But I was actually just talking about the effect the body styling has on the sales, not any of the other factors. You should definitely have the car styling have an effect on sales, not just the performance and capacity etc...

Also, you should have some options like chrome trim and such.

You may want to do more with the car paint colors, maybe set the number of each color you want to make the car in? And you must keep this up to date depending on which color is most popular among customers, similar to my body styling idea.

I actually had some trouble with the basics of the game, I didn't even get to put together a car and start selling it because I wasn't sure if it worked or not. It was going to be 11 months until I had a engine design ready and I didn't want to wait that long. Maybe have a starter engine? Or reduce that first engine's research time to only a couple months or something? Tooltips will definitely help beginning players.

Yea month end ledger as in showing you what your beginning month and end month balance is, where you spent money, what your opponents did that month, how much interest was paid, interest rate changes, an option to stop it from appearing every month.

By a graphical representation I mean like a picture of the factory that evolves as you add buildings, update infrastructure, and components to the factory. I think you are really missing a large interesting part of the auto manufacturing business if you ignore the facilities aspect of the game so much. There is so much you can do on that front. You can have different populations prefer different models of cars and you have to decide between building a factory locally for them or exporting the car model from a foreign factory. You have to upgrade your factories as automation improves and as you need less manpower. You would need to pay to retool factories to produce different models of cars. You could choose between building cars with higher skilled workers in the US or Germany etc... or low skilled workers in Guatamala, Libya etc.. There is just so much you can do with an expanded focus on the factories and facilities.
Westmere
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Posted: 28th Nov 2011 03:14
@TheeLord
You sure are into this game with all the suggestions, aren't you?

Quote: "You should add in seats to the interior to represent that visually."

Been planing that. Hadn't come around to it especially since the number if seats is being calculated since exactly 1 build before the version you tested.

Quote: "
But I was actually just talking about the effect the body styling has on the sales, not any of the other factors. You should definitely have the car styling have an effect on sales, not just the performance and capacity etc...
"

Okay, wish noted, I'll keep that in mind when I work on those body data functions next time and see what makes sense and what I can do.
Chrome parts is an idea I am toying with already. First thing I will probably add is a selectable cooler grill.
I'll probably rework the coloring system anyway as that is not optimal yet. Prefered customer colors might be an interesting option though.

Quote: "I actually had some trouble with the basics of the game..."

The points mentioned are probably the ones I never thought about when playing myself as I know how things work. The programmer's curse - but that's why I didn't post instructions

The way I use when beginning a game is to hire new engineers each month until I have about 250. That way the first part I research takes 5-6 months, the other two 4 months each => 14 month for the first car (You need 1000 points for every tech atm, doesn't scale with anything yet, Cars are completed once you test them which becomes available when all 3 parts are in and fit together, check weight and ccm for that)
When I can build my first car I fire 150 engineers to keep the salaries from eating me up. If it gets close I fire them all. I just make some improved parts to raise sales of future versions of my first car but my main focus is on trying to generate some cash to up my factory levels as a level 2 produced much more then a level 1.
So I keep adjusting the price to have as little waiting orders and as little stock as possible to maximize my profit. I also reallocate my workers when I upgrade a line so that all produce roughly the same amount, so I don't sit on 100 unused engines - after all they cost money.
If you want you can try and expand on this strategy for about 30 years, I'll send you an e-Mail for that later.
A tooltip tutorial is one of your suggestions that will definitely make it into the game and soon.
You can also consider the month end ledger on the "will happen" list.

Topic factories:
1. Upgrades and less man power are already in, that's the level at the right of each line, retool costs still need to be added.
2. Different populations prefering different models of cars is on the to do list. The geographic regions for that are already there, but they only differ by total market size in the new version. That will improve when the different car types and body generation 2 come into the game.
3. You already can decided where to build your factories, however shipping parts or cars from one zone to another is not yet in and there is no difference (price, quality or anything else) between the production in these areas yet - also still on the to do list.
4. The graphical representation you suggest sounds great. I will think about this and maybe reshape the factory system accordingly when I start refining the graphics with Blender.


Westmere
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Posted: 28th Nov 2011 03:38 Edited at: 28th Nov 2011 03:43
Sorry for double post but I wanted to keep this one clean from the discussion:

After some pressuring from my girlfriend (who also likes the game) and some more playing it myself I have put up a first release on my homepage, which comes with 5 years to play (1900-1905) and can already be bought to unlock the playtime until 1930. Price is 50% of what it will be in the end and license keys will of course remain valid for all updates. Check the homepage for more.
Good thing is this will probably motivate me to work faster

Those of you who still have the forum exclusive test version will be offered an update when you start the game, all others can use the link below. There's no change log as this is the first officialy available version, but for those who tested the other one, here's what changed:

General:
- Initial number of workers and engineers reduced to 40 (TheeLord will not like this )
- Starting cash reduced to 1 million
- Your company and CEO now get a random name, some with their own logo
- It's now one player against several simple "AIs" placing cars in the market which you cannot yet see but feel on your sales numbers
- You will be bankrupt when your cash balance is below 0 for 12 consecutive months
- There's a registration key system in the game now (works and can be used. Want to buy?
- Unregistered game runs from 1900-1905, registered from 1900-1930 with a simple end screen afterwards
- some links to the homepage have been added
- game remembers which language you set it to previously
- Downloadable version comes with an installer (InnoSetup)

Office:
- Once you triggered a month change (click the calendar!) you will always come out in the office.
- The ugly pile of paper on the desk will have an envelope on top of it if there are new messages (combined with the month change taking you to the office you shouldn't miss a strike anymore ;-p )
- The small test tube in the mail overview has been replaced with a small bomb to delete a message

Sites:
- Total potential sales are no longer constant, they differ from market to market (continent to continent) and will change over time. First 3 years will be tough in most markets
- Non-AI-Players start with 4 factories for all 4 parts of a car in North America (strongest market)
- A new button on the sales site allows to apply a price globally to every slot where the same car is being sold

Notes:
Savegame file is different as it has more data now, will probably crash is you try to load an old game now



Have fun


Westmere
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Posted: 30th Nov 2011 01:59 Edited at: 4th Dec 2011 03:02
Now it's a triple post. Oh well. Talking to oneself is considered a sign of genius, right? RIGHT?

Anyway since this thread does get some readers (but little replies) I'll share some of the developments of the last two days as a small preview for the first update to version 0.02.

Aside from some internal optimizations a very important addition is a list of the 4 top-selling cars in a region in the previous month:


This is done in the thinner of the two fields above the list of your cars on sale, so now you can not only see your sales in your own list but also compare to what other companies (the "ai" in this case) are selling. The larger field shows one of those cars (selectable by the eye-icon) in the 3D view known from the body editor, in this case a "Southside B" by the opponent Faraday Motors, which I narrowly defeated with my own "Autobuilder II". (Yes I was too lazy to properly name it, as I was just testing)

The second thing I was working on is actually based on a comment by TheeLord :
Quote: "-I couldn't really figure out the basics of the game, you should have at least a few tooltips to guide you through creating your first designs, adding researchers to the various things, hiring people, opening factories etc..."

To combat this problem and help players into the game I have begun adding a tutorial to the game. Each page is currently having some tutorial data added which will in effect produce a tooltip-like box that will explain the elements of the game step by step.
Each info box will show up once and their appearance can be shut down entirely for returning players. [Note to self: Add a switch to turn the tutorial off]

Here's a stupid little hint I added to the office screen:


I will need to add a whole lot more of these tutorial thingies and do some more playtesting and bugfixing but you can expect the release of an updated version 0.02 sometime this week.

Edit: Version 0.02 is now available, old version will offer update automatically (if you let it into the internet to check that is)


Westmere
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Posted: 1st Jan 2012 22:50
Great I am up to a quadruple post, but I guess that is better then letting the WIP thread become locked for old age.

I now have Version 0.03 available for download on the game's homepage.

The new version introduces a setup screen, allowing you to adjust player and company-names and add up to 4 players for a hotseat-multiplayer-game. (Or you can play all by yourselves of course).


The second new feature in this version is an annual awards ceremony, honoring the best selling and the most advanced car of the previous year.


And of course some minor improvements. I'd appreciate feedback so this doesn't turn into a quintuple post



Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 2nd Jan 2012 05:55 Edited at: 2nd Jan 2012 05:56
splash screen shows for a couple seconds, then:

Quote: "Runtime Error 105 - File does not exist at line 4516"




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Westmere
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Posted: 2nd Jan 2012 12:07 Edited at: 2nd Jan 2012 23:53
Not the kind of feedback I had hoped for but thanks for reporting this as it sort of explains why I am getting so little feedback despite lots of downloads.

Took me a while to reproduce this error as it was caused by reading a file that was written just prior to opening it for reading.

From what I found while experimenting I am guessing that you installed it in the default folder C:\Program Files. Apparently Windows silently prevents me from writing files to my own directory if my directory is somewhere within Program Files or Program Files(x86) - I never had that problem as that restriction is not there for my test directories.

I will have to work something out to fix this asap. Until then you can get it to run by simply installing it outside of Windows-generated directories, e.g. "C:\Games\Cars Incorporated". It should work fine there.

Thanks again for pointing this out.

Edit: You can also start it with administrator rights to enable it to write to it's own directory.

Edit 2: Error solved. I had to rewrite almost the entire auto-updater for that but now it works even in the program files folder, just download version 0.04 and retry. You received a "thank you" on my page
If you have any more problems please let me know.


Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 3rd Jan 2012 00:24 Edited at: 3rd Jan 2012 00:26
Quote: "start it with administrator rights "

did the trick. thanks

so, i threw something together but my car won't sell (even when set to minimal profit). is there a way to see competitor (broad) specs so i know where i'm lacking/what's considered "desirable"? ie, some kind of (consumer?) feedback on what i'm producing? maybe i can hire salesmen or marketing folks? you get the idea.

otherwise, i'll keep playing and see what i can figure out.

my only gripes:

the delay whenever i click something (makes things feel unnecessarily cumbersome/slow). also, why does "polish" take so long?

and, i wish, when setting a price (upward), i could set the price and be required to commit it before orders are cancelled. or, something like "the new price will go into effect on the first of next month".

meanwhile, like i said, i'll play with this for awhile as i see potential fun, here

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Westmere
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Posted: 4th Jan 2012 12:03
Quote: "did the trick. thanks"


Good. I recommend updating to 0.04 anyway as that will fix the problem, not just work around it. Thanks again for pointing it out.

Quote: "so, i threw something together but my car won't sell"


It won't sell AT ALL? Check the following things:
1. Are you producing the car and all of it's components (factory line screen)? If so the right half of the sales screen should show some stock and/or usage of the parts.
2. What do the numbers left to your sale numbers show you? If it shows open orders but no sales you are probably not building the car (see point 1) - since you talked about canceled orders that appears to be likely.

Quote: " is there a way to see competitor (broad) specs so i know where i'm lacking/what's considered "desirable"? "


Not yet. Sorry. But if you keep upgrading your cars you should be able to sell much more then you can produce in the beginning - even with relatively high prices. As I said I am guessing that you just didn't set up your production lines. Maybe you forgot to add workers?
The award for most advanced car at the end of the year can give you an idea of how good your car is from a technical point of view, much of this goes into sales.

Quote: "the delay whenever i click something (makes things feel unnecessarily cumbersome/slow)"


Yes, that is on my to do list. I have spent some time on this last night and it reduced the "thinking" time as I call it by about 10% but it still needs further optimization. I also completely overhauled the numeric adjusters (is there an actual name for these things?). They behave much less slugish now, don't jump for an additional number after holding it down and they update the screen correctly when they hit a maximum (like when assigning all of your workers on the factory screen). So things will improve a bit in the next release.

Quote: "also, why does "polish" take so long?"

Because the Dark Basic Pro command for applying a cube map is so slow that "polishing" right now is purely optional on the body design screen. Still looking for a solution to this, might try looking a shaders for this.

Quote: "and, i wish, when setting a price (upward), i could set the price and be required to commit it before orders are cancelled"


Noted. I do have a newer mechanism in place that checks if a price has changed in order to record your actions for future opponent files. I believe I can misuse this mechanism to cancel orders at the end of the month and generate a message for it.

Quote: "meanwhile, like i said, i'll play with this for awhile as i see potential fun, here"


Thanks


TheeLord
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Posted: 5th Jan 2012 05:13
Put any more thought into how the car styling affects sales? I really think my system I described to you would work great.
TheeLord
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Posted: 5th Jan 2012 05:19
I ordered your game, even though it's in Alpha stage you are doing a great job with it, and your tenacity tells me that you will stick with it to the end!
Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 6th Jan 2012 03:58 Edited at: 6th Jan 2012 04:13
Quote: "Are you producing the car and all of it's components?"


er... i get it now. i survived the demo and produced 2 cars that sold. the Nomad Wagon & the VROC sports car

it's tough to survive! i realized that once i produced a stock of 20 or so vehicles i needed to fire all of my employees to start making a (decent) profit/catch up on some bills. the demo ended before i could see where this "business practice" would end up.

since the cars only sold "solidly" for a month (or 2?), it appeared i'd be in a constant state of re-development in order to achieve consistent "bursts" of decent sales. without knowing WHAT consumers wanted, i don't know where to direct research. ie, it appears completely random and i'd like something specific to work toward and achieve (or fail at miserably ).

the key, to me, is the player needs a lot more feedback. without knowing the variables you've put into place, i don't know what the "trends" might be or whether things such as "your competitors are producing a similar vehicle selling for less/much less/a fraction"-type data is involved.

you've already acknowledged the need for a more streamlined design (mainly the clunky buttons... btw, sometimes, when adding/removing workers on a production line, the employee count gets out of whack. i know it's kept internally, but what's showing sometimes doesn't match those numbers), but the presentation needs some work, as well.

ie, when i'm ready to end my turn and i click the calendar, i want to know what sold that month immediately without having to navigate to the sales data. i'd like to see a monthly "wrap-up" sheet presented with this kind of thing, and some summaries like "sales on the Nomad Wagon have dropped by 50%". again, if it's part of the game, that could be followed up with "...due to Ford's release of the new Traveler model", if it's so.

i'll leave it there for now as i know it's a WIP and you've got plenty more planned/to work on, which i do look forward to seeing.

oh, i supposed i will throw one more thing out there: Auto-save (atleast annually).

see you next update

add: incase you hadn't noticed, i hadn't read the early posts... (monthly ledger, sluggish buttons already mentioned, etc). sorry about that fixed!

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Westmere
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Posted: 7th Jan 2012 12:59
Quote: "Put any more thought into how the car styling affects sales? I really think my system I described to you would work great."


Yes. I will probably add it somewhere down the road, probably when I set up the system for different car types (sedan, compact, van, etc.) soon.

Quote: "I ordered your game, even though it's in Alpha stage you are doing a great job with it, and your tenacity tells me that you will stick with it to the end"


Thanks for your continued support of this project

@Virtual Nomad
I'll make it a priority to add that monthly ledger, including a sales overview and an overview of cars on the market.

The issue with the jumping worker assignments (usually +/- after you let go) and incorrect updates is solved by now, the fix will be included in the next release. But the buttons still take their thinking time, that has so far only been improved by about 10% on average. But I will spend some more time on that as well.

I don't really get why you are only selling solidly for a short time, but I also used the tactic of firing people in the beginning a lot. Best tip I can give you so far is to upgrade your factory lines to at least level 2 each asap. The reason is not only that you will produce more but the average salary required to pay the workers for each car drops. With level 1 I usually pay more then 100$ PER PART. That sums up to over 400-500 $ extra production costs per car. This figure is cut to less then 10% with level 2.
Something that might be happening with your sales numbers: If you have a lot in stock you can sell a lot at once but your sales go down when that stock is used up. The other way around you can build up lots of waiting orders if you offer the car but don't produce enough, this means that your sales will skyrocket the moment you are able to fulfill those waiting orders and drop back off a month or two later when there are no more waiting orders and you are able to deliver everything the moment an order is placed.
You can see what's going on there on the sales screen left of your car where it shows, sold cars, waiting orders and cancelled orders (waiting orders will turn into cancelled ones if they are not delivered within 3 month).

Auto-save is also something that will definitely come soon.


Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 8th Jan 2012 00:07
thanks for the "nuts and bolts" insight. now ima go play it again before the next release

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Westmere
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Posted: 21st Jan 2012 01:06
Here we go with the next release, I just uploaded alpha version 0.05.

New features include the month end ledger consisting of a financial statement, total car sales and changes of them per region and a graph showing your cash balance development over the last 36 months.


No overview of cars on the market yet but I will do that together with the "car types" update which will bring different car types like sedan, compacts or trucks to the game. This will also see TheeLords costumer design preferences come to live.

Othe changes include a Savegame selection and an autosave. The rest is primarely changes in UI, but you can find a full list on my site http://www.cars-inc-game.com/index.php/en/en-blog/36-en-rel005

Have fun and as always, feedback is appreciated.

Download v0.05


Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 21st Jan 2012 06:55 Edited at: 21st Jan 2012 06:57
thanks much for the additions and tweaks; you've taken a long stride in v0.05.

i've played this most recent version through 2-3 times now and, tho i'm still learning, i see how to survive and have an idea (plan) on how to thrive (ie, win some of that award money) in the next go-around.

Q's, Comments and Suggestions:

add "Net Worth" to Financial Statement to include Savings (i forgot i had money there ).

i see the registered version will play until 1930 but what duration in the final version?

the "technology" aspect is nice. how about taking that a step further where, if you reach a "grade-A status", you can build a race car and pit it against other elite developers (via some simple simulation)? vvrrroooom!

any hint on what feature/facet you plan on adding next? i see "advertising" is yet to be implemented. what else is in the mix? (it's good to keep secrets, btw, but i had to ask )

i finally hit the charts:


keep up the good work

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Westmere
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Posted: 21st Jan 2012 15:41
Thanks and gratz on hitting the charts

Personally I don't care about the charts in the first few years (of course you only have those years if you just use the demo) and prefer to concentrate on making money on those cars I do sell, which means selling less cars for higher prices.
The material costs per vehicle don't change if you produce more, the personnel cost depends on your factory level (or more precisely the amount of workers you need to make one part).
Typically you can take the material cost of the car from the factory page (this includes the material costs of the 3 parts your car is made of) and add up the personnel costs for each part to get an idea of how much the production of ONE car costs you (not including research or one time upgrades of factories of course).

So if your car has a material cost of say 1000 $ and your personnel costs average at about 100 $ per part (which it likely will be around at factory level 1) that would mean that one car costs you ~1400 $. To be profitable you will definitively need to sell your cars for more and make enough profit to also pay your researchers. Are you turning a profit on those "Nomad I" and "Nomad II" in the 1000$ range?

If you keep that in mind and keep updating your car and invest money into factory upgrades (increasing your production output and decreasing personnel cost per car) you should be able to get up and running easily. Hitting the local charts should be easy then.

Keeping your cars up to date should put you on the map of the "most advanced car" price after some time too.

I'd be surprised to see you get a "best selling cars in the world" price in the demo time though, as that requires you to sell substantial numbers in all 6 markets (with an investment of at least 3-4 million $ just to set up level 1 factories in all regions). Last game I played I ended up at rank 1 with ~66,000 "European BX" sold in 1930.

About your questions and comments:
- Good idea with net worth, might happen in the next release
- the demo plays 1900-1905, registered atm 1900-1930, the final version is intended to play from 1900-2020 (of course your cars will look different by then and I will need a funny excuse why you are still controlling your company with about 140 years of age )
- actually I am thinking about giving players earlier access to new tech levels if they have spent enough research on the previous levels. Right now new tech-levels become available at fixed times in 1910 and 1920 for chassis, 1915 and 1925 for engines with an updated body tech intended to be added to 1905 with the car types update I am working on.
- a racing simulation part is also something I am thinking about for the distant future, possibly as an add-on.

If you are interested in what is intended for the future of the game you can find an (incomplete) list I am occasionally updating here.


Westmere
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Posted: 5th May 2012 15:04
So, after a far too long time I released the next update: Version 0.10 (0.10.1200 alpha to be more precise).

Most importantly there is a new body generation in it. It is available ingame starting in 1905 (last year of the free demo version) and has many more dragpoints to shape the car - some of which changing the type of the car. For instance dragging the newly added trunk out far enough will turn the car into a pickup truck. You can build compacts, convertibles, sedans, wagons, pickups, SUVs and Vans, each of which has a different demand strength in the 6 market regions (Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North- and Southamerica) and each has different focus in the properties of the car, eg: The size of the trunk in a sports car? Who cares. A wagon with no trunk/Cargo area? Who would want that?



Other changes include the fact that the cars are now always "polished" (with reflections) as that does not take several minutes to process anymore and there also is a copy button in the research screen now, which will make you an editable copy of any older project. To make a car similar to an old one with a slightly changed body for instance.
There are a lot of other small changes and improvements, you can find the full list here

Have fun and as always, feedback is appreciated.

Download v0.10 (10,93 MB)


Virtual Nomad
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Posted: 9th May 2012 19:05 Edited at: 9th May 2012 19:20
definite "update" feel to the latest release. good work

played a couple times through; still experiencing a desire to know more of what"s going on, and some other wants. ie:

1) ability to compare (side-by-side) parts/prototypes/products to help realize actual improvement. otherwise a simple "improved" notion is there without actually caring about the numbers.

2) on the production lines, provide info ie "adding 3 more workers will produce 10 more parts". also, would like the ability to enter the total # of workers directly to a line vs the +/- buttons.

3) message/mail system: sort by newest first and let the older messages expire. if the player has research set to 3 months and those pass, i don't want to have to hunt down the message to read something i already know. & a simple "research complete" alert at months end would suffice on those sorts of things.

4) breakdown on sales by model (including rise/fall) @ monthly report. this would be a bigger asset in the full version as i would expect to be selling more than 1-2 models at once (plus i haven't played much with international sales = even more to watch). could be a clickable "more info" option on the basic monthly report.

5) i still want to compare my vehicles directly to other makers. ie, to see what i'm actually competing with. again, i don't know what variables are actually functional but if i have a street rod, i want to produce a better one than my competitors which i can only achieve by comparison. it will help direct research and what the player needs to focus on to compete.

5a) with that, how about trends & demand? ie, who wants what? does fuel efficiency mean more in europe than it does in the north america? does top speed or fuel efficiency mean more? does the season/time of year effect demand? these are "real world" notions that i expect are/will be included in the game(?).

6) i'm still not clear on the ACTUAL cost to produce a vehicle. i see the costs per part but the math doesn't jive on the car cost vs parts + labor (i know materials are in there somewhere). i need this to determine my bottom-line price.

6a) and, sometimes i want to sell "last year's model" at a loss to get rid of them/make some quick cash. i would expect for them to sell like hotcakes when, in the game, they maintain prior monthly sales or, perhaps, increase by 1 (or drop as if i didn't drastically lower the price at all).

7) finally, when "Bankrupt", please show the final month's statistics like every other month before ending the game. i'm trying to learn/improve at the game in a relatively short period of time. one more month's worth of data would be helpful.

that should be enough to keep you busy?

here's my latest achievement. i still ran my company into the ground but had more fun doing it this time around because of the improvements made thus far (fixing the sluggish buttons made a big difference to the enjoyment of the game).



thanks for sharing!

note: in the factory screen above, the first 2 production lines have the same # of workers but produce one less engine vs car bodies. is this a slight internal math issue or ? it makes it hard to be "perfectly" efficient (i don't want to produce "scap" parts).

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Westmere
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Posted: 11th May 2012 01:37 Edited at: 11th May 2012 01:45
Quote: "definite "update" feel to the latest release. good work"


Thanks

About your wants:

1, 4 & 5. I am planing to add an expanded tooltip system with the intention of displaying useful information about stuff you hover over (right now they will just tell you what a button does and in some occasion what an action will cost, like raising the level of a factory). Once it's fully implemented you will be able to point at any car in the factory screen, your stock, sales screen, toplist or awards screen and get all the important information about the car in a single popup. That should make comparing your cars with your competition easier.
I also plan to add a market overview function. You will need to pay a price in the office to send a market researcher out to generate a report on all the cars in the market, which will be a complete listview accessable by the reports subscreen.

2. Thy wish is my command. Sort of. The next update Version 0.11 will allow you to enter any number that you can set by sliders (+ and - or < and > directly... number of workers or engineers, price, even page numbers if you have longer lists. These numbers are now underlined and clicking them will allow you to edit them.

3. I will take a closer look at the messaging system soon, probably not yet for v0.11. BUT v0.11 does add the number of unread messages to the little mail icon in the monthly report.

5a. That point is a WIP. v0.10 has different demands for different types of vehicles in the world's markets. For instance Pick-Up Trucks (you can build them from 1905 [last demo year] onwards) will sell badly in Europe but give you good amounts of sales in Northern America. Station Wagons are the other way around. You will have to find out by trial and error what sells good where. This might be a point for a future report you can pay a market researcher for but that will probably come at the earliest when I add more dynamic markets.
Cars also already have different priorities on their properties. A large trunk or good fuel efficiency will not make much difference in a sports car while it is vital to a wagon. Speed on the other hand makes a lot of difference in a sports car.

6. Once the advanced tool tip system is in, pointing the mouse at a part in your inventory will give you a value representing the total costs (excluding r&d) of making the part or car. This will be a combined costing. So if you produced 10 parts for 100 $ earlier and add another 10 parts later costing 200 $ each it will give you a stack of 20 parts with a price of 150 $. Keeping your sales above this price will always make you a profit per car sold.

You can actually calculate the current price of a car manually: The cost per unit will always give you the complete cost to make that part including all the materials but excluding the worker wages. Since you only need materials for the 3 basic parts the costs displayed include these. To make a complete car you need much less materials to put the parts together AND you need the parts, so the production cost of the parts is also included in the unit price.
Since workers are not included you would need to calculate the average pay per car manually INCLUDING the wages for the parts.

Example:


6a. Customers in the game do not care if you lowered the price a lot (no dumping price mentality you could say). They will still compare your car like any current model for what it can do. Of course price will always play a role and you should sell more by drastically reducing the price but you should also keep in mind that it is 1901 and there is still only a very limited amount of people willing to buy such a stinking horse-less carriage. In 1920 that tactic would do you more good
But remember to not add wings and do as your good friend Gyro did (if you know what I mean)

7. Here's definitly a good thought. I will put it on my list and add it soon.

Achievement: Great! I rarely beat the competition in sales in 1900. To help you here are my thoughts about why you might have gone bankrupt: (Don't read the code if you want to find the reasons yourself)


edit: About your note: You are right there is a bug in this but it's different then you think: The differences in production should actually be larger, depending on how complex building a part is.


Pincho Paxton
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Posted: 11th May 2012 18:55
I was making a car, scaling it, pulling on the handle gadgets. After awhile I picked black as the colour, and the game crashed. Not sure what happened. Windows XP 32.

Westmere
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Posted: 11th May 2012 21:30
Interesting. I don't recall the last time the game crashed on me in the body editor.
So thanks for reporting this.

Was there any error message?
What type of car where you building at the moment of the crash?
Did it crash exactly when you changed the color or afterwards?


Westmere
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Posted: 30th May 2012 00:15 Edited at: 30th May 2012 00:16
Updated the game to version 0.11 today.

The new version consists mostly of bug fixes and some improvements to the UI. For instance: all adjustable numbers like prices or the amount of workers on a production line can now be entered by keyboard as well.
The order of messages and projects can now also be reversed so that new ones are shown first.

You can find the full list of changes here

Have fun and as always, feedback is appreciated. If you report a bug, although highly appreciated, it would be nice if you would also come back here to see if I replied as I never was able to reproduce the error reported by Pincho Paxton.

Download v0.11 (10,99 MB)


Pincho Paxton
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Posted: 30th May 2012 14:01 Edited at: 30th May 2012 14:01
Quote: "Was there any error message?
What type of car where you building at the moment of the crash?
Did it crash exactly when you changed the color or afterwards?"


The error message was the usual Send/Don't Send message. I didn't read the report. I was building the first car that I came to. It crashed exactly when I picked black as the colour.

Westmere
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Posted: 30th May 2012 17:25
Thanks for the response.

The Send/Don't send message means that Windows is involved somehow in this crash. It might be related to a driver, but what I can't figure out is what it would have to do with changing the color to black.

Is that error happening everytime you do that?
Is it still occuring in v0.11?
Does updating your graphics driver help?
Does updating your DirectX 9 package help?


Pincho Paxton
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Posted: 30th May 2012 18:21 Edited at: 30th May 2012 18:31
I have Direct X 9c.

I will try v0.11...

... Yes, it happened again when I chose black.

My Graphic Driver is the latest version.

IanM
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Posted: 20th Oct 2012 16:00
Westmere
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Posted: 20th Oct 2012 20:01 Edited at: 20th Oct 2012 20:03
Quote: "Re-opening thread"


Thanks

I asked for the reopening since I finally finished the next update yesterday: Version 0.20 (still alpha). This one took quite a while since I had so little time to work on it during the summer (because of work not fun that is )

So here is what's new:

First we have an entirely new feature, the race simulation.



Beginning in 1903 and later on almost every year there is a racing event in the game for which you can register 2 of your cars that have reached at least prototype status. (Screen 1)
The game will fill up the ranks with cars from the opponents until it reaches 10 cars.
When the time of the race arrives you will see an overview of the track with the positions of the cars and the ranking to the right (Screen 2).

The cars will run 1 round to determine the 3 winners (who receive an image boost and price money).
The simulation itself works by following a list of preplotted points on the tracks with the "angle" of the curves and the handling score of the car (depending on what you built in the research section) determining how fast each car can go in each curve. The break score determines how long before the curve the car will start breaking in order to get down to that speed.
As long as it does not need to break a car will accelerate based on it's engine performance and weight up to it's maximum speed.

As a result horse-power is the dominating factor in the early game years (as now car can get through curves really fast) while later handling and breaking ability will be much more important ( because the differences grow larger than what they can be early on ).

One of the next smaller updates will add some possibilities to influence the race while it's on: You will be able to set how fuel saving you want to drive and send the car in for refueling. I'm also thinking about adding race drivers with different skill sets and a determination if cars can pass each other.

What do you all think of this?

Other updates include an overhaul of the site screens (factory lines and sales lines) to give you a better impression of what is going on there, as well as a system about company and car-image.

Oh, and a much requested feature: Shipping allows you to send parts and cars to other regions in order to sell them there.



You can find a list with all the changes here.

If you want to try the demo, you can download it directly below:

Download v0.20 (12,92 MB)

Have fun and as always: Feedback is appreciated.


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