This is my first guide, and actually my first post on these official forums, so bear with me if I do anything wrong. I have been ghosting on here awhile, and playing the game for some time. I believe I have found an excellent way to layout an island to prevent traffic jams and use a transportation system effectively. Enjoy!
Hello and welcome to my Transportation Guide. The purpose of this guide is to assist players in optimizing their transportation networks to achieve maximum profit and minimal commute time, all while taking the needs of their Tropicans into account.
Any good Presidente knows that the less time a citizen spends sitting in traffic, the more time they can spend working! It is the only way to maximize your profits and turn your island into the gem of the Caribbean!
- The person reading this guide is familiar with the Tropico 3 UI and has a few campaigns or sandbox modes under his or her belt.
- The player does not mind going in depth into the system Tropico 3 uses for transport.
- The player keeps harsh judgement to themselves, because the theories put forth in this guide are just... theories. I am not a developer, this is all based on observation as well as plenty of hands on experimentation.
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- All things equal, a Tropican will take the shortest route to their destination based on speed.
- A tropican works any time that they are not filling a need, such as food, religion, entertainment, etc.
- A tropican will pick the best housing available that they can afford balanced with the closest housing to their place of employment. In the game guide, this is indicated as they will only pay rent equal to 1/3 of their family income. So... if you have a college educated worker making $18, you should set the price of his intended housing to $6. If you want an educated married couple to move into a place, you should build nicer homes (mansions or condos) that go for $12 (i.e. 1/3 of their combined income) It is rare to get such a couple, as often Tropicans will marry without regard to social class, so you are safer setting rent for your most expensive dwellings to the following formula: (C/3) + (HS/3) = Rent. Beyond setting rent, you must make the housing convenient enough to a Tropican's employer that the gain in housing quality exceeds the increase in commute time.
- If a tropican can more easily walk to work, it is best to let them do so to keep cars off the road. This should be balanced with when a car makes a trip faster and is worth the addition to traffic.
- Raw Materials should be given the fastest possible path to factories, and in turn factory goods should be taken to the dock for export as quickly as possible.
- Based on the above ideas, the ideal place for a Tropican to live is as close as possible to work while keeping their needs in check and in the best manner possible. The tropican also should not reasonably interfere with the transportation of materials whether raw or finished.
Some terms I use that I should explain:
- AOE Jobs- Jobs that have an Area of Effect. Buildings like this would be the TV Station, Newspaper, Police Station, etc.
- Skilled Non-AOE Jobs- Jobs that do not have an Area of Effect, but require at least a high school or college education. Buildings such as this would be the Armory, Immigration Building, etc. This grouping does not include services.
- Basic Services- Services that a Tropican will seek to fulfill such as healthcare, religion, etc.
- Education- The High School or University fall into this category, seperated from basic services to serve this guides purpose.
- Production (Green Zone)- Anywhere that raw materials are extracted. This could be a farm, mine, logging camp, etc.
- Industrial Zone (red zone)- Anywhere that raw materials are refined into a finished product. This includes all the games factories.
- Tourism Zone (gold zone)- Zone reserved for Tourist housing and attractions such as hotels and spas.
The idea behind this layout is first and foremost that your construction workers and teamsters have priority on the fastest route across the island. With rare exception, they will be the only ones using that road in the center of the map which will allow them to quickly get anywhere they need to go on the island, especially to the Tourist and Industrial Zones. For the Upper class zone and the Production zone, they will walk, and will not have far to go.
Basic Services are placed in the center of the map on the north side of the expressway. This puts them close to their employees which are generally high school and college educated. Education is put on the south side since the student of such places live in low class housing (with social security edict). The disadvantages are that to get basic services, the lower class dwellers will need to cross the street on foot. However, this keeps them close enough to walk, and the design of the road system is such that getting in a car would not make sense. You can prevent the upper class folks from having to cross the road by positioning a few high class dwellings near the two schools and making sure they take up residence there.
On the north side, the skilled workers live close to where most of them will work. Which is in Skilled Non-AOE Jobs, or AOE Jobs. The position of these facilities allows them to walk to work, and in the case of AOE Jobs, allows both sides of the road to receive full benefit. In the case of factory workers, they hop in the NW garage and take a car East to their place of employment. There will be a few uneducated types living here to work in the central entertainment district, but they will probably marry into families to where they can afford the housing. The Entertainment can be set to high quality, so the rich tropicans get good service quality values and also pay you back top dollar. Some workers will go to work in the tourist zone, they will be able to travel very quickly from North to West, as most traffic on that section of road will be upscale tourists that like to wander. Assuming the nicest entertainment is up here, the positions of the hotels in the tourist district may seem flipped. This is not the case assuming you are going to provide them with their own brand of entertainment in their respective zone. This will discourage them from going into local territory. Some will venture out anyway, but that is the case with the tourist in this game.
On the South side, the lower class lives close to their assumed jobs in farming, mining, and construction. They are provided with cheap entertainment in the center of their housing, and are given easy access to education should they decide to move up in the world. Cheap tourists may find their way here, but will be discouraged due to the flipping of the hotels. Since most jobs in the Industrial zone are intended for the middle class, most of the travel happening from South to East is going to be raw materials. There will no doubt be some middle class families living there, but again, you can monitor the living quarters and evict as necessary. A few living there is not the end of the world. Most travel will happen from South to West so that workers can take their jobs in the service industry catering to tourists.
Guard Towers are placed in the four corners for maximum protection, and i recommend an army base in either the Skilled Non-AOE job area or near one of the AOE job areas linking to the Island Expressway for their transport. The Power Plant is placed there mostly for environment reasons, since skilled workers will need to reach it, it is the longest commute of the grouping.
Intersections are the bane of transportation networks in real life and in Tropico. Metropolitan areas around the world have gone to great lengths to improve their transportation networks by providing highways and public transportation to reduce the gridlock caused by a busy intersection. Unfortunately for you, El Presidente, such technology as on/off ramps, multi-lane highways, railroads, and even stoplights do not exist in your island paradise. Beyond that, your people lack anything more than a rudimentary understanding of traffic laws, often stopping in the middle of a road to drop of a passenger or even doing a U-Turn on a busy street!
To combat the damage an intersection can cause to a road network on your island, you need to spend some time at the beginning of a game looking at the various overlays and seeing where the most profitable sections of your island are located. Once you have found them, you need to think ahead and decide how you will provide quick transportation between them and your industial sector/dock so you can get paid! You also need to consider limited vs. unlimited resources. Will this section of island only be valuable as long as the mineral or oil deposit lasts?
The main thing I am advocating in my model, is a clear and traffic-free route for your raw materials to make it to the factories and the finished goods from the factory to the dock as quickly as possible. Thus, it is important that you make every effort possible to provide a continuous stretch of road from raw materials, through production, all the way to export with as few intersections as possible.
While it is important for your people to get to and from work as quickly as possible so they can produce and refine the goods, they often work in shifts, and usually half of them will be working at any given time (averaged out). But, all the production in the world doesn't mean anything until those goods get to a dock. In a perfect world.. your production pipeline should look like this:
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Once you have exploited all non-renewable resources (which i advise doing early on) that are not in your raw materials production area, your model should look like the one above. The sooner the better. By that point in the game, your treasury should be fat, and you will be able to move your dock to a place more convenient for shipping and less convenient for immigration, since you will be more likely to count on your citizens reproducing for your workforce.
Early on however... it is pretty common to have it look like this...
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A mess, through and through. You will have choke points caused by intersections between the gold mine and raw materials, another one at refining, and then a third near the docks. Not to mention that it is possible to have these goods going right through the population area. The good news is that since it is early in the game, gridlock is probably not much of a concern, and your average gold mine will be depleted fairly quickly. The iron or bauxite mine is likely to hang around longer, which is why you should exploit this resource immediately.
I plan to add more to this guide, and will be reserving space below this post for that purpose. I also plan to make a custom map intended for proof of concept. I realize that no Island is perfectly shaped like this, and that light adjustments will need to be made (i.e. a gold mine in the Upper Class area) but this is more so a method for showing the most efficient way to move people in Tropico 3 than it is an island blueprint. I will be editing this main post with more details and thoughts as I encounter them. For now, play with the layout, and tell me your observations... by doing this we can all become better players and make the island of our dreams!