Trainz Railway Simulator 2006
Well with WoW Down I loaded up my rail simulator and fooled around with my route I have been working on. I can't wait until the day when you can have a simulator program that will simulate a real full sized rail network (without bogging down your computer), such as the CN Network or CP network. They say that the rumored MSTS 2 will have all the real world rail networks in place already, but I am not holding my breath on anything Microsoft made... I mean sure MS FlightSim X was cool... but.. lol I generally enjoy the yard work / dispatching, and letting the AI run the trains and get them to their locations, but sometimes i enjoy hopping into a cab and enjoying the scenery as i head to a destination. This route is about 30 or 40 scale miles long so far, with a double tracked bridged junction at its current starting point. For about 12 miles the route runs uphill at about a 1% grade, single track through farmland, with wheat fields and stockyards. Then we come into about 5 miles of forested foothills with the occassional farm, and a town (Pandora) with a few small industrial sidings. The track then climbs up a hill seen in the 2nd photo, at a 3.6% maximum grade and through a twisting S curve tunnel inside the mountian, it then levels out eventually after about 5 miles and splits to 3 tracks, as there is a coal mine at the top. A fully loaded coal train going at the downhill speed limit of 30mph takes a good 2 or more miles to stop on the 3.6% grade, lol. The route is supposed to continue through another series of ridges and then back downward into another valley area where there will be a lot of logging and such. There will also be a 18 track hump yard, or a 18 track classification yard (depending how fancy i want to get with it) near the bridged junction. Only parts of the route are textured, some better then others. Eventually it will become a small nation, with ports, and cities, assuming TRS2006 content is supported in later versions of the program... lol This is my 4th full attempt at a route, I have a few others including 2 true to scale reproductions of real routes / yards, but the scenery sucks on them or is non existant, so i don't enjoy them. the other one was from before I really learn't how to do terrain well, so it was mostly flat and boring. I decided to make some new track. I have a fairly quick and easy way to make terrain / track... here is how I do it.. make a temporary track spline for a valley and then lay my real track along side it, and adjust the gradient as needed / desired for each. Then smooth the terrain to the level of the valley and track. Then smooth out the terrain to the edges of the board, in 2 meter elevation incriments. You then add hills gradually as desired, until they look realistic. don't be afraid to overlap a little into the track and valley. Then smooth the terrain for the valley (canyon) and track out, and you should get a fairly realistic canyon and track cut along side it. Each curve is built as accurately as possible. Sure some people will just lay down track in random spots, but I like to build my track as if it were real. So each curve is measured and speed and gradient is taken into account. Here is an example how I built a simple spur line junction just up the track a bit from the previous photos. First I lay out my track. It is important in this program to lay all track in the same direction, or at least, in a 2 track area, the direction you wish for the train to travel on. Otherwise the AI might get messed up. I overlap the track over the junction area then use the ruler to measure out from where each track crosses eachother. This will give me a nice even curve. I add spline points at each ruler mark and delete the excess track. Then add the finished track... and now I have a junction. lol Its almost like programming a game, a lot of trial and error to get everything working right, i.e. switches and signals and such... but in the end, when you have about 15 or so different trains running, and give them each tasks to complete, its neat watching them complete them without any foul ups. The building part of the program is only secondary to the driving part itself. You can drive on pre-completed routes and such.. but being a creative person, I like to create my own challenges. At the moment I have 6 single track blocks with double track sections between them for passing. The way I have it signaled, no train can possibly enter a single track block no matter what, if there is already a train in the block. (Sometimes I forget there is already a train in the block and i get impatient and manually drive a train thru a red signal... that always ends badly, lol) Of course speed, and real world physics come into play here, so it does take time to actually 'play' with it. I.e. for a train to run the full length of my current route without having to wait for other trains, will take at least 30 to 45 minutes depending on its load and direction. You also have to be careful where you uncouple your consist (cars), because if its on a hill, they will be rolling out of control faster then you can catch em.. lol In reality deep down its a puzzle game. As it is in real life... There are limited options and tasks to complete... Example: you can only use track A or B.. but you must move these 3 cars around... Often you will have to manually shunt or switch cars around as the AI isn't always smart enough to do it, so you end up having to think about how to do things without effecting other trains. This program also has industries and sidings which you can program to produce or demand various goods, and you will have to deliver / pickup goods from industries. This gets more realistic when you have a chain of supply and demand. So lets say you need lumber to build furnature, and the lumber comes from a mill which requires raw logs. the furnature plant needs lumber but the mill doesnt have any, so you have to go get logs, then bring it to the mill... then bring different rail cars to load up the finished lumber.. take that to the furnature factory, and then different cars yet again for the finished good. The whole process could take several hours. (but most of that time the train will be automated, as it travels, leaving you free to tend to other needs). I would love to be able to have this running on the side while I play wow, but my wow computer is the only one which can handle both games. The Junction I created in my 2nd series of pics, I have named Kachinahey Junction... ;) (the name sounds good for a small mountain region town, in my opinion) :P After a few hours of work, and a bit of re-tracking... some ground texture, trees, objects and buildings... things are starting to take shape for Kachinahey Junction. It will serve as a small logging town, just a whistle stop town on the main line. The main line is the one that crosses the gorge, over the wooden bridge. The spur line which the train in the photo is on will be a low traffic dead end line, but will service a few logging camps, and likely a plastics factory at the end of the line, about 15 miles in or so, but the length will be determined as it grows. Normal landscape (farms, grassland, and forests) doesn't take too long to do usually, its when you have towns and industries where the placement of items and such will usually take more time. I often leave towns till the end, because they can be so time consuming.