Monday, February 26, 2007

Automating the M-Line

I've added a new article - Automating the M-Line - to the VR Reading Room .This article describes use of the automated features incorporated into my updated version of the M-Line 2006 released last month. The new route, M-Line PE, is available at the Downloads page on my Virtual Railroader web site.



Friday, February 23, 2007

What's On Tap (We're Waiting ...Tap, Tap Tap!)

2007 could be a banner year for train simmers if all the things in the works come through. Then again, we could drum ourselves to sleep waiting and hoping. Here's what's in the works (and bear in mind I don't have a crystal ball or inside information).

Auran has announced the imminent release of Trainz Routes, collections of routes from the Trainz Download Station on CD-ROM. Two disks have been announced with five routes apiece. Also in the works are the first Classic Trainz - Metro North's Harlem Line - which is expected to be a prototypical route and rolling stock. Perhaps the biggest anticipated Auran release is a Mac version of Trainz. This was announced as ready for beta testing last spring, if memory serves, and should certainly be ready sometime this year, say spring?

Kuju/EA have been working on their new Rail Simulator for what seems an eternity, though it hasn't been anywhere near that long. They've demonstrated it at game shows as early as last fall. Can we expect a release sometime this year? The big question then will be whether an American version is forthcoming or whether enterprising third-party developers will create enough content to effectively make it an "American" sim. Or will it remain a sim focused on the British and European markets. Kuju, for those who don't recall,. was the actual developer of the original Microsoft Train Simulator, released back in the spring of 2001. EA, of course, is a major player in the game industry. Both have said the new simulator will be new from the ground up.

Microsoft has announced in a rather small way that they are indeed working on an all-new train simulator, MicrosoftTrain Simulator 2. This is being developed on the new Flight Simulator X platform. Very little is known at this time, but you can expect MS will find a way to put their new simulator on an X-box as well as a PC. Come to think of it, they've already suggested that. My guess is this is a couple of years away from release.

PI Engineering has halted work on their Train Master Train Simulator because of mounting pressure on resources for their burgeoning professional simulation work. They are too busy with paying customers like Union Pacific to work on the new TMTS. Before they stopped work last summer they had already demonstrated the ability to convert MSTS rolling stock to TMTS. That's an exciting possibility, but will it be too little too late by the time they're ready to release? That all depends on who gets what done when. Meanwhile ... tap, tap, tap.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Trainz Routes CDs Announced

In their 15 February 2007 newsletter, Trainz News, Auran has announced the release of Volume 1 of the new Trainz Routes CD. Volume 2 is to follow shortly.

Each volume consists of five routes created by Trainz users from content almost entirely within the TRS2006 box. That makes it possible for people without Internet access (or Download Station access) to load this new content. The first volume is available at the Auran shop for AUD $14.95 including delivery. If you preorder between now and 28 February 2007 you will receive volume 2 as well for free.

For those familiar with downloading Trainz routes, one can normally expect to have to download a hundred or more additional assets. If all assets are at the Download Station, the process is easy (automatic with Download Helper), though possibly lengthy if one has a dial-up connection or needs a lot of the assets or doesn't have a First Class Ticket.

Auran and I are apparently on the same wavelength here, since the M-Line route I recently introduced on my Downloads page was inspired in part by the same wish to avoid cumbersome downloads. It's also a confirmaton of how much content is already packaged with TRS2006 that so many high quality routes can be built without needing additional or custom content.