Saturday, March 28, 2009

OpenBVE 1.0 now available

OpenBVE version 1.0 is now available at the OpenBVE website. Note that this is a different URL than the one I've used in previous OpenBVE announcements. This one is the currently correct URL.

Version 1.0 is the first stable release of OpenBVE. The screenshots are super. I'm about to DL this new release, so I haven't checked the new features, which include out-of-train viewing and animated objects. Open BVE supports content created for all past and current versions of BVE and has a new user interface and options.

As the name implies, OpenBVE is open source, which opens the door to Mac and Linux users (the latter should be able to run this new release from the command line). Meanwhile, it is fully functional in Windows with OpenGL, OpenAL and .net.

The new website includes some extensive material describing the plans for future develoment of OpenBVE.

-- Al

Thursday, March 12, 2009

As Time Goes By

Measurement and perception

Time, measured in seconds, minutes, hours and so on moves at a constant speed, or so they tell us. Time as we perceive it is variable. The closing seconds of a close basketball game can seem like an eternity. So too with growing up. Yet as we get older things seem to speed up. By the time you're my age you're wondering where the day went, especially when you can't remember having done much of anything (ah, the joys of retirement).

The speed of time seems to change with each generation as well. Fifty miles an hour when I was young was a lot faster than it is today, thanks largely to our quiet, smooth riding cars. Technologies like TV have also speeded up our perceptions of time. Just watch how fast the images change during the commercials. The supporting text flashes by faster than I can read it. Does this affect our perception of time? You bet it does!

Changing times

Thus it should come as no surprise that increasingly young people have little tolerance for the painstakingly slow work involved in model building from scratch. I remember as a young teenager being enormously impressed by an article in Model Railroader (back in the '50s) describing the building of an HO-scale ore car. The author cut hundreds of pieces of brass and soldered them all together. It took him 400 hours, which he wore like a badge of honor. I set out to duplicate his effort, but soon gave up.

As I think back on it, I never really had as much patience as I liked to think I did. I could gear up for and start many projects, but unless they were relatively simple kits, I never fully finished them. Part of the problem was my wide ranging, all-inclusive interest in everything related to transportation vehicles, vessels and systems. That makes it hard to finish large projects like model railroad layouts, which are thematic and focused (unless huge). The bottom line is I can dream up layouts and design them and move on to something else a lot faster than I can build them.

Through the years I've started a lot of model railroad layouts and only finished one - a small demo layout for a trolley museum. I never finished anything for myself because my ambitions and imaginations far outstripped the duration of my interest. Today's kids - it seems to me - have an even shorter attention span than I do. (I didn't get to watch TV until I was 11; at 13 I was sent away to school where there was no TV, and I didn't own a TV until I was 30 or watch regularly till I was 40.)

Virtual layouts

When it comes to virtual railroad layouts it's another matter. As you may have observed from the Downloads page at my Virtual Railroader website, I have finished lots of layouts. The key is that with Trainz, for example, I can build a layout in a week - actually get all the essentials in place in a few days - and spend another week or two perfecting things like track work, scenery and operation. I can easily indulge all my interests, including layouts based on trolley lines, narrow gauge lines and even bus lines. I can design and build layouts that focus on open running or switching or servicing industries or any combination and in any size. I can even model entire systems with sims like Bahn and Rail3D. If I really want a lot of action and have a finished looking operational layout at every moment practically from the start, I can use an empire building sim like Locomotion or Transport Tycoon Deluxe.

Is it any wonder that readership of model railroading magazines has been in decline, as has attendance at train shows? Kids today are not only bombarded by an ongoing plethora of organized sports - which I never had - and are constantly attracted to all manner of technological goodies (train sims included); they simply don't have the time or the attention span.


I have a suggestion to the hobby industry: embrace virtual railroading while you can. If you don't, time will pass you by and you will be superceded by more in-touch upstarts from a younger generation.

-- Al

L&N 152 Pacific for Trainz

New at the Trainz Download Station is this beautiful L&N Pacific number 152. I don't flag every piece of rolling stock that comes along - not even the really good ones. People can just as easily search the DLS (Trainz) or (MSTS and others) on their own.

But "Old 152" from "The Old Reliable" has a special place in my railroad memory. Over 20 years ago I set out to build a very large scale wooden model of the loco, which at the time was (and still is) restored and in service at the Kentucky Railway Museum in Louisville, KY. I took a huge number of photos and was able to acquire some erection drawings to provide the necessary dimensions. I never finished the model, though the frames and drive wheels and the beginnings of the boiler are in a closet somewhere.

This model by leeferr is great. The circular parts are many faceted, giving the wheels and boiler a nice, smooth roundness. The loco also runs beautifully and has terrific sounds.

After installing 152 and tender, I noticed a lot of L&N rolling stock in my list of assets, all shown as being at the DLS. I went to the DLS and searched on "L&N" and came up empty. I finally searched for one of the authors and came up with some L&N boxcars. In case anyone is having trouble finding L&N rolling stock, try searching on these authors:










-- Al

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wayward Junction 3

Wayward Junction 3 is a minor update to Wayward Junction 2. A turntable with a roundhouse have been added to give more flexibility to operations.

I've also confirmed that WJ3 works with TS2009 as well as TRS2006/SP1. The download package at the Virtual Railroader website includes info on where to find assets not at the Trainz Download Station.

You can discuss this route and anything else related to virtual railroading at my new Virtual Railroader Google group.

Read about WJ3 here; discuss it here.

-- Al

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Not exactly train sim, but ....

We're in the simulation business ... er, hobby ... right? Well, flight sims have taken front stage for the moment.

First, Scene Systems has come uo with a terrific simulation of the Hudson River splashdown of US Air Flight 1549, which was so spectacularly in the news last month. The sim illustrates the entire flight. This company creates professional grade sims primarily for litigation purposes. The example is impressive. It may even entice some hobbyists to see a professional future here.

Second, a YouTube video alerts us to a flight simulator embedded in the newest version of Google Earth. When Google Earth comes up, just press the key combination Ctrl-Alt-A. This suggest Windows-only. My Mac is too old to try, but I just may see what happens with Linux. This sim will take some getting used to. I DID manage to stabilize the flight by using the dragging the cursor while positione din the middle of the screen.

Anyway, just a few diversions while awaiting next release of your favorite train sim.

-- Al

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid for Trainz

John D'Angelo has created Trainz versions of John Allen's three famous layouts. You can read John's (D) accounting here and download the routes and sessions here . No additional downloads are required, but you will need TRS2006 with SP1 installed. Feel free to try them with TS2009, but there's no guarantee.

-- Al

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

VR Google Group Added

I've just created the Virtual Railroader Google Group . It's a place where anything related to train sims or virtual railroading can be discussed. I hope it will be especially useful as a place to comment on or seek help with the articles and downloads we have available at Virtual Railroader. I often get emails from people and think that many of the things we talk about would have a broader interest. Here's our chance.

-- Al