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MSTS: The Hobby

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#41 wacampbell



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Posted 22 December 2006 - 12:42 PM

Hey all, my micro-route experiments actually relate back to Andre's original comments about sharing strategies for enjoying the hobby. The hobby can be overwhelming - so many routes, so many engines, so many era etc. I meantioned that my strategy is to keep the focus narrow. As I take my route to a finer and finer level of detail, even the 24 miles of the L&PS can be overwhelming. I found I can concentrate better on the fine detail by 'eliminating' the rest of the route. It seems more manageable and somehow more enjoyable to super detail this micro-route - rather than having the full expanse of the entire line taunting me with the impossibility of the task. I think its akin to the model railroad experience where the basement empire builder eventually tires of the enormity of the task and eventually abandons the hobby - where as those taking on a smaller project enjoy it more. I have always been a fan of Carl Arendt's view of the model railroad hobby (http://carendt.us ) and the micro-route is the MSTS equivalent.

I actually enjoy switching this little micro-route. I have some software that generates switch lists etc - and scheduled traffic is represented by AI trains that exit and enter from 'staging' areas according to the actual L&PS timetable. With all the sidings and industries so close together, the action is a little faster - less running from place to place and more switching. The minimal nature of the route makes for excellent frame rates and gives me headroom to drill down to even finer detail on the construction. And to answer Rich's question, the white void isn't distracting. I stay low to the ground or in the locomotive and don't really notice it at all. The micro-route is not actually separate from the L&PS route - its just that the rest of the tiles are disabled in software. I have a small program that 'turns-on' the entire route when I want. But in the four or so months I have been working on this, I haven't had the urge to run the rest of the route.

Its narrow focus taken to the extreme - a different strategy for enjoying the hobby.


#42 wmghobbs



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Posted 23 December 2006 - 08:28 AM

Its refreshing to read that others have recognized the ability to be overwhelmed by the availability of routes and equipment in TrainSim. Even making the choice of what train to run could easily become a burden.
In the past I've complimented Andre for his choice of relatively short routes that make it possible to learn the route and operate a train completely in a reasonable amount of time -- my attention span isn't good for an actvity that could take 8 or 9 hours to complete. As model railroaders, we had to deal with compressing the prototype into the space we had available. Some folks chafe at the thought that an end to end run might take only a few minutes and set out to build double-decker or triple-decker layouts. I think running on a long TrainSim route a few times might enlighten them of the true virtues of relative compression. The same holds true with the "compression" on Andre's routes. Most of us don't have the hours to devote to imitating what professionals spend long work days doing. A short route gives us the chance to deal with switching, grades, etc. within a time frame that we can handle.
I remain an active modeler and busy at work on my layout, the South Ozark Lines. Long ago I realized that what I really enjoy is the process of planning and building rather than the final product. In virtual modeling, my interests have likewise been active, focusing on learning the physics of steam locomotives, braking and coupling systems, sound,etc. have purposively avoided attempting to build a route. What I am doing now takes enough time that I seldom just sit down and run a train anymore. But I am still quite satisfied.
If we move to a smaller residence when we retire, I will give up the model layout and focus on building structures for folks, TrainSim projects, and volunteer work at sites like the C&TS, EBT, etc.

Bill Hobbs

#43 pnrailway



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Posted 23 December 2006 - 02:17 PM


I have followed the micro-route contex for years, using it to test different aspects of a proposed layout before building it. Usually build a 2 foot x 8 foot piece or section and used it after making changes while the rest of the layout was under construction. Lately I have been looking at some of the work of Ian Rice and thinking about incorporating it into a Trainz route to use as my model railroad. Something like this:
IPB Image

IPB Image

It can't beat MSTS as far as I am concerned for real railroading and operation but I like his work and Trainz is good for model railroading.


#44 wacampbell



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Posted 24 December 2006 - 07:58 AM

I have one of Ian Rice's layout books and really appreciate his approach to the hobby. Building a 'hands-on' layout isn't in the cards for me ( so long as my will power holds out! ). But so much of the 'keep it simple, keep it small - but do it well' philosophy applies to the virtual hobby as well.

#45 august1929


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Posted 24 December 2006 - 11:39 AM

Ian Rice certainly has made it across the pond and seems to be designing some pretty keen North American layouts now- I hankered after a couple of his London East End layout designs for years - about 15 to 20 years ago! (in semi diorama form), and his books were compulsive reading at a time (pre children) when I was still planning on having a layout in the loft. My design, on tracing paper, is in front of me as I type - would make a neat mini layout.....