Back Home: Updates & Musings...
Posted 11 November 2004 - 11:32 AM
Those are excellent ideas. Go for it.
Those are the types of things I wanted to pursue in the past, but I simply do not have time. Developing current product consumes at least 90% of my discretionary non-vocational time.
Hopefully, the model press will be receptive. V scale IS a viable modeling medium. One that most definitely gets mixed reception from conventional modelers, but it IS a valid modeling expression nonetheless.
Hopefully, some of the more progressive thinkers in the model publishing industry will see that and accomodate it.
I can offer input/help in limited ways, time being my limiting factor.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 11:47 AM
MSTS is dead. Or dying.
Not because of anything we are doing but because of Microsoft's decision not to continue the product. Because of this, now is probably not the time to "go public" in support of the sim. Without the base product being 1) available, or 2) supported, it is doubtful that many new folks would be willing to jump on board.
What I'm saying is that it wouldn't be cool to go to all the effort to promote the sim with a disclaimer, "OBTW, the base software is no longer produced or supported."
This doesn't mean we can't take action. I would suggest that articles be prepared as you all have suggested, maybe with a combined effort of many commercial and private purveyors of stuff, as well as hobbyists and then wait for the release of TrainMaster Train Simulator.
Once there is a new and (hopefully) better base product out there, fully supported and available, then we can jump with both feet and get the attention of the hobby crowd. This would be good for the sim in general and would go a long way to support P.I. Engineering (RailDriver) with their new offering. Might even get them to be a major contributor to the project - but we need to wait until the base is up, tested and out there.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 12:40 PM
As a developer, I'm not locked in looking only at MSTS. There will be V scale railroading from here on out. It is here to stay.
What is being discussed in this thread now is promotion for the good of the V scale hobby as a WHOLE, and not just MSTS. Such ideas as this cannot wait until the "next one" is available. Too much lost time in the process. MSTS is still quite available, either on store shelves, Amazon, or eBay. No problems for aquisition of MSTS for the duration of the transistion.
What medium V scale will use will be flexible for a while until standards are established in view of compatibility. Those V scale software programers that choose to comply to the standards will have a ready following for their products, those that do not choose to comply, will either have to stand on their own or face demise. Similar to the VHS/Beta video medium situation of two decades ago, or the contemporary PC/Mac situation.
Currently, like it or not, MSTS IS the defacto standard. Yes, change is on the distant horizon. Trust me: There's lots happening behind the scenes that simply cannot be made public. (NDA's) Suffice to say that MSTS will be the defacto standard V scale medium for a while yet.
In the meantime, NOW is the time to start laying the groundwork for expanding interest in V scale among the modeling publications, NOT once the dust has settled, which, as indicated, will be a while yet.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 12:49 PM
Posted 11 November 2004 - 01:11 PM
I couldn't agree with you more that the medium, as a whole, is alive and well and definitely here to stay. Developers like you, 3DTrains, 3DTrainStuff, Rich Garber and others are bringing the hobby to a fine point. The projects that are promised and developing speak volumns about the commitment and dedication of the producers and the consumers as well. We buyers can't wait to spend our money!
I think anyone who sits down at a computer and sees how they can run one of your 4-6-0s out of Berrydale, or run Marc Nelson's Super Chief over Cajon Pass will be hooked on trying this medium.
My only concern is in the creation of demand for a product that might not be there and the reluctance to jump into a realm that is in transition. you seem to be confident that there are sufficient copies of MSTS that we can survive the transition. That is good news.
One of the issues I mentioned is support. Any articles on the medium should point out that support has, from the beginning, largely been from aftermarket vendors (Route Riter, Con Builder, MSTS Shape Viewer, Train Store and the tutorials present on the forums come immediately to mind) and from each other. This continues as the hobby grows. Peer support is better in this software medium than anything provided for most programs and certainly better than anthing you'd get from Microsoft, even if they were supporting MSTS.
As evidenced by my first post in this discussion and many times previously, I am stoked on Train Sim and wholeheartedly support this element of the railroading hobby and am ready to help in any way to promote it. It just keeps getting better.
Sorry if I put a damper on things. Didn't mean to.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 01:56 PM
I agree with Andre that now is the time to show what can be done in the present medium and since there is still a supply, limited as it may be, of MSTS still available and that Trainz is still being supported and even improved to some extent, I see no reason to wait till some unknown time in the future to start to show the modeling public what is at present available and what can be done in the present mediums.
If we sit back and wait till who knows when, till the next generation of Sim is available, before articles like what I have proposed are published, then indeed the Sim will die a slow and agonizing death while one by one the talented individuals among us go off to find some other medium to express their creativity, much to the rest of our loss. In model railroading different manufacturers have come in any given scale that have offered something new and better that helped to advance that scale. Everyone didn't stop though to wait for that expected improvement to come over the horizon. They rolled up their sleeves and worked hard with what was available, cooperatively working to improve what they had. As a result there were great layouts like Frank Ellison's Delta Lines that set the standard for that day, just as Andre's and Rich's routes set the standard for today.
Sure MSTS can be a real persnickety pain in the posterior, but it is the best we have at the moment and since there is an adequate supply still available at a reasonable cost, and Microsoft is still supporting it to a very, very limited extent by still having their web site up and the last patch still available, why just sit back and cry the blues and claim it is dead. It isn't dead, it is alive and reasonably well with a strong base of people interested in it and many different add-ons and routes available for it. If you don't believe me, just look at the train-sim library once and see all that is available for this supposedly dead product.
I say let's go ahead and support V Scale as a viable modeling scale that is in transition, as all scales continually are, and show the modeling public what already has been done and how it was done and offer them another avenue for their railroad modeling. There are those among us that have already given the scale the ability to do things that are impossible anywhere els. Where else can a railfan get to run their favorite locomotive, be it diesel or steam, from either the modern era or from the dawn of the last century, inside the cab, with all the same physical limitations that the real thing has instead of holding an electronic control and being in a plane or perhaps, if you are lucky, at track side, trying to get this electric motor to behave anywhere close to realistically. We have reached the point where our locomotives handle just like its big brother, right down to feeling the weight and resistance of each and every car that is added. Our routes, compared to the other scales' layouts do not look like bowls of spaghetti with tracks running all over the place and our routes actually have weather and the effects that this weather causes to the train where in the other scales that is completely impossible.
Yes, V Scale, or whatever you prefer to call it, has much to offer and this should be shown to the modeling public just like what can and can't be done in the other scales. That is what these articles can to and get people educated and interested now, not some time in the future when it may perhaps be to late. By getting more people interested now, it also has the benefit of making it more financially viable for those that are developing the next generation Sim to do so, knowing that they have a growing base of customers to provide a financial return for all of their work.
And yes Andre, I too believe that there needs to be standards set, just as the National Model Railroad Association has set standards for each of the other modeling scales, (I have a 3 inch thick binder filled to overflowing from what they were when I was a member and there have been more added since then). If something wants to be called V Scale it will have to, of necessity meet certain standards. Standards that will help assure both compatibility between items and also realism. Without standards we end up with poor quality models, like we have to some extent today, where things have been modeled not to the proper scale or have elements not properly placed, thus causing problems when used with items from other digital modelers. If everyone knew beforehand just what they had to do, what their limitations were, then I feel the quality of what is produced would skyrocket, much like it has in the other scales over the years.
All of these things we have mentioned are things that could, and should become basis for articles that could be published to teach others. It has been done in the other scales and it needs to be done in ours. In every case, seeing articles like this has helped to cause improvements and benefited everyone, whatever their interest, be it planning model railroads(route planning and construction), construction of locomotives, cars or even structures, painting (re-skinning), or realistic operation(from activity writing to train operation). We can not expect to survive, let alone grow if we keep to ourselves and wait for someone to stubble upon the scale as many have done. It takes both effort and education and, for want of a better term, public relations, for things like this to happen.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 02:02 PM
a. Microsoft (whatever we think of them) actually produced it and
b. Haven't (in the end) upgraded it.
As matters stand, apart from Trainz & BVE there is no real competition to dilute effort, and that is what causes fragmentation and loss of direction.
As good as the next generation of train simulators might be, unless one stands out head and shoulders above the rest, then sales will not be there and they will inevitably start to fail.
Look at Flightsim - there is competition (and dedicated at that), but because there is one major platform a huge amount of effort has gone in. The problems have arisen because Microsoft keep updating it (the change from 2002 to FSACOF was not such a great leap and has had a heavy toll on computer systems). Had this happened with MSTS we would already have dilution of effort, where some would want to (or have to) stay with the original MSTS and others would want to move on.
So - the new platforms are not necessarily a good thing for the hobby, especially not when (through the twin beacons of V-scale, Andre and Rich) the quality is now reaching such a high level.
I fully understand that it would probably be transferrable (in the main) but there would inevitably, again, be a long slow process,where the market would again be dominated, not by small quality routes, but by the big "get-em-out-quick" variety - with, once more, a potential collapse in interest in 3 years time and a repeat of this debate.
Looking at the problem of an "old" piece of software (which MSTS is rapidly becoming), the limiting factors are;
Well availability is still not a problem short term. Support from Microsoft isn't required, because of the third, interest.
The interest if V Scalers is what counts, and the desire, whatever the situation is, to keep it going.
As a case in point there is a WW2 fighter sim that used to be produced by Rowan (a UK company?) called Battle of Britain. When it came out it was streaks ahead of Combat Flight Simulator and had a good following. It was eventually reduced to budget software but the code was taken over (obtained legally!) by enthusiasts of the sim - they have effectively rewritten it, to a stage where it is way beyond the capabilities of the original, but is still compatible. The BoB community is thriving and is totally non commercial, but with opportunities there for commercial addons. Now the commercial side is unlikely in that case, as (as good as it was) it was always part of the sideshows when compared to Microsoft's offerings.
The advantage that MSTS has is that there are already a large number of owners out there who probably have only become disolussioned with the sameness of the original and the normal (majority of) commercial offerings. I have said it before, and I believe it to be true - exactly how many customers are there out there for mile upon mile of featureless track, with (lets face it) a lot of the time, only superficial scenery and repetitive, unrealistic depots, towns and plain boxy houses etc.
Quantity is not quality, and a bit of advertising/articles showing what is out here in V Scale now might just bring back in the support - then the future can be allowed to take care of itself.
Phew - if you've got to the end of this, and you are still awake - congratulations!
Posted 11 November 2004 - 02:07 PM
Posted 11 November 2004 - 02:11 PM
Posted 11 November 2004 - 02:30 PM
Have to give it some thought. The first article should be a general one showing some of the better routes, such as Rich's and Andre's of course, (who else?) and perhaps the Ft. Smith and a western route, like Moffit or the like. For Ft. Smith I like Tim B.'s shots much better than mine, especially since he reforested and added new track textures and I didn't. Also, if he wouldn't mind, we could show some of Gaetan's locomotives because they are among the best out there.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 03:01 PM
Maybe a comparison with what a model railroad version of Canton or StL&NA would have to be like because of space restriction - with some decent screenshots showing the scale and detail that is possible.
We need to put our thinking caps on, and reflect on what would really attract - scale? detail? scenery? stock etc.
Without a doubt, Andre's and Rich's routes would be a lead feature. For Andre's routes we would definitely want to have the A&O there as an example plus the new stock for the StL&NA. Then, as you say, there are other quality freeware routes (not forgetting the early special goodies - EMRR and Ohio - which are still great).
Off to bed! will speak again
Posted 11 November 2004 - 04:21 PM
thanks for the kind words...
Posted 11 November 2004 - 04:37 PM
I think you have to draw something down the middle between Herb's post and Andre's.
There was a virtual mag attempted where you could receive the mag by CD not too long ago. It's still around I think but it's devoted to Trainz now. I reckon it doesn't matter what the reasons are but it's lack of success in the MSTS department pointed out a few weaknesses that should not be underestimated.
Andre's camp has enthusiasm but unfortunately, lacks product. We're building a foundation and we need to continue to do so. Herb's pragmatism is a good dose of good sense. I would encourage anybody to get MSTS still and enjoy V railroading in the mean time. Add to that PI Engineering's Trainmaster which will hopefully prove to be a much more stable platform, less bugs (less filling?) and great taste and there's your springboard to develope a community around a much much more stable sim.
Very nice thread folks!
Posted 11 November 2004 - 05:17 PM
I enjoyed your comments, Rod, on Microsoft messing with a good thing. I've seen that happen time and time again (Windows ME and XP are classic examples, IMHO). It just could be that if MSTS II had indeed come out we'd all be running HO in the garage!
The community is alive and well, and that in itself will keep it going. I don't intend to delete my Train Simulator folder anytime soon! I love the stuff. And the Rich Garbers, Andre Mings, Marc Nelsons and Brad Browns are giving us fantastic routes and equipment to run on the sim. Any of this should show well in the medium. We also need a presence at meets where train crazies, like ourselves, gather. Put it on a laptop and carry it around!
We just need to be sure that when the ship goes down we have another hull on which to transfer our polished deck chairs.
Posted 12 November 2004 - 12:21 AM
Let me just say this. This sim is alive and well. Doesn't matter the numbers. The cream is rising to the top, so to speak and the real excellent routes and engines and rolling stock are being made now. When TMTS comes out it will just add to what we have, if what Tim Court says is true. But in the meantime, I am with the positive group here. Sure, I can be because I am not trying to sell anything. But that doesn't matter. What matters is VScale or whatever you call it, itself. This is not going away anytime soon. Sure, we may have reached a zenith in MSTS, but look what has been accomplished in all this time with no support from Microsoft. And if something can survive that and still exist and in fact be made so much better than the original, flawed as it was written, then there must be something that keeps us all here.
I say, I agree with those who wish to push the medium now, not wait for the future. Once they get a load of Rich's and Andre's routes, and a few others like the Ft. Smith Sub and even some of the western routes, then people will see just what this medium can produce........which is realistic train running in a realistic looking world......running realistic looking trains over realistic looking tracks across this great land and those across the waters. There are some excellent routes over in Europe as well. If people were to see these they would be blown away. I have no doubt in my mind. At the Expo's, although I didn't attend, and this was a while back when we were just beginning to get the kind of routes and trains we are getting now, people were blown away by what they saw. I have talked to some that were there.
So, we need to, like you all are saying, exploit this medium now, not wait until later. And it doesn't matter whether, in the meantime, TMTS comes out or not. It is still the same medium and it is going to just get better and better. The only thing holding this thing back right now is the fact that the computer has gone past what the sim is capable of and therefore we need the sim to be viable with the new systems and video capabilities and sound capabilities and everything else that has been updated since MSTS first came on the scene. That is all that stands in our way at the present, as I see it. Once this is done, then it will draw more people in.....but in the meantime, let's give them a taste of just what is possible with this medium....already three years and counting old and still being updated and fine tuned and refitted.
So, I am with you all. If there is anything I can do, then just ask. You know, as a starter, it might be a nice idea to start producing some wallpapers using the great pics that Rod, Tim B., Andre, Paul, Rich, and many others are producing.....and make sure that people know this came right out of the game itself. Heck, that would produce some interest in itself. Who can't be lured in by wintry scenes from a great route, from the scenes from the Ozarks, or from the fictional world of Georgia or Ohio......heck, you put Bill Bzak's awesome steel mill in a picture and it would have people's hair standing on end. This is where we need to start. But then we move on to animations, movies taken right from the sim......There are many things that could be done.
But I like the idea, and I believe it is doable and will gain momentum. VScale is here to stay. No doubt in my mind, in one form or platform or company or another.......It's just a matter of time before the sim catches up with the medium.......I know this! I see it coming, and wow, what we will be able to do then! Huh?
Great thread guys. Great ideas and doable and worth it, IMHO......Count me in!
Posted 12 November 2004 - 06:28 AM
*snickering* And the way you guys can write, should be a healthy looking mag too!
Soooooo, talk to Marc first. He's got the experience.
Second, start writing reviewing whatever you're going to do now.
Get this thing going fast or by the time you do.....
Posted 12 November 2004 - 10:53 AM
Perhaps the wizard needs to get sneaky
Jim Hediger, senior editor of Model Railroader is a major member of the DT&I modelers forum of which I am a member (and possibly the Yahoo Steel group as well since he's into steelmills). Getting in touch with him would be easy, peasy, japaneasy.
Perhaps a thread in the MSTS screenshots forum with high quality screenies of DT&I engines hauling some of my DT&I reskinned rolling stock along the Canton route and poised in front of or inside my Steel structures with a link posted at the DT&I forum might pique his interest a bit???? Whad'ya think??? sound sneaky enough? (the old carrot on a stick routine..hehe)
I like the idea of a virtual mag put together by some of the folks here.....I think its a great idea and would be of the utmost quality. I would, of course, be happy to contribute articles of my own (on advanced activity writing with AI traffic, industrial modeling, modeling interiors, high-detail but low poly modeling thru the use of tiled tga textures, night-lighting/texturing etc)
I think V-Scales biggest selling point is the huge variety of freeware available...one can model just about every roadname/nationality/ era without spending a dime!!!!....even most RR enthusiasts that are aware of msts probably arent aware of the aforementioned fact so our job would be to somehow spread the word. Once Railroad enthusiasts (NOT gamers) realize this fact, our hobby could expand exponentially!!!
Posted 12 November 2004 - 12:02 PM
We just need to remember the first laws of attracting an unwilling audience to an article in a magazine or newspaper, either;
a. a headline that stops and makes someone want to read on, or,
b. stunning (and they really do have to be just that - absolutely stunning) visuals with a WOW factor, or
c. both a & b above.
You generally only get one chance, especially if someone is either a busy person or has a low interest in the subject.
Anything short of an arresting first half page and you have already lost the audience - and lose them once and you may never get them back again, because V Scale will be treated as some cranky offshoot or fringe activity.
So subject matter is important - but no-one should underestimate in this first instance the importance of the visuals. That doesn't mean it has to be something grand - what it does mean is that it has got to be something interesting and, I think, very convincing.
On Canton I remember being really struck by some early Beta tester shots of Suddenly Chemicals - they were staggering in terms of detail and clarity - they weren't grand, just very, very convincing.
Food for thought for all - but an in to model railroader is too good to miss - go fer it
Posted 12 November 2004 - 12:14 PM
I'm not sure if you mean the suddenly refinery or rich's suddenly chemicals but I will be sure to include them both in any screenshots (as well as some of my Steelmill work which is sure to get a certain senior editors attention as he is a big fan of modeling the steel industry).
As far as a one and only shot.....all it really is, is a V-scale pictorial on the DT&I R.R.....not a "check out msts..its better than scale RRing" type of statement... (as far as they know!...lol)