I read with amusement Galen's exhortation to get off the bikes and get busy in MSTS and create stuff.
That got me to thinking that it HAS been a while since anything MSTS has been discussed. Sooo... reckon I'll take a stab at that right now...
First off, I'll start this by again saying I sincerely appreciate all of you that have supported my small efforts over the years. Frustrations with RE, MSTS shortcomings, and development in general aside, it really has been an enjoyable journey. I genuinely feel like virtual friends have been an unexpected result of my MSTS dabblings.
MSTS is now 8 years old. That's a looong time in computer years. However, given all the false starts and hopes ("vaporware") by other software companies (including Microsoft), here we are: In spite of other railroad game introductions, MSTS still remains as a viable rail simulation.
As for me (and of course VSC): MSTS is still in the foreseeable future. That part is settled.
What isn't ever fully settled is what I want to do. Soon, the pretty weekend weather will be over, it will be cold and dreary, and the bike riding will begin to be a "sketchy" situation at best. In addition, January looms closer, and I'll start having to work the psgr train almost every Saturday. Given the new rules we work under, I WILL get two days off every week or so... but by mid winter the riding weather is very far and few between. Of course, I don't want to ride a bike on cold, dark weeknights, so my biking opportunities will be getting less frequent. (Which is why I'm hitting it hot and heavy right now!)
Lastly, I'm already feeling some urge to get back to creating stuff in RE. So, the long, dark evenings are beginning to pull me in that direction.
That in mind, if'n you want to Sonny, pull up a chair, and I'll spin you a yarn or two along that line... (You know... that little Papa Smurf smiley reminds me of Uncle Herbie!)
My long time love for the Frisco in the Ozarks notwithstanding, when my desire to create something diesel in MSTS returns, I'm still very much interested in the C&O/B&O in the Thurmond, WV area. There was a thread a while back that shared that idea and looked at the virtues of such an approach. It looks like a great area with several options. I still need track data, but even if no more surfaces, I could forge ahead and do the best I can. This idea is probably going to be my diesel direction.
This isn't so easy, and has been a bit of a perplexation for me.
The 1885 Colorado Central idea still appeals. But I've learned that there are severe issues with the need for dual gauge rails in Golden. This is mainly due to the limited functionality of dual gauge track in MSTS. This is quite a blow. I don't know how I would work around it, or if I will. Then there's the lack of equipment that I've mentioned before. Time will tell on this route idea. This one may simply serve as a pacifier for me to pop in my mouth when I want to tinker with narrow gauge?
Ozark Northern Ver. 2: Track is 95% finished, essentially only the logging line's rails remain. Track laying went fast. Candidly speaking, the extension happened for one reason alone: Path of least resistance. That is, there already exists a wonderful collection of equipment for it, many, many reusable scenic objects exist for it, as well as terrtex, et al. BUT... when I look at the extension... I'm not satisfied with the result. Hard to get motivated to further a project if something is nagging at you about it. Deep down inside I think the biggest factor that is hurting this idea for me is the very thing that created it to start with: It is proto-lanced. Proto-lancing, as well as freelancing, in MSTS offers tremendous opportunity to explore the fun and creative side of railroading... BUT: When finished, you have a railroad that didn't exist. For some odd reason, that is beginning to bother me more and more. So, I don't know what I'll do with this one, either.
A Different Steam Idea: Then there's one that I've essentially kept under wraps, but is slowly gaining ground in the "how 'bout this one?" category. It is more complex than any of my previous steam undertakings, but as it develops, it would offer nigh-unlimited operational potential. It would almost have to be finished/released piecemeal. No way I would be able to get ALL of it finished prior to releasing.
Basically, this route concept explores a region, as opposed to a particular railroad. However, the Frisco would take center stage and be the prominant line. Essentially, I would be replicating what I've been calling the "coal belt" region here where I live. You would never guess it now, but in the TOC era, coal was being mined EVERYWHERE in the region I live in. The target era of 1908 would yield the following lines that would be represented in greater or lesser degrees:
Iron Mtn & Southern
Kansas City Southern
Ft. Smith & Western
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific
All of the above co-existed and interchanged in an area about 35 miles square. Today, almost no coal branch rails remain. In fact, rail served coal is almost non-existant, as is coal mining.
Below is an older map I prepared some time ago that helps to illustrate what I'm talking about. Bear in mind that the map is long out of date. On the current version of this route project, the rails have already reached Ft. Smith, been layed all the way to Mansfield, and the MV is in place to Greenwood as well as southwest out of Greenwood. Interchanges and trackage rights abound and I can see no reason whatsover for this route to EVER get "old" operationally IF I ever actually completed it.
As for equipment, we already have a good start with the models used in the North Arkansas pack. Throw in some reskinning and clone work and lo: A nice roster to begin with. Plus, John Flemming created and released some excellent freeware rollingstock, many of which are applicable to the target era. John's work is available at Train-sim.com, as well as Elvas Tower (I think).
I dunno'... me and MSTS are a strange pair... but I still enjoy it, and it could be that I would like to see what happens with my Coal Belt idea?
What are your thoughts?