Back Home: Updates & Musings...
Posted 28 October 2004 - 05:34 AM
My philosophy on route building in MSTS... Kind of a joke as I have NEVER built a route - so take this with a grain of salt... Just kind of my musings...
Totally with ya on that Yard Compression - while having a huge massive - prototypically accurate - yard may seem like a great idea at first... It looks totally ridiculous to have two trains in it - with a few box cars way over yonder on track 25 of 30... I think it would make more sense and look more realistic to selectively compress... I prefer over all performance and look/feel - rather than saying every track, nut, and bolt is modeled...
POINTS OF INTEREST
Very key point to keep someone interested in a route after that first WOW run through it... What most routes are missing is a slight sense that life is going on around the tracks... Rich totally nailed it with Canton... My favorite scene on the route is that little whistle stop town between Jefferson City and Interchange... Looks like you could hop up on the barrel and sit a spell while sipping a lemonade watching the trains roll by - sorry no root beer float here...
Like woodland Scenics did for Model Railroading - we need to incorporate more unique little scenes on a route... And in this case LESS is MORE... Make it really unique and don't use it again on the route... I can now say I am familiar with what it takes to build a 3D Model for MSTS - started with 3D Canvas a few weeks ago- luv'n every minute if it... It is a large effort - but - with a huge payoff... For example: Cascades was beautiful - however - once in the trees - thats all you got - TREES... How about a couple of fly fisherman on the stream - a few boats in the lake - a campsite here - a canoe - a bear or elk... Just something to get a glimpse of while coming around a turn... These don't have to be detailed high poly models - just something to give you a hint of what it is... OBTW: I like Cascades very much...
Don't place everything within easy and close proximity to the track... Life happens away from the track... Some really basic shapes off in a distance hint that the route is much larger than it actually is... A little farmstead way over there - that you can never get close to... I like to see the roads extended beyond visible range... Nothing kills the illusion quicker than to see all the roads end 50 feet from the track...
I started this V-Scale stuff building Routes in Trainz... If only MSTS where so easy... One nice feature - is I had a huge selection of sound effects for incorporation into a route... Again - LESS is MORE... It only takes a few to make it seem like the place is alive... A few more and it is overkill - like doesn't this place ever shut up... Some routes have some and they really make a difference... I really want to hear that hound dog in the OZARKS ! LOL...
Again nothing fancy - but - even those simple 2D people that they used on Cajon Pass make the experience more enjoyable... If you have Cajon - I am sure you will remember the lone rail fan in a white T-Shirt and Blue Jeans on top of the pass...
Just an end-users opinion...
Hey Andre - I like your stuff very much... Ha - my first 3D-Model ever is a steam engine - guess where I am going to run it... Can't wait to get it running down here in the Ozarks....
Posted 28 October 2004 - 04:14 PM
Posted 28 October 2004 - 04:47 PM
1)Sandpatch.My first payware.Still run it occasionally,mostly for nostalgic reasons.
2)LS&I.Interesting operation.Ran it often.Screwed it up with the Route Editor and don't have it anymore.
3)Cajon Pass.Nice route but way too long.Haven't run it for ages.Probably won't ever again.
4)TP2.The best route available,period.It's got everything operationally speaking and not too long.Permanent "member" of my route folder.
5)Canton-Suddenly.The route I spend most of my time on.Every roadname looks at home on the Canton.This route really inspired me to learn the basics of the RE.(As an ex-signalman,she needed a crossing rehab-project).
6)Bridge Line.Nice route.Nicer rolling stock.Killer winter scenes.But way too boring.And the D&H is one of my favorite RR's.
7)Cascades.Very nice route.Even nicer rolling stock.But I really don't spend time on it.Too long.I've enjoyed many activities on it though.
What it comes down to is that I guess what I reall wanted as I lapped my N-scale Erie Central trains around my layout to simulate mileage I guess I didn't actually want it to take hours.LOL.
Although I don't own the StL&NA,that will change.Why?It's different and refreshing.Every screenshot and thread makes me want it.As does the modern version and the LNE.I feel that MLT became too focused on "long haul".But they certainly succeeded when it came to really capturing the location being modelled.
I run TP2 less because I'm less interested in that location.Don't get me wrong,I love the Santa Fe,it's just that I prefer east coast.But that route is really a masterpiece.I'm never bored running it because of diverse operations and activities.I feel that Surfliner will be equally successful in that area.
Regardless,this IS now my model railroading scale.
Posted 28 October 2004 - 07:00 PM
Scott mentioned something I forgot too.....distant buildings. I totally emphasize the use of buildings and scenery objects with various levels of detail depending on their proximity to the tracks......high detail buildings that DONT use night texture (but bright material settings on windows so the building will be dark, but will light up under the engine headlight) for use up close, medium detail buildigns with night textures for use away from the tracks, and low detail buildings with night textures for distant use.
I also strongly urge the use of backdrops...Rich use these in the one newer town on the Ohio route...the town had real buildings up front with backdrops in the background...the city looked huge but even with a long train, you got reasonable framerates.
With a combination of these techniques above, one should be able to create large cities and industrial areas that seem to stretch on for miles while still getting decent performance.
For industrial areas, one could do a huge refinery or steelmill by using hi-detail stuff up front, and using smaller detail stuff in the background including backdrops the farthest away.....for example, I'd do a large Refinery by using my suddenly refinery buildings up front, some lower detail versions in the distance, and I would create backdrops of the equipment from screengrabs and modify them in PSP7 to create backdrops that match the upfront high-detail stuff (as opposed to a backdrop made from some online photo that doesnt match the 3D buildings and stands out like a turd in a punchbowl)
I'm still waiting for some northeastern routes with big industries like steel and some large cities that dont seem to drop off a few hundred feet from the track.
Posted 28 October 2004 - 07:08 PM
another thing is I usually selectively compress train consist length in my activities....I'll do a 50-70 car train of hoppers to do a unit coal train that might prototypically be 90-125 cars in reality. you really dont notice the difference when passing them and it makes all the difference in the world on performance. This is one thing some of the big paywares should have considered. They could've even had a batch file in the install that would either intall compressed consists and trains OR prototype length depending on the consumers system and/or preference.
Posted 29 October 2004 - 04:53 AM
To some, the Sim is, and always will be just a game.
To other's, it is, as the name implies, a railroad simulator and they spend their energies trying to recreate a portion of their favorite prototypes in which they can have their enjoyment being the engineer on one of it's name long haul trains or transfer runs. For them, all that really matters is the scenery within a couple hundred yards of the track, with the rest just sort of hinted at as far as massing goes. Sort of like the model railroader that, even though he, or she, has the space, builds a double decked shelf style layout that allows for a long mainline run but requires the scenery to drop off suddenly not far from the edges of the track. These are the ones for which many of the present payware, and freeware routes, such as those mentioned by Gixxer86 are geared towards.
Now, to still other's, some that have come over from some of the other scales in model railroading to V-Scale, perhaps like me, because of lack of space for that dream layout. Or perhaps because of lack of funds to build that really big one with the 1/4 million dollar price tag. Or perhaps because of finding that modeling digitally instead of physically allows them to do some things they couldn't do while modeling physically, even though they can't do other things they really don't care about anyway. Instead of worrying about how far they can reach to place some item or other in their physical scale model railroad, they now have to be concerned about frame rates and poly counts that in essence put some of the same kind of limiting factors on what they are doing.
Now they have to choose a prototype to model that allows for a reasonable physical size that can be modeled without being to overwhelming and introduce the yawn factor. Or they have to be concerned about things, as Andre was awhile back as he was sweating over the demons in the Glen Argyle yard and keeping the frame rates and poly counts within reason. We still can't get away from selective compression, reducing the overall physical size of something selectively, while still keeping the overall impression of the prototype, as Bill has so well been saying.
We need to still be concerned with the "good enough" philosophy that has been expounded over in the physical model railroading scales and has to be brought over into the digital model railroading scale. The placing of highly detailed scenes here and there that catch the eye while being interspersed with lesser detailed items that imply more is there than really is, while keeping down the poly count. What Bill has just suggested here is great for that and is something that I think a number of route builders have not really considered. It really doesn't matter if that building you see a 1/4 mile away isn't detailed to the fullest extent the digital medium allows or not. What would you normally see from the track or within a reasonably short distance there from? If you can't see full detail on a distant item from that vantage point, then don't put it there. When you build a digital model of a building, do three or more versions of it for close-up, mid distance, and far away locations, each with different levels of detail.
Yes, I too prefer the eastern roads, in a time period where the industries they served, whether they be large, like one of Bill's steel mills, refineries, or even the concrete plant I need to build for my planned Piedmont Northern, medium sized, like the New England clothing factories that are so prevalent along the watercourses up there, or even small town industries, were all busy and providing many carloads of freight for our railroad to haul. Andre's LNE had some really large coal mines back up in those beautifully wooded eastern mountains, which I have a feeling, once the LNE is released, Rod will set about reforesting, and they provided many a hopper load for the LNE to haul to the cities to the east.
There is no getting around it, like it or not, this is a form of model railroading, and as such, we are still constrained by some of the same limitations those that are working in the other scales are. While physical size is not a limitation, except for perhaps in the poly count, as Bill has noted, a 100 track yard with only a few strings of cars here and there is nothing more than a big empty yard, something that a real life yardmaster loves to see, but one that to the railroad enthusiast, is just a big waste of space, we like to see our yards full to the brim with cars, something that would really kill the poly count count, and that is even before considering the necessary buildings, let alone their detailed interiors. Yes, selective compression is a very necessary evil we must face to end up with a workable design.
Andre and Rich have both become masters of providing exactly what is needed to get one's attention, and keep it, and to provide the proper railroad atmosphere. They, and others, have provided us many activities that then give there railroads real work to do, the work that the railroad was built for in the first place, serving customers and moving trains from here to there. Their routes, and others that may follow their lead, are what I feel will be the future of this branch of model railroading and I for one applaud them for their ground breaking efforts and give them both well deserved praise for taking us where we all need to go.
Nuff said!! (Maybe some may think too much)
Posted 29 October 2004 - 05:06 AM
I do that too... Do I really need 3 or 4 Cab Forwards in a consist with a hundred plus cars ??? I think not... I'd much rather have better performance with one or two - with a shorther train... I do edit the consists to better suit MSTS...
10 more frames a second - PRICELESS !!!
OR - you can run a route with prototypically shorter trains like the North Arkansas... Hehehe...
And yes - this is a good thread...
Posted 29 October 2004 - 05:29 AM
Posted 29 October 2004 - 05:29 AM
Posted 29 October 2004 - 12:48 PM
P.S. Don't know where that second pic was taken but it looks like one of the yards I have to model.
Posted 31 October 2004 - 11:35 AM
Posted 31 October 2004 - 04:02 PM
Posted 01 November 2004 - 02:14 AM
For example, in one commercial product I purchased, a branch off the main went miles and miles through some mighty pretty country... only to end at a location without even the means to run-around the train.
Hmmm.... Cooper town branch in Bridge Line!
Posted 01 November 2004 - 10:33 PM
I also like the Southern Pacific. And the Denver and Rio Grande Western (standard and narrow). And the Westside Lumber Company. And the Maine 2-Footers. And the Pennsylvania. And the Southern. And the Chicago Great Western. And the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. And Pacific Electric. And the San Diego and Arizona Eastern. And the San Diego Electric Railway......
I like Sn3. And S Standard. And HO. And LGB. And rideable live steam. And even dabbled in N scale......
Therefore, I love the Sim! Because I can have it all! For cheap! For the price of a four unit S-Helper Service ATSF 37LABC F-7 passenger engine in S scale, I can have Cajon Pass, Tehachapi 2, Pacific Surfliner (soon, dear Lord, soon), all of their activity packs, Marc Nelson's fabulous F units (every bit as well done as S-Helper's or Athearn's Genesis locos) Marc's passenger cars and a host of free-ware routes and still have money to spare.
It is the infinite variety of railroading to be had on the sim that I find most appealing. I can run the Santa Fe Super Chief over Cajon today, take a PFE drag over Tehachapi tomorrow, run a PCC car on the Red Arrow Lines the day after then spend the weekend running the Silverton train on the Rio Grande. I might even find time to hustle over from Berryville to the Frisco Interchange at Seligman.
As far as the long stretches are concerned, I love to watch a set of stainless steel F's take a streamlined passenger train over the line. I could watch it for hours, and do. And with the variety, if I do get bored, I can push F2, load up the St.L&NA and switch cars around.
The only disappointment at the present time is the Rio Grande Southern. This railroad just begs for a commercial offering. Not to take anything from the enthusiasm of the youngsters that have dabbled with it but I won't use what is out there to represent my all-time favorite railroad. I hope someday it will be there to the level of perfection that I have come to enjoy on, say, the Santa Fe, but for now that is the one thing that will remain in the realm of hands-on modeling. From Bill Peter's PBL K-27's to the sim's 459, for example, is a disappointing trip. It is truly unfortunate when a specific route that you'd really love to have is produced poorly. For understandable reasons, no one else will touch it. Understandable but unfortunate. Narrow gauge tracks being "unavailable" for commercial developers is another unfortunate turn of events. Nuff said.
Ah, but the Santa Fe! In that I am reveling! 1950s and 60s ATSF is the bulk of my running these days and I am loving it!
I will close this missive with the other positives I find in simming: Never cleaning track; no broken switch machines; never cleaning track; no stalls just out of reach; never cleaning track; I don't have to turn around at the end of the room; never cleaning track; I can actually get inside and run it; never cleaning track; I don't have to "duck under" anything, and, did I mention, never cleaning track?
Posted 11 November 2004 - 07:02 AM
The last post in this thread was a few days ago, but with a discussion I was having among a number of railroad enthusiasts last night, many of which didn't even know something like the Sim even existed, but all of which either have their own model railroads, which is a rarity down here in Florida where basements are all but non-existent, or belong to the local model railroad club (the majority of the group), the comments made in this thread were brought into the discussion. Anyway, among those that knew of the Sim and also about the recent events, an equal percentage were both pro and con on the health of the Sim.
Some felt that this was indication of the eminent death of the Sim and others felt that it was just a normal sign of growing pains. Those that felt it was just part of growing pains used the examples of how over time in model railroading things at times reached a plateau and how there were many model railroad supply companies, some quite well know, that for one reason or another, both financial and personal, closed their doors. That didn't mean the death of the hobby as a whole, just a change in direction, and many times it was a change for the good.
Among those that didn't even know of the Sim's existence, they made the comment that it was news to them because of the all but non-existent coverage in the press, (read here mainly the model press), that such a thing even existed. Some after a while remembered seeing some mention of the program a few years back, but then they didn't see any more on it and they felt that it was just some railroad game like Railroad Tycoon that was meant for some pleasant railroad themed diversion, and as a result they had no idea of the realism that it was capable of. Some also felt that part of the reason for the current problems was from the lack of advertising of it's existence and of Microsoft's mainly promoting it in gaming circles instead of model railroading circles. They said that since this was a product that would mainly be of interest to railroad enthusiasts instead of gamers who are extremely fickled, then it should have been mainly promoted to this group.
They said that they could see where it would have many advantages for them to traditional model railroading, and that they were surprised, upon seeing Andre's web site and this forum and the screen shots, that there was even a scale for this form of modeling and that for individuals like themselves, with space at a real premium as it is here, it would allow them to have a home model railroad, or actually, something that is very rare in model railroading circles, more than one railroad, and on a detail level equal to, or even greater than, the best of the model railroad layouts. They said that they could thus run trains at home, choosing the route to suit what they felt like doing at the time, with the appropriate level of detail, one of the long haul routes when they just felt like it, or routes like Andre's and Rich's with their exquisite detail when they were in the mood for running shorter trains and switching, etc., while still remaining members of the model railroad club for doing physical modeling. They said that they would have to learn new skills to model digitally, but that upon seeing the pictures of what was obtainable, and the cost of the routes that were actually much less than even a plastic locomotive, they were enthused about the possibilities.
So, I don't believe the hobby of V Scale railroading is dying, but rather it is just resting and regrouping, for further growth, if only we had some way other than word of mouth to tell others of it's existence. With routes like Andre's and Riches and great pictures like those from Rod and Tim B., I can see an article, or even a series of articles, in the model press about the scale and what can, and has been done. I personally think that there is great possibilities there, if only we as a group were to pursue it. Magazines like Model Railroader are always looking for articles to publish and I can see picture articles on different routes like Andre's and Riches and others. I can see how-to articles on route building, and activity writing, and digital modeling. All the things they publish about physical model railroads, planning, modeling, and operation, can also be done in a digital format and by putting it before the railroad enthusiast public, especially those interested in modeling, I feel that there is a very good chance that more interest in the scale will be developed and it will see a new infusion of talent that here-to-for may not have even know about this branch of the hobby.
I personally believe that there can be some very interesting articles written about different facets of our branch of the hobby, to first of all show that we exist, to show what is possible, and also how to go about it. If this is done, and done well, with plenty of illustrations, I see a very bright future for the Sim and the hobby of V Scale railroading in general!!
Posted 11 November 2004 - 08:48 AM
Your findings reinforce my theories as well as findings, about V scale in general. Namely:
* The "gamer" is not the long term growth area for V scale, the serious railroad enthusiast is.
* A vast number of serious railroad enthusiasts have no clue as to the "state of the art" of V scale, or even of its existance.
I first became aware of this last November. It was then that I took my computer, sound system, and a stack of "flyers" (sheets of printed promo) w/URLs to a regional model railroad meet. As soon as I fired up the computer and entered the sim, I had throngs of appreciative railroad modelers around my dispaly. Many of them had no idea this medium existed. Some of them had seen the ads for MSTS in some of the model railroad publications... but assumed it was a game. One or two had tried it, but quickly tired of the very sub-standard default stuff. None of them previously realized the potential of this medium. I had installed several "state of the art" (for the time) commerical and freeware routes. The contrasts between default and top-of-the-line was quite evident, even a year ago. If I'm not mistaken, our own Zack Hilton's becoming reinterested in this sim is a result of that meet. He'd tried MSTS, was not overly impressed. Saw the neat stuff now available... got reinterested and has been around ever since!
I then formed the opinion that V scale's biggest task is connecting with it's best area of growth: The serious railroad enthusiast.
I've considered ads in Model Railroader, for the model railroading segment is a natural: The model railroader already has a desire to replicate railroading.
Unfortunately, nice ads in Model Railroader cost about $1,200+ per month. Absolutely prohibitive at this stage of my cash flow. We affiliates here at 3DTrains discussed a corporate ad with multiple sponsors/banners, but even that would be a stretch for us financially. We continued to pursue the long and tedious task of getting the info out via word-of-mouth (i.e. our forums here) or occassional info-posts at Train-sim.com. (A dangerous proposition at best!)
We're definitely NOT dying as a medium. In transistion, yes, dying, no.
As for the health of the current commercial market in V scale... well, the A&O Sub will be a good barometer of that for me. I can let you know more about that a couple months after its release!
Posted 11 November 2004 - 09:17 AM
I agree with your comments 10000%!!
I also know of the prohibitive cost of adds in Model Railroader and other model railroad publications such as Craftsman. That was why I suggested articles, which I would be very happy to help in. Here I believe you can reach many more individuals than with an add, and honestly, I don't look at every ad in the MR I receive every month, only the ones that catch my attention, but I do look at all the articles. The article, or better yet, series of articles on different routes and different facets of this branch of the hobby will reach many more people I feel and it also has an added bonus, you would actually get paid if it is published!!
Posted 11 November 2004 - 09:51 AM
The railfan and model railroader is certainly the more long-term
The model railroader (like myself) spends years building a
small portion of his favorite railroad to recreate it as it once was
and be able to operate it. V scale would give us the ability to
operate the ENTIRE railroad, from end to end, with ALL the
stations, and ALL the industries, and possibly in different eras
For exposure, in addition to MR and RMC, there's also the
"Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette". I've been a subscriber
for 25 years as they specialize in NG and shortlines, like the NA.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 10:50 AM
Well it is all being extremely neatly put and echoes what I have been bashing on about for the last 2 months or so.
The state is healthy, but interest needs to be widened.
Willing to help in any way I can with the screenshots.
If we were appealing to modellers (as opposed to just engineers on long hauls) then would need fine detail and interest around (almost) every corner - just what Andre and Rich provide. We would also need (and wouldn't I just be the one to say it) good screenshots as part of the shop front. Square on pics of an engine (and nothing else) is not going to tell potential customers about what they are getting in a route.
What Andre and Rich did in their "advertising" (Andre's pics on the V-Scale forum and Rich's in the pdf document accompanying Canton) really opened my eyes to what could be achieved - and it is so much more exciting.
Anyway, enough of that - let's just see what happens when the A&O comes out.
Posted 11 November 2004 - 11:08 AM
If in the articles, which I will willingly help prepare, we show shots like you have shown over on Rich's route, like the ones in Norton for instance, or the one on Andre's route looking from the porch at the Frisco locomotive in the rain, I am sure that we can grab much attention. I can foresee an overall article on V Scale in general, showing some shots of Rich's and Andre's routes along with others, showing different weather conditions, such as the rain and snow you have shown and the summer from Tim B. over on the Ft. Smith Sub. and we would have everyone's attention riveted to the article. Then there would be articles on individual routes like one on the Canton, another on the StL&NA, and another on the A&O, and possibly one on the LNE when it is released.
I could see articles on re-skinning, just like there are already articles on painting locomotives. Ones on route building and others on activity writing, and so on. There are all sorts of things that we could write about that would show the length and breath of the scale. It just takes some planning and forethought.