Future of Trainz
the future of Trainz has involved an enormous amount of time and
effort. What you are about to read is the culmination of input from
the Trainz community, Auran staff members, Railroad companies and
other interested parties.
began many years ago as an interest in making a model Railroad Simulator.
Over the years the program has developed and evolved into what is
now TRS2004. The decision facing Auran now is Where next?
has come to the conclusion that the best course of action is to
split Trainz into three distinct product branches. Trying to please
everyone with just one product results in loss of focus and confusion.
Splitting Trainz into three unique areas of interest will provide
a much greater focus on what's required for each of the following
first branch will continue down the current path. TRS2004 will continue
for at least three more iterations; namely, a Service pack, then
an Expansion Pack, and finally a 'Gold' Collection Pack.
second branch will move toward a transportation simulator, similar
in nature to TRS2004 but concentrating on all forms of transportation
and with a much greater emphasis on economics and management.
final branch will lead to Rail Simulator Pro (RSP), a full prototypical-driving
simulator and that's the focus of this article.
all three product branches share many concepts and ideas there will
be a considerable overlap in many areas of code, art and design.
Therefore don't think for a moment that just because you have RSP
that you won't have Surveyor, or that Tranzportation won't have
cool looking locos, they will. All three product branches will inherit
Surveyor, but will further extend it as best suits each product.
the art side of things it will be possible to move most content
between all three product branches with minor changes to config
files and some alterations to the base model.
began here at Auran some 12 months ago on a variety of new technologies
being developed for other products. A number of these technologies
will make their way into RSP. For example, RSP will use Jet 3: a
new and enhanced version that's reported to be able to run on Unix
based systems and there have even been rumours of a 'Mac' version
of TRS2004 appearing for OS X early next year. RSP will use a new
terrain system, a new networking system and a new database system,
all currently being developed for other products but which fit perfectly
with the future direction of RSP. We are leveraging cutting-edge
technologies from other Auran projects to provide the foundation
is a big project and we expect development to take a further two
years. This is a significant commitment on Auran's part and not
one that we've taken lightly. RSP will be fully designed on paper
a good six months before RSP specific coding will begin. Unlike
previous versions of Trainz, we will have a large amount of time
to consult with various 3rd party groups and will be able to provide
a much greater time for 3rd party content creators to ready products
for RSP. We are currently reviewing our working relationship with
3rd party creators based on the TRS2004 project. More announcements
will be made on this soon.
will have something for all sim lovers but, rather than try and
give a broad outline of all of its features, I've chosen instead
to focus on three key areas of customer interest. They are 1: prototypical
users; 2: model railroad users; 3: content creators.
interested in prototypical simulation are in for a real treat with
RSP, but first some background information.
the earliest releases of Trainz, Auran has been in ongoing discussions
with a number of railroad companies about the creation of a PC based
prototypical simulation that would allow these companies to perform
driver training. Auran has decided to cater to this need and hence
commence development of RSP. RSP will be a 'full on' simulator and
those of you who know the flight simulator market well could best
compare it to 'Elite' (www.flyelite.com).
fact RSP will be so complete (and I'll detail just some of its features
a little later) that we are planning to produce a 'Lite Edition'
(Railroad Simulator Pro LE), to compete directly with MSTS 2 if
and when it is released. I don't mean this in any derogatory sense,
simply that we are building a 'commercial use' simulator with RSP
and that's always going to be a step above a game.
LE will likely be available in game and hobby stores as TRS2004
is currently. The full version will only be available directly from
Auran or our local distributors (more on this later). This is primarily
because the full version is going to be a much bigger and heavier
box and the price point will be somewhat above that of a traditional
game, hence game stores are unlikely to carry it.
you're like me and can't stand buying a game that weighs nothing
and all you can feel (and hear) is a lone CD moving around in the
box then you are going to love RSP. We are intending to go all out
on the documentation, including charts and other useful material.
If you're worried about the price point, don't be. By moving to
a 3 year product cycle (more on this in the 3rd party section of
this document) we've actually lowered the cost per year. In fact
the final price has yet to be decided but commercial use of a similar
product will be in the tens of thousands of dollars range, so that
gives you some idea of what you'll be getting for your money.
regard to features, RSP is a super step up from TRS2004. First,
the interface gets a full overhaul in both look and feel. The entire
product is language independent and new language databases can be
installed by a simple drag and drop operation and can include text,
graphics and audio.
is being revamped with some great new tools for helping to sculpt
terrain. DEM importation will be standard, the grid resolution is
much finer and you'll be able to place cantilevered track. The new
terrain system being developed for RSP supports vertical surfaces,
overhanging surfaces and even caves. Of course with this kind of
additional terrain support it will now be possible to create underground
railroads as well as elevated track (like monorails) in addition
to normal track.
will include full dispatcher capabilities, prototypical signalling
(that is fully customisable by country) and even allow online play.
I noted with some interest recently on the Auran forums that some
'hard core' proto guys showed little interest in online play, yet
oddly enough it's one of the most requested features of the many
railroad companies we've been talking to. They see online as an
opportunity to place drivers in a 'real traffic' environment (as
they put it) and one that can only help improve driver safety. However,
if you'd rather play standalone you certainly can.
dispatcher system communicates to the main game (or games in a multiplayer
environment) via TCPIP so yes, you've guessed it, the person acting
as a dispatcher can be located anywhere in the world.
AI is being fully overhauled in RSP and is being broken into two
unique components. Drivers will no longer attempt to path plan,
they just drive and follow signals as required. Therefore, the AI
functions for drivers have actually been reduced in complexity from
that present in TRS2004. Since RSP includes full route planning
both the signalling system and dispatcher can refer to the planned
routes and act accordingly. The other area that AI will now be operational
is when you don't have a human acting as dispatcher. In this instance
the AI will take over and resolve route conflicts within bounds
set during the route-planning phase. This two-tier approach to AI
will resolve most of the outstanding issues with AI.
scripting system that is present in TSR2004 will be fully replaced
in RSP with a C++ API based system and Auran will supply headers
that provide access to most of the internal game functions. Programmers
are going to have a ball with RSP and you're going to be able to
some amazing things!
of you who like to populate your routes with more than just trains,
for example ships and cars, will also be catered for. Like TRS2004,
RSP supports invisible track and you'll be able to place boats and
cars on it. However, unlike TRS2004, RSP boats will follow the track
but not be attached to it. Instead, they float above it based on
various parameters, two of which are 'sea state' and 'tide height'.
Boats and cars can now have intersections, and traffic flow can
move from one track to another.
track system itself is also getting a major overhaul and is moving
to a Bezier curve based system. Those of you who are familiar with
products like Corel Draw will already know how this works. In essence
when RSP is operating in 'simple' track laying mode it will appear
just like TRS2004. However, hold down the 'Control' key and you'll
have access to the Bezier handles that will allow fine control of
the curve radius. Additionally, you'll have complete control over
ballast types, track type, and best of all, super elevation. Because
of all of these changes people who like Traction, Trams or Monorails
are in for a real treat, as all of them are possible.
is one area that will be very different indeed. RSP will allow programmers
to write individual .DLL physics files for each and every loco.
These individual loco physics programs can sit alongside the inbuilt
(default physics) system and will happily coexist. In other words,
if you have a certain steam loco that spins its wheels differently,
or a rack and pinion rail motor that requires some unique handling,
then you can load up a full physics system for each. All other locos
that are present on the same route can continue to use the inbuilt
system whilst the other locos use their own specific systems.
final major area is of course sound. Every track type and bogie
combination will be able to have their own unique sounds, and they
will be calculated per axle and tied to rail based events.
model railroaders. Just because we're adding a bunch of new
features for the 'proto' folks doesn't mean we've forgotten you.
is probably the biggest difference between Trainz and similar products.
The ease of use it has brought to route building is, I believe,
without equal. Our goal with RSP is to make it even easier to use.
Tool tips and better sculpting tools as well as a range of other
features will take it way beyond where it is currently. Our aim
here is to make the act of terrain and route construction a very
easy and pleasurable experience. In fact, I believe we can improve
it so much that some users may never even venture into driver.
for those of you who prefer to use the DCC controller one will still
be available. Both Trainz and the current version of MSTS feature
a DCC type of physics system. This is because running a top-notch
physics system on each and every loco and piece of rolling stock
would be far to CPU intensive. Both products get around this by
having a scaled down physics system for use on non-player controlled
locos. The only real difference being that Trainz gives you access
to the simple physics system via a DCC controller whereas the MSTS
system is hidden from view. I wanted to point this out to people,
in particular prototypical people, because having a DCC system present
does not in any way erode the simulation side of the product. A
DCC controller will be available as a .DLL plug-in. If you don't
use DCC then just don't load the plug-in; save the memory and use
it for another loco specific .DLL physics module instead. If you
prefer DCC then load it instead. It really is going to be that easy.
of the complex systems of a real railroad are going to be made a
lot easier for users to understand in RSP. For example, the way
signalling is set-up and defined will make it much easier for users
to correctly place and link signals. Even the dispatcher system
incorporates some great time saving features which will provide
a much better overview of what's happening on the route and how
best to handle things. A lot of time and effort can be saved by
providing visible and audible feedback during route construction
and signal placement; this is an area we intend to spend quite some
much improved content management system will be built right into
RSP and because of the nature of the .DLL plug-in system 3rd party
developed code can now appear in-game and not as an external utility.
good old KUID (that you've either come to love or hate) is gone
in RSP. It's replaced by a GUID and uses a system similar in nature
to many of the larger and professionally based content management
some time now Auran has sought to ensure that each version of Trainz
read the content that was created for its predecessor. There has
however been little formality to this approach and, as time moves
on, taking this approach becomes more and more difficult. So we've
decided to have an 'up front' defined period of compatibility for
new product will be released on a three yearly cycle. In between
major releases there will be expansion packs on a yearly basis.
These expansion packs will be as close to 100% backward compatible
as is possible.
three to four years a new product will be released that will not
be backward compatible. This new product will only load content
that is developed specifically for it and not content from previous
will detail (with each major product release) what changes are required
to previous content to make them compatible with the new product.
The work required to update content from the old version to the
new may range from config only changes, to model updates or a complete
rebuild. However, we expect that in most cases it will be somewhere
example, I can already tell you that any locos you've made using
Indexed meshes for TRS2004 will only need some config changes and
minor modelling changes (like the addition of a collision bounding
box and some axle locations) to be RSP compatible. And yes, this
does mean that we will now be handling collisions.
taken this approach because we want to be able to give a degree
of certainty to the 3rd party development community that content
they create will work for 3 years. Further, when a new version is
released (3 years later) we want to encapsulate any changes that
are required to make content compatible into a single content update.
Having done that a creator will gain another 3 years and so on.
We believe this will greatly reduce the work that is required by
3rd party creators and having a formally announced policy in this
regard is a positive step forward. Third-party content will continue
to be an integral part of our vision for all versions of Train and
Rail Sim products.
is in the process of setting up local distribution points throughout
the world. Our long-term aim is to have distributors who maintain
localised web sites and ordering systems in most of the major countries
into which Trainz is sold.
plan for RSP and RSP LE to be available via these distributors.
RSP will likely only be available via this method. It will mean
that you will no longer have to wait for shipping from Australia
and that you will be able to order from a web site in your native
language. Additionally, despatch, registration and support will
all be available in your native language. We feel that this kind
of service is essential given that Trainz is popular all over the
world and in many different languages.
plans for Trainz, and in particular RSP, are indeed bold. We believe
that there is a good, solid market for a top of the range simulation
product and further that this product will be used by Railroad Companies
from all over the world.
aim is simple, to bring the best Railroad Simulator even seen to