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July 11th
Specular lighting and Sounds!

Today I had plans to continue my run from the Forest to the Lumber Mill with my load of felled pine trees. Last night before leaving the office I saved my game, then came back this morning and loaded it, but had to save it again when the Auran crew tasked me with other duties! Lucky I have more than one save slot now! They finally listened! In fact I'm not sure if there is even a limit now? Must check that out.

Something new in TRS is steam; we all know that. What I didn't know was the complexity of getting steam physics, graphic animation and steam sounds all working together! Auran have built a state-of-the-art sound studio here in Brisbane that I was lucky enough to see and I had a chance to speak to the sound engineer who is charged with getting those steam sounds happening. The steam sounds for TRS are real-life recordings that have been specially designed to match the animation on the locomotives. For example, the pistons moving in and out of the cylinders need to be accurately tied to the graphics animation of the loco - no point hauling that huge load out of the port, watching the pistons and connecting rods moving, only to find that the sound of steam being compressed then expanding is not in time with the animation! I can tell you that the steam loco sounds I have heard are incredible! :-))

Time was also spent today with the programming team requesting changes and tweaks whenever I encountered an issue. Running some of our UTC scenarios through TRS was also being done today. In a brief lull during the day I was able to spend time with WindWalker to discuss the "under-the-hood" logic of the new Driver system: WOW! I know we have been told about the concept of "Drivers" but I hope to post on Monday a bit of detail about how it works after having had a chance to play, oops, test it today.

I also had a chance to chat with some of the graphic artists and modellers here to find out what they are up to (hey, I'm nosey!) and as I don't understand graphics much, one of them had to explain in detail what things like "specular" lighting and bump mapping are... woohoo - now I understand why TRS looks so much better! If you look closely at the DD40 screenshot you will see a shiny bit on the nose and the top of the cabin - that's specular highlighting. The bump mapping is where the panels appear to have ridges and dents even though the surface is actually flat! Another thing - my Trainz world looks a lot brighter too. Wondering why, I checked with one of the programmers who explained that the lighting range has been increased to allow brighter scenes. There is even a new in game gamma slider to play with.

It's been a busy week here at Auran and I have learnt so much! Before I finish for the night, just a little teaser ... I walked past one of the 3d modellers and saw this *famous* steam loco and I started drooling immediately! Wow!! Haven't been given that one to take out for a spin yet but I can't wait.

Greg (Shutter)







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