|Marias Pass Approach|
Hi HP_Trainz, tell us a little bit about your group.
The hard core of our group HP-Trainz is Lothar Hake (lotharhake) and me, Josef Pav (josefpav). Our first public appearance as a group is related to the launch of the HP-Trainz website in September 2003. But we both are cooperating in content creation for Trainz since the release of Trainz CE. We are both living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, but our group is international. We are cooperating closely with our associated member Vil'm J'nsk (Bald) from Prague. There are also many loose cooperation's with other creators, for example the VMD group. Steffen Gross (sg1), the VMD founder, was the initiator and supporter of our website.
HP-Trainz is dedicated to the creation of performance-friendly content for Trainz. This means we are optimizing every piece of content or route for minimal impact to the frame rate. Any object not matching these criteria will be reworked or scratched. And we are quite successful with this way to create things. The earlier released Marias Pass Low route has become a reference for high detailed and good playable route in the user scene.
Have you produced any content for any previous version of Trainz
Yes, we have started with content creation soon after the first Trainz CE was released. Meanwhile we have produced about 1000 objects for Trainz, some of them becomes very popular in the Trainz community, to mention as an example the MP-Tracks. With this track we have demonstrated the possibility to create a realistic looking and performance friendly chunky-mesh track. The incomparable good looking rails textures were provided by Vil'm (Bald). Also the German SKODA class 180 loco, which is built-in content in TRS 2004 comes from our "workbench".
What kind of content are you working on for inclusion in TRS2006
This time it is a route, named Marias Pass Approach. This route represents the east approach to the American Rockies, between Shelby (MT) and Fort Piegan. There are about 30 miles of mainline and 20 miles branch lines, two passenger stations in Shelby and Cut Bank, several yards and industry tracks, new interactive industries and matching rolling stock. Not a fantasy route but as close as possible to the real route. With DEM based terrain and prototypical track layout. Some typical buildings like station depots are modelled after the real world buildings. We have provided some interesting sessions for passenger and freight operations. And if the user want more, the complete Marias Pass Route from Whitefish to Shelby (about 150 miles) will be available via our website .
Where can a Trainz User go to check out your work Do you have a website, or will you be getting one
We have our own website, HP-Trainz (www.hp-trainz.de) with a lot of free content and some pay ware content. And, of course, the complete Marias Pass Route from Whitefish to Shelby can be ordered also there.
So, who are the members of your group What skills do your members bring to the group
We are all "versatile" in our skills related to Trainz. But, of course, each one of our group has his strong points.
Lothar Hake is the main artist in route building and creation of scenery objects. He has developed incomparable skills for the creation of "life like" sceneries, always keeping the game performance in the eye.
Josef Pav is responsible for the track layout, signaling, creation of rolling stock and industries (scripting included) and sessions. Due to his professional knowledge of railroad technology, he is trying to transfer his know how to the Trainz Simulator.
Do any of the members of the group have some actual train driving experience
As student I was driving trams (streetcars) in Stuttgart. I was studying machinery engineering with specialty for rail vehicles and during this time I had also many opportunities to drive in the cab of several locos, but only accompanying the engineer, not driving by myself. Our member Vil'm is a professional electrician by the City Transport Authority in Prague and he has the driving license for tramways.
Why did you decide on making this content Does the group have a particular interest in it
Our "Marias Pass story" is a long one. Three years ago I wanted to test the "hog" utility for DEM terrain creation and I have chosen an American route mainly for easy accessibility to USA-DEM's and Tiger maps. The only American route I have known was the Marias Pass, which was my favorite when playing in MSTS.
So I have created the "bare" route, only with terrain and all tracks laid like on the real route. This bare route becomes very popular and many Trainz users has attempted to finish the route adding the scenery. Most of them stuck after some miles with a frame rate drop making the route unplayable. Lothar had proposed to try to finish the route running with decent frame rates. Soon we have recognized, that we have to create all content by ourselves, strictly optimized for good performance in Trainz. And, after more then two years of work it seems that we have achieved our goal. The route is highly detailed and runs very smooth. The Marias Pass Approach Route included in TRS2006 is a part of our whole route, so you can consider the quality of our work.
You may ask, how it is possible building a real-like route we have never seen in the reality. Well, Internet makes it possible. We have collected heaps of information about the route, hundreds of photo's and, the most important tool and information source was the Terraserver page with aerial photo's and topomaps.
What is a current item of third-party content (not created by your current group) that you think is an example of high quality
Well, there is a lot of Trainz content I would consider being top quality, it's hard to appoint to one example and let the other ones unmentioned. For example the SD9 locos from VMD belongs surely to the best models actually existing for Trainz.
What is your favorite Railroad / Loco / Train / Model Scale
My present favourite railroad is a little narrow gauge route system in southern Bohemia. This railroad was originally owned by the Czech State Railways. In the mid 90 this railway was undergoing a privatisation and is now owned by a young company of enthusiastic people. The change of the owner preserved this railroad from being closed. The fascination of this railroad makes the mix of regular trains and the historical steam trains in an ambience with the flair of the beginning 20th century. This is a living railroad and not a museum. More information and pictures about this RR can be obtained at their homepage: http://www.jhmd.cz/
Well, since we are "playing" with Trainz, our model RR is abandoned, but we both have N Scale train models.
Do you have any amusing Train stories to tell
Well, it was as I learned to drive streetcars. A bunch of tram driver adepts together with a driving trainer was cruising Stuttgart's tram net (it was all 1000 mm gauge in that time). The trainer Mr. H. was an older tram "bear" with a special kind of humor and was often making jokes with us. I was proudly sitting in the driver's seat riding along Stuttgart's shopping mall K'nigstrasse when I saw a distant car standing on the tracks, apparently trying to turn to the left. So I started to break. Mr. H. told to me: "Young man, you will not really break for this little car. He has to look how he saves himself. We are stronger than him".
Newly I read in a tram magazine, that SSB (Stuttgart Tram) has problems with frequent accidents between tram and automobiles. Possibly are many tram drivers trained by Mr. H. are still active
What is your favorite "THING" about TRS2006
In the first line the excellent routes and sessions (all of them) shipped with TRS 2006. This is a big plus compared with the simple demo routes in the older versions. And the second favorite thing is the built in tool named CMP (Content Manager Plus). Besides of the ability of a very effective way to manage the content, I appreciate the extensive error checking functions before any content finds its way into the game. It helps the content creators to make their content bug-free and routes without faulty content runs considerably better.
What is your gaming history MSTS, Transport or Railroad Tycoon, RPG's, RTS's.
There was a time I bought any game package which showed a loco or a track on the cover. Railroad Tycoon, A-Train, Transport Tycoon, Simutrains, MSTS , Traffic Giant.. Since the appearance of Trainz I didn't bought any other train simulation game, I am full occupied with route building, creating rolling stock, trying to realize my dreams to build prototypical functioning and appearing locos and operate trains like the real railroads does. Trainz is challenging ones creative potential again and again.
Do you have anyone special that you would like to thank
I would like to thank all, who helped to make Marias Pass better giving us their license for including their rules (Marinus, sforget, MiZi), or objects and skins (sg1, Bald, Threeheadedmonkey). And many thanks to Auran's Trainz team for their excellent support and patience during the implementation of the new routes into TRS 2006.
Joseph & Lothar