Trainz Monorail Project
The Trainz Monorail Project is the brainchild of JFE, a dedicated content creator, a consumate Monorail modeller, and long time and well known Trainz fan. His Trainz Monorail Project for TRS2006 will be coming to the Download Station in coming weeks. You can now learn more about this project here!
Hi Trainz Monorail Project, Tell us a little bit about your group.
Jack Emmerichs [JFE], Brown Deer Wisconsin, USA: I was the group, for most of the project's history, but there was too much work and too little time for one person to do an adequate job on the EE enhancements, and I'd recently met some other good developers, so I went looking for partners.
Jack Straessle, Round Rock Texas, USA: I'd worked with Jack before on the monorails we provided for the TorontoTrainz project, and I liked his creations, especially the nightmode versions of the open-air stations.
Russ Milland, Oakville Ontario, Canada: I'd also worked with Russ before, who had an interest in modelling current monorail construction projects himself. Russ works with the Trainz on the Road (TOTR) program with an active team of about a dozen Trainz enthusiasts in promoting Trainz at model railroad shows in Eastern Canada. He is also a working director of the Toronto Historical Railway Association who are creating a major railway museum in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which will include a full size simulator using Trainz and a full size F7 cab.
Justin William Smith: While searching for monorail subjects, I found Justin's web site (MapoRed.com) in which he identified himself as a one-time WDW monorail driver. On a whim, I contacted him to see if he'd be willing to work with a bunch of people he'd never heard of on a project he'd never heard of, to help build monorail models for a train simulator he'd never heard of, on a very short schedule. Oddly enough, he said yes, and has provided us with invaluable information on how the driver's console works, how the trains should feel, and all sorts of other goodies. We still have a few things we can improve further, but we've certainly had a good reference for how it should work. By the way, read the project's release notes on the driver's console and you see why his web site's name caught my eye.
So, We formed this little group when Auran announced the Trainz Partner program. I knew Russ lived someplace in Canada outside Toronto, but I had no idea where Jack S lives until we started answering these questions, and I still don't know where Justin lives. On this type of Internet based project, it really doesn't matter where the group members live.
Have you produced any content for any previous version of Trainz
JFE: I actually created a recognizable monorail cab and moved it around on a simple beamway directly within the first beta test release of the Auran Jet game engine with my own C++ gaming code. I've continued to rebuild the Monorail Project since then starting with the first Community Edition of Trainz, and continuing through every edition Auran has created since then.
The current Monorail Project is the fourth complete version of this content, and may be the largest single add-on package (not counting entire group environments like TorontoTrainz) ever created for Trainz. The current package includes four different colors of the Walt Disney World MK VI monorails with fully detailed interiors, a large variety of beams to use in the beamway (the elevated track), animated junctions that swing 80 foot long concrete beams back and forth for switching, cab and car "cab" views for riding inside the trains, single and double platform stations with full passenger support, single and double beam tunnels, and an example layout that uses all this content plus a series of animated waterfalls, one of which the trains travel behind (this is Disney content, after all).
Jack S.: I think my best creation so far has been the Greyhound Bus I made for the Virtua layout for Toronto Trainz. I made a rotary snow plow with animated blades and simulated snow blowing out the top. I guess some other favourites would be the trolley car and elevated railway system I recreated from the game Mafia for UTC.
Russ: I have developed some monorail simulations but most of my energy for the Engineer's Edition project has been leading another Canadian team, which I will speak to in another interview.
Justin: Nope. I had never heard of Trainz until Jack Emmerichs contacted me about this project! I'm amazed by the passion and scope of the Trainz community and might get more involved in the future.
What kind of content are you working on
JFE: The largest single new item is a detailed model of the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort tower, including a full interior with, the central murals, the restaurants, stores, and other features of the main concourse, open visibility through the enormous end windows and skylights, and of course the functioning monorail station on the fifth floor with the express line running right past it through the center of the building.
This version of Trainz will also allow for much easier-to-build animated junctions with better functionality than the current TRS2004 junctions have.
The project will also provide trains in all 12 colors used by the Disney system; drivable cabs using the original digital driver console; nightmode lighting for the stations, the train interiors, and the resort interior; better monorail-specific sound; and a number of smaller details that require some scripting we haven't had time to complete before, or were not available before.
Where can a Trainz User go to check out your work "Do you have a website, or will you be getting one"
JFE: The new TRS2006 compatible Monorail project will be available from the Download Station in the coming weeks, and more information will be appearing here in the lead up to release.
The current version of the Trainz Monorail Project is available for free download today at:
Example screenshots can be expanded from the thumbnails on the Media tab of this site. There's a fair amount to download, so be patient. The release notes contain lots of information, and would be a good place to start. I've kept the project off of any commercial sites, like Auran's Download Station, to insure that my use of Disney's copyrighted designs is not seen as a commercial effort.
I'd like to have a web site, but haven't had time to set one up yet.
Jack S.: You can see my work in the current TorontoTrainz project.
Russ: You can see a website that I've been working on focussing on the Canadian Trainz scene at www.trha.ca
So, who are the members of your group "What skills do they bringing to the group"
JFE: A bit of everything, I suppose, but so far mostly for my own enjoyment. This project has given me a chance to upgrade the quality of much of the content, and to rely on skills the other team members have that I haven't gotten around to yet.
Jack S.: I have been involved with Trainz since the retail version became available in the states. My primary interest is building things. I use the program more for testing my creations, although I do take time now and again to enjoy a layout someone has created. I have used Gmax for about two years now and am still learning things. I have built just about every different type of item that can be made for Trainz. You can check out the Virtua Layout by Toronto Trainz to get look at some of my creations or you can go to the download station to see everything.
Russ: I am a general systems engineer by profession and a passionate enthusiast for everything to do with railways. While I am a trained 3D Modeller and Animator, I have not practiced this professionally but I hope in the near future to move more into retirement mode and start producing for the Trainz community!
Justin: I've been a monorail enthusiast for most of my life and have spent many hours studying the prototypes this project aims to model. I don't know if I'd consider myself a rivet counter, but I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what the monorails should look like!
Do any of the members of the group have some actual train driving experience
JFE: Not I, I've just ridden on them.
Jack S.: Not I either.
Russ: One of my passions is the building and operating of live steam locomotives. My latest engine is featured in my signature photo on the forums. These are faithful replicas of the real ones and require exactly the same knowledge and skill sets to operate. So the answer is that I do have actual train driving experience.
Justin: I was a Walt Disney World monorail pilot during my time with the WDW College Program back in 2000.
Why did you decide on making this content "Does the group have a particular interest in it"
JFE: I grew up in Southern California spending a lot if time in Disneyland, and I always loved the monorail system. I wanted to build a running version for decades, but I never had the skills or the room until 3-D environments became common in computer games. That's why I started with Auran's Jet engine.
I switched to the Walt Disney World monorails because they were designed and built as a true passenger transportation system, not just an amusement park ride. They have become one of the most heavily travelled and most reliable rapid transit systems in the world.
Justin: I do indeed have an interest in monorail technology and I find it fascinating that it has so much potential yet it is rarely taken seriously as a mass transportation option. In addition to WDW, I also had the opportunity to experience several monorail systems while in Japan and I hope to visit Disneyland and Seattle in the near future.
What is a current item of third-party content (not created by your current group) that you think is an example of high quality
JFE: I've always liked Prowler's engines, and some of the narrow gauge was really nice back in the days when Trains didn't support narrow gauge (just like it didn't support monorails). I also liked the light rail models by Tolaris, who helped me get started with the monorail beamway.
Jack S.: I like Cowboy's locomotives.
Russ: It is hard to answer this question as there is so much high quality work out there from many different perspectives. Going beyond the work of those I closely associate with, there is the high degree of innovation in the Toronto Trainz suite of routes. There is the magnificent splendour of SirGibby's Murchison Logging route and the Modula City 2000 route by Cab. There are many, many great engines and rolling stock. But I always remember being blown away by the atmosphere of the interiors of the Acela passenger cars by Tolaris.
Justin: Ken Kinoshita's Japanese trains are absolutely gorgeous. I wish he would create more of them.
What is your favourite Railroad / Loco / Train / Model Scale
JFE: I've always liked HO, and had an HO layout for awhile, but I didn't really have the room for it. Virtually unlimited room is one of the great things about Trainz.
Jack S.: My favourite scale is N. I have built three single car garage size layouts. I like N scale as you can run longer trains in less space. The drawback to N scale is as I get older it is getting harder to see the detail on the smaller trains and scenery.
Russ: In the physical modelling world I have gravitated to the miniature railway scales of 7" gauge and G scale. My real love is 2 foot gauge railways and especially those in Maine. Therefore my modelling will work out to be 7/8' to the foot using G scale track and 3.5' to the foot using 7" gauge track.
Justin: I used to be an HO fan simply because the kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to detail. Lately I've been interested in N gage because it is the most popular scale in Japan and many Japanese trains are only available in N.
Do you have any amusing Train stories to tell
JFE: No, but if you search for [Disney monorail "how do you make it go"], you will eventually find a FAQ written by an ex monorail driver that contains some really good stories. The last copy of it I found was located at:
What is your favourite "THING" about TRS2006
JFE: As a developer and professional computer code jockey, I like the scripting in small bits for individual items in the game which has made so many things possible that were not in the previous versions. That, and being able to construct realistic 3-D models in GMAX and then see them run in Trainz is really fun.
Jack S.: Interactive industries and passenger support.
Russ: I love the openness of the system. I love the creativity bursting out in all directions as a result. I love the commercial grade manuals that appeared in TRS2004 for the first time but then I am biased as I proudly co-wrote them with Cafe of Auran to fill what we felt was a crying need.
Justin: TRS2004 is a surprisingly flexible product. I've seen boats, automobiles, planes, and well' even monorails!
What is your gaming history MSTS, Transport or Railroad Tycoon, RPG's, RTS's.
JFE: Well, I started with the all text games like ZORK and Enchanter from Infocom many years ago, and I've played (or are about to play) every one of the Myst and Tomb Raider games. I just finished Far Cry, am currently working on the original Half-Life, and have Half-Life 2 waiting in the wings. I also think that Civilization II is probably one of the greatest games ever created, and am looking to future games in that line coming out this year.
Jack S.: Besides the old Atari games, I started out with a Commodore 64 and played just about everything I could get my hands on, I even typed in the code from the magazines for the Commodore. I got my first PC through a computer correspondence course and learned DOS 5. My favourite games are first person shooters like Half Life. I have always been interested in trains, so when MSTS came out I rushed out and bought it. Driving the routes and doing the activities kept me busy for awhile, but I wanted to build the routes and never could figure out how to use their route builder. When Trainz came along my prayers were answered in an easy to use route builder. I have been going strong ever since.
Russ: My gaming history started out with buying a Colecovision in the 1970's and was very erratic after that. I didn't get passionately involved until I discovered MSTS and then, frustrated by how difficult it was to build anything in MSTS, found Trainz V1.0 three years ago and never looked back.
Justin: I'm a huge fan of sim-type games, especially SimCity 2000 and ArtDink's A-Train series. I also enjoy Railroad Tycoon II and Civilization III, primarily for their online play.
Like many others, I had high hopes for MSTS but was ultimately disappointed by its difficulties and limitations. Even so, I was heartbroken when I heard MSTS2 was cancelled but I don't mind so much now that I've discovered Trainz.
Do any of the members have any previous experience making games (excluding making content for Trainz)
JFE: No, this is the first time any of us have created content for a computer game.
Do you have anyone special that you would like to thank
JFE: I'd like to thank Greg Lane, who has been very supportive of the monorail development, even though I keep doing things Auran never had in mind when they created Trainz. Without Greg and his idea for building this simulator, none of us would be doing any of this, which would really be too bad.
Jack S.: I'll second that.
Russ: I would like to thank whichever of the founders of Trainz it was that decided to build the advanced "community management system" for nurturing the growth of Trainz. Beyond the founders, that means my also thanking Henk Plaggemars for his efforts in personally growing the world-wide Trainz community as the Trainz on the Road Coordinator and, of course, John Banks, who as it turned out, had a passion for community building and is completing a Ph.D. Thesis on the superb online interactive TRAINZ community building story.
Trainz Monorail Project