August 18, 2009 | Comments Off on Trainz “Lifetime” First Class Ticket

A First Class Ticket for Trainz allows us to skip bandwidth restrictions and download items quicker. I was surprised to see them offering a life time subscription for $82.50. That’s a lot of change! Their yearly subscription rate is $19.99 and for the lifetime subscription to be worthwhile, the Trainz brand should be viable for 4 more years. In the gaming/simulator world, 4 years is a long time. One does not know what will happen to Trainz in the next 4 years. $82.50 is a pretty steep commitment!

Their 3-month to 1-year subscription range from $9.95 to $19.99. My take on this is that you could save a lot by taking a 3 month subscription and downloading all items/routes you like. Save the downloaded content or burn it into a CD or DVD. You can do this once a year and thus save some money while getting all the items/routes you’d like.

Related: I have grumbled about the pricing before in First Class Ticket pricing Woes

April 27, 2009 | Comments Off on Rail Simulator 2: Railworks

More details about the upcoming Rail Simulator 2: Railworks have been released. It will have 3 fictional routes covering the UK, Europe and USA. This will be in addition to the existing Oxford Paddington, Bath Templecombe, Cajon Pass, York Newcastle and Hagen Siegen routes. The total number of locomotives will be 13 and will have the new US class F7, UK Class 37 and German class V200.

Personally, i like the graphics and sound of the current version, which i own, but creating routes in them is not as intuitive as in Trainz. I shall wait for more details about the routes and technical changes.

Additional: Some screens from the upcoming version.

April 22, 2009 | Comments Off on Railway Modelling in India

Image: Bombay, Baroda & Central
Growing up in India, I did not have many choices regarding model railway manufactures. You had to have someone living abroad who could bring it as a gift for you or you could pay the high customs fees and have it imported.

The only Indian manufacturer in the 1980’s was “Crown Railways”. There did not have a lot of products. I eventually got all their stock. My inventory consisted of a 0-4-0 tank loco, some passenger wagons and a couple of freight wagons They even had a imported SD35 Union Pacific loco which i had to get. The quality of their products left much to be desired, but it was cheap and at that time they were my prized possessions.

The other options available to Indian modelers was to scratchbuild everything yourself. The Barfi Light Railway (4mm) captures the Indian scene very effectively. The Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railways is another well done O gauge layout and they have some HO scale Indian locos for sale that were modified from a Fleischmann locomotive. The GEMME Group also scratch build their rolling stock for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Oe) layout.

Presently, in India there are still no ready-to-run manufacturers for Indian models. (if i am wrong let me know) but since the import restrictions are relaxed nowadays, some companies, like Mukund Toys have started to bring in products like Bachmann, Liliput and Woodland Scenics.

The younger generation needs to be inspired to get into the hobby before they create a demand for Indian models. Dr. Ravi Joshi in Pune, India has started MiniRailways, a HO layout using european manufactures. He does have plans to create a Mini-India involving scenes depicting Indian landscape. Their hobby store let you buy models from Fleischmann, Roco & Hornby.

In the virtual world (MSTS/Trainz) there have been more choices. Ronald Kappel has created a lot of models for MSTS.

For Trainz, anand99 has created some passenger coaches that you can download from the DLS (search for them by user name: anand99) Another great Indian route for Trainz is the Darjeeling route (free but registration required)

It will take time before railway modeling as a hobby catches on in India but at least things are pointing in the right direction.

April 20, 2009 | Comments Off on Simutrans for iPhone/iTouch

Simutrans is a open source transport tycoon game similar to Transport Tycoon Deluxe. You will be able to transport your goods, develop cities, and become the wealthiest tycoon out there using trains, tracks, trucks, and roads.

The developers have brought this over to the iPhone/iTouch platform and is available for free at iTunes (direct link) This game is still under development so i am not trying to do a review just yet. Only thing i noticed is to move around the map you have to use your two fingers and swipe across the screen. I found this to be very sensitive and i kept going off to the edges rather quickly.

Simutrans is also available for the PC/Linux and the MacOS X if you prefer managing your empire on a bigger resolution.

March 31, 2009 | Comments Off on OpenBVE trainsim now available

openBVE which was being developed as a replacement for mackoy’s BVE Trainsim was released (version 1.0) this weekend.

Though the BVE graphics looked dated, (when compared to Trainz or Rail Simulator) I always liked BVE because of the wholesome experience you get when driving a train in this simulator. openBVE betters the BVE experience and features, by providing the option of external camera tracking views. It has animated objects include the headlights, pantograph and doors. Since its Open Source, openBVE is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. In the windows environment it takes advantage of OpenGL.

If you are a BVE fan or want to try out a great simulation, head over to the downloads page. The downloads requires external components so please read the installation guide. I had missed the copying the DLL’s part.

NOTE: The downloads page and the installation guide links seem to be down for now.

The routes and trains are not included in the install but you could download the routes and beta version of the trains from Railsim Routes UK.

Class 323 from railsimroutes that is still being developed but you could see the new animated car features.

This following clip shows an openBVE route under development. Though some features may not be included in the final version, the potential is there.

March 30, 2009 | 3 Comments »

Building a route in Trainz is as easy or hard as you want it to be. Unlike model railroading where you are held back by space and money, in the virtual world as in Trainz, there are no such restrictions so one tends to go all out. But, soon boredom creeps in and you never get to finish it.

Virtually, you are also restricted by your PC specifications, I have done this many times. I load up on all sort of objects like trees, grasses and structures and when I run trains, the abysmal frame rate makes it unusable. You do have to find a balance and try to hold yourself from overloading the route.

My inspirational trainz route builder is darkdan. I have downloaded all of his routes and they all are a visual treat! Though some of his bigger routes push my old PC to the limits. Here are some screen shots of his creations: (Warning: Links lead to lotsa pictures) B-Project2, NG-Eurpoe1, BG-Europe2, B-Winter, NG-Europe3.

So with the above inspiration and the new version of Trainz, i decided to build and for once, finish a route.

I wanted to keep my route within 3 baseboards. I call this the Boredom-Factor! More than 3 baseboards would mean more structures to place, more ground to texture. I will get bored! I wanted a terminal passenger station/industry siding switching layout. I tried a few layout design but nothing caught my interest until i saw lancashire_fusilier’s Melbourne Layout Rev A. It had everything i wanted, so started to create this using 2 baseboards.

I did finish it this weekend and clicking on the picture below will take you to more screens from the layout. I don’t yet have a good name for the route and i need to add interactive industries. I did learn from some mistakes and found out some good ways to detail without losing frame rate. I will share these with you over the coming weeks.

Click on picture for the route pictures:

March 25, 2009 | Comments Off on Railroad Puzzle – Game for the iPhone/iTouch

Railroad Puzzle is yet another railroad puzzle game for the iPhone/iTouch similar to the Gold Rush. Here, you arrange or slide the track tiles to create a path from one shed to the other.

Sounds simple but there are some challenges. The left-most and right-most track tiles are fixed so you have to connect to them correctly. Each level has a some random tiles that contain an object icon. You have to let your train “collect” them before you go to the exit. If you fail, you get to do that level again.

There also are tunnels that act as portals. If you can arrange them perfectly, you could skip rows and columns of tiles by getting into one tunnel and coming out of the other. Signal tiles will stop your train for 10 seconds. I tried the free practice level and it does get tough as your limited supply of coal also diminishes the longer you drive around.

Sound and graphics are average but the challenge part of the game will hold your interest.

Available(iTunes link) for $0.99 or you can try the Practice Mode for free in their lite version (iTunes link). Check out the developers site for more screens and demo video.

Some Screens:

March 13, 2009 | Comments Off on World of Subways Vol 2: U7 – Berlin

World of Subways Volume 2 brings the U7 Berlin subway and had recently posted a video of this route. The graphics, lighting are simply great. It reminds me of Doom 3. One would almost expect an alien to jump at you from behind the pillars.

March 6, 2009 | Comments Off on Phone booth trouble

Rail staff having trouble in a phone booth in Rail Simulator.

February 5, 2009 | Comments Off on Disused stations in the UK

I came across a good resource for research if you are into UK railroad modeling. Disused Stations in the UK contains an impressive list of abandoned or converted stations in the UK. Modelers will like the detailed info and pictures that accompany each location.

Each station has an OS Grid Ref that points you to the exact location on the Streetmap UK site, a expansive history about the station, black and white photos of its heyday and then its sad demise into a house or just rubble.

The site provides a valuable tool for the area and structure modelers with its list of 1148 (currently) stations.

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