Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Reason They Call It Fishin', Not Catchin'.

"You think this is real? Like any computer program, the rules can be bent, even broken." - Morpheus

 Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's been eight weeks since we submitted the GP40 package for Beta testing. Of course, Murphy has taken his part, and the Beta Tester had a six week delay before even taking a look at the model. Oh well, stuff happens. We used the downtime to work on the next project locomotive. But once the outside review did commence, it opened the floodgates of busy. So many recommendations and changes were made that it has kept us busy twenty-four-seven trying to keep up. There were a few things that were actually broken, but most of the recommendations had to do with improving what was already present. And that involved pushing the game to it's limits and beyond.

 As the "Building a Locomotive" tutorial has shown, anyone can make a box, paint it with some color, make a Blueprint for it, and make it go down the tracks (or actually make the tracks move under it) in the game. But, to really make it a realistic experience, you have to go the extra mile and use every resource that the game makes available to developers. The Blueprint provides the basic "make-it-go" controls. But the LUA script is where you add the things that take the locomotive to the next level. PapaXpress has done more than a thousand lines of code, and probably as many hours, to tie in all of those pretty switches, controls, and levers. In at least one case though, making the locomotive run as it does in real life has exposed the limits of the game. All-in-all though, anyone who says the TS 2014 cannot be made to simulate railroad operations is talking nonsense and probably repeating what they have heard from others. And from what we have learned, it's going to be even more capable in the future.

 So what is going on now? More testing. We submit, fix, submit, and then fix. We may not be affiliated with Dovetail Games, but we are trying our best to stay within their expectations of what an in-house DLC would be. One major change is that the package has been broken up, and the primary focus will be on the CSX paint schemes. All locomotives that we have shown on the CSX page will be released, but they will be done as separate entities. Don't worry about your wallets though, as they will not cost any more separately than they would have as a whole.

 So what would be the reason for breaking up the package? One of the problems that has been encountered in past testing is that


 Duh. And the problem that stems from


 ,and this came hard to believe at first, was that players don't realize that there are more locomotives in the pack than just the ones featured in the scenarios. So when you ask a tester what they thought of the CSX YN3 locomotive, you get the goofy answer, "What? I didn't know that was in the pack".

 Another change is support for game pad controllers. Let it be known that I personally DO NOT agree that anyone should play TS 2014 with a game pad controller. I don't even think that type of controller should be supported in a railroad simulation game. The prototype railroads do have remote switching locomotives, even SD40's, that can be controlled from the ground.  But their controls are nothing like a game pad, so I don't care anything for it. It has been shown in testing though that to appeal to the broadest audience, if we are going to make the simulation enthusiast happy, then we need to make the kid-in-the-living-room-who-just-wants-to-see-it-crash happy too. Bleh.

 Some of the other issues that we have addressed include a few minor control issues across all platforms (keyboard, HUD, cab camera, game pad), rain effects (oops, the Alpha Channels were backwards), and  shadowing.  The really big one that you asked for (and has caused a lot of angst) is also present now - the easy start up key command for those days when you want to be an Expert but just don't feel like playing a real train simulator.

 So in summary, despite all of the constant work going into it, the pack is still not ready. But, the more we work, the closer it gets. This may turn out to be the longest build ever for a simulated locomotive; twenty-one months and counting. But as has been said before, when we are satisfied, you will be satisfied. And in keeping with Blog tradition, let's us throw you another photo to whet (yes it's a real spelling, look it up!) your appetite until next time!

The Newb pulls auto racks on the Atlanta North District route.


  1. Replies
    1. It's a small technical glitch, nothing more. It will be back in the next couple of days.