Train Sim World 3

Train Sim World 3 - How We Made The Announcement Stream

Hello everyone, Alex here!
Let's talk about how we created our announcement event for TSW3 which premiered a couple months ago, sharing fun moments from the process and celebrating the excitement from one of the best release events we’ve managed to run at Dovetail – all thanks to the incredible team who helped make this possible!

TL: DR

- This was our biggest, most watched stream ever!
- We understand more about how we deliver teasers and the preparation needed to create memorable and exciting moments.
- You can expect us to create bigger and more engaging reveal events in the future.

The Planning Stage

We began the project by hosting brainstorm sessions with members of the announce team, and it was during these sessions we hatched the idea of a "live railcam livestream" using inspiration from real live footage railcam videos and from there the fun began – we created some initial sketches and 3D mocks ups to help visualise the plan.
Testing the idea in 3D: (Loco model used is purely an example model)
We talked about the possibility of even using multiple different cameras and switching between the scenes which would be set in the three core routes for TSW3: Southeastern High Speed, Kassel-Wurzburg and Cajon Pass.
But we were running into a problem already: Scope.
With 6 weeks to go from an idea to the final result, we changed from our original plan to build a 3D in-game scene to a video-based approach. This would focus on a single camera and an approaching train coming forwards, featuring a cycling day and weather system while the train approaches, designed to emulate the Dynamic Weather we were bringing in TSW3.
This is then where the team worked closely to build a presentation of the announce with a full social plan for the day, an ‘event’ happening on every hour of the stream and further mock-ups for how our socials could dynamically change. We wanted to reveal just a little bit at a time to keep the hype train (yes, it is a real train) rolling.

Creation

With our plan set and ready, this is where the brilliant minds at our Creative team got working and made the entire event possible. Not only did we have plenty of requests to put on the creative calendar, but the team was already extremely busy with the other videos, graphics and artwork needed for the announcement and launch outside of the stream!
Another problem was that we couldn’t just create a single 24-hour long video, because even 5-hour video segments were taking over 14 hours to render and turned out to be 27 GB in size!
To solve this issue, we decided to create 1 hour video loops for each of the five different stages of the weather, Sun, Cloud, Rain, Storm and Snow, and then during the livestream we would just loop the clips until we needed to switch them over.
But this switch would have to be a manual process. As a result, we had to extend the Cloud weather stage to better accommodate for someone having to push the scene switch themselves.
The team also got to work on creating the fun billboard teasers:
Including the most popular one:
and of course, you can't truly enjoy a project without having fun with it too - here are Elliot and Ben’s renditions of the unofficial Sixth and Seventh weather stages.
What’s up with the camera static?
We originally had the trains constantly looping around the track. It occurred to us at this point that breaking the reveal of the trains isn’t the intent of the stream as it is just to act as a spoiler until the trailer. However, re-rendering out those videos would take too much time so we used the camera cutting out to just about cover the trains that were passing by, and also act as an audio tease!
Oh, and did any of you manage to spot this subtle hint a few days before the teasers?

...And We’re Live!

And suddenly, all our work from the last month was being shared, and it was such a huge moment! The initial reactions were great to watch, you had some initial confusion and intrigue mixing in between comments of excitement, quickly pointing out features of the scene to discover new hints of what was coming.
Even through all the extensive planning we made on the project, sometimes you can’t quite catch all the problems until they’re right in front of you. But this is a great learning point, and from it we understand more about how we deliver teasers, which can help create more exciting future announcements.

The Teasers

For anyone who either missed the stream or didn’t catch all our emoji teasers, here’s the full list we showcased during the event and their hidden meanings:
ICE 1: 🧊 🧊 👶 = ICE + ICE + Baby
Barstow: 🍫🍫🦶 = Bars + Toe
Dartford: 🌑🚗 = Dark + Ford
Faversham: 🇫🇴🆚🥩 = Faroe (Island Flag) + Vs + Ham
San Bernardino: ⏳🔥➕🦖 = Sand + Burn + Add + Dino
Catenary Flashes: 🐈🔞🌬️+📸📸 = Cat + Teen + Airy + Flashes
Kassel – Wurzburg: 🏰 🆚🧊 = Castle + Vs + Berg
Volumetric Atmosphere: 🔊 🛹 ⚛️ 🌐 = Volume + Trick + Atom + Sphere
We also had to include the beloved “Freddy” mascot turtle!

The Final Moments

The snowstorm finally arrived, and the ICE began to gradually make closer approaches. This was easily one of the most hype parts of the entire event, so many messages of excitement about the ICE being revealed and the snow features, which were heavily speculated up till this point.

Statistics

Check out this incredible graphic that summarises some key stats from the announcement:
This event had the most watch time and engagement of any live event we’re ever run, with over 409 days of total watch time and a staggering 45,000+ messages across social media!

Summary

This was such a fantastic project to work on, and through this whole process we were always balancing Time, Scope, and Impact making sure what we were planning was feasible to create before the deadline, but that it also was a meaningful end experience. Everyone working on it poured in endless passion to make this so brilliant - and it was also my chance to really get involved at Dovetail and help be a part of something new that we’ve never done before.
With the success and learnings of this announcement, you can expect us to create bigger and better reveals in the future. Thank you to everyone who joined us on the journey, to all who burned the midnight oil watching the event and for the fantastic people who helped make this a reality!
From a sketch to the final result:
Train Sim World 3
14 Oct
Train Sim World 3 - How We Made The Announcement Stream