Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap – 3rd November 2022
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary
A quick summary for those who don’t want to go through the whole article. There are more details on all these points within the Roadmap.
- Birmingham Cross-City announced, coming November 15th
- Check out below for an exclusive first-look at the BR Class 323!
- A new Dovetail Games US route has been added to the Roadmap
- A new Train Sim Germany route has been added to the Roadmap
- New Journeys Add-on released for all players
- First Save Game update released – significant improvement on ‘Red Lights on resuming’ and Dispatcher issues
- First derailment issues update has been released, with more being worked on
- Deep-dive on Auto-testing and its application within our overall testing process
- Batch of Performance improvements coming in the next game update
- The BR Class 20 is coming to Livery Designer!
- Union Workshop join the Partner Programme, bringing their wealth of East Asian rail expertise to Train Sim World
- Train Sim World 3 is now available in the boxed edition on GAME and Amazon
- Roadmap Live Stream tonight (Thursday 3rd), at 20:00 UTC
Welcome to November’s Roadmap! The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping – but we have a warm blanket of an update for you to wrap yourselves in. As well as adding a new first-party American route, and TSG’s first route for Train Sim World, there’s a whole host of new content, including:
- a first look at the Birmingham Cross-City’s BR Class 323 in action, plus an interview with a member of the beta community who has helped make it happen
- updates on core improvements
- a new member of the Partner Programme
- a new loco addition to the Livery Designer
- a deep-dive into the possibilities of auto-testing for Train Sim World 3
…there’s a lot to talk about!
Whew! Let’s grab some cocoa, get some logs on the fire, and read on … and, in case you’re in the market for a Christmas present the Railfan in your life, Train Sim World 3 is now available on GAME (UK) and Amazon (Global) – search ‘Train Sim World 3’, and your chosen platform. Fill yer stockings.
Birmingham Cross-City – first-look at the BR Class 323
As you’ll hopefully already be aware by this point, Birmingham Cross-City is coming to Train Sim World 3 on November 15th. So, for this Roadmap, we’ve got you a little treat. Say hello to the BR Class 323.
As well as modelling the distinctive look of the 323, we’ve taken great pains to source authentic audio, replicating the iconic sounds of the traction motors engaging and its unique ‘whine’. So, we enlisted the help of one of our beta team who works for West Midlands Trains! We spoke to Daisy to find out more about how she’s helped us with the Cross-City route, and how (with her unwavering help!), we’ve sourced reference and sounds for the 323:
What is your job title?
I've been a Train Guard (Senior Conductor) for West Midlands trains (Formerly London Midland) for 7+ years, and my job involves opening and closing the train doors at stations, checking that the train is safe to depart, dealing with the safe running of the train and the safety of passengers. I also check/sell tickets and make announcements.
What is your history with Train Simulator and Train Sim World?
I've been a Beta Tester since 2013 and subject matter expert, providing Dovetail with reference and information for different routes (photos, video, recordings, examples, general detail), to make sure we try to provide the best and most authentic experience for players.
And by ‘reference’, what kind of things have you been able to help us with in the past?
I started helping out with reference trips back in 2020 when I went out and recorded the Bakerloo line 1972 stock whistle's and One Person Operation alarm. I own similar audio recording equipment to Armstrong Powerhouse who I've helped arrange official access to some of our train-care depots (though I will say I don't like having to write risk assessments).
I also helped get photographs of the Class 465-9 cab which proved rather elusive when I tried to get the reference for the Train Art team.
How have you been able to help the team with Birmingham Cross-City?
I have probably been gathering reference for the route and train for maybe 5 years now (my Dropbox folder amasses nearly 70gb of photos and almost another 20 in audio, video and documentation!), I even walked the canal section between Bournville and five ways 2 or 3 times in each direction (my poor feet!).
With the sounds, they were a bit trickier, the way to get sounds on the move of the traction motors is a closely guarded secret, but I did go to Soho Depot a few times to get picture and video reference along with all the static sounds required, I bought a Victoria sponge cake for my friend and Colleague Cliff (Class 323 Driver) and we spent probably 7 hours getting all the different tiny sounds a class 323 can make, there are a few teensy things I wasn't able to record such as the tiny 'quarter' brake release noises when the regen brake kicks in whilst braking, but that is not possible due to where the valve is and how much wind noise is present. but on the whole Cliff and I managed to capture everything.
(It's worth mentioning, there are 3 fans in the cab, Cab air conditioning, the main cab desk fan which blows around air, the other is a cab recirculation fan to make sure there is constant airflow to prevent condensation on the windows, as traincrew we can only control the desk fan and AC, the recirculation fan is constantly on, we've made it a reasonable volume in game, but as we have to listen to it for up to 5 hours in one sitting we thought we'd let you all enjoy that same pleasure too!
After recording audio from the train, the hard part comes. The Audio team have been messaging me since way before the 323 began modelling, and we've had numerous calls to run through nuances of all the sounds they've been working on from the recording sessions. Trying to make a simulated train is no easy feat, and especially trying to get the audio to match up with something as difficult as the unique sound the 323s are known for. Some (most) of the audio recordings were over an hour long, and trying to narrow down each little bit proved a little challenging at first – so I went through all the files and annotated what was happening at what timestamp, and to help the team further, I made little videos to demonstrate where certain sounds were coming from on the train. Hopefully, what we’ve been able to achieve together will be appreciated!
Soho Depot deserve a big nod due to how much access they gave me, any time I asked for something they gave it, for the train art and setup development teams that has been immensely valuable, another nod should go to two of my other friends and colleagues, who I've been messaging at all hours to double check on performance and what should happen during x scenario etc. Having real driver input alongside the train performance characteristics goes a long way.
Station reference was a tricky task, on my days off from work I walked around every small part of each station filming and taking pictures, 25 stations which took about 30-90 minutes to walk around each took many, many days. One thing is for certain - walking definitely helps with weight loss!
And finally, do you have any shout-outs?
First up, the Train Art and Setup teams - they've been massively receptive to any feedback I've given them and have delivered probably one of the most interactive trains in the simulators so far. There are some bits and pieces which we'll leave you the player to discover through either your own exploration or some scenarios. Next is Station Art - I've been talking to Mark, the lead artist for Cross-City, since the route's inception for TSW, we've been working closely on a lot and he's been working flat-out to try and get the stations looking their best, he's done an amazing job and has a good team supporting.
Track & Signalling - Track and signalling is a very underappreciated part of route development, and these guys have done a stand-up job. All the gradients, superelevation signal sequences are pretty spot-on. We've actually set the route a little into the future, because after December of this year, New Street station’s final signalling upgrade works should be complete, so we've set all of the signals and track speeds to what they will be in a month or so's time.
Timetable and Gameplay – The timetable engineer has listened to feedback and suggestions and taken pretty much every one of them onboard. We're using a late 2019 timetable with the high frequency service the Cross-City line is known for (the reason for the slight mismatch in route and timetable is to make sure you aren't waiting on platforms for 20 minutes for a train to arrive!
The Gameplay team have also been amazingly receptive to my personal experiences at work and have implemented some pretty cool scenarios, there's a lot more to do and see on these scenarios than ones I've personally played in the past.
Finally, A big thank-you to Daisy and the rest of the WMR team, who have been great to work with on building this route and providing as authentic an experience as possible for players.
For those visiting the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition on November 26-27th, we’ll be exhibiting Train Sim World 3, with Birmingham Cross-City playable in all its glory. If you’re coming along, please come and say hi! There will be more information on the route in the coming days – including a timetable and layers article, as well as a We Are Railfans article giving more detail on the history of the Lickey Incline, and don’t forget, you can get a live stream preview next Thursday (10th November). Put it in your diaries!
Train Sim World 3 core improvements
A progress summary on the core improvements the teams are working on. This month, we have updates on Save Game, Add-ons Manager, UI and Settings, Performance, and Derailing.
Save Game update
Earlier this month, we released the first batch of Core improvements for Save Game (i.e. preventing Red Lights on restart of a saved game and allowing services to be completed), and this has had positive feedback from players. Thanks to everyone who has confirmed things are working for you since the update.
We will, as a result, in a future update, be looking to turn Save Game on again as the default option (a toggle will be available if you’d like it to remain off). There is more to be done, and these will be addressed on a case-by-case basis (for example, train set-up remaining exactly the same after a Save Game has been resumed – which will need to be looked for each individual train). When we have more on these, we’ll update you.
If you do experience an issue with Save Game, please report it on this Save Game thread and we’ll use it as the basis for our investigations.
Testing will start on the TSW3 version of Add-ons Manager soon. It has taken longer than we would have wanted, and this is due to a number of factors. The team remain committed to getting it into your hands as soon as we can, as we know PS5 players are playing Add-on Tetris at the moment and aren’t able to get the full experience we want.
In short: the infrastructure for Add-ons Manager can be ported directly from Train Sim World 2’s version of Add-ons Manager (which is why we wanted to make sure we got that out in full first), but there is an extra body of work which will map that to the new TSW3 UI – particularly the new menu screens you see not present within TSW2. That is currently being completed before being sent through to our QA and beta teams to review. We know this has been said a lot, but thank you for your continued patience.
As a side note, as we are using the same infrastructure, all mods that currently work since TSW2’s Add-ons update should work within TSW3’s version of Add-ons Manager.
Over the course of several updates, we’re continuing to refine the User Interface (UI) of TSW3.
As well as some of our longer-term aspirations (saving your ‘sort-by’ settings, using special characters in the search bar when the EN equivalent is used, and changing the colour of the selected option from grey to something more distinct), in the next update there are a series of smaller improvements to help improve your experience.
Keep sending us through your suggestions! And, if you would like to request an accessibility option or particularly struggle with any features of the UI, menu screens, and inputs and outputs – then please let us know on this accessibility options forum and we will take a look on how we can improve them.
We know good performance is a reasonable expectation for you when playing our games, so we will be continuing to look at ways we can improve your experience going forward.
As well as using autotesting to identify where there may be problem areas (see the ‘Auto-testing’ section below for more details) in upcoming content, the Engineering and Special Projects teams are looking at ways we can optimise memory and performance for existing content, too. Here are some areas we’re currently investigating:
- Lights on AI Doppelstock wagons (BR 182, Ruhr-Sieg Nord, Main Spessart Bahn) were causing big frame rate dips – fixed in the next game update
- Certain custom liveries causing frame rate issues – under investigation. If you are experiencing performance issues and have multiple custom liveries enabled, we recommend removing them and adding just one per route as a temporary measure
- Frame rate drops and stutters when first rotating the camera on a new route – improved with next update
- Back-end improvements for locos with complex physics (i.e. Cajon Pass’ ES44C4) – improved with next update
- Stalling when connecting long consists (90+ length combined) – improved with next update
- (Steam only) crashing on exit – fixed with next update
As well as this, we believe that Add-ons Manager will improve performance for those with lots of Add-ons installed (it’s not a game-changer, but it should improve things).
As we continue to improve performance, you’ll find out updates in our Release Notes and future Roadmap articles.
A quick update on a series of distinct derailing issues we could see players experiencing.
Since last month’s Roadmap, we’ve released the first of three potential improvements over the past week – dealing with derailments whilst in motion. We’ve seen positive feedback thus far, which means we can move onto the second and third improvements, which will be longer-term improvements.
These will cover:
- Derailing when sharply braking
- Derailing when coupling (which has also been connected to buffers)
Once we’ve completed these, we’ll check for any further problems, and address those on a case-by-case basis. Like Save Game, we want to provide core updates which we believe will fix most problems, before targeting other improvements.
It’s super-helpful for us as we start to review individual instances (and what might be causing these) for your input. If you’ve experienced an unexpected derailment, please head to our derailment forum thread and let us know – using the prompt we’ve mentioned in the thread title post to provide us with as much information as you can.
Special Projects Team update
Last time on October's Roadmap, we told you about the Preservation Crew team’s move to become the Special Projects team. Here’s a quick summary of what they’re up to, as well as some more Livery Designer news! The team’s focus is to target high-impact and highly-requested improvements for players from our back catalogue, and here are some areas they’ve been looking at recently:
- Peninsular Corridor and Oakville Subdivision timetables – progress has been made on the issues preventing them being simulated. We’re now moving forward again to get those updates ready for release.
- Rebuilding all grade crossings on Peninsular Corridor to resolve reported issues - released
- Fixed medal thresholds on introductions (allowing Gold to be achieved) for… Southeastern High Speed Hauptstrecke München-Augsburg Cane Creek Bakerloo (currently in the build for the next update)
- Minor tweaks to scenery around Cheyenne turntable on Sherman Hill – released
- Achievements not unlocking (DB BR 187, Nahverkehr Dresden, Oakville Subdivision, Spirit of Steam, Horseshoe Curve) – currently investigating
Last month, we also updated you on the progress of the HST going into Livery Designer (quick update: it has passed internal reviews, and the coaches are having the issues raised fixed) – here are some images of the testing so far:
No Matt Peddlesdens were harmed in the making of the pink carriages.
But we also have something else to whet your appetites… The Class 20 is also coming to Livery Designer! Here it is in action.
The Class 20 in Livery Designer (Work In Progress)
Livery Designer functionality has been added, and has similarly passed internal review. You can see the current status in the pictures above. It’s now with our QA team and beta testers. We’ll update you with more in future Roadmaps!
TSW2 Preservation Crew updates
Finally in this section, a quick review on the outstanding TSW2 Preservation Crew updates – we are targeting these in a couple of batches, with the aim for at least one to be out this side of Christmas. As ever, you can find out when they’re live on our Roadmap articles, or by clicking here on our Announcement forums.
Third-Party developer (Partner Programme) update
Last Roadmap, we added Rivet Games’ upcoming route – more details will come in the future around what they’re working on. This Roadmap, we’ve added in Train Sim Germany (TSG)’s first route for Train Sim World! As with Rivet, You can expect more details in due course, but we’re really excited to help bring their content to the game. In other news, initial work with the team at Alan Thomson Simulations (ATS) has been going well. At this stage, they are honing in on what content they’d like to target first, and are getting up to speed with our tools – so we wouldn’t expect to confirm their first project for a long time yet. Finally, some big news! We teased you last week with news that another Partner was joining our ranks, bringing with them another country for players to enjoy – well, we are delighted to announce that Union Workshop, after building a number of exciting East Asian routes for Train Simulator Classic, will be bringing their expertise to TSW3! They have a dedicated team working on TSW3 content, and we’re really excited to see what they can bring to the table.
Last month, we promised you a deeper insight into the world of auto-testing, a new tool we’ve developed to improve our ability to grind through large testing pools (such as 1,000+ services in a route). We’ve asked Matt to put together a summary about what this is, what it will enable us to do, and what impact it’s had on Cross-City, the first route this has been used for. It’s a long read, but hopefully you’ll find it interesting!
Conventional testing involves following a sequence of actions and verifying the desired outcomes along the way and conclusion at the end, such as playing a scenario or service. While this is a straightforward way of testing a product, it starts to become problematic as the number of scenarios, services and locos, plus the complexity of routes and signaling increase. You’re not just testing 5 scenarios; you’re facing testing 1,400 services, saving and resuming them at different points and trying to spawn on foot at different times in the day (with 5 minute increments, that’s up to 144 spawn times to test and make sure they work correctly). Throw in variable weather with variable adhesion on top of all that, mix in seven different platforms with varying sizes and shapes and what you’re left with is a harsh reality that if you’re going to do this all by hand then all you can really do is pick a broad set of representative elements and do your best.
The way to solve this is automated testing. Computers are great at winding their way through big tedious challenges constantly, overnight, all weekend, all month if you need it, constantly doing things until it’s all done. And, if you need it faster, just throw more computing resource at it! When combined with the ‘human’, subjective element of testing, it can prove a great combination.
One area that we have been developing internally for some time now with a dedicated engineer is in this area of automated testing. You can’t just “automatically test the sim” because there’s so many ways to play, different facets that need to be looked at, so one of the challenges has been breaking the problem down to get answers to specific questions or pick specific areas to get visibility of which might then focus the development effort more usefully and efficiently.
So far, we have three different auto testing suites in operation, all very much under constant development because every question answered yields two more questions that need to be considered.
Suite 1: Performance and Memory
We started this journey by wanting to understand the framerate at all the different spawn-on-foot locations. So, the first auto test process spawns in at each location, lets the framerate settle and then captures the FPS, a screenshot and the free memory at that point. It produces a nice graph showing the change in FPS / memory over time as well so we can see if there’s been a sudden loss or gain and the team can use that feedback immediately to understand if a recent change has had a negative impact. As an example, on the Cross City route we had a case where the frame rate suddenly went down a great deal on all platforms and at all spawn points, in some cases as low as 2 frames per second!
The tool meant that in one test session overnight we could see it was not l ocalised to one area, and it was not localized to one platform, it was across everything. The team investigated and found a problem with some materials being used and the next test run after that confirmed all the framerates were back to a reasonable count again. This saved hours, perhaps days of testing that could be used elsewhere.
The autotesting results of the FPS on Cross-City across the spawn points on a PS4.
This also highlights another useful benefit of automatic testing, consistency. Every test, every day, every route, every spawn point and on every platform, is always the same test in the same circumstances, so any change can be fairly ranked against the previous values rather than being stuck in a questionable state where it might be different hardware, or different trains loaded, or different things have been done on the computer prior to the testing etc. This way of testing eliminates all of that uncertainty, greatly speeding up the process of diagnosis.
It is worth noting at this point that, for consistency purposes, these tests are conducted on platforms with no Add-ons installed. This is something we’ll be investigating in future.
Suite 2: Resource Usage
The next challenge that was given to the auto testing engineer was to try and understand what the complexity of the scenes were going to be, how many objects, materials, textures, polygons and so forth were in the various 1km tiles that make up the routes.
This was answered by the automatic production of a series of graphs and tables which show you where the busiest tiles are and graphs the entire route so you can spot any tiles that look too overpopulated. We’ve used this to identify where we can be more efficient with all these types of resource, sharing more materials, finding and removing duplication and so forth. All this helps improve that overall free memory count in the first set of tests too, and more memory that’s free after the route is loaded means more trains can be loaded too.
From Southeastern High Speed – an indication of highly ‘populated’ areas of resources.
Suite 3: Service Mode Overview
The latest auto-tester that we’ve developed is related to service mode timetables. During the development of a service mode timetable the whole thing is run end to end in something called a Timetable Simulator. This runs the timetable many times faster than normal speed, from start to finish and in its entirety. It can take 2-4 hours to run the whole thing, which is infinitely quicker than a human tester individually running those services.
There are two goals from this: on a practical level it saves out all the data needed to allow the timetable to spawn in at any point, putting all the trains in the right place for that moment of time; the second goal is a degree of auto testing in its own right, since it proves that all the trains can complete their tasks and also reports how long trains spend at red lights and so forth. It’s not quite the same as players running a timetable because we all drive differently, but it gives a good indication that the complete timetable should work at least in most cases, regardless of how complex or how many services there are.
Where we’ve seen challenges however is with the growing number of timetables, the growing range of locomotives that can swap in, and the strong desire to still go in and make improvements and fixes to core aspects of the game related to physics and the dispatching systems you can get into a position that you’re facing a 5 minute fix to the dispatcher that requires potentially months of retesting of all timetables to evaluate if there’s been any impact. Sometimes there have been cases where even after extensive testing there have been side effects which badly impacted a timetable but were still not able to be spotted prior to release because it’s simply impossible to retest all those timetables at this point by hand.
Here comes the latest auto-tester, whose sole job is to simply run every single timetable simulation with the latest versions of code and trains over and over, repeatedly. Once it gets to the end of the list of routes, it just starts again.
As you can see in the table, while not all routes are in the tester yet, we can see one has failed its latest run and we're now able to go look at that in the logs and find out why.
This means that we’re able to observe that a timetable somewhere in the game has stopped being able to be completed following a change, usually within 24-48 hours of that change going in, which is unprecedented visibility for the team to see what’s going on and react to it.
We have many challenges for the auto-testing environment, and things are still in their early stages.
One test system we want to implement would not just run the timetable from start to finish but literally play every service from start to finish. Another would drive the route from end to end, recording a graph of FPS and memory to give even more insight into framerates and ram usage throughout the route and how they might be experienced across all the platforms allowing us to find problems and optimize the sim with surgical precision.
These systems take a lot of time to develop, but they are proving their worth and we are set to continue expanding their usage.
The Train Sim World Roadmap
These are forthcoming add-ons that are being developed by Dovetail Games. Where details are still being finalised for a release we are including the ID code for it when possible. This will give you a good idea of what to expect. For Train Sim World 3, we’ve amended these product codes. To see what these ID codes mean you can refer to this ID Code thread.
- NEW! TSW3 – 3.GBB-R7 02 Birmingham Cross-City Line
- TSW3 – 3.DBB-R6 03 DE route
- NEW! TSW3 – 3.NBB-R7 01 - US route
- TSW3 – 3.NBB-L7 01 US loco
These are forthcoming add-ons that are being developed by teams outside Dovetail Games. Where details are still being finalised for a release, we are including the ID code for it when possible. This will give you a good idea of what to expect. To see what these ID codes mean you can refer to this ID Code thread.
- TSW3 3.GBB-R7 03 UK route (developed by Rivet Games)
- NEW! TSW3 3.DGG-R6 01 GERMAN ROUTE – (developed by TSG)
- TSW3 3.DBB-L5 01 DB BR 420 Electric Multiple Unit (Hauptstrecke München-Augsburg) - Developed by TSG
Core features are larger projects. These may be significant new pieces of functionality or changes that will affect players on one or several different platforms. Often requiring more time in development this list may move more slowly than others.
- TSW3 Add-ons Manager (previously PS5 DLC Limit fix)
- TSW3 – Derailing improvements (harsh braking derailments, coupling derailments) – these will be released for TSW2 where possible
- TSW3 Save Game improvements (route-by-route)
- TSW3 Red Light / Dispatcher improvements across multiple routes (starting with Rush Hour routes and Harlem Line)
- TSW3 Performance optimisation
Projects that players will notice but don’t fall into one of the other categories.
- TSW2/TSW3 Rush Hour passenger system for London Commuter
- TSW2/TSW3 Spirit of Steam manual fireman functionality
Projects that are being tackled by the Preservation Crew. Many of these upgrades will simply be adding the latest game functionality to an older route. The additions or changes in the “upgrade” will include some or all of the following: station departure boards, animated crossings, platform climb-up functionality, improved track rendering, Rush Hour passenger density and appearance, support for RailDriver, contact signaller functionality, minor fixes to scenery, minor fixes to audio, minor fixes to gameplay, minor fixes to menu items, Livery Designer compatibility and Scenario Planner expansion. We have included a ‘scale’ of the size of the work/features put into the update.
Note: Preservation Crew updates will continue after the launch of Train Sim World 3
- TSW2/3 HST Livery Designer functionality
- NEW TSW3 Class 20 Livery Designer functionality
- TSW3/3 DB BR 187 Audio improvements
- TSW2 Scottish Commuter
- TSW2 Hauptstrecke Hamburg-Lübeck, including timetable update
- TSW2 Rhein-Ruhr Osten
- TSW2 2022 Bakerloo timetable (600+services)
- TSW2 Long Island Rail Road
- TSW2 Peninsula Corridor – NOTE: there are further improvements to come on both games
- TSW2 Oakville Subdivision
- TSW2 LGV Mediterrannée
Items that have been removed from the Roadmap. This is either because they have been completed, their status having changed or the project having been suspended.
- Released TSW3 – New Journeys
- 2.GCC-L5 02 - Silver 1972 Stock
- 2.NDD-L5 01 - CSX SD40
- 2.DBB-L7 03 - Köln S-Bahn BR 423
- Released TSW3 – Batch 1 of Save Game Improvements
- Released TSW3 – Derailing improvements (whilst in motion)
Please join us tonight on YouTube and Twitch (Thursday, November 3rd), where we’ll discuss the above (and more!) with Matt and JD at 19:00 UTC. If you have any questions, please add them to our Q&A Thread.
You can discuss the contents of this month’s Roadmap on our forums.
Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap – 3rd November 2022