Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap: June 2023
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.
- A Closer Look at Glossop Line
Including digging into an all-new Scenario where you can operate as a Guard, and its timetable
- An Update on the Thameslink Class 700/0
Including timetable information!
- An Update on Trenton Timetable improvements
- Updates from Just Trains on their Unannounced Route
- An Update on Upcoming Patches
Linke Rheinstrecke, Midland Main Line, Bremen-Oldenburg, and Rivet Games content – which are due tomorrow! (Wednesday 7th June)
- Inside Development
How we make Scenarios, with some Scenarios that didn’t make it!
Where has that month gone? May has flown by, and with it, a sizeable Steam core update and the release of Peak Forest: Ambergate – Chinley and Buxton, which has had favourable feedback from you lovely lot.
We’ve also just given away LGV Méditerrannée free for a week, so we hope you were quick and got in there! We saw loads of you jumping in and trying the content, which was exactly what we were hoping. We hope you enjoyed a slice of the French high-speed pie. Bon appetit!
This month, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the upcoming Glossop Line, including details from the timetable and some unique work on the Scenarios. And if that’s not enough, we’ll also have an ‘alternative’ in-depth look at the upcoming Thameslink Class 700/0 (with all-new screenshots!), a further update on the NEC: New York-Trenton timetable, and details on upcoming patches, including one coming tomorrow!
In Partner Programme corner, both Just Trains and Skyhook Games will provide an update on their ongoing projects.
We also have a really interesting ‘Inside Development’ section from our Gameplay team in which we talk about building our Scenarios – including some information about some that never made it out to you!
Finally, as a follow-up from last month’s Roadmap, we’ll be inviting a new cohort of beta testers in the coming weeks (thank you to everyone who has volunteered!).
Ready to go with a new Roadmap? Well, go on then…
Glossop Line – Manchester – Hadfield & Glossop
We expect this fully-complete and self-contained route to release towards the back-end of June, bringing with it the first appearance of Manchester Piccadilly Station, and some really interesting services and scenarios.
If you haven’t already, check out May’s Roadmap for the route map, and some introductory information.
With this route, we’ve tried to get creative with our Scenarios – and the Glossop Line, you can play as a guard!
We spoke to Liam and Cameron, Designers on our Gameplay team, to find out more about it. There is also information about the Glossop timetable below. If you’d like to find out more generally about how we make scenarios (as well as some that didn’t make the cut!), then head to the ‘Inside Development’ section for a deeper look at them!
Tell us more about the Guard scenario – what will the player do?
Liam: "The player will have a variety of guard related tasks in the scenario both on the train and at stations. But the focus is on operating the doors at stations, checking the train is safe to depart and inspecting passenger tickets between stops, something brand new to Train Sim World. When a player interacts with passengers in this scenario, they will be shown the date and the upcoming destinations of the train they are working on along with the passengers' ticket."
"It’s up to the player to compare the information of the passenger's ticket with the current service. The player will be given the option to tell the passenger their ticket is valid or invalid, with an invalid ticket resulting in the passenger be removed from the train at the next stop. The player will earn points by correctly deciding the tickets validity along with completing other guard actions."
Why did we select this route for a scenario involving Guard operations?
Liam: "I chose this route for the guard scenario due to a combination of having a train with guard controls and a route with lots of passenger stops close together. A guard scenario is something I’ve been wanting to add for a while, but it never felt right to do on the previous routes I worked on. I needed a train with a full set of guard controls on a route with passenger stops close enough together that the player would not be spending most of the scenario waiting for the train to reach its next destination."
What tech/content had to be created specifically and uniquely for this scenario?
Liam: "Tech wise, the Class 323 already had the guard controls needed for this so that was a big help as it allowed me to go straight into prototyping the actions of a guard. The new tech needed was a way to interact with the passengers themselves and inspect tickets. Passenger interaction was something I had already worked on before with the creation of the Rail Fans, but they were still for use at stations only."
"I had to create a way for these Rail Fans to board, ride and depart a train along with giving each Rail Fan a train ticket, another new piece of tech. These tickets are randomly generated to match the train service the Rail Fan is riding, with some tickets randomly selecting an invalid travel date or destination to create an invalid ticket for the player to check."
What was the process undertaken to go from idea to execution?
Liam: "It started with being a simple guard scenario made as a proof of concept, where the player would ride the back of a Class 323 and operate the doors for the driver. Once the basics were in, I looked at what else a guard could do, both on the train and at the stations. I was in contact with real guards who operate on 323s who were very helpful with their feedback of what was currently in the scenario along with things that were missing and suggestions on how to make the scenario more accurate to real life."
"Ticket inspection was the obvious thing that was missing from the scenario and was something we would need to make the player feel like an actual guard. The ticket inspection gameplay started as a simple graphic of a good/bad ticket and grew to a sort of minigame where the player would have to compare multiple bits of information to the ticket and decide on its validity. It was at this point we could see the scenario would be fun for players wanting to play as a guard, it was just a matter of polishing up the gameplay and adding some extra tasks to help really flesh out the scenario."
Are there any other interesting scenarios players can look forward to?
Liam: "I think there’s some great scenarios for this route which include some fun new things players haven’t seen before in scenarios, such as burst pipes flooding the tracks and a photo competition where players get a camera to use (more on this one soon!)"
Glossop Line - Timetable information
And a quick summary of what you can expect from the timetable at this stage. Please bear in mind this is still being developed, with more information available in the future.
The timetable for Manchester to Glossop runs the class 323 at 2 trains per hour (2tph). Trains typically run from Manchester to Glossop, then turning back to complete the run to Hadfield.
Timings can be quite tight at stations and especially for both Glossop and Hadfield with just 3 minutes between arriving and departing. These tight timings are what allows the route to just about manage a 2tph frequency. Even with the quick turnaround, the next train for Hadfield must often wait until the train ahead has left Dinting.
There are some intricate details about this route such as signal GB867, which protects Hyde North junction, will always be red until the Manchester-bound train is ready to depart Newton. This also means that the approach signal for Newton, GB861 will never display a green aspect.
Northern run 323s on a few other lines, such as both lines to Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool Lime Street - Manchester Airport.
As for layers, it's a little early to talk about those just yet. But for now, the EMT 158 will be making an appearance at Manchester for their hourly Liverpool Lime Street - Norwich services. It will be mainly AI, but also have one playable service: an ECS in the early hours to Liverpool that runs via Ashburys.
The Glossop Line will be available for a slightly different price than usual: £19.99/$24.99/€24.99.
Thameslink Class 700/0
Work on the Class 700 continues in earnest, and we have some more screenshots for you – as well as bringing our resident Class 700 enthusiast, James, in to give a slightly – alternative – update on what you can expect.
James’ Unhinged Update on the Class 700
You want me to talk about the Class 700? Now? Well, how long have you got…? Alright strap in!
The teams have been busy working on all aspects of the Class 700, slowly bringing it together into a fantastic EMU which I can’t wait for all of you to experience! While we’re still quite far off from release, I thought I would share some of our latest progress, my favourite details, plus some other fun bits.
For the first time, behold the interior! All the final furniture has gone in place throughout the unit, including the First Class tables and the infamous Ironing Board standard class, it’s all there raring to be used by Medway’s… finest locals. And of course, we cannot look at the interior without admiring the modern PIS screens – not every single screen has been implemented, but destination, calling points and next stop schematics are a treat to behold! With each coach being an open-ended gangway, you can experience the hypnotic sensation of watching the train go round corners and S bends – it almost makes you want to do a silly walk down the whole length of the train!
In the cab, the screens are coming to life, and there’s some interactivity included which is fun to play around with. Brightness, Day and Night mode, cab air-con and even regen braking are all options which can be toggled. Modern trains are state-of-the-art in every right, and the Class 700 can even talk to you! Enjoy in-depth conversations where every response is “Driver, you have reset the DRA, please check the signal” – you’ll understand what it means eventually. It’s like Groot, sort of.
Yes, before a riot kicks off in declassified first class, we have included both DC and AC functionality! While we don’t have the northern end of the Thameslink network in TSW, so long as you’re happy to heinously place the 700 on other routes, you can experience the different motor sounds and physics, and we won’t judge wherever you place it… Honest!
Speaking of placing things: Daisy, who you might remember from our Birmingham Cross-City content and live stream, one of our testers and trainee Editor users, has flexed her creative muscles, and – working with the team – has had all the Thameslink-specific stopping boards made to be placed into the Southeastern Highspeed route! Due to the way the timetable already works, whether the “stop at” locations match these is not guaranteed, but her main goal is to make each station between Dartford and Rainham look more appropriate for the arrival of the 700. If you’re wondering what each of the boards mean, never fear, I’ve got you covered!
- RLU – this is the stopping board for the Reduced Length Unit (the 8-car 700/0 we’re making)
- FLU – this is the stopping board for the Full Length Unit (the 12-car 700/1, while this isn’t included, and FLU’s don’t run the Rainham service, the boards are still present throughout Medway in reality for futureproofing)
- ALL – this is the stopping point for any Class 700 regardless of length
- SDO – any of the above with “SDO” surrounding its border signifies “selective door opening”, i.e. you are supposed to stop here but some coaches will be hanging off the platform (a bit like JD’s driving)
- T – this stands for the totem pole-like shrine you see below, no I’m kidding, a T board is a Turnback board, this is the stopping point when the driver needs to change ends, it ensures, for example, that when they move to the other cab, they can still have sight of the starting signal
Drifting over nicely to the next topic, the TIMETABLE!
The Class 700 will add a little over 80 services to Southeastern Highspeed, filling out the half-hourly, all-stops service between Rainham and Dartford. This brings a regular service to Higham, which currently only has Southeastern services in the rush hour, and also means Rainham P0 will be used throughout the day. There are also naturally some morning and night ECS moves, enjoy running the 700 without having to worry about Kentish troublemakers.
Now… the keen modders among you have already been sneaky and found all the Class 700’s services, but joke’s on you, we knew (and secretly hoped) you would find them, but what you won’t find is everything else we’ve added recently:
One new addition because people (also known as, me) kept asking for them is a few diesel railtours, nicely complementing the already existing Jubilee tours. Once again, these are seasonal additions to the timetable, you’ll only see them as AI during select months, but we’ve put a few different ones in loosely based on real-world reference:
The Class 47 is back with a pair of services which mimic the long-lost cross-country services which used serve the Kent Coast, giving you 1O99 and 1S87 to run along the Chatham Main Line in the summer months. In TSW2 these similar services started at Gravesend, however given the addition of Dartford and how busy it is, squeezing anything else in there was going to make Joe cry, so it now joins the route at Rochester.
And then I made him cry anyway with the next addition. Being a Southern Region fan, I was always going to be a bit miffed if the Crompton didn’t make an appearance – thankfully my pleas were heard, and now we have a couple of Class 33 excursions, yay! The Kentish Crompton and The Medway Valley Crompton are a 6-parter and 2-parter respectively, combined they cover pretty much everything (well, not HS1 obviously, but wouldn’t that be awesome?! Railtour planners get on this please!)
Some additional tweaks and AI services have also gone in, most notably, we’ve adjusted how the Forward/Reverse Class 465 turnback procedures work at Strood in the morning and evening rush to be more prototypical. At my most eager request, a winter seasonal AI service now appears at Strood, inspired by last year’s Medway Valley Pullman railtour. There is also a seasonal static train going in, we’re not telling you where, when, what stock, you’ll just have to wait and see...
The final note on the timetable for now; engineering works at Belle Isle Junction are coming to an end, so with the 66’s out of the way we’ve put in ALL THE ECML THAMESLINK AI
Lastly, because I don’t have all day, Scenario fans rejoice as the gameplay team have gone to town, and back! A bumper collection of 7 scenarios are to be included, yes that’s right, 7 scenarios, mega Desiro City action awaits, including some pretty funky situations...
We’ll bring more details, including how the stations look with their new signs, in due course.
As a final note – as this has not been tested yet, the above is subject to change, and whilst we’ll endeavour to ensure these additions are available for all players, we’ll let players know if some timetable additions will be Gen9-only.
Work is continuing on the German loco – we’ll update further when we have more information!
NEC: New York – Trenton: Updated timetable
In last month’s Roadmap, we talked about the work being undertaken on our newest U.S. route to improve its timetable. And we have another update for you this month, courtesy of our very own Joe.
Progress on the NYT is going well! But first, let's recap. At release we had:
- The full Amtrak timetable, including again services we do not have correct coaches for.
- Acela trains will stop at Trenton for the sake of these being playable. Otherwise more than half would just be between NY Penn and Newark. These also included virtual destinations to many places beyond Trenton & NY Penn, as well as named trains displayed in the PIS.
- For NJT we had ~120 services, not the full timetable and most of which were led by the ML cab car. This was a mix, but not all, of trains 31XX, 32XX, 35XX, 37XX, 38XX, 39XX and 6XXX. All the deadheads do Sunnyside Yard (SSY) were playable, including any of 6XXX, which gave it quite an imbalance between actual passenger services and SSY deadheads.
Progress as of May 2023 roadmap:
- Full Amtrak and Acela as with release. These services may be slightly different now with more delays etc due to the increased NJT traffic.
- Full Electric NJT timetable (see below) is now complete with a few late trains that are being fixed/simulated as I type this.
- Does not include: Arrow III Princeton Junction-Princeton AI or diesel equipment out of Newark Penn/Hoboken and no AI traffic at Secaucus Junction.
However, that wasn't all I wanted to with this timetable. I'm sure you know what I'm thinking...
Addressing the imbalance of ALP-46 and ML lead services
One of the main criticisms of the timetable was of course the imbalance of ALP-46 and ML lead services. Many lines that use push-pull trainsets will usually have the loco always on one end. For example, all Hamburg to Lübeck trains have the loco towards Lübeck Hbf. Another example is RE 1 and RE 9 on KAH will have the loco facing away from Aachen Hbf.
That is not quite the case on the Trenton Line due to the Sunnyside Yard loop. Any train entering Sunnyside Yard will go via the loop, which means it will then face the other way. The difficulty here was trying to strike a close enough balance. I was able to get this balance quite close with just a few more for one than the other. Using the diagrams, each formation that leaves through portals will return facing the correct direction relative to how they left the map.
Trains out of Hoboken, however, follow the typical practice of loco always on one specific end. So, anything to/from Hoboken will always have the loco facing away from Hoboken.
Short NJT Secaucus services
Now for the exciting stuff! I have had a couple of suggestions for extra services, AI and playable. One example is the NJT services from NY Penn towards Newark Broad Street (Numbers 6XXX). Some of these were present at release and as of the last Roadmap they were all included. Though they were all AI, I had a suggestion to make those that stop at Secaucus into playable services. This was not the most straightforward thing to change to make, but that was ultimately successful. So, if you wish to drive short 5-10 minute services, those are there now for you.
The last thing I've been looking at is something quite annoying for many players. Sorting out the NJT service descriptions for NJT services from the NJCL. They would typically say "Drive this train from Trenton to NY Penn." Which is a bit misleading. These have now been corrected based on where you pick up the train from, Rahway, Newark Airport and Newark Penn.
Increasing double loco leading chances on Amtrak Northeast Regional Services
Onto other important things...
Some players have noticed that Amtrak Northeast Regional services have a very low chance to have a double loco leading. It was a very low chance and as many seem to like it, I have increased it slightly.
American railroads are arguably best-known for their freight. In fact, the freight on the NEC was quite intriguing for me. It was the first service types I began researching back in November before acquiring passenger timetables. Looking through several videos and forums for reference, I found enough information for 4 freight trains: ME-02, ME-47, ME-84 and OI-32. These trains are run by CSAO, which to my best understanding is a settled agreement between CSX and NS after the old CR lines were too complicated to divide up. Please feel free to look up more about them, it's quite interesting.
CSAO ME-02, having just joined the NEC from Metuchen Yard, will change direction and head for Jersey Avenue
But what does that mean for NYT? CSAO run trains with a mix of CSX and NS equipment, specifically the ex-CR equipment that have extra in cab signalling*. In TSW, these will require SPG for the CSX GP38-2s that operate the trains. Though there is a chance that one or multiple per train could be an NS GP38-2, if you own Horseshoe Curve. Many of the cars pulled by these trains also have a medium chance to substitute into other railroad cars. I've seen, for example, CSX mixed with BNSF and then CN, which is quite like the videos I was using for reference.
It also means that each time you play and see the same train, it will always look different. Slight side effect is that ME-02 may have odd cars added that it would not normally have. ME-02 also does not have the CR caboose because we don't currently have one, which may make the return service quite a challenge.
CSAO ME-84 heads Southwest towards Elizabeth on its journey to Metuchen Yard as the delayed Amtrak 133 heads to Washington
*Slight problem is that we do not have GP38-2 or GP40-2s in TSW with in cab signalling. For this reason, I am still unsure if these can be playable. I will be playing this with and without the HUD to see if the HUD is able to help in any way with the NEC signalling. The problem could be though that you're suddenly faced with a red signal which cab signalling would have been slowing you down for. This is likely beyond my control and would have to be made AI if it's too ridiculous. Playable or not though, I hope you can enjoy these freight services as much as I have!
With all the changes above, I think NYT will look vastly different. Oh, I almost forgot...
Long Island Railroad Layer
Long Island Railroad. The most requested layer of all time, (maybe).
The good news. The LIRR layer. It's in, it works. Better than I thought it would. This layer adds a whopping over 500 LIRR services to NY Penn. Non-peak trains run using the north tunnels exclusively and peak trains will use both north and south tunnels. LIRR trains can be seen at NY Penn as far down as track 13. With LIRR, Amtrak and NJT, NY Penn during peak hours is almost non-stop with many simultaneous arrivals and departures, LIRR especially.
LIRR peak trains also run every 3 minutes in each directly so there is plenty of activity passing SSY now. The Long Island Railroad layer for NYT will require just the LIRR route for the M7 AI. Each formation, 6, 8, 10 & 12 have a 20% chance to substitute into a LIRR M3 (of the same length) if you own the LIRR M3 DLC too! So, to be clear, LIRR route is required for ALL services. The M3 only adds variety.
NY Penn looking a lot busier now.
Now, for some other important news: it won't be 100% accurate. Specifically talking about Westside Yard (WSY). WSY and Penn are extremely close and together have the capacity for 52 formations in the same area. Add that the nearby SSY has up to over 30 tracks, include all the moving trains and you could be looking at up to 90 formations in that area. Performance-wise, you're asking for trouble.
NJT train leaving Sunnyside Yard whilst a Long Island Railroad M7 flies over
Actually, this is how I started making the LIRR layer, before getting it to 9am and realising this would not work. So, WSY will be rather quiet. There are a few trains an hour that go there if they have to switch platforms at Penn, but will not stay for too long. Consider also that WSY won't be all that visible from Penn station itself, and it makes it more trouble than its worth. These would provide a detriment to performance, for content you wouldn’t even see!
For this reason, many of the LIRR trains that would end up in WSY for several hours after the morning rush will instead head back towards Woodside as if they're empty to other yards. This gives a bonus of requiring fewer formations to run this layer therefore, this layer is as efficient on hardware resources as it can be.
A LIRR M7 passes a very busy Sunnyside Yard in the late morning
Well, that's it for now, but there are still plenty of things to be done...
Thanks, Joe! Expect to see more on the updated timetable in the coming weeks as it nears completion for testing. As a final note – as with the Class 700, as this has not been tested yet, the above is subject to change, and whilst we’ll endeavour to ensure these additions are available for all players, we’ll let players know if some timetable additions will be Gen9-only.
Train Sim World 3 core improvements and content patches
A progress summary on the core improvements the teams are working on. This month, we have a quick Add-ons Manager update, HST Livery Designer functionality, Peninsula Corridor Baby Bullet Services, and TSW2 Preservation Crew improvements.
No extra news from last month - we’re still in the process of testing Xbox Add-ons Manager. We’ve been experiencing some crashing issues with the current build, so our Engineering team will be taking another look at it.
Once Xbox is out, we’ll turn our attention to PC platforms.
HST Livery Designer Compatibility
It is going through testing now, and we hope to release later into June, alongside some improvements to Great Western Express.
Peninsula Corridor and Oakville Corridor Baby Bullet services
We have a partial improvement for this issue that needs to be tested – if it passes the testing, we’ll be aiming to release it this month alongside another patch.
TSW2 Preservation Crew releases
Nothing further on this one from last month – the team are in the process of collating the updates into one patch, and when we have more for you we’ll let you know.
Here’s a quick summary of the contents of the patches released in the past month you may have missed.
May 4 – Steam and Loco Add-on Bundle improvements:
May 9 – Spirit of Steam additional Improvements:
Patch - Wednesday 7th June
(full notes will be provided with the update, these are some of the highlights):
- Various graphical route improvements
- Improved snow build-up
- Vehicles correctly stopping at level crossings
- Various red lights improvements
- BR 103 windscreen wipers will now behave correctly
- Headlight improvements for IC Coaches
Note: physics improvements to the BR 103 will come at a later date.
- Signalling improvements
- Improvements to BR 110 door operation
- BR 425, Laaers, and Tagds 959 physics improvements
Midland Main Line
- Timetable expansion
- Added 89 HST services, particularly between Derby-Leicester
- Added 20 Ivanhoe services between Leicester-Nottingham (including 3 freight services*)
- Added ROG service from Derby-Leicester and Class 375 Blue service*
- Re-enabled Toton HL – Leicester Aggregate freight service*
- Updated Class 66 Railtour to use SHE Class 66, rather than RHTT
- Passengers should no longer get stuck in the doorway – and general improvements to passenger behaviour
- Updated Class 158 physics
- Rain and snow will now wipe away when using wipers
- Updated vehicle coupling and logic
- Remodelled bridges across route
- Numerous environment fixes and updates, including station updates and adding new Derby Roundhouse
- Performance optimisation across route
Note: for tomorrow’s patch, Console players will not receive the additional freight services – this is known, and we’re working on a follow-up patch to add these as soon as possible.
Rivet Games content patch
- Various small quality of life updates for Rivet Games content, including:
- BR 204 (added Contact Signaller and walkie-talkie functionality, Rail Driver support, physics improvements, headlights improvements)
- Isle Of Wight: Ryde-Shanklin (including Class 483 improvements, such as animating guard panel buttons improving headlights, and audio improvements)
- Arosalinie (snow effects on GE 4/4 window, added sparks and snow kick-up, updated running, flange, and whistle audio)
- West Cornwall Local (added sparks and snow kick-up to the Class 150,, including Class 37/5 headlights correctly illuminating surroundings)
- Zentralschweiz Luzern-Sursee (improved rain particles on windscreen of RABe 523,
- 1938 Tube Stock (Player and AI headlights improvements, added full Guard Panel functionality, added sparks)
- Adjust volume of safeties in 4F to match those of updated Jubilee and 8F
Patch - Expected later in June:
- Niddertalbahn post-release patch
- HST Livery Designer functionality + GWE improvements
As mentioned above, we’re working on a partial fix for the Peninsula Corridor and Oakville missing Baby Bullet services, as well as TSW2 updates – but these don’t have a confirmed release window yet.
Third-Party developer (Partner Programme) update
Updates from some of our Partner Programme developers. This month, we have an update from Skyhook Games after Midland Main Line’s release, and from the team at Just Trains.
As the post-release Midland Main Line patch comes ever-closer, we’ve chatted to Jane, Skyhook’s Chief Technical Officer, about their progress, and what you can expect from the update.
All of us at Skyhook would really like to express our appreciation and thanks for everyone who has provided feedback for Midland Mainline. We have been delighted with the response to the route and all the enthusiasm in sharing ideas and feedback with us.
The patch/update is now preparing for release and in addition to addressing issues we have also added as many requested features as we were able for our first patch. This includes a wholly revised timetable, with close to twice as many playable services across the MML network! We have also added some freight services for everyone to enjoy – although, please note that, for the time being, these are only available on PC (we’re working on it!).
Additionally, we have added a wide range of bespoke trackside assets to bring our route closer to the real world. This includes everything from custom bridges along the route to iconic buildings such as the Derby Roundhouse and many others. Station buildings have also received updates for enhanced detail and realism, from canopies to platform clutter.
Traction has had a significant update too, with improvements with both the HST and the Class 158. The Class 158 is already becoming a firm favourite with the community, so we have put in significant effort with professional engineers and drivers to add further to the realism. Overall, there have been over 40 additions and tweaks to the Class 158 bringing exacting standards to the simulation.
In addition to new content and features, we have addressed over 100 reported issues, from signalling, to timetable and traction fixes, with the team spending a considerable amount of time across the entire product, addressing everything from minor details to rare crash bugs.
We are really looking forward to you all driving this combination of patch and new content update and enjoying all the new features that we are confident will enhance your MML experience.
Jane Whittaker, Skyhook Games
Jane has been chatting to players on this thread, so you can get the full low-down here: https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/midland-mainline-skyhook-feedback.69452/page-28
This month, Alex from the Just Trains team gives us an update on the progress of their route’s development. And we have our first Work In Progress screenshot!
The Just Trains team continues working hard on our first Train Sim World product. Our route building team have completed 30 miles of highly detailed and very immersive scenery. It really has been a pleasure to create. Our 3D artists continue to create a huge array of assets to populate the route from the minor to major stations, fantastic looking period signal boxes, road vehicles and clutter, but in saying that “clutter” is a bit of a generic, dull word that really does not convey the quality and passion that is going into all aspects of this product.
As regards the vehicles that will be in the route these are all coming along brilliantly, ranging from, cars to vans to construction vehicles to our rail vehicle, although of course creating these can be a bit of a caper sometimes!
Our aim with this product is to recreate the days of British Rail with a focus on a busy and varied timetable providing an immersive experience, with our full timetable featuring passenger, parcels, freight, and shunting operations. When driving our route, you will find that the timetable changes significantly depending on what season you are driving in, thus providing a wealth of possibilities, alongside this, our use of layers which will interact with other Add-ons that you own, will mean you will never be certain on what might turn up, just like the good old days of BR!
As alluded to in the Patches section, we’ll have an update incoming from Rivet Games that touches some of their older Train Sim World content, including:
- Isle of Wight: Ryde-Shanklin
- DB BR 204
- 1938 Tube Stock
- West Cornwall Local: Penzance – St Austell and St. Ives
- S-Bahn Zentralschweiz: Luzern-Sursee
This will come in tomorrow’s (Wednesday 7th) patch
Inside Development – Making Scenarios
Scenarios are a really important part of the Train Sim World experience, and offer a completely different way to play the game. We spoke to Cameron and Liam, Designers in our Gameplay team, for more information about on how we make them, as well as some that didn’t quite make the cut!
Why do we have scenarios?
Cameron: "We make scenarios because we want to offer players a unique gameplay experience from what they will get when they drive a train in the timetable."
Liam: "Scenarios are where we can get to be creative with the trains and the routes they run while offering something different from a timetable service. We can make trains run unusual patters, add new gameplay, set restrictions, and create a challenge for the player."
What makes a great scenario?
Cameron: "I think what makes a great scenario is that it usually falls into one or all three categories that we have when coming up with scenario designs – does the scenario offer a completely new experience? Has it got an interesting premise? Or, is it simply fun to play?"
"These are things we always try to think about during the design process as we want to give players something they haven’t experienced before or put a fun and interesting twist on an existing gameplay idea or feature. A good example of one of these types of scenarios is the Guard scenario for Glossop Line (mentioned above), a brand-new type of gameplay not seen before that was specially made for this route."
Liam: "To me a great scenario offers something fun and unique to the player which you wouldn’t see in a timetable service. This could be in the form of a challenging scenario where we test how well a player can perform under hard or restricted conditions, or something relaxing with new gameplay such as the Chinley Gala scenario on Peak Forest where players could decide which trains they drove in their own time."
What internal factors do we have to take into account when creating a scenario?
Cameron: "When designing the scenarios, we must always keep things like the appearance of licenses, our game's age rating and plausibility in mind. These factors are closely connected and are important for us to consider during the design process, as they usually dictate what we can and can’t include."
"To give you an example, we couldn’t include a scenario where a train has derailed, as the rail company we are working with would never allow us to depict their trains in that condition despite it potentially being an event that has happened in real life. Plausibility is another factor we always consider when making almost anything. When designing scenarios, we are allowed some degree of flexibility when it comes to creating events in the narrative and how far we can deviate from real world operations."
"We always make sure that what we write into the story can happen in real life or has happened at some point to ensure it stays grounded and doesn’t affect the players immersion by giving them a situation that they know doesn’t make logical sense. This is one area where we can pull from our own vast railway knowledge as well as the knowledge of our great community team members, with many of them having worked as staff on a variety of different railways. We often work with them during the design phase and in later development to ensure that what we are designing is plausible and can happen. We also always try to include as much of their feedback as possible to ensure we are creating the best experience possible for each scenario."
Liam: "We also have to factor the stock and the route itself when creating a scenario for a pack. As we like to keep the scenarios close to reality, we do our best to avoid running trains in places they wouldn’t go to or performing tasks they would never perform. Of course, being a scenario, we can get creative and bend the rules if we can come up with a plausible reason."
Would you say scenarios are our playgrounds to try new and exciting things?
Cameron: "Definitely. Scenarios allow us the opportunity to design and create brand-new types of gameplay and give us the chance to work on new systems and features that we know players will enjoy. Developing new scenarios have given us the chance to build things like interactable NPC characters or being able to step into the shoes of a Guard and check tickets instead of being in the role of the driver. It's those sorts of editions, even the smaller ones, that can really make a scenario feel unique and memorable."
Liam: "Of course. Timetable mode is great for simulating real life train movements and letting players drive a train as if it’s the real thing. But it’s scenarios that let us explore new ideas and add conditions and gameplay to these railways where we can move away from the restrictions of an accurate everyday timetable and add new experiences which you may not see every day on a railway but are still grounded."
Why are we able to create a certain experience within a scenario, but not translate that to Service Mode?
Liam: "Service mode works by running a simulated 24-hour timetable based on a real working timetable with no added scripting. As this timetable is simulated to exact timings we cannot add or adjust trains on this timetable without the trains getting stuck. Instead for scenarios we create a smaller timetable based around the hours the scenario is set, where we are free to add and time trains to what we need for that scenario. Scenarios can also have scripting and scenery added to them, giving us the ability to add gameplay outside of driving a train, such as adding faults to the train, changing the weather and specific times or adding objectives outside of driving the train."
What Scenarios are you and the team most proud of from those that have released?
Liam: "For me personally out of what we have released I’m most proud of the Chinley Gala scenario on Peak Forest because of how unique it felt with its free roam style and the educational Rail Fans around Chinley. Some of our teams' favourites include Worst Winter of All (Spirit of Steam Liverpool-Crewe), Cutting Closure (East Coastway), Limited Power (Clinchfield) and Freight Diversion (Rhein-Ruhr Osten)."
Pictured above ‘Cutting Closure’ Scenario on East Coastway
Do you have some examples of other scenarios which didn’t see the light of day (and why)?
Liam: "We will always end up with more ideas for scenarios than we need for every route. Most of these scenario ideas will be dropped in planning in favour of other more interesting scenarios but some do make it to prototyping before we drop them. An interesting one we had to drop far into its prototyping phase was for Liverpool-Crewe, where players would have to pick up suitcases/parcels which were visible in the players hands and load them into the carriages. The player would then close all the doors on the train before the train departs. There were also trolleys players could load and use to push multiple parcels at once to the carriage."
Cameron: "We have prototyped many scenarios that were never released or included in the game." Some ideas that we prototyped but never made it in are listed below:
Trainspotting – This was a scenario originally created for the Spirit of Steam (Liverpool to Crewe) DLC. The idea of the scenario was that you would stand on the platform and look out for a variety of different locomotives to mark off their numbers. The player is given a book/spotter’s guide which contains all the numbers of the locomotives running in the scenario. If the player sees a locomotive, they can check to see if the number is present in the book and if so, they can cross it off to say they have seen it. This would have been a very unique scenario as the player can explore the station and watch out for the passing or stopping trains and record their sightings.
Luggage/Parcel Loading - This was another interesting scenario as it took you out of the driver’s seat and into the shoes of a guard. This was a scenario, once again intended for Liverpool Crewe, where the player would travel to each station along the line and would load/unload the passengers’ luggage. You were able to physically pick up each piece of luggage and would place it down inside the BG carriage. You would be given a counter for the number of items to have to load onto the train and how many had to be unloaded onto the platform luggage rack. Once the luggage had been sorted at one station, you would ride the train to the next station stop and repeat, each time having a different amount of luggage to sort. This is an idea that I know several people on the Gameplay team would like to revisit in the future, myself included, as it could be a fun addition to a future Steam-era route.
The unreleased Parcel Loading scenario during its prototyping phase
Thanks to Liam and Cameron for that great insight – next month on Behind Development, we’ll be delving into another area of the development and release process for your reading pleasure!
THE TRAIN SIM WORLD ROADMAP
This month, we’ve added indicators to show how far along development various items on the Roadmap are.
- Next Arrival:
Our next release. Expect this content to be released before the next Roadmap article.
- In development:
Active development is underway; expect this content to be longer than a month away, but less than 3 months away.
- In planning:
In planning stages, Initial development has started - expect this to be between 3-9 months away.
- At a red light:
Not in active development, but something we’re committed to delivering. No ETA at this point.
DOVETAIL GAMES RELEASES
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 our ID code guide.
- [3.GBB-R7 04] Glossop Line - Manchester - Hadfield & Glossop
- [3.GKK-L7 01] Thameslink BR Class 700/0
- [3.DKK-L7 01] German locomotive
PARTNER PROGRAMME RELEASES
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 our ID code guide.
- [3.GDF-R5 01] UK Route – (developed by Just Trains)
- [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 (Xbox, PC)
- [TSW3] Derailing improvements (route-by-route)
- [TSW3] Save Game improvements (route-by-route)
- [TSW3] Performance optimisation
SPECIAL PROJECTS TEAM AND PATCHES
Projects that are being tackled by the Special Projects team. 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.
- [TSW3] Linke Rheinstrecke post-release patch
- [TSW3] Bremen-Oldenburg patch
- [TSW3] New Rivet Games content patch
- [TSW3] Midland Main Line post-release patch
- [TSW2][TSW3] HST Livery Designer functionality
- [TSW3] Niddertalbahn post-release patch
- [TSW3] Peninsula Corridor + Oakville Subdivision – access to Baby Bullet services
- [TSW3] NEC: New York – Trenton timetable improvements
- [TSW2] [Tiny] Scottish Commuter
- [TSW2] [Small] Hauptstrecke Hamburg-Lübeck, including timetable update
- [TSW2] [Medium] Rhein-Ruhr Osten
- [TSW2] [Small] 2022 Bakerloo timetable (600+services)
- [TSW2] [Small] Long Island Rail Road
- [TSW2] [Huge] Peninsula Corridor – NOTE: there are further improvements to come on both games
- [TSW2] [Huge] Oakville Subdivision
- [TSW2] [Tiny] LGV Mediterrannée
At a red light:
- [TSW3][TSW2] DB BR 187 Audio improvements
Projects that players will notice but don’t fall into one of the other categories.
- [TSW2/TSW3] Manual fireman functionality for Steam locomotives
At a red light:
- [TSW2/TSW3] Rush Hour passenger system for London Commuter
REMOVED FROM ROADMAP
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.
- [TSW3] Peak Forest Railway: Ambergate – Chinley and Buxton – released
- [TSW3] Spirit of Steam physics improvements – released
- [TSW3] Loco Add-on Bundle 2 post release patch – released
You can discuss the contents of this month’s Roadmap on our forums, and all our socials (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). We’ll be discussing the Roadmap and answering your questions live on-stream tonight with JD and Matt, so tune into our YouTube or Twitch account from 18:00 UTC. We’ll see you there!
Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap: June 2023