Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World 4 Roadmap - Part 2: 24th August 2023
Ding ding ding! Seconds out, round two, for part two of the Train Sim World 4 Roadmap.
In case you missed it, Train Sim World 4, with a whole slew of new content, improvements, and features, hits on Tuesday September 26th, 2023! (September 21st if you pre-order Deluxe or Special Editions).
Oh, and if you want to catch up in video form - watch our Dovetail Direct – Train Sim World keynote, you can watch the whole thing in all its glory below, and please check out yesterday’s Part 1 for a summary of the content coming to Train Sim World 4, details on the routes and locos, as well as updates on patch content.
Today, we’re focusing on the new and updated core features coming to the new game, and boy, do we have a lot to go through.
PC Editor, Free Roam, Scenario Planner 2.0, Livery Designer 2.0, Formation Designer, Photo Mode, New Scoring, Ease-of-access improvements, Haptics, Volumetric fog, Audio and source trips, and Music. Whew! So, let’s get started, shall we?
Note: If you’d like more information on TSW4, you can find out more on our shiny new webpage, including details on pre-order, discounts, and frequently asked questions.
Railfan TV schedule
Alongside our Roadmap and future articles, we will of course be showcasing all Train Sim World 4 has to offer via our live streams. Here are some dates to mark down in your calendars before the game's release on September 26th. – all streams will start at 18:00 UTC and be available on our YouTube and Twitch channels.
- August 24th: The TSW4 Roadmap (Matt & JD)
- August 29th: Intro to TSW4 Features (Matt & JD)
- August 31st: Vorarlberg Preview (Matt, Lukas & Alex)
- September 5th: PC Editor Showcase (Matt, Will K & Alex)
- September 7th: Antelope Valley Line Preview (Matt & Jamie)
- September 12th: Creative Tools Previews (Matt, Cat & Alex)
- September 14th: Dresden and Vectron Preview (Matt & Jan)
- September 18th: Free Roam Mode Preview (Matt, Lukas & JD)
- September 20th: ECML & Scotsman Preview (Matt, Jamie & Joe)
- September 25th: Train Sim World 4 Summary Stream (Alex & Ben)
(Timings and details of streams may change)
The PC Editor (beta)
Way back in 2019, we spoke about our desire to bring the Unreal Engine 4 Editor to PC players. Well, it’s taken a little while, but we’re delighted to be able to offer access to the PC Editor (beta) to players with Train Sim World 4. But what is the Editor, and what possibilities will it enable for you? Our Executive Producer Matt has the details.
What is the PC Editor?
Matt: "Train Sim World is built using our heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 4 Editor, all the trains you drive and the routes you drive them on are built by the team with this tool. The PC Editor we’re talking about here is exactly that, it’s a special build of the editor that works outside of our development environment but otherwise is identical and will let you create any content you like, exactly like our team does."
Tell us a little bit about what players will be able to do with the PC Editor.
"The PC Editor allows you to create anything that works in the game, including new routes, new trains, new scenarios and even new timetables for service mode. The command line tools for running the simulations to create the timetables is all part of the package as well, as is the packaging tool used to create the package files that allow you to share your creations with friends.
You won’t be able to modify existing content however because Unreal uses a process called “Cooking” for content as part of the process to create the version that you get on Steam to play. This cooking process strips out a lot of data from files which is unnecessary to run the game and only necessary to edit it. As a result, those files can’t be opened in the editor.
We have done a lot of work to get around this in many cases so you can open cooked routes and fly around them, and you run even play the entire game using the “Play In Editor” functionality, which means you can then use live debugging tools and so forth to review what you’re doing.
Creating entirely new routes and trains is perfectly possible, but adding to existing routes is going to be a challenge as is tweaking trains. That said, we haven’t put any specific blocks in anywhere and one of the areas we plan to review going forward is where players are specifically looking for something to work and we can try to make that happen to make it easier to do what you’re looking for. Where assets are simply needed in source form, again, we’re reviewing what the possibilities are to provide these in the future and will be looking at your feedback to see where to prioritise this as well.
Adding new scenarios and service modes to routes however is very much achievable and a really great place to start your editing journey as you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve just there and then take that and enhance your skills as you go."
What functionality will it have on launch?
"We’re ensuring that the scenario and service mode workflows work smoothly to get started, we don’t foresee any problems with creation of new routes and trains but fully expect creators to find limitations when it comes to attempting to modify existing content due to how the packaging system works on Unreal. We’ll be listening to your feedback to see where we can help going forwards to make this as easy as possible."
How easy is it to use?
"The Unreal Editor is a professional game development tool and as such it’s very short on wizards and guides built into the tool. You can quickly lose your way, or, more likely, struggle to even figure out where to get started. There’s no simple 'create new scenario' button, for example!
That said, there are a lot of great Unreal Engine tutorial videos on YouTube from Epic Games themselves that provide some fantastic guides to all areas of the main Unreal Engine, and we plan on creating several videos and articles that show you the specifics of Train Sim World’s version of the editor as well. Read up, get your learn on, and once you get the hang of it you’ll find you can achieve great things with it!"
It’s been a long time coming. Why is now the right time to bring the Editor to TSW?
"A couple of reasons really, the first is that we’re stable with the core game now and are comfortable that there aren’t going to be major breaking changes that will invalidate user creations going forwards. Since we first talked about the editor a few years ago there were two major core upgrades each of which would have wiped the community creations back to zero again, and numerous smaller changes that would have caused problems. There’s a lot more stability now which makes it a great time to get this out to creators.
The second reason that drove the team towards the release now is that there’s a huge focus on putting the power to do whatever you want in Train Sim World 4 into the players and creators hands, whether it’s on-the-fly creation with Free Roam or easy to use in-game tools like Scenario Planner, through to advanced creation tools like the PC Editor. It was an obvious part of the puzzle as we developed this theme for the release."
This is the beta of the Editor. What does the future of developing the Editor entail?
"We want to see what creators do, where they have problems and what we can do to help. There may be a range of options available to solve problems that come up and ease the flow of making content for creators so we’re going to be looking at this feedback and working with players to see what we can do to help. That may involve finding ways to make more cooked content editable, providing source assets to use, or creating tutorials to show how those things are done in a clear way. We’ll be led by you and what you tell us you need to make the best content in Train Sim World 4!"
Will Console players be able to enjoy player-made content in the future?
"We are striving towards that but it’s a very different and challenging path compared to the open PC platforms where files can be shared easily by creators and players. Our ultimate goal is to integrate the editor with Creators Club and provide a path that allows content to be uploaded there and made available to console owners but there’s a lot of challenges along this path to overcome. We’ll also be working with the top creators to invite them to take their work to our 3rd Party Programme where of course it will be available to console players as normal."
Will there be support materials to help players use the tool more effectively?
"We’ll be looking to create some tutorials and guides for content creation, starting with Scenarios and Service mode gameplay and then we’ll build that out based on what creators tell us they want to know. We’ll also be inviting some of the best creators to share their tips and ideas and really encouraging the community to help each other as well."
Will this help to blood the next generation of TSW Partner Developers?
"Absolutely, the release of the editor means that there’s every reason to start learning and creating and come to us with your ideas for content. We’re keen to see what you create and will be very much looking to talk to creators about joining the 3rd Party Programme and get your content shared with the widest possible audience. We’ll also be looking out for creators who specialise in areas and may want to assist us as 2nd Party developers working in specific areas to help our team on projects as well, so there’s always opportunity to do more with your skills as you start developing them. Get in touch!"
Free Roam Mode
Another new feature we can’t wait for you to try out. Our sandbox mode – enabling you do spawn anything on any route. It’s Off-the-Rails Mode on steroids.
In a nutshell, what is Free Roam Mode?
Matt: "Sometimes you just want to take the train of your choice and do whatever you want with it. It’s not about planning a scenario, or doing a service, you just want to… explore. Make it up as you go along. That’s what free roam mode is about."
Free Roam Mode will be available for your entire collection of routes and trains.
Give us an example of a session you could do with Free Roam Mode.
"Let’s say you start on-foot in Lindau and begin by spawning the training center 8F steam locomotive with some coaches in a platform. You set a path out to the yard just outside the station and drive the locomotive there. Upon arrival, you get out of the train, spawn some wagons and go back to your 8F, uncouple the coaches and go get the wagons and then set a path to a yard further down the line.
Along the way you see an interesting siding, and you feel like it’d be fun to collect some more wagons from there, so you stop near by and then head over to it, spawn wagons, go back to your 8F and then adjust your path to take you into the yard for the new wagons. Once you’ve got them, you set a new path back out to the mainline to continue.
Another example that has been around since day one of the game is with the old Sand Patch Grade route, we’ve long had “free roam” type scenarios that allow the player to switch cars in the yard and have the freedom to do anything they like there but without the ability to leave the yard… now you can leave the yard and go anywhere. It is important to note that there are no AI Trains in the route while you’re in free roam, this allows you complete flexibility to go anywhere and do anything."
Why should players be excited?
"This is just unlimited freedom to take anything from your collection and do anything you like. You can start a journey and just decide to change it as you go because you see something interesting or just want to change things up. This is sandbox trains."
What has initial feedback from beta players/staff playing the mode been like?
"Beta team have been really enjoying the flexibility it offers, allowing them to explore parts of the route without necessarily having to drive all the way there. It’s also proven popular with the photographers in the team who will spawn on foot at interesting locations, spawn trains where they want them and take their shot. Going back to Sand Patch Grade again, how many hours did people spend operating trains to move them to get that perfect shot around the turntable in Cumberland? That’s really easy to do now…"
How easy is it to use?
"Free roam is extremely easy to use, you’re literally popping trains into existence wherever you want them and clicking on the map to literally say “I want to go here” and the sim will figure out points and signals for you automatically."
What has been your personal favourite run when testing?
"I don’t have any particular preferences when it comes to trains so I’ve been doing all sorts with it, but I think my favourite aspect of it is that I can almost instantly and without any planning effort just try things out like putting a Class 101 DMU on Peak Forest – no need to think about a scenario, just spawn in a train, set a path and go!"
Can you spawn trains in Timetable mode using Free Roam features?
"Yes! This is one of the most exciting features in the release, allowing you to take the living world of the normal timetable in service mode and add your own train to it and do what you want, in and around those trains. You’ll really begin to appreciate the way the control system (known as the “Dispatcher”) can guide you around dynamically in amongst those trains. Be careful though, with great power comes great responsibility, in reality trains don’t just spawn out of thin air and this means you have the potential to throw the organised world into chaos. Sounds fun though doesn’t it? Experiment with it and enjoy the possibilities it brings!"
Scenario Planner 2.0
Getting a long-awaited lick of paint are both Scenario Planner and Livery Designer, with some awesome new features to help you create great content more seamlessly for you (and other players!) to enjoy.
What new features are coming to Scenario Planner for TSW4? Can you explain a little about each?
Matt: "Scenario Planner 2.0 is reworked into a brand new user interface bringing it more in line with the rest of the UI in the game making it simpler to understand and easier to use. Beyond the UI changes, there’s a range of new features and enhancements that will allow you to make more comprehensive scenarios as well! The changes begin at the very start of the tool, you can now set a description on the scenario which used to be autogenerated, allowing you to add some personal flavour to it. Further, that description will now be shown at the beginning of the run when a player starts it, so you can also use it to set the scene for the player as well."
"Creators can now set the start time of a scenario separately to the time the player service starts, we think the primary use of this is going to be allowing the scenario to start 5-10 minutes before the player, to allow some action to get moving in front of the player or around the player before they set off. This will allow you to get another train to depart the same station as the player and get ahead of them for example, to cause some non-green lights right from the start. Another massively requested feature from creators is being able to specifically set the time of year and the weather that the scenario will use. We’ve made the full dialog of options available so you can choose dynamic weather, or set a specific custom pattern."
"The most important new feature in Scenario Planner 2.0 is that you can now chain paths together, so imagine on Vorarlberg line you could start in Lindau and run to Lustenau, then run from Lustenau to Bludenz, and then back from Bludenze back to Lindau. This allows you to create a much more diverse range of scenarios including changing ends and so forth, exciting stuff!"
"Lastly, we’ve made it so that AI trains can now start and end their journeys in Portals allowing for much easier AI usage on corridors. Previously you had to start all AI trains on a marker and end them there and it became a challenge to balance out those start and end points when really the end goal was just to get something “going in the other direction”. Using portals this is all now much easier. It’s important to note that some features such as Portal usage and Chaining paths may only work on TSW4 routes, or may work to varying degrees on older routes depending on how they were originally set up."
Why did we choose these features specifically?
"We spent time looking at what the community was doing with the tools, reading the numerous polls and forum posts about what the most requested features were and our own wish list for where we wanted to take the system."
What has been the most challenging part to develop?
"Chaining paths was the most challenging part to develop because it required a completely different take on the User Interface to allow for the concept of a service not just doing one thing, but doing multiple things, and the implications for how that all had to work. It’s also influenced how we make the scenario paths, since the paths have to have end points that can be joined together in this way too."
What will this enable players to do with their own content?
"Creators should be able to make far more varied and interesting scenarios, you’re already making an amazing range of content that’s shared on Creators Club and this will expand that greatly. The range of content we see on Creators Club already exceeds what we’d expected and this is just going to make it even more fun and varied!"
Please Note: AI Portals and Chained Paths are just for Train Sim World 4 content, however the remaining features are available for all add-ons and routes.
Livery Designer 2.0
In Train Sim World 4, alongside the sweep of changes coming to Creators Club, the Livery Designer has been re-vamped to better help the player create the best liveries they can with these new features. Our Associate Producer Cat has more details:
What new features are coming to Livery Designer for TSW4?
Cat: "More Layers – Before, the old Livery Designer had a max number of 300 layers for the player to place on their model. Now the max number has gone up to 1000 layers, allowing players to create much more detailed designs."
"Organised Layer Lists – Instead of placing all layers together in one long list, the layers will now be separated by the side of the model they’re placed on. For example, layers placed on the front of the model will be listed separately from the layers listed on the back of the layers. With the layer number being increased, this organisation will help players keep track of the components of their creations."
"Type Text – Livery Designer 2.0 will still have letters as selectable layers, but another feature has been added to extend on this. Players will now be able to type out full words and preview them, before placing them onto their models. This will make the task of adding text a lot easier by taking out the pain of placing and size individual letters together."
Why did we choose these features specifically?
"These features were chosen to help our players create the types of liveries they want. From observing what people have been sharing on Creators Club, we have an in-depth idea of what kind of creations they want to make, and so we added the new features to help them."
What has been the most challenging part to develop?
"The most challenging parts to develop on the new Livery Designer has been the updated UI and the Type Text feature. The new UI overlay is a lot more detailed than the previous one, and it has provided challenges for the UI to make sure the player experience hasn’t been impacted negatively by the changes. Type Text has been a new challenge for the Engineering team, and whilst there were teething issues, we are ecstatic with the results and excited to see what players will create."
Strike a pose! Ever had that moment where you’ve seen the perfect Railfan opportunity slip through your fingers as you were travelling too quickly, or worried about operating your train? With Photo Mode, you’ll have the freedom to take amazing screenshots, for both your personal use and to share off your creation. Cat's back with more:
In a nutshell, what is Photo Mode?
Cat: "Photo Mode is a game feature new to Train Sim World. With this mode, the player can pause mid game and switch to a camera view that they can position in the paused world to get the best shot they can. They can also adjust the image by changing the contrast, saturation, brightness, and camera focus."
How can players access it?
"Players can access Photo Mode through the pause menu. After the player has taken all their shots, they can back out of the mode the same way they back out of the pause menu."
What can they do with their new railfan shots?
"These images can then be uploaded to Dovetail Live and used as images to be used in Creators Club when uploading a new creation."
What’s been your favourite shot taken so far?
"So far, my favourite shot has been one of the Azuma loco when I was capturing shots for the menu UI. You can see this shot in game on the main menu on the ‘To the Trains’ button."
With Train Sim World 4, we want to reward driving expertise – so we’ve shaken up our Scoring system. Matt returns with the finer details!
Why did we feel like we needed to change the scoring system?
Matt: "Over the years we’ve found the scoring system has needed improvement when it comes to rewarding scores based on better driving standards. It was giving so many points for an accurate stop that was on time that it basically made no sense to stick to speed limits for the sake of getting those accurate time points. Scoring is important, it’s popular with a lot of our players and they use it to get some second opinion of how their journey went and how it compares to previous journeys they’ve done or their friends have done. It’s not for everyone (and that’s why we have now added a Setting option to turn OFF the score display) but for the majority that do, it’s very important."
Please give a brief summary of how we’re improving it for both advanced and newer players.
"We’ve put a lot less reward in for your accurate stops and for on-time stops and balanced that with the ability to get more points for the ride in between. If you run with safety systems on you’ll get even more points during the run, and we’ll also give you a few extra points for making sure the headlights and such are set correctly too. Is it raining? Get those wipers on.
Because of how the scores have been adjusted we wanted to acknowledge that there are a lot of players who simply aren’t interested in using Safety Systems but still want to feel good about their runs because they’re doing well in every other aspect, so we’ve added a new medal tier “Platinum” which is for those who do great but do so with Safety Systems on. If you don’t want to use Safety Systems you’ll still be able to earn a Gold medal."
Can you run us through an example, please?
"You earn 30 points per quarter mile that you drive within the limit, and another 30 if you do that with safety systems on, with another 5 if the train is set up correctly, so your maximum per quarter mile is 65 points (used to just be the 30). If you drive a little over the limit, you’ll lose half of it. If you drive more than a little over the limit, you’ll lose the lot and won’t gain any new points at all until you get back within the speed limit again.
If it’s raining and you don’t have the wipers on, you’ll lose a small percentage of your earned points each quarter mile until you put the wipers on. If you are coupling to another vehicle and you do so too hard, that’ll take out some of the points you get for completing that coupling objective too – so be gentle. Stop Accuracy bonuses have gone from 500 to 160, and the On Time Bonus has gone from 500 down to 80, both scaled according to how far from ideal you are."
Is this only for TSW4 content?
"Since this is a new scoring system it has to be applied to content specifically so we will be using it on TSW4 content from now on. Older content will still use the original scoring system."
What would a player need to do in order to achieve the new Platinum Tier of medals?
"The Platinum Medal Tier is there for those who excel at the drive while also using the safety systems."
With these new changes to scoring, we've also been able to implement a fix for all unachievable gold medals that will be available from the launch of Train Sim World 4.
Whilst for a lot of you, your first experience of Train Sim World is a distant memory. However, we’re continuing to improve a TSW newbie’s first time playing the game, and we’ve also bundled in some UI and accessibility improvements we think all players will enjoy too.
What do we mean by ‘ease of access’ improvements?
Matt: "This covers a range of different topics but it’s really all about just making the game more understandable, helping players find things to do that they will be comfortable they can achieve and then trying to give them some more help when they’re actually in the cab. Trains and Railways are both hard, much harder than is apparent until you’re actually in the hot seat and someone’s saying 'now shut this cab down, change that junction and put the train over there'."
- A difficulty rating for each train
similar to how scenarios work, so that you can readily tell if a train is easier to drive (like a Class 375) or harder, like a BR 143 or US Freight loco.
- Scenarios now tell you what makes up their difficulty ratings
so that you can better determine if it contains something you’re not comfortable with, or something you particularly enjoy, such as changing cab ends, adverse signals etc. Automatically setting some of the in-game settings so that the experience more matches whether you pick Beginner, Expert, or the new “Standard” level when you create your profile (but everything remains customisable so you can tune to your preference of course).
- Adding the Class 323 and 8F to the training center
and reworking tutorials to use these trains (along with the existing Class 66) for a better onboarding experience and getting basic passenger tutorials and changing cab end tutorials into the training center fundamentals.
- Adding “gates” to train controls
so that you can’t accidentally put the train in a bad place, some trains will let you easily slide it into Emergency Brake which can then be awkward to get out of again. With these “gates” in place, you’ll need to release and re-apply the control to get it to go in to that Emergency state. A simplified hud for beginners which removes some of the more advanced information and cleans the screen up allowing more immersion with the in-game cab while still providing the basic essentials.
- A minimal hud for all users
that provides only the basic objective information required to understand the task at hand and removing all other HUD elements, firmly placing your immersion in the train but still allowing you to complete tasks without having to actually learn routes fully, I’m particularly excited by this feature as I like to play without the HUD but I simply don’t have the time to sit and learn every route to that required level.
For those that do want to turn everything off, the F1 key used to toggle this (a button on controller also does it) however when you do that it also turns off the useful tips telling you where controls are at as you move them. We’ve added an “off” state to the HUD setting which turns everything off, but leaves the tooltips still able to show.
- Reset train simulation phyiscs in the pause menu
Have you ever got to a state in a train where no matter what you do you just can’t get the thing to move? Like the brakes seem stuck on or something? Many trains have completely realistic functions that if misused can create problems for those inexperienced. A good example of this is that on many trains if you pull the brake into the “release” state and hold it there you are actually over-charging the brake pipe beyond the normal 5-bar – a useful function in reality for various reasons – but can then mean it takes extra time to get the train moving since that needs to come naturally back to the 5 bar again. There’s a new function in the pause menu that will let you reset the train simulation physics to how they were at the beginning of the scenario, so if things have gone strange for you and you can’t see what to do, hit that button and it should sort itself out.
- Missing a station will just carry on to the next one
Have you ever missed a station in Train Sim World? Personally, of course, I’ve never missed any stations (cough), but I hear stories from those who have all the time! Train Sim World has frankly never dealt with this very well, in some cases you could stop and reverse back but in many cases the signalling either wouldn’t let you reverse or if you did you’d end up stuck at a red not able to depart again. We’ve fixed this, if you miss a station it will fail the objective and move on to the next one, just carry on to complete your ride (or press pause, rage a little, and try again… as I say, not that I have experience…)
The next couple of new assist-features are intended to make life easier for everyone, some will see these as actually making it more realistic while others may prefer to turn them off and continue doing the actions manually, its all your choice.
- Coupling and Uncoupling can now be set to be semi-automatic.
If it’s enabled, then when you need to couple to some wagons just buffer up to them and they’ll couple regardless of what type of coupling they are. US Auto couplings do this anyway, but now this will apply to every type of coupling. If it’s disabled, the behaviour is as previously with manual couplings still requiring player interaction. For uncoupling, when enabled you simply stop in the siding you need to uncouple in and it will pop up a prompt – press the indicated button and the uncouple will be done for you immediately. Again, turn the setting off if you want to revert to previous manual behaviour.
Navigating in yards is one of my favourite things, moving back and forth to get to the right places, but in reality its not the driver who’s doing this, it’s someone in the yard working with you. It’s also confusing for new players who may not even appreciate the need to set junctions manually if they’ve become used to mainline operation where it’s all done automatically. With this option enabled all those junctions get set for you automatically now in yards.
Combining these two functions (coupling/uncoupling and yard junctions) together means that switching/shunting can be much simpler, moving back and forth as needed and we’ve already had feedback that for some of the beta testers it makes those types of services more enjoyable.
- Tutorial Recommendations.
Lastly, you’re going to get advised of where tutorials haven’t been completed that we feel would be useful as pre-requisites for a particular service or scenario. Don’t worry though you can turn them off.
How do we determine a locomotive’s difficulty tiering?
What types of controls does it have such as a simple single control combined handle, or a more complex multiple-handle system. How much do you need to do to do normal operations with the train like cutting in brakes or is it just get-in-and-go? How easy are the brakes to operate? Does it have any limitations or behaviours such as cut-outs that might make it more of a challenge to operate? A variety of cases are considered to help guide you towards trains you can achieve success with. Of course this is just guidance, you can still pick any train at any time, but with this setting you at least know what you’re potentially getting yourself in for.
Are these changes customisable in the Settings Menu?
The settings and accessibility menus have been expanded considerably with more options, and there’s also a new “Player Assist” menu with more options on there too.
How can they benefit both new players and hardcore players alike?
Hopefully you can gather from the range of new features and changes outlined above that there’s something interesting and useful for players of all experiences in the game. New players will find their journey into Trains a more predictable and understandable one, intermediate players have ways to ramp up the authenticity of the experience and advanced players can really aim for that “real driver” experience.
What accessibility changes have we made?
One of the consistent bits of feedback that we’ve had from players with a wide range of accessibility issues is that it would just be so much easier if we had a consistent and complete range of key mappings that worked across the trains. Far too often there are essential functions on trains that are not operable from the keyboard and require fine access to operate controls or screens within the trains themselves and for some players that simply makes the train inaccessible to them. We’ve gone through and added a vast range of new key mappings that are all re-bindable and should cover just about every option in trains. Whether you use the keyboard itself to drive them, or plug in external hardware such as big buttons etc to issue the keypresses, you should now find this significantly more usable and complete.
All-new for Train Sim World 4, haptics are a great way to bolster your immersion whilst playing the game on a controller. What are they, and how are we using them? We spoke to our Associate Producer Jordan for the details:
What do we mean by ‘haptics’?
Jordan: "What we mean by haptics is the functionality of the controller vibrating during certain events, and even lightbar and speaker support on certain platforms. Haptics really helps to provide a sensation representative of actions happening in-game."
What haptics have we implemented for TSW4?
"Train Sim World haptics include:
- Track Rumble Vibration
- Throttle and Brake Level Vibration
- Collision with buffers/couplings Vibration
- Track Switches Interaction Vibration
- Hovering over interactable controls in the cabs Vibration
- Train Safety System Alerts via Controller Speaker
- Next Signal Aspect shown on lightbar"Are there any differences between different platforms?
"The only difference is that the controller speaker and lightbar support is for PS4 and PS5 only, as the other controllers do not contain those features."
Is this only for TSW4 content?
"The only thing that will only work on TSW4 content is the Train Safety System Alerts via the Controller Speaker. All the other haptics functionality will work on everything, when played in Train Sim World 4."
Why should players be excited for the changes?
"Player should be very excited for this feature as it adds a whole ‘nother level of immersion when playing Train Sim World 4. When things are at the toughest with safety systems sounding and red signals up ahead, the visual and audio feedback from the controller really helps to make you feel more in control about the decisions you make driving trains, to better be able to react to things happening around you."
"The vibration on the controller aids with the sense of driving the trains from the comfort of sofa."
"All of these haptics can be amended in the Gamepad Settings menu, to either increase or decrease the intensity of vibration, the volume of audio and the brightness of the lightbar – and even disable some of them if want."
Thank you Jordan - What was up next? My mind's gone blank.. No wait, it's gone foggy!
IT. LOOKS. SO. GOOD. Fangirling aside, volumetric fog provides a really important depth to our graphics, and also means headlights can be hinderances, rather than helps in certain conditions (as in real life). Let's check in with out Senior Software Engineer Alex:
What benefits do volumetric fog provide players?
Alex: "Whereas previously fog could have only one brightness across the scene, volumetric fog allows fog to be lit up by various individual lights in the world. This allows the sun to cast god rays at sunrise/sunset, as well as train headlights and some scenery to produce beams of light when it gets dark."
Do we have any shots of how volumetric fog makes a difference to a route’s feel?
Is this only for TSW4 content?
"Volumetric fog has been built on top of TOD4 - the lighting system introduced in TSW3, to take advantage of the physically based lighting setup. It's therefore compatible with more recent routes (broadly, those released for TSW3 onwards)."
Will it impact performance?
"As volumetric fog is inherently a more expensive technique, it will have a slight performance impact. For this reason it's available exclusively on PC and more powerful console hardware - PS5, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One X. It can also be toggled in settings for those who prefer higher frame rates."
Fog isn't the only feature filling the room - Let's play it loud with our fabulous new sounds and audio!
Sounds and Audio
With Train Sim World 4, we’ve really pushed the boat (or train?) out with our recording and mixing audio, getting real-life recordings from visits to Metrolink in California, Siemens in Germany, and – of course – Scotsman in its pomp. Members from our Audio Design team: Dale, Ryan & Matthew, are here to tell us all about the making of the audio for TSW4.
What was it like working with our licensed partners to get the recordings?
Ryan: "Working with our licensed partners was a really positive experience, everyone out in LA was so into what we were doing and allowed us great access into parts of the train we otherwise would never have experienced and captured for the game. Metrolink were a vital resource and continue to be with us throughout implementation."
Matthew: "Working with LNER couldn’t have been any smoother. They were extremely helpful and interested in what we were doing, and were eager to help in any way they could. They were very facilitating for performing all sorts of weird and wacky maneuvers so that we could get any number of audio possibilities for relays, shutoffs, squeaks and creaks which help really bring a loco to life. Also big shout out to the experts from Metrolink who have been invaluable help for working on the F125 and Rotems and in providing feedback."
What techniques did the team need to employ to ensure as authentic a recording as possible?
Dale: "We've recently purchased new recorders, the Zoom F3s, which have been used for these recordings. Our first time capturing audio in 32bit floating point which is perfect for recording locomotives as it mitigates any distortion from loud sounds."
Ryan: "Techniques that were employed to capture authentic recordings included stereo X/Y pattern mics inside the cab to reference the driver's perspective and using a shotgun mic on close up interactable features like levers, buttons and switches. We also utilised extremely high-quality condenser microphones, attached via magnets and cable ties within windshields to the undersides of cabs and passenger cars pointed at the wheels/axles to capture running sounds at all speeds. These were recorded using Zoom F3's which are specially made for failure-free field recording.
The input signal is recorded in 32bit float WAV format, which can retain the resolution at the time of recording, and reproduces sound without degradation, retaining the original resolution even after normalization processing after recording.
Finally, we utilised mid side recording techniques for every horn in order to have more control over the width of our stereo image whilst still maintaining a high-quality centre image - perfect for our horns."
How many recordings and images did we take in the Metrolink trip (and total?)
9,073 photos taken and 55 hours of audio recorded.
What has been the most challenging part of collecting the source material?
Ryan: "The most challenging part of collecting the source material was probably the long hours in hot cab cars with little sleep + jetlag. The level of detail we have to capture can sometimes take hours in one spot and a lot of time and patience is required from both parties. Making sure you remember to eat and drink can be quite hard!"
Matthew: "Probably the most challenging part for me was helping organise the logistics of the trip for recording. It was only my second week on the job but I was in charge of verifying all the equipment and transporting it to and from site each day as I was driving us around; needless to say I was paranoid I’d forgotten something for the entire week!"
Do you have any fun anecdotes from your trips?
Dale: "Some recording equipment was sent to Austria for recording the Vectron and it actually all got stuck in customs and couldn't be used!"
Ryan: "One time when we were recording the internal aircon sounds for the Rotem passenger cars, we had all the doors shut and everyone off - so we shut the power down to record the sound of the AC kicking in but, after a long delay we had realised we were locked in with no way out for a while!"
Matthew: "Our guide at the LNER depot in Edinburgh had one of the thickest Fife accents I’ve ever heard - now I’m Scottish and I could barely understand him, so I have no idea how Adam kept up!"
What work needs to happen after the recordings have taken place?
Dale: "Upon returning, all 55 hours of audio needs to be downloaded from SD cards and catalogued for our library. Listening through each recording can be a bit laborious as some of them can be especially long, such as the recordings from the bogies as we need to identify in the recordings what sounds each recorder captured. Then we embark on the process of editing out each individual sound, cleaning the sounds, making loops if necessary, and then implementing them in engine."
Which is your favourite train from the TSW4, audio-wise?
Dale: The Vectron for its beauty of a horn, shout out to Lukas for a great capture on his debut recording trip!
Ryan: My favourite is the F125 because its big and cool.
Matthew: The F125! It's loud and has loads of character!
And to complement the sounds, how could we not include the beautiful music by Ben Symons.
Not content though with just authentic sounds, we’ve gone ham on the menu music and audio cues in game with Train Sim World 4. If you watched the first 5 minutes of Dovetail Direct on Tuesday, the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra (how good were they, by the way?) gave an emotive rendition of the new track. At the centre of it? Senior Community Manager-come-Composer Ben has the details on how we made the iconic soundscape of TSW4.
What did you have to consider when creating the music for Train Sim World 4?
Ben: "I’m very lucky in the sense that I’m given the freedom to create and write what feels right to me. That doesn’t make the process challenge-free, I’m very good at getting in my own way and making things difficult for myself!
When I found out we were releasing Train Sim World 4, I started writing the main theme before I’d even been asked to! I had an idea in mind, and I wanted to make that a reality before anything else got in the way.
I knew instinctively that I wanted to maintain the theme and motif I’d developed for the previous iteration of Train Sim World because players had grown attached to that (so had I, to be honest!). I also knew that I wanted to expand on that and take the piece in new directions, introduce some new thematic ideas, and go bigger in terms of the overall scale.
From my perspective that posed a challenge because, at its core, Train Sim World 4 is a hobbyist game. So, although I wanted the sound to be rousing and inspiring, and for it to instill a sense of growing excitement for the journey ahead, I didn’t want to hype our players up into a frenzy and get them ready to go to war in an action-packed FPS!
I think we’ve successfully navigated away from the ambient soundscape of Train Sim World 3, which was primarily comprised of very gentle piano, ambient pads, and soundscapes, to the full orchestra, piano, and choir of Train Sim World 4.
I’m proud that everyone at Dovetail Games has loved the theme so much that it’s inspired all the other music in the game, prompted us to create a soundtrack as a pre-order benefit on Steam and Epic, and enabled us to film a full music video with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra in support of our marketing efforts."
Do you have any favourite tracks or moments in the score and/or game? E.g. a scene or character you connected with through the music, or a particular musical moment or experience in the game?
"I do! I mentioned that I’d also created the in-game music this time, and we had the idea to create “Moments” for our players. To briefly explain what “Moments” are; each of our five new train routes has “Scenarios” which are situation-based, condensed experiences for our players. For each route, one of these “Scenarios” will have a unique “Moment”, where music is at the centre of the action.
The Flying Scotsman is coming to Train Sim World 4 and we have a “Scenario” where players have the opportunity to attempt to recreate the awesome 1934 Special Test Run, where the Scotsman clocked 100mph. As players achieve this astonishing speed, they are presented with sweeping cinematic perspectives of the loco hurtling down the line accompanied by a swelling, celebratory piece of music. It feels timeless and presents aspects of the main theme in new, exhilarating ways. I love it."
Train Sim World 2 Preservation Crew content
We are sorry to say that, at this stage, we will not be releasing these updates to Train Sim World 2. It is a really tough decision to make, and we’ve not taken it lightly – but it has become apparent, that, whilst we’ve always intended to release the content, for a number of technical reasons, it is causing more issues than it resolves with the way the builds now work.
Rather than have good intentions but no substance (or worse – a scenario that means your game can’t be played how you currently play it), we believe you deserve something concrete.
There are many factors at play here: among other things, various unforeseen technical hurdles have hit when putting builds together which jeopardised content players were already playing. We also want to focus on ensuring Train Sim World 4 is as good as we can make it for you all. We’ve always remained hopeful these improvements would be released, but sadly it’s become apparent that it’s not possible at this stage. We’re extremely sorry it has taken this long to come to this conclusion.
For Train Sim World 4, we’re making it very clear what you can and can’t expect from the remaining Train Sim World 3 game updates, and we hope you can accept our apology.
TSW3 and TSW4 patch schedule
In yesterday’s Roadmap article, we spoke about the Day 1 content you can expect from Train Sim World 4. Today, we wanted to provide more detail on the future content TSW3 players can expect from us.
Please note that everything in the TSW3 column will also be available on Day 1 for TSW4. Our intention is to release for TSW3 patches as soon as we can.
More detail for the content of the patches will be confirmed upon release.
Train Sim World 3 - Timeframe to be Confirmed
- New York-Trenton New Timetable
- Peninsula Corridor Baby Bullet Services
- Midland Main Line Route Improvement Patch
- Tutorial Fixes:
DRA BR143 Intro
HML Route Intro
DRA 766.2 Intro
RT DBpbzfa Intro
LGV Route Intro
SKA BR442 tutorial
- Scenario Fixes:
DRA Chemical Plant Zone
HSC Altoona Alignment
HSC Portage Process
ARL Tis The Season
BPE Cold as Ice
- Norfolk Southern Heritage Pack Post-release Improvements
Train Sim World 4 Launch (TSW4 Only)
- [Large] New York-Trenton New Timetable
- [Large] Nahverkehr Dresden TSW4 Feature Set
- [Medium] Southeastern High Speed Patch
- Niddertalbahn BR 628
- [Small] Edinburgh-Glasgow route improvements patch
- [Small] Bremen-Oldenburg route improvements patch
- [Small] Peak Forest Route post-release improvements patch
- [Small] Island Line patch
- [Small] Birmingham Cross-City Patch
- DB BR 187 Audio improvement
Train Sim World 4 - Projected after Launch
- Peninsula Corridor Baby Bullet Services
- Koln-Aachen New Timetable
We’ll running through all the content on our Roadmap and answering your questions in today’s (Thursday 24th’s) Roadmap Stream. Please head to our Q&A Thread, and tune in to see Matt and JD in action on our YouTube and Twitch channels from 18:00pm UTC, see you there!
Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World 4 Roadmap - Part 2: 24th August 2023