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How Do You Make A Route

Discussion in 'Community Projects & Developer's Area' started by Louwe, May 17, 2019.

  1. Louwe

    Louwe Member

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    I have a simple question to which the answer will be quite difficult.

    How is a route actually created?

    I compared some points to Google Earth on random points and on random routes, then it can be seen that those points are very similar to reality. The buildings, roads, bridges and even a water treatment installation are so real.
     
  2. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    from what I can gather you can overlay a mapping system onto the route creator and use that as a template to place your items and markers on. This means that routes can be very close to real life. Indeed had this been available a few years back it would have made route merging much easier on TSx routes, where several routes are "out" meaning they are much harder to merge together
     
  3. Louwe

    Louwe Member

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    First of all, thanks for the response ARuscoe.
    That 'overlaying' a card is still somewhat understandable, but how do you make the scenery around it? For example, how are the houses, bridges, viaducts etc. made.
     
  4. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    computer modelling... I have seen posts talking about 2D and 3D trees for example, so someone literally makes a model of a tree (be it 2D or 3D) which they then place into the route scene, size it etc and as you view it from the camera perspective it's then rendered appropriately. Add to this that you may need to generate different items dependent on weather, season etc (think about plants in spring, summer, autumn/fall and winter...) and you may even need different versions of the same item dependent on those things.
     
  5. KiwiLE

    KiwiLE Active Member

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    The industry standard for modelling is 3ds Max but Blender is awesome and free, with plenty of tutorials on youtube.
    TSW also uses the Unreal 4 engine and the (sometime) upcoming editor is needed to get your objects created in Blender/3ds max into the game so you can see them.
     
  6. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Wow this one might take a while... let me have a go... bear in mind I am not a route builder myself but I have the honour of walking among these giants on a daily basis. Don't take this as a step by step gospel, more a general overview.

    First thing we want to do is get the terrain imported.
    Once that's in, we need to get the track down. For that, we use a combination of creating a detailed marker file set in Google Earth and then importing the KML into the editor, and the google earth overlay that we have in the editor directly.
    To lay the track, that's just hard graft and experience really, we leave the track team to it and at some point later they come back with a route that has basic terrain and all the track laid out.
    During the track laying process, the signal team will be following along behind adding and configuring signals, setting up speed limits, adding markers and other tech data needed to make the route "work".

    At some point, we get a route that is technically working but is just basic terrain and track.

    Next it's over to the route Art team.

    There's some concurrency here with track initially because the route art team will have gone over the route carefully via photographs, a research trip, youtube videos of the area and google earth itself, to identify the areas, styles and key buildings, the skyline and so forth, and then identified and specified a set of assets that need building. The art team will then have started building them in readiness for the route.

    Ok so back to the route that just arrived from the track and signalling team.

    The route team now block the route out based on the tile system in unreal (similar to how tiles work on TS2019). Tiles are assigned in batches to different team members to allow them to work at the same time and the work of bringing the route to life starts.

    There is a pass between the gameplay team and the route building at the start to identify which areas of the route they want to be using in their scenarios, services etc and which areas are going to be background scenery and this will allow the art team to spend extra effort in the right places rather than potentially wasting time in an area you won't even see much of. At the end of this the art team have a good idea of what's important and what they need to focus on.

    So...

    How are scenery items modelled?
    - That's purely artistic skill. Looking at many photographs and trying to get an idea of scale, and recreating that in a 3D model. It's rarely done by copying schematics or anything, though if they're available that's always useful. Ideally the photo reference material from our trips will include nice clear square-on photos of assets where possible, but if it's a tall building that's not always possible, in which case it entirely relies on the judgement of the artist.

    There is a pass over the tile for ground textures, is it a field, road, is the track going through it in which case there needs to be a paint of the ballast on to the ground texture, is it a forest (perhaps darker green), is it industrial (greyish?) etc etc. Reasonably broad pass, but adds a ton of grounding to the scenery.

    Roads are added by generally tracing over their positions in Google Earth. If Google Earth isn't available because it's a historic route, it'll be a general impression of the routes based on what can be found with photographs, plus skill and judgement from the artist.

    Tree's are placed in much the same way, generally placed where tree's are seen in the reference to hand.

    Buildings, same.

    At the end of this you generally have a fairly complete route.

    There are then following passes over the route to look at global lighting, do the night lighting pass on the route and so forth.

    Does that help?

    Matt.
     
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  7. KiwiLE

    KiwiLE Active Member

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    Wow, now THAT is an answer! :o
     
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  8. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Actually on the modelling side there is one useful tidbit...

    both TS1 and TSW support exporting assets from the editor - so let's say you've built your station terminus and you now need to build all the platforms, canopies and everything else around it. What you'd do is export the area of the route, including track and terrain, to a 3D model, bring that in to the 3D modelling package and then simply build the 3D model around the track and terrain. When you're done (or at least have the shape) you can then simply remove the track and terrain from the 3D model and there you have it, it'll export and install perfectly on to the route.

    I tested this workflow on TSW editor a while back with Blender and it worked great, super easy to get things matched right up to the track. In one instance I had one track going over the top of another - exported both bits of track and the terrain underneath and then some (far too long due to my lack of skill and talent) I had the basics of a bridge with some smoothly cut terrain right up to the track imported and in to the route.

    Personally I use blender because I don't do enough 3d modelling to justify anything else - but I find it a really great piece of software to use (once you've gone through tutorials, i'm doing a course on Udemy for Blender that I find to be outstanding).

    Here's a signal box I started modelling - don't be too critical, it was my first :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was done based on some very basic front/side drawings I found online, plus looking at some photographs of this box in question plus other midland boxes of a similar design. (and no, this doesn't give a hint to any projects, nobody would let me submit art - for good reason - to anything we do : ) - I picked it because I found handy reference :)

    If I remember rightly it's Hawes Joint Station box, a Midland Type 2B. If you google that you'll probably find the reference drawings I found. They're simple but do the job.

    Poly count is probably too high even now, but hey, project one was always about learning the tools :)

    Matt.
     
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  9. KiwiLE

    KiwiLE Active Member

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    Another good bit of advice Matt!
    Maybe a stupid question but rather than use the expense of 3ds Max, could a DLC for TSW be rendered in Blender? There are tools available to get the art from Blender into UE4, freely available?

    Blender is great. I also did some youtube tutorials by BlenderGuru so if you ever need 2 massive doughnuts and a coffee as assets, just ask!
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  10. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    You have to merge your asset in Blender to make a single object and then export it to .fbx file, which you can then import to UE4.
     
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  11. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Blender should work perfectly fine with UE4. While i've not tried building a loco I don't see why it would cause any problems, i've certainly craeted and imported scenery without any problems at all.
     
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  12. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    Is this also the reason why there are no full fidelity trains? I mean trains in TSW only have features that are required to complete their services and scenarios which will limit their usability on custom routes.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  13. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    What features do you see as missing?
     
  14. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    I'm mostly talking about the BR 182 because I know quite a lot about it. Here are some of the missing features because I don't have a list:
    - Train lenght button (requirement for freight services)
    - Train data input (TSW trains detects those on their own which is not realistic)
    - Booster (useful for running heavy trains but not required)
    - Train wash mode (not really necessary but it's nice to play with)
    - Ore loading mode (might be useful on future routes)
    - BIOS bootup (not really a feature but these things are super cool)

    All of these informations are taken from here. I know that it's a Czech manual but it's the most readable one for me and it's also the only one available.

    edit:
    I also found this.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  15. raildan

    raildan Well-Known Member

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    The train length button technically kind of works, but oddly enough it's activated by increasing the throttle twice (pushing A twice).
     
  16. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    It's not odd :) - it's how it works in reality - by double pressing on the throttle.

    Some of what you're asking for Tomas is "super cool" but if it adds nothing tangible and usable to the gameplay what you find is that the dev team end up having to spend considerable time working on these things that in reality, nobody uses more than once. We are trying to make sure that all locos have the same high standard of implementation and feature set. While you have said you feel that the trains are minimal functionality in terms of their use in scenarios etc, it's worth noting that these trains are all generally significantly more feature rich than even Pro-line locos in some cases.

    We do have to draw the line somewhere in order to make sure we can get quality out of what we have put in, however as we expand the capabilities of the trains I feel sure more and more features will roll in to future locos, it's just not practical to get there in one shot and still sell a loco for £11.99.

    Matt.
     
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  17. raildan

    raildan Well-Known Member

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    Oh wow- didn't know that. Neat.
     
  18. mrchuck

    mrchuck Active Member

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    Hey Matt, that’s awesome love playing Long Island railroad on Train Sim world! Will any Locomotives from the Long Island railroad be coming to Train Sim world like The Dm30ac Locomotive?
     
  19. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    Got it.
    I thought that if DCS can have full fidelity airplanes then TSW can have full fidelity trains. Then I realised that it also comes with 50-80 dollar price tags and 5+ years development cycles (which is unacceptable when people are mad about not getting a new route every). Also trains are bound to their routes (especially in UK with all the private companies) so you can't just buy your super expansive but super detailed engine and decide that it will be the only thing that you want to drive.

    I guess my dream about TSW becoming a study sim will have to wait a few decades or I might have to start making my own engine when the editor comes out.
     
  20. R62A1973

    R62A1973 Active Member

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    How hard is it to bring a tsxx route to tsw?
     
  21. R62A1973

    R62A1973 Active Member

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    The only difference is tsxx you have the simple controls in just modify the route and engine to work on tsw?
     
  22. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    It would probably be easier to just rebuild the route instead.

    It's by far not the only difference. What do you mean by modifying the engine to work with TSW?
     
  23. Anthony Pecoraro

    Anthony Pecoraro Well-Known Member

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    Very informative!
     
  24. Shukal

    Shukal Well-Known Member

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    Well it can have that. But it needs a sufficiently big customer base which is willing to pay higher prices. I'm not sure if we are there yet. We might see stuff like that further down the line from third parties. One issue is though that railway companies might not want to see everything implemented realistically because of security concerns.
     
  25. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    It is entirely impractical to just try and move a route from TS19 to TSW... here's why:

    Track is laid using an entirely different system with different properties so that we can do more with it including, for example, twisting track to get super elevation at any level anywhere you want it, instead of being tied to the track rule that was used at a fixed level across the route.

    Signalling is incomparable between the two systems, where TS19 uses a system of track links and tries to work out what is going on, TSW has a system of track circuits, a fully managed occupation system, a dynamic dispatcher, and full route configuration system for the signals - i.e. routing tables, much like they use in the real world.

    Scenery - if you have the source assets you can move it across, but you really want to do some work on them to at least add materials so that at least is achievable.

    Terrain - while we can use the same or similar source data as TS19, the resulting data inside Unreal is quite different and even supports dynamic lodding of terrain in the distance for improved performance.

    The list goes on. TS19 is a fantastic product, but it and TSW are very different, the only thing common about them is that they're both awesome train simulators :)

    Tomas9970 TSW can definitely handle DCS or PMDG level study trains if someone wants to make them, and in fact I'm really keen to see if any third party developers out there are going to explore the possibility of seeing if there is a market for a $100 training-level train, TSW is certainly capable of supporting it :) We've already added a ton of operational detail with realistic change-end procedures and realistic support for different brake and coupling systems, so it'll be interesting to see where people take it once the tools are out, for sure!

    Matt.
     
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  26. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    I can definitely attest to those concerns being real.

    Matt.
     
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  27. Tomas9970

    Tomas9970 Well-Known Member

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    I believe that that was an issue with some systems in DCS as well. They made a realistic internal version of it, then made a modified public version and tried to make both of those versions feel the same.
     
  28. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Locos in TSW like the ACS-64 have already reached a point that they've had to be modified from reality in a couple of small ways in order to ensure you *can't* use TSW as a training mechanism to steal a real one :)
     
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  29. Broomwagon

    Broomwagon Member

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    Matt, given all you've said in the thread about how a route is made, and that it seems to me, very dependant on being able to go back to the real thing for reference......when the first line essentially from history (I'm thinking a Riviera 1950s type of thing) is in construction it will increase the difficulty of building a line ten fold? There'd be one heck of a lot of historical research for reference material. I suppose DTG have already built systems for doing this when building historical lines on TS but with the graphics on TSW it's going to be so much more of an undertaking.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  30. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Leeds Manchester was the first TSW route that was historic and yes it was much harder, however the team were able to find other sources of reference and learn to cope with losing sources of reference - the end result is never going to be as accurate as something with more reference, but you end up with something that still really captures the area I think.

    While the 1980's doesn't perhaps seem that far back - if you look at Manchester Victoria and the surrounding area now, compared to how it was then - you'll get a feel for just how different it really is.

    Fortunately lots of photographic reference is available from various places, and historic sites often have more (because if they are interesting enough to model, chances are they are interesting enough to write books about, or build web sites about, or share photos about) so it becomes more about having more of one kind of reference, less of another, and relying a bit more on the skill of the artists.
     
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  31. Broomwagon

    Broomwagon Member

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    Thanks Matt - and much respect for being involved with Train Simulator - for me (well I am a rail enthusiast) without a doubt the best thing ever on PC. I don't have TSW yet but will when I have a PC which can do it justice.....very much looking forward to the future of it and what will come in due course.
     

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