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Notes About The Nec "manifest Switching -- Cutting Cars" Session

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by LastTrainToClarksville, May 14, 2018.

  1. LastTrainToClarksville

    LastTrainToClarksville Well-Known Member

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    This is number F06-1 among the recently released freight sessions for the NEC and it's a switching delight. There's a cut of 30 assorted freight cars standing amidst the usual racks of garbage haulers and sorting them onto appropriate sidings is up to you. Your shift begins at 10:50 and continues until the job is complete (in my case with the HUD clock showing 13:40, but I'm a meticulous (= slowish) worker. This is by far the longest and most complex switching job I've encountered on TSW: far longer than any switching exercise I've encountered among DTG products, although I've yet to reach the end of these freight sessions. And that goes triple for the TS20xx and earlier switching scenarios I've experienced. Yes, it tends to become a bit monotonous, but there are switches to be changed and couplers to manage at each step of the way and you can, of course, pause whenever you like -- I certainly did.
    Although its definitely not for long-haul freight or passenger run fans, it's a delight for those who like yard work and I hope that all of you switchers will let DTG know that you appreciate it.

    I have only one negative comment: references to freight cars as "vehicles".
     
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  2. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    While I enjoyed the freight services overall, to me it feels a touch too long and repetitive. The worst part is that sometimes cars refuse to couple, and I have to cycle the coupler before trying again. This won't be as bad if this didn't cause physics lag, which in one instance just sent a center beam car with a locomotive coupled to it flying into the sky with a "derailment" error message. After about a hour of switching this was not very amusing to start it all over again.

    I also kinda feel like the scenarios are way too strict with their instructions. They not only tell you where to put the cars, but also tell you exactly which steps to take. I'd prefer if instead of "couple here" -> "decouple x cars" -> "stop here" -> "stop here" -> "decouple cars" it instead asked you something like "decouple the next two cars from the consist on track X and move them to siding Y". Step by step instructions are nice as tutorials, but past that I'm feeling like an automaton of some sort just executing a program.
     
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  3. LastTrainToClarksville

    LastTrainToClarksville Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm. I've not experienced any of the technical glitches that you report and have to at least partially disagree with your complaints regarding instructions, particularly in session F06-1. Yes, the instructions are explicit about how many cars to pick up and from which siding and where to drop them, but without such instructions how would anyone know what to do? The essence of driving a scenario (whether it's called that or a service) is to follow a given set of instructions. Since you consider that overly programmatic, perhaps you should stick to TSW's more free-form possibilities, such as placing your avatar at a selected place and time, commandeering an engine, and shaping your own adventure.

    However, TSW is a railroading simulator and what I've just described doesn't occur in the real railroading being simulated -- at least as far as I know. I'll just add that F06-1 also requires a good deal of switch changing (using the 2D map, but which could also be handled "manually" by leaving the cab each time) without specifying which switches to change. Your suggestion about simplified instructions (pick up x cars from siding y and drop them on siding z) looks good on paper, but does not mention coupling some new cuts to earlier ones on the same siding and these instructions have to take inexperienced "switchers" as well as experienced hands into consideration.

    When editing becomes possible, we'll be able to make scenarios as we want them to be and let the less experienced fall by the wayside or learn as they go; until then, I at least am content to drive what DTG provides and delighted to have at least a few switching sessions that go well beyond moving garbage around New York, in the case of NEC.
     
  4. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    I only used it as an example. Telling how many cars to decouple and whether you need to couple them to other cars is one thing, but additional "stop here" instructions with pretty narrow requirements are fairly redundant and annoying. Tell me where do I need to put the cars, and let myself decide how to do it. In fact, if I'm not mistaken in some parts this particular service just tells you to couple to the consist you're "cutting" without that extra "go here, stop there" instruction, just basically "couple here".

    I also somewhat disagree that a service/scenario is just a set of instructions. I'm sure it could be one, but I disagree that it should be one. First and foremost, a service should present a goal to achieve - for example to drive a passenger train stopping at the correct stops, preferably on time. Sure, it's a touch strict for those services, because that's kinda how it works - you have a schedule, you have to follow the signals, etc.

    But for switching service, the goal is to put certain cars at certain places, isn't it? A switching service is probably the one that could provide the most freedom, as there might be several ways to get cars where they're needed. It doesn't tell players which switches to switch, so I think getting a bit further and stop telling how exactly to move the locomotive wouldn't hurt.
     
  5. pschlik

    pschlik Well-Known Member

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    Thing is, the real way such a switching operation such as this would work would be much less repetitive. You'd grab the entire set of cars, and move around all of them at once as they are sorted, instead of moving around just 1 or 2 cars at a time. So even then it's more convoluted than real life, so of course there's more guidance.

    Also remember that the AI need to be able to do this stuff, and AI automatically handle switches, but may need help with pathing. And at any rate, I bet you there's no current way to tell an AI "put all these cars here" and hope that it figures out all the steps between. A person may be able to logic around that, but an AI most definitely needs more guidance on this.
     
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  6. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    I don't think AI and players should have the same set of instructions, though. AI could use additional waypoints, hidden from player and not required to "progress" the scenario. Game itself, though, should be designed for players, not for AI.
     
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  7. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    My response would be what if this was the person's very first mission in TSW? The level of instruction has to cover everyone
    It is a pain when every single movement has an instruction that needs cancelling though, I agree.
     
  8. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    That's what tutorials and some scenarios are for. What if they don't know how to release brakes or use the reverser? But yet, this doesn't mean that every single scenario should teach you how to drive the locomotive. Heck, the GWE 166 scenario ("Down the line" or something like that) at first teaches you how to action the doors, but then tells you to do it on your own, and all the services only tell you to lock and unlock the doors, assuming that you know how to do it.

    Also, TS1 had a difficulty rating for scenarios, which could help new players to find the ones that are less complicated if they feel confused. No reason to not assign difficulty ratings to services as well.
     
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  9. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    Haven't played a lot of services as my computer specs wouldn't stand up to it, but does this presume that all services are equally as easy or hard and that "unforseen circumstances" never happen?
    If this is the case it would actually LIMIT my enjoyment of the simulation. I prefer more difficulty in them
     
  10. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    A rating is just a number from 1 to 5 which indicates how hard a service is, and only provides information to the player. I don't see how having it would limit anything.
     
  11. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    Normally (or at least in TS1) the difficulty rating determines how many changes from a default run there might be, so adverse signals, time constraints, temporary works etc
    If every service is lined up as green lights all the way bar outside major stations (as would be the Utopia of train planning) then this would get pretty boring
    So I'm not saying the rating would limit anything, I was asking if all services are green lighters...
     
  12. Kuu Lightwing

    Kuu Lightwing Active Member

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    I merely suggested to rate every service so people could chose the ones more appropriate for them. No reason to make all the services green lighters (in fact, if they all would be the same difficulty, then rating wouldn't be needed)
     
  13. ARuscoe

    ARuscoe Well-Known Member

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    We seem to be at cross purposes here. I am asking questions not giving answers and you seem to be asking pretty much the same thing.
     
  14. giogurto_grande

    giogurto_grande Member

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    That's not the case, at least for all current routes in TSW in general. I ran a GWE service once, with a Class 66 and I needed to stop in front of a red light several times along the whole route. I don't remember which one it was, unfortunately. Other services often require you to slow down and chase yellows as you follow another service on the same track.

    In NEC though I think there might be less variety with signal situations since the route seems less busy in service mode and freight service is done on separate tracks.
     
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  15. LastTrainToClarksville

    LastTrainToClarksville Well-Known Member

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    In the switching scenarios I've written for TS20xx, I try to let the player make as many decisions as possible, but the "dispatcher" (i.e., the Timetable Editor) will only allow so much of this and sometimes rejects an instruction it had accepted earlier. In general, AI engines require more specific and detailed instructions than the driven one.

    Session F06-1 requires a lot of movements back and forth between the pick-up siding and the various drop-off sidings, the reversal point is indicated each time, but hitting that exact point is not necessary. For example, I ran well past it at least once due to setting switches on the 2D map when I should have been in the cab, and also stopped short of it a couple of times.

    I completely sympathize with the desire for fewer detailed and repetitive instructions instead of a simple "train order"; however, two factors argue against the latter: 1) If you save a scenario/session and then shut down TSW, when you return to that save, all previous instructions have vanished. I'm not stating that this could and should not be changed, just describing what happens now. 2) Both sessions and scenarios in TSW involve a scoring system and that may be the true reason behind the plethora of instructions: many players like points, badges, collectibles, etc. What exists, therefore, is the equivalent of Career scenarios in TS20xx. Once an editing system appears that allows the making of Standard scenarios, I feel certain that switching scenarios/sessions will appear with far fewer instructions -- provided, that is, pressing the ESC key in TSW comes to resemble the result of pressing F1 during a scenario in TS20xx: all of the scenario's instructions appear, plus a sort of briefing that the player can follow. In practice, a TS20xx scenario requires only one player train instruction: the end point; everything else can be laid out in the briefing. (The trick is that the End point must be reachable from the player train's starting position.)
     
  16. TrainSim-Matt

    TrainSim-Matt Staff Member

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    Glad you enjoyed F06 - it took quite a long time to get it working for both player and AI but it's immensely satisfying both to play and also to sit and watch the AI do all the hard work for you too :)

    My favourite sequence however is the final ones - you take a manifest train down to Fresh Pond and stable your locos off to one side. Then a couple of locos standing in for some NY&A switchers come up and start cutting your train up and bringing it down to East Yard, then they bring some cars back up and go back to their siding. Now the original locos come back out of their hiding place, couple to the new train and bring it back to Oak Point. I think this sequence is F10 1-3 then F11, then F10 4-6. Set aside some time for it, but I've done it myself now a good few times and I always enjoy it :)

    Glad you're enjoying Freight Services on NEC!

    Matt.
     
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  17. Anthony Pecoraro

    Anthony Pecoraro Well-Known Member

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    It’s hard to see with the headlights on at night.
     
  18. LastTrainToClarksville

    LastTrainToClarksville Well-Known Member

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    Ahem! The scenario under discussion takes place during daytime hours.
     
  19. LastTrainToClarksville

    LastTrainToClarksville Well-Known Member

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    I didn't hang around for the after-party; 'guess I'll just have to run the scenario again. Is it worth it? You bet!!! This is definitely one of the best switching scenarios I've ever seen, and that includes my own.

    I'm not sure what that sequence (F10 1-3 then F11, then F10 4-6) means. Explain, please?
     
  20. Anthony Pecoraro

    Anthony Pecoraro Well-Known Member

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    I was referring to Matt’s comment about the late night services.
     

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