Throwing Out The Script

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Kazick, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. Kazick

    Kazick Member

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    I've been playing different train sims going on 20 years now. The hours I have spent in everything is more than I can count and recall. And over the years of playing I have learned a lot about railroad operations and what I like out of my train sim experience. It's taken me some time going between TSW2, Trainz, and Run8 to really get an understanding of what makes Railworks and TSW unenjoyable for me. And it all boils down to the game play, or lack there of. Let me try to explain, and hopefully layout the changes that I'd like to see come to TSW regarding the game play.

    As it stands now, TSW use's prescripted scenarios to make sessions. There is some randomness in terms of what locomotives on trains are there. But for the most part scenarios will all ways play out the same. Doing any tasks, switching, or yard work, its all doing it exactly how who ever scripted that scenario planed it. This leaves very little room for any player agency, the ability for the player to decide how to do something. It makes for extremely linear game play. This isn't inherently a bad thing. It helps new players figure out what to do, how to make the set outs they need to make, what tracks to go to. But it makes for boring game play for more advanced players that have a better understanding of how to do different operations.

    Lets look at a example where the player has plenty of agency and is able come to any number of solutions that get a proper result Model Railroads. Specifically, the Time Saver. We've probably all seen it at some point, but if not let me explain what this layout is. The Time Saver isn't meant to be a realistic model railroad, but more of a switching puzzle. A game to be beat. And there are a lot of ways to solve it. Some are faster than others. Lets look at how it starts out: (Yellow box is your locomotive)
    TS-RULE1.gif
    And here is how it should look when solved:
    TS-RULE2.gif
    The cars all start ether all over the layout, or behind the locomotive. And its a race against the clock to get them to the right spots as fast as possible. I find the time saver is a great way of just having some fun and getting a good idea of planing out switch moves. I used to have one that I would just play on for a few hours a day just to have fun.

    But this is a very good example of giving the player plenty to think about, giving them a real sense of agency. It benefits the player to think ahead and plan out all their moves. And it rewards the player not with points or stickers but in the sense or progression in seeing your times get better and better. The player really gets that sense of accomplishment. There is a clear start point, a clear end goal, but how the player gets that end goal is up to the player. With out anyone holding their hand along the ways. This isn't really something you see in scripted scenarios. Since in a scripted scenario all the thinking has been done ahead of time by someone else. They are very much holding the players hand every step of the way. This means that if you made the time saver in TSW with scenarios for it, they only way to solve that puzzle would be the way set out by who ever wrote that scenario. The player wouldn't have to think about their moves, just follow the instructions on the HUD.

    Looking at another example where dynamic, not scripted liner sessions, but dynamic game play in a train sim makes for a much more fun experience. Run8. And specifically lets look at one local that I have ran quite a few times in it, UP's Edison local YBK50. For some context, this local run out of UP's Bakersfield yard and heads up the Mojave sub a few miles to Edison CA. Now every time I have ran it, I've spotted all the cars where they need to be and picked up all the cars that are ready to go back to the yard. But each time, I've done it differently. And, since Run8 is multiplayer, I have watched and worked with other players who have ran that local their own way. They spotted everything where it needed to go, but all their switching moves where different that mine. We all got the cars where they needed to go, but we did it in our own way. And that made for a few fun and enjoyable time. We had to think 2-3 moves in advance. We where kept thinking and on our toes.

    So the scripted scenario system would have to go out the window. In its place a more dynamic system would need to be implemented. Things like markers would still be there for things like industry and stations locations. But timetables for passenger and freight manifest trains. But when doing yard work or delivering cars to industries you have a switch list. This would be a list that would tell you what cars you have to set out and where to set them out. As well as any cars that you need to pick up. But it wouldn't tell you how. That wold be up to you to figure out. And having a switch list would make things a bit more realistic, at least for North American routes. Even more so if we had an option to print them out. (Something I have done in other train sims and it added a whole new level of immersion.) This would make things more fun, more dynamic, and give the player more agency and choice in how they go about running trains. It would also make session more dynamic, more fun, and more rewarding.
     
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  2. finntd#7891

    finntd#7891 Well-Known Member

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    honestly I don't mind the scripted ness but I wish for a sandbox mode where I can mess about with what I want and go anywhere on the route spawn what I wish and experiment with weird consists
     
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  3. Kazick

    Kazick Member

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    And I really dislike the scripts, makes the game feel boring knowing its all ways going to the be the same thing and that its going to hold my hand every step of the way. Doing switching, which is what I like to do, isn't fun because I have no say in what I am doing. I often do moves that don't make any sense after the fact, because I have to follow the script. Getting to solve the puzzle is half the fun of switching, which again isn't possible with the scripted scenarios.

    I do like that idea of an open sandbox, and my idea would defiantly lead to that. In fact, getting rid of the scripted scenarios would be key to bring that in.
     
  4. finntd#7891

    finntd#7891 Well-Known Member

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    Sand Patch actually has a scriptless scenario where it lets you play around in Cumberland yard but that's the only place you can play around in the only other route to do this is NEC but that didn't get preserved
     
  5. Kazick

    Kazick Member

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    Ive tried to play that scenario and it again is scripted. You may not be on any train that has a script telling you what to do. But there are other trains that are scripted. And since the singling system relies heavily on the scripts to dictate CTC switches and signals, you are stuck in the yard. To add to the frustration of that session, there is no point to moving cars in the yard. There is no switch list, no way of building a train and taking it out on the main. There is no reward for doing any thing in the yard. I just not fun.
     
  6. Kazick

    Kazick Member

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    Bump because this is something I strongly believe in. I posted this in a reply to a comment on Reddit, but is relevant to this suggestion.

    Something that TSW has all ways lacked. Player Agency. Player agency just means that you the player have a choice in what you are doing and how you do it. And it means that what you do has a larger impact on the game world. Quick quote I found on the matter, " Player agency is the level of control you have over the game world. Low player agency means that you have very minimal control over the game, like in linear games, for example, where there is one specific path you have to follow that is set by the developer of the game. You can't change it nor choose a different path."

    Want a good example of a game with good player agency? Minecraft, might as well rename it "Player Agency the Voxel based Video game." Though Minecraft is a bit easier to say. Because you can build whatever you want. The game isn't telling you to build a house exactly how the devs want you to build it. You are free to mine and build and explore however you want. The game isn't holding your hand every step of the way.

    TSW lacks any real player agency. You grab a train or start a session and you are stuck following the instructions set out by the devs. Even when switching you are stuck making moves that the devs want. Often times making moves that don't make any sense. You don't have the opportunity to solve the switching puzzle

    Run8 has loads of player agency. You can pop down a train any where and take it where ever. Trainz is the say way. Build what ever route to want. Run whatever train you want how ever you want. Both of these allow the player to engage in problem solving

    And for me, thats what makes other sims fun. I get to sit there and figure out what switching moves I need to make to spot a train car at a siding. I get to solve that puzzle. I get to make the choices. TSW lacks that.

    Here is a good example of a real world industry and how one might go about working it.Granted this is in Trainz and is on a model railroad, it is based on a real world industry that did at one time exist.
    Untitled.png 2021-04-27 093238.jpg
    In this image, you need to get the loaded center beam the yellow car, to the industry track that has the empty red center beam. And you need to pick up the red center beam and take it south. South being to the right of the screen shot. There are plenty of ways to solve this, to get that task done. And a big part of the fun of train simming, and model railroading which this particular set up was aimed to represent, is figuring that out.

    And I did in fact build this model railroad.
    1422552_697258830411535_6063015493333620893_n.jpg


    For example, here is how I would spot the yellow car and pick up the red one.
    1. Push the yellow car into the passing siding and leave it there.
    2. Use the switch back to tie on to the red car.
    3. Using the main track side of the siding, I'd leave the red car on the main there. (I would communicate with the dispatcher my intentions and them him know what I was doing.)
    4. At this point my locomotive is on the other end of the yellow car, so when I back up to it its on the long hood end.
    5. I can now use the switch back to push the yellow car into the industry track where it goes.
    6. I can now couple up the red car to the front of my locomotive and head south.

    But that's just how I would work it. Maybe someone else would have worked it a different way. In the operations I had for that layout that train would have had a lot more cars to deal with, so even that would effect how you worked this industry. In the model railroad this was your first stop with a north bound local. You'd work this industry as a trailing point with the yellow car up front. The later you'd work the other industries before truing around and heading back south as the train in the example image is set up.

    Getting rid of the scripts, the stopping points, and all that mess would allow us as players to look at this set up I gave as an example and come up with our own ways to solve it. I'm not saying turn TSW into a puzzle game. I'm saying give us agency, give us choices, give us the doctor, GIVE US THE ROPE! (Bold is a joke quoting a Protomen song.)
     
  7. dedh98mosqueto

    dedh98mosqueto Active Member

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    Wow, just wow. I love the idea of this and I think DTG could use this in future routes and just saw here are some cars pick them up however you want and put them on that track over there.
     
  8. KoeleKoen

    KoeleKoen Well-Known Member

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    Good and interesting points but when i shunt in real life I'm thankful they give me the instructions on how where and when cause if they'd rely on my agency I don't think anything would leave on time.
     
  9. dedh98mosqueto

    dedh98mosqueto Active Member

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    They won't let us kick the cars and count it as coupling the car to the required formation.
     

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