OK, first of all, I'm in. Senior Engineer/Early Bird, though I would have certainly liked to buy a seat on the Pioneer Council or the "Enthusiast" group. This December 17th is just not a great time for a much bigger investment from me, though.
Honestly, it'd be easier to be a cynic and not to invest, and here are my personal reasons why:
- Installing SP3 was so terrible on my performance - constant stutter - that I finally removed Trainz entirely after spending dozens of hours trying every piece of advice on the forums
- Trainz is getting its tail kicked in both realism and smoothness of gameplay by a certain other railroad simulator
- N3V is just using Kickstarter cash to build the graphics engine they would have built anyway, then sell it in larger volume to the non-backers
- The features in the new game engine won't improve my enjoyment more than I could get from the aforementioned competition AND, based on living with stutter throughout my Trainz experience, have inherent risk of crippling performance
But, I put the majority of my cynicism aside. I've always had a soft spot for Trainz, and I always want to see it get better.
So, where can we look for the next real differentiation, rather than just geeking out on graphics and detail? In my opinion, Trainz still has a chance to beat the competition to the "World of Rails" that Microsoft proposed in "TS2" around '07.
I want to see Trainz be the first big train sim to have built-in tools for procedural world generation. We should be able to specify an area of the planet, have Trainz generate the rails based on public domain maps, and then have auto-gen buildings and foliage that match the approximate environment. This should be user friendly and nearly automatic. Seven years or so after Microsoft proposed it, we digi-railfans should be able to drive anything anywhere in the world with a few clicks.
This doesn't have to harm anybody's custom content or ability to create routes completely separate from the "World of Rails." Everyone would still want to dive into the microcosm of specific routes.
I know that's possible. Some company WILL do it eventually, and I'd rather it be N3V than the competition. That's why my stretch goal vote will not only be for # 8...
Landscape Genie - a configurable tool to auto-create and paint terrain and populate with selected objects
Import DEM data directly with the Terrain Importer
Google maps overlay or similar system
...but also to not give up on Trainz until it can live the "World of Rails" vision. Unless someone else does it first.