Trainz - No longer casual user nor community focused?


N3V is holding HD scenery version training sessions online. This suggests the HD patch is neither simple nor intuitive.
Over the last few years, I have concluded, Trainz is no longer for the casual route builder, at least to get to the level of the quasi-professional, Payware, routes that will now appear.
The skills bar is way past what the casual builder may be prepared to invest time into to match what will now be offered.
Ever joined a modelling club to find out it is a 'Rivet Counter' clique filled with competitive museum quality builders you have no hope in matching. (And soon left)
Not being able to get even near build quality promoted without a great deal of effort and expense, (Payware), will discourage and lose N3V customers early.
This will leave mainly 'Session' builders and 'Drivers'. Rolling stock, Trackside, vehicle and buildings assets etc., will only be built by Long Time Users, "LTUs" (the non-disgruntled ones), and quasi-professional (Payware) builders.
Is this the path N3V wants to take, a 'Payware' model by quasi-professional builders?
Is Trainz devolving to what Microsoft Railroad simulator was, a 'Driver' focused game?
Perhaps N3V needs a cutdown 'Railroad Builder' version focused on a 'reliable' inbuilt set of basic operations tools and assets? TMRS2004+ with PaintShed?
I am tired of having to spend days or weeks recovering from the latest version/patch of my aged route. Beta Testing done on perfect, latest version builds only?
I am tired of trying to come up with work arounds that can't fix all the problems, leaving yet another partially degraded railroad to my eyes.
I am tired of NOT having a utility I can run to highlight a list of what is now incompatible and providing possible alternatives. (non-destructive 'Compact' tool)
Blaming 3rd party assets is NOT a solution considering that the DLC, (3rd Party and free Assets), is used as a Marketing carrot.
I think N3V has forgotten that most LTUs, have invested years of time and have legacy layouts. My railroad has grown out of TMRS 2004 and possibly TMRS 1.3
So why would anyone now pay a yearly subscription for a game that regularly breaks older user created routes when patched, and has raised the Skills Bar and time input substantially?
You can still install different versions concurrently to access your favourite routes. (Assuming N3V will still allow concurrent versions + light route and session modding)
I think the better alternative now is to buy anew each? time and simply run inbuilt route/sessions and modify the occasional route/session from the builtins.
Well said sir, - well said.

I totally agree with where your coming from. I used to spend hours a day on my routes sometimes looking up after a short building session after dinner in the evening to find it's 2 or 3 am in the morning.
Now I might spend 2-3 hrs a week if that. It's not the same atmosphere as it used to be over the years.I find I can still get what is good for me to enjoy what I'm doing without all changes and updates since S2 without the worry.
I've tried S2 but not enjoying what I'm doing while using it,all i wanted was a smaller brush dia not everything else that came with it.
I agree with your frustration. I have it every day. I have done a lot with Trainz for years. BUT, it is getting more complex!! NOT as a train simulator, but as a graphics program. There has been a lack of recent developments in the "railroading" as money has been spent on graphics. Is it possible that N3V is planning the release of a Game Graphics creator system? The Living Railroad thing has seen few, if any, developments. No news, just promises as graphics have become the primary focus of the company.

I am quite satisfied with the graphics prior to 2.0. I am not satisfied with the added complexity of the graphics environment. I want to build routes and sessions that represent the real operation of railroads of various era's and regions. That is NOT, in my opinion, what N3V is producing now. Unless we see a renewed focus on RAILROADING, more and more customers will become entangled the latest graphics while searching for way to build a RAILROAD.
Yes, the skills needed to create assets for Trainz is becoming far more complex and advanced than they used to be. LODs, for example, are becoming a necessity in assets and perhaps before too long PBR textures will as well.

The pressure for this is coming from two directions. The consumers (us) who are constantly demanding "better graphics" and "more realism" - just take a look back through the forums to see the number of posts demanding just that. Secondly, N3V must keep ahead of the competition if it is to survive.

Maybe there is merit in marketing a "legacy version" for the LTUs amongst us (of which I am one). But those legacy versions are already available - TRS19, TANE, TRS12, etc - and they still work.

You don't have to use the new HT Terrain to build a railroad. I am currently upgrading one of my old TS2006 creations to Trainz Plus/TRS22 standard using Effect Layers, PBR textures, procedural tracks and newer better assets but I will not be using HD Terrain. As a trial I did upgrade the work completed so far to HD and its CM file size was 835MB compared to the 10m grid version of 182MB.

You don't have to use Surveyor 2.0 or have to pay a subscription to continue using Trainz. The retail (non subscription) TRS22 still has Surveyor Classic and has no HD.

For the record I (as an LTU) am thoroughly enjoying using Surveyor 2.0. I find it far more efficient and productive than Classic but I still drop back into Surveyor Classic for those features that are not yet in S20. The old Classic rulers being one feature that I prefer over the new S20 rulers. But I appreciate that S20, HD, PBR and the other features are not to everyone's liking.

My thoughts.
While I understand the frustration of those just joining the party since the old timers have grown up with the changes a little bit at a time instead of all at once. At one time Trainz was disparaged for being too much of a model railroad an not enough of a realistic simulator. Well reality is complex.

One of the problems as I see it is that Trainz tries to do it all. Simple to use and realistic operations, easy scenery and photo-realistic renders. Somehow I don't see them squaring that circle.

But since all of the older versions can live concurrently in the same computer, if you have the disk space, pick the level you're comfortable with and ignore the rest. Even the DLS has a ton of objects made for the older versions.
Agree with a lot you post K3John

I keep it simple for myself, I do everything in the in my eyes best version of Trainz, TRS19 before any service packs build 100240
It combines all we are used to in the last 18 years + possibility to use newer content and its very stable.
No textures that trash track or push up, Undo easy in the top menu, a simple icon to switch to gridview
A consist menu, cars drive when you work in surveyor (so I can test roads) no UDS i never use, etc.

I tweaked the interfaces, Surveyor 1.1 with a better/larger preview, made my own precision grid, my own junction arrows (without red blob)
made a custom set of more divers passengers that are not dark at night and a driver interface with many easy features.
It is a pleasure to work in and makes sure I do not get frustrated over trainz.

On the other hand, I have Trainz plus and test every new version that comes out at once,
I comment mostly on Discord these days and show them where it goes wrong and what can be improved.
If they read and use it fine, if they dont use it, their loss not mine at least I tried.

The key, you decide what version you use, you decide how and what you want to build/create
Trainz is a great Simulation, don't let it frustrate you, just have fun.
greetings GM
In general, agree ...
It catches my attention to see in a few posts, to see several well-known names, the usual ones, who are not too happy... and that could be a call to attention.
At least I know I'm not alone.
My intuition told me not to update and stay at 119451... and I was right.
I have no problem learning new things (although I'm a bit old for that), in general I only apply what I use.
But I don't like when something simple that worked in the previous version, now gives problems in the new one. I do not require backward compatibility, the previous version is enough for me...
But I would like that if something changes, they also tell me how I can fix it.
Without realizing it, I've spent more time learning how to create my Assets and update them than putting them in the Simulator, it's already part of the Hobby.
After all, 90% of the stuff on the DS must have been made by hobbyists... and they're still there.
One of the main advantages of Trainz has been that it is an open platform, I hope that doesn't change.
The visual effects, the water, the wind swaying the trees, the birds and a very detailed terrain can be very visually pleasing, ... but I prefer my train to move, wobble and jump on the track like it has to, before everything else...

In the meantime, I'm not going to give up even if that means staying with my current versions.
My thought
In general terms, I agree with the views being expressed. I also accept that N3V must keep pace with its competitors and must remain profitable to survive.

I’m a relative newcomer to Trainz with modest IT skills and training but I have somehow managed to navigate my way through the intricacies of Apple and PC TS12, TANE, TRS19 and now, TRS22. In addition to exploring the stock routes, I’ve produced and have 12 WsIP operating; all based on specific prototype routes with the topographic data taken manually or by using TRANSDEM. My progression has been punctuated with numerous frustrations and mistakes; a great many of my own making, but they have also resulted from the numerous lists of unknown and missing/corrupted assets that have followed most of the so-called programme upgrades.

So, where is Trainz heading. My hope is that it will among other things, continue to serve my primary interest - that of a life-long railway enthusiast and one-time railway modeller. An individual who gravitated to Trainz only when other constraints put an end to real-time modelling.

To pick up on Martinvk’s point, in my world, Trainz is not a railway simulator, and it is not a game. It is a tool for computer generated railway modelling and if it doesn't meet that requirement ........................................

You don't have to use Surveyor 2.0 or have to pay a subscription to continue using Trainz. The retail (non subscription) TRS22 still has Surveyor Classic and has no HD.

For the record I (as an LTU) am thoroughly enjoying using Surveyor 2.0. I find it far more efficient and productive than Classic but I still drop back into Surveyor Classic for those features that are not yet in S20. The old Classic rulers being one feature that I prefer over the new S20 rulers. But I appreciate that S20, HD, PBR and the other features are not to everyone's liking.

My thoughts.

I totally agree with pware about that last part: I too am using S2 for most of the things but still prefer the use of the S1 for the rulers and the massive objects substitutions. Also the terrain creation (hills, valley and so on) from the scratch it's easier with the old surveyor. S2 is good to use if you already have a scrapbook item to copy in your route.
I am not used to Surveyor2 yet. Why did they have to change Surveyor so drastically? It's like having to use a whole new program. Couldn't they just use the old Surveyor to add the new stuff? The old Surveyor became so familiar over the years, I could almost use it without thinking.

But that's not my biggest frustration with using (playing) Trainz. My biggest frustrations always come with A.I. trains in my sessions. Stopping for no apparent reason... Ignoring Green signals. Going through trackmarks without "seeing" them. etc. It can make me so mad!

Whatever. Trainz is still the absolute BEST rail simulator.

Thanks N3V.

Dave Snow
I would have to agree with most of what has been said in the thread and I believe the real issue is lack of current documentation.

When I first started using computer many years ago now, software was extensively documented. Programs came with manuals, often and inch or more in thickness, describing every feature in detail. And it that wasn’t enough, there were the magazines. Being a Mac User I bought every issue of Mac World and Mac User magazines, now no longer in print.

Then slowly, software developers began providing less and less documentation to the point that new programs rarely come with a manual or any comprehensive description of new features. Lack of documentation is everywhere. For example, open Blendr Market go to the add-ons section and pick an addon. Now click on the Documentation page. I could almost put money on it that the page is blank! Some of these add-ons are complex but you will be left on your own to figure them out. Good luck.

And Trainz is no exception. Sure, there is sites like TrainzOnline, but much of the information was written for older version of Trainz and not relevant to the current edition. Section like content creation are hopeless, particularly for the new user.

And despite the 663,745 items on the Download Station (DLS) content creation is an important aspect of Trainz. I would think that many users would like to create their own route of railways close to home and add assets of structures that see in their neighbourhood.

I am told, I am not that old, that back in the 1903’s one had to make almost everything for a model railroad. The along came Walthers with their expansive catalogue. It was all of an inch thick with fine print. With Trainz came the DLS.

To be sure there are those that just want to run trains, and are happy with the Downloadable Content (DLC) provided. And maybe, as has been suggested, that what N3V wants to focus on.

But Trainz is and can be so much more. And it is to who create routes and content for routes. But they work in relative isolation. On my opinion there really has been over the year only one attempt to change that. Some years ago, some users started a Trainz Magazine. It was published monthly and was free. It grew to about a dozen pages and features articles that described how various Trainz users made routes and content. You could scan through the pages a pick the articles that interested you just like with Mac World and Mac User. And you too could contribute. Importunely, it lasted only about six months as the editor suffered health issues.

The forum is great but it is a place for “putting out fires”. You have a very specific issue and you ask for assistance. It is rare that someone would ask “How do you use HD? Do you need to use PBR material texture set? Walk me through the process of making a PBR material suitable for HD.

My Point? More need to be done to bring Trainz users together, to provide the information on how to use the program and, particularly, how to use new features. N3V and other companies will say that haven’t the time to invest and it is expensive. So there’s the challenge for Trainz users. We need someone to take the initiative, create an Internet website, with an editor or editorial board to vet submissions, and publish articles by users.


More need to be done to bring Trainz users together, to provide the information on how to use the program and, particularly, how to use new features. N3V and other companies will say that haven’t the time to invest and it is expensive. So there’s the challenge for Trainz users. We need someone to take the initiative, create an Internet website, with an editor or editorial board to vet submissions, and publish articles by users.

The Trainz Wiki contains a great deal of user created information, some of it way too short in length and/or detail, others too long and too much detail (I plead guilty there). It happily accepts contributions from users.

I have recently added two new pages to the Trainz Wiki, both specifically on using Surveyor 2.0 - Using the Surveyor 2.0 Tools and Using the Surveyor 2.0 Palettes. Plus I have updated other pages to include information on using both Surveyor Classic and Surveyor 2.0.

N3V and other companies are correct - creating adequate user documentation is expensive in both time and resources particularly in a rapidly changing technological environment. As a (part time) professional writer on technology I can add that it is not a fast or easy task. In my experience about 18 months between starting and publication was the average time - and a lot of that was chasing up permissions from copyright holders and other legal issues, fact checking, graphic design tasks, etc.

I must add the (probably contentious) comment that this issue, "Trainz is leaving the 'Old Timers' behind", "forgetting about their user base", etc crops up in these pages regularly for as long as I can remember. The creation of "sessions" back in TRS2004??? caused a great deal of angst amongst the then "old timers", and in TRSxxxx (I forget which version) the arrival of layers, a feature that had been present in many other programs "since forever", caused major heart attacks (and still does today amongst some users).

I remember being told once over an issue of changes to workplace conditions that if you "can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen". I resented that comment then, and still do today when it is thrown at people whose only choices are to "move with the times or leave". The "price of progress" is easy to pay when you are not the one paying for it. N3V does not force users to "adapt or die" unlike some software companies which force all users to "upgrade" to the latest version. You can stay with the old if that is at your pace. As I posted above you do not have to use HD Terrain (I certainly won't be on my existing large routes - but I will look at it for a future small route) or Surveyor 2.0 (there is a learning curve but I found it well worth the climb). The choice is yours.
I am beginning to think the same. After the last update, it seems I will have to start from scratch again, downloading hundreds of assets that I had unloaded before and finding that many of the assets I most want (eg Small City Blocks among many others), do not fit the criteria. I get the feeling the game is now all about high definition background, while the purpose of a railway (eg delivering products and passengers) has been forgotten.
I haven't given up yet, but at the moment am reluctant to start a new project
N3V is playing to two markets - graphics and railroading. As a small company, in a sea of small companies, funding and talent are expensive. While I do not like the move to graphics from railroading, there was probably no choice. Unfortunately, changes to graphics affects many elements of the program as witnessed by recent posts. Transport is the new theme.

A Transportation system can be trucks, trains, ships or planes. N3V is positioned for two of them with the current product. Just imagine a customer having the choice of almost any era to transport goods to anywhere (portals). The new N3V world will include new companies such as package transportation and bulk transportation. With the new graphics wonderful ships that can haul stuff world wide. Non-flyable, but visually accurate airplanes, do the same. We are freed from the railroads and the worldwide transportation system may now be modeled.

The new program will not make any attempt at driving or piloting. The cockpit of an air transport will be accurate but there will be no pilot control. We will see emulations of the modern cargo handling systems at major airports. Accurate depictions of sea ports will show the complex dance between trucks and loaders. Perhaps version xxx will allow scheduling of the trucks for orderly movement of cargo. On and on.

The market is anybody... Everyone understands, to some degree transportation, be it UPS or United Airlines. Put your personal cargo into the system and watch it compete for time and space with others.

Meet the new N3V product - TRANSPORT World.
The idea this thread and many others brings up is a load of dung. The community is wide range of people, not just the old farts with the get off my lawn mentality. Listening to only the old farts who generally don’t want to buy anything new and have a harder time learning isn’t the way for a business to survive. I say that as someone who is part of the over the hill club. 16 bit graphics isn’t going to sell.

There is a large gap between what people think is easy to program and how programming actually is. Improvements take time and money. The resources aren’t there to all the tutorials and documentation. The community demanded the graphics improvements. The community demanded higher resolution terrain. The community demanded the windows 12 graphics compatibility. The community demanded Mac improvements. The community demands 4k resolution and at some point likely 8k. The community demands better AI and they are working on TLR.

Every bit of these improvements requires time and money. There is no studio that is going to throw thousands of programmers at trains games. Every improvement changes file format or something and can always create a problem. They probably have millions of lines of code and much of it is old.

Trainz can import standard graphics file formats and what you can do is vast. How can one possibly make that easier? I keep thinking we could have more utilities if they would work with 3rd party software and released file formats. But they will not do that. The complexity with assets is there because of how the graphics formats are.