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srude
August 10th, 2009, 12:07 AM
Hello, all;

Because the Download Station has such paucity of North American assets, I, long ago, decided to make my own stuff. So, I learned to use gmax, in conjuction with the Trainz Asset Creation Studio, Paint Shop Pro, Object Explorer and TRS 2006. Although I've made many things, the process was too laborious. The problem was that one can't render an image in gmax. TOE is okay but to get the full dynamic of a model, one has to import into the Trainz simulator.

Everyone knows how expensive 3Ds Max is!

Then, along come TRS 2009 and there two environments. One is the Compatible mode, which is essentially, an older version, redone. The other, is, Native mode, which requires a whole new way of doing things. And, gmax is no longer the primary content tool. So, what to do? Unless you have an older version of 3Ds Max, version 2010 has no exporter for Trainz

Now, there is Blender. I suffered through the ordeal that trained me to use this program, which happens to do everything gmax does, and has an onboard renderer, to boot.

I just ordered TRS 2009 and now I face the question: Should I go through the pain of learning to model with the Native mode, or stick with the old way?

While high detail scnerey is certainly a plus, what is the purpose of a rail simulator? I think that the model quality isn't that important. I think that the activity involved, is what matters. Creating trains, loading and unloading cargo, delivering to a customer, is what railroading is all about.

Am I wrong? Or are we suppose to cruise around a route and comment on how pretty it looks?

Just a thought . . .

srude

:)

Lots_Trains
August 10th, 2009, 12:18 AM
:wave:

For me its all about moving freight, but everyone to there own.

I just love clocking up endless kms moving freight

Cheers

Lots

Dinorius_Redundicus
August 10th, 2009, 01:02 AM
You'll probably get as many different preferences as there are Trainz users. Personally, I think a good layout is one with a balance of interesting things to do and realistic scenery to look at, with a bit of a bias towards scenery as the determining factor. I can't see the point of one without the other though.

I'm happy enough with TRS2004/2006 quality scenery and to simply rely on computer upgrades every few years to increase the performance. From what I've seen in screenies, the TS2009 stuff isn't that much better. On the content creation side, the last thing I feel like doing is learning Blender having just learned gmax.

BTW, the Graphical Mesh Viewer by PEV is a pretty good viewer for Trainz assets..better than TOE I think.

WindWalkr
August 10th, 2009, 01:14 AM
Hi srude,


I just ordered TRS 2009 and now I face the question: Should I go through the pain of learning to model with the Native mode, or stick with the old way?

Depending on what you're building, this is possibly a false dichotomy. With a few specific exceptions, building content in TS2009 is identical to building content in older Trainz versions. The major exceptions are as follows:

* We strongly encourage the use of normal maps including per-pixel specular, higher polygon counts, and higher resolution textures where appropriate.

* There is a new track format available. The old one still works just as it used to, even in native mode, but the new format is a lot more powerful and if you work with track a lot then you'll probably want to upgrade.

* In native mode, alpha blended polygons are no longer depth-sorted. For many types of content, this is irrelevant, however for foliage this can be a game-changer. The old approach of "a tree is two squares crossed through each other" no longer works. Alpha-masking can be used as a workaround, but the real solution here is to model the trees at high quality (such as TNM's work.)

* Native mode does not permit the use of faulty content. This isn't a change to modeling in TS2009, but rather we're enforcing the rules now rather than simply alerting people when the rules are being broken.



While high detail scnerey is certainly a plus, what is the purpose of a rail simulator? I think that the model quality isn't that important. I think that the activity involved, is what matters. Creating trains, loading and unloading cargo, delivering to a customer, is what railroading is all about.

I completely agree with your view on the purpose of a train simulator, however it's worth keeping in mind that given two products which are otherwise equal, people will always choose the better-looking of the two. There were a number of DOS-era train simulators which were very strong in their own ways, but few people play them now. We can't afford to simply say "this is good enough" and stop improving the game.

All the best,

chris

john259
August 10th, 2009, 01:21 AM
I think that the activity involved, is what matters. Creating trains, loading and unloading cargo, delivering to a customer, is what railroading is all about.
Have you explored creating interactive activities with Trainz Pro Route's SCS2006? According to reports posted here it also works with TS2009WBE.

John

American_Connections
August 10th, 2009, 02:45 AM
Hi srude,



Depending on what you're building, this is possibly a false dichotomy. With a few specific exceptions, building content in TS2009 is identical to building content in older Trainz versions. The major exceptions are as follows:

* We strongly encourage the use of normal maps including per-pixel specular, higher polygon counts, and higher resolution textures where appropriate.

* There is a new track format available. The old one still works just as it used to, even in native mode, but the new format is a lot more powerful and if you work with track a lot then you'll probably want to upgrade.

* In native mode, alpha blended polygons are no longer depth-sorted. For many types of content, this is irrelevant, however for foliage this can be a game-changer. The old approach of "a tree is two squares crossed through each other" no longer works. Alpha-masking can be used as a workaround, but the real solution here is to model the trees at high quality (such as TNM's work.)

* Native mode does not permit the use of faulty content. This isn't a change to modeling in TS2009, but rather we're enforcing the rules now rather than simply alerting people when the rules are being broken.




I completely agree with your view on the purpose of a train simulator, however it's worth keeping in mind that given two products which are otherwise equal, people will always choose the better-looking of the two. There were a number of DOS-era train simulators which were very strong in their own ways, but few people play them now. We can't afford to simply say "this is good enough" and stop improving the game.

All the best,

chrisI have always wondered what the requirements for 09 was, looks like my assets are pretty much there even befpre there was a 09. But loads are still made on a plane, so why can't scenery be? Surely a background still works, right! As for building, as stated in the 04CCG, things will not work in a version earier that the build number you make it in, so if you build things in 09, they will not be any use to the people that would rather operate in earlier vesons of the game, and there is a good change it will not work in future versions if they do not learn to improve instead of just change it. I make all my assets as build 2.0 so that most versions can use them.

WindWalkr
August 10th, 2009, 04:53 AM
But loads are still made on a plane, so why can't scenery be? Surely a background still works, right!

Correct. There's nothing in TS2009 forcing you to model at high detail. It's going to be a while yet before computers are called upon to make quality judgements :)

It's not the plane aspect of the trees that is the problem. It's the fact that alpha sorting is no longer used. You can still use a crossed-squares approach with alpha masking, but it won't look as good as the old alpha-blended approach - you'll get "glass edges" and other visual problems. To get content which looks as good or better, you need to move to comparatively high-polygon modeling.

chris

gfisher
August 10th, 2009, 07:59 AM
To get content which looks as good or better, you need to move to comparatively high-polygon modeling.

And also a level of artistic skill as it applies to tree creation that no one yet in the trainz community has yet to demonstrate, as well as mutiple levels of LOD which results in lollypops on sticks at any distance, which of course we can all see clearly now that you have increased the view distance. Think I'll stick with 06 for now.

johnwhelan
August 10th, 2009, 03:05 PM
Hello, all;

Because the Download Station has such paucity of North American assets, I, long ago, decided to make my own stuff. So, I learned to use gmax, in conjuction with the Trainz Asset Creation Studio, Paint Shop Pro, Object Explorer and TRS 2006. Although I've made many things, the process was too laborious. The problem was that one can't render an image in gmax. TOE is okay but to get the full dynamic of a model, one has to import into the Trainz simulator.

Everyone knows how expensive 3Ds Max is!

Then, along come TRS 2009 and there two environments. One is the Compatible mode, which is essentially, an older version, redone. The other, is, Native mode, which requires a whole new way of doing things. And, gmax is no longer the primary content tool. So, what to do? Unless you have an older version of 3Ds Max, version 2010 has no exporter for Trainz

Now, there is Blender. I suffered through the ordeal that trained me to use this program, which happens to do everything gmax does, and has an onboard renderer, to boot.

I just ordered TRS 2009 and now I face the question: Should I go through the pain of learning to model with the Native mode, or stick with the old way?

While high detail scnerey is certainly a plus, what is the purpose of a rail simulator? I think that the model quality isn't that important. I think that the activity involved, is what matters. Creating trains, loading and unloading cargo, delivering to a customer, is what railroading is all about.

Am I wrong? Or are we suppose to cruise around a route and comment on how pretty it looks?

Just a thought . . .

srude

:)

If it helps I've been working in Blender recently and doing some normal mapping as well. I've been setting the version number to TRS2004 since they work quite happily in TRS2004. There are a few minor quirks but they show up and the normal mapping is present. I have some items set to TC3 version level but that's more an issue of they depend on some TC3 built in content.

There is a performance issue with TRS2004 in that these models have much less impact in TS2009.

So designing for TS2009 just means you can use normal mapping and bigger textures (4:1 texture compression in TS2009), you can get away with .jpgs rather than .tgas as TS2009 converts it to an internal compressed format anyway but remember you lose quality every time you edit a .jpg. I understand there is some differences (enhancements) on the scripting side and there are differences on the steam loco side, the TC3 enhancements for steam are available to take advantage of but you need to set them up correctly.

With SP2 Auran should have now stablised the error reporting. Apparently SP2 is even fussier than previous versions.

Cheerio John

Johnk
August 11th, 2009, 05:11 AM
johnwhelan, may I first respond to your post?

Editing JPG files is the same as editing video or audio tapes. Every additional edit introduces a deterioration in quality until the whole thing becomes a huge mess. The only way to overcome this is to record on paper every edit you make, then go back to the original and try to do everything in a single pass. It's extra work, but the results are worth it. I always work from the original and still get it wrong, but it's worth a try.

John, I read most of your posts, but find myself completely lost in the fog. You are one of the few people here who have the knowledge and the desire to share that knowledge. Have you seriously thought about writing a tutorial that will take people through all the stages of development, from creating a very simple model, to texturing it, and finally getting it on the rails? I would be both delighted and honoured to work with you on such a project by doing all that is necessary to convert your thoughts to a web page or PDF file.

I'm not suggesting that you do a tutorial on using Blender itself, but a tutorial on all the processes thereafter to get a model working in Trainz. Also, I'm not looking for some "exclusive" here. It can appear on the Wiki, or my site, or both.

Please give it some thought and let me know what you think.

Regards,

John

johnwhelan
August 11th, 2009, 07:28 AM
johnwhelan, may I first respond to your post?

Editing JPG files is the same as editing video or audio tapes. Every additional edit introduces a deterioration in quality until the whole thing becomes a huge mess. The only way to overcome this is to record on paper every edit you make, then go back to the original and try to do everything in a single pass. It's extra work, but the results are worth it. I always work from the original and still get it wrong, but it's worth a try.

John, I read most of your posts, but find myself completely lost in the fog. You are one of the few people here who have the knowledge and the desire to share that knowledge. Have you seriously thought about writing a tutorial that will take people through all the stages of development, from creating a very simple model, to texturing it, and finally getting it on the rails? I would be both delighted and honoured to work with you on such a project by doing all that is necessary to convert your thoughts to a web page or PDF file.

I'm not suggesting that you do a tutorial on using Blender itself, but a tutorial on all the processes thereafter to get a model working in Trainz. Also, I'm not looking for some "exclusive" here. It can appear on the Wiki, or my site, or both.

Please give it some thought and let me know what you think.

Regards,

John

One method of working is to take the images for the texture file and save them in the native mode of the graphics editor. For Paintshop pro this is .pspimage format. When the texture is ready then you first save it as .pspimage and then as .tga or .jpg. It avoids the limitations of multiple edits of a .jpg file.

I put together something for newcomers recently that takes you through the basics of creating texturing and finally making a moving model on the track so did you mean something like this?

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Trainz/Tutorial_for_Blender#Newcomers_start_here

I did it to explain the process, and the tutorials build on each other. Have a look and see if it meets what you are after. I've tried to keep the detail to a minimum more to give the overall picture.

Thanks

Cheerio John