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Thread: Project Suggestions

  1. #1

    Question Project Suggestions

    After clearing my plate of all former rail sim projects, I find myself asking what's next? I battled the learning curves of Blender, Trainz and Railworks. I found that making a historical route is far harder then it looks...at least if you want to be hyper accurate like me. I also found that those types of projects are best left to a group of people that share the same interests. This is something I've never been able to find in all my years I've been into rail sims. Now I ask myself, so what is there left to do? Well, I could make up my own fictional route. I can make up my own railroad company and let it evolve, planning every little detail and it's history. Maybe I can make a model railroad. Base it off some interesting track diagram I found on line. I seen some of those model railroad type routes that look pretty interesting. I guess I'm just waiting for some kind inspiration to come my way.

    I'm curious on what other user's routes (or projects) are being worked on, and what is the inspiration behind that project? Help me to find some inspiration. Maybe there is still some inspiration out there that I haven't tapped into yet.
    Scott
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    Welcome back Scott.

    Your observations are spot on, but different things interest different people. I find creating real and historical routes to be the most rewarding but probably the hardest to do, mainly because you have to try to get as much accuracy as possible. Historical routes have the added burden of all the additional research through official and other records, if you can find them. I have downloaded a few "real" routes that have cut far too many corners and as a result I found them disappointing.

    I did start out in Trainz by creating fictional routes but I usually found them unsatisfying, often because there never seemed to be a real end point or a goal that you could aim for, or you simply did not know when and where to stop.

    One of the problems with recreating realistic modern routes, particularly those involving long haul freights, is that you have drive for long periods just looking at the passing countryside - not all users want that. The alternative, short haul and shunt operations may have a lot more action but tend to end very quickly - again not all users want that either.

    After spending 7 years working on my last route and about a dozen sessions (the sessions can take as long as the route to create), I have decided to have a break and learn something new - like TransDEM or Blender.
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

  3. #3
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    I like prototypical routes, myself. There is often more information than you'd think. Part of my SEPTA route covers a little-known line. Initially, I found only a hand-drawn track diagram and a few pictures on the internet. Armed with a basemap, I was able to create the route and place signals and crossings, but it wasn't until I visited a local historical society that I found that one of the members had compiled 5,400 pages on this little route spread across 5 books. He has diagrams of just about every structure, every curve, every crossing on the Newtown Line. As it happens, I live about 15 minutes from this society.

    I suppose there are a few takeaways here: 1. A lot of great info is still in books, you just have to know where to find it; and 2. It's probably somewhat easier to model a line close to you, or at least set some time aside where you can travel and get a lot done in a short period of time. And bring lots of cash for photocopies.
    Eat More Popsicles.

  4. #4

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    Interesting reads so far. When it come to historical accuracy, I always seem to hit a brick wall. The older the era I'm modeling, the less reference material can be found on it. One railroad that I was working on had plenty of reference material of the railroad's infrastructure. When it came to the industries that is served there was virtually no information at all. This stopped the project dead in it's tracks. I felt that the route was so historically correct, I didn't want to ruin the route by making up historically incorrect details. This route is in storage at the present time.

    Another route I was working on was a 90 mile yard to yard route. This would of been a nice river route with lots of scenic views. While building the map and adding all the track work was very interesting and fun to do, I soon realized that the 90 miles between the two yards was vast. I didn't have a clue where to find all that information I needed to fill in that 90 miles with accurate infrastructure. It would take me years just to find reference pictures of all the stations and industries along that stretch. Needless to say that route was scrapped.

    These are just some of the examples of my rail sim misfortunes. Maybe I'm too picky? Maybe my era of interest is just to long ago to recapture? I'm not really sure. I see some content creators modeling the 1800's, and they look good to me. So I know it can be done. I seem to look at railroading through a nostalgic view point. Modern railroads or railroading doesn't interest me at all for some reason. So what ever I do it will be an era themed type of route.

    Another project I was working on was involving local railroads, but railroad of the past. The area I live in has a very rich railroading history. I always believe that it would be interesting to share that history somehow. A month into the project I found that there was just too much to cover. While the area was fairly small, the amount of railroads was a bit overwhelming. To pull it off I would have to learn everything there is to know about the daily operations of 7 to 10 railroad companies. While I made some models for this route, the route itself was scrapped. It just couldn't be done by a mere mortal like myself.
    Scott
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    I get the "picky" part. I'm pretty picky myself. That said, there's another way to look at this: That's what updates are for! Seriously, though, consider making a route as correct as feasible with the information available, then update it as you learn more details. You're not going to get every tree, every rock, and every dip in the roads around your layout absolutely perfect no matter how much info you have. It stands to reason you might not get every lineside industry perfect, either. Not to mention, unless you plan to model every structure and object, you have to work with the available content. Make the stuff that's important, but substitute reasonable facsimiles for the stuff that's not so.

    In the case of the Newtown Line, the historical society did have most of that info, plus I was able to buy some info off of eBay that had some interesting info circa the 1960's. There was also plenty of alternative information at the HS, such as property maps, old photos, street maps, tax ledgers, and so on. You can piece together a lot with that. Frankly, I could probably model the Newtown Line at any point in it's history to an extremely high degree of accuracy. There's a good chance that info is out there for whatever you choose to model. Who knows, maybe you'll amass so much info, you'll decide write your own book just like the curator of my local historical association did.

    This is just meant as food for thought, and hopefully there are some decent tips in there as well. Ultimately, you have to do what makes you happy. I just hate to see creators beat themselves up for perceived imperfections in what could possibly be great projects.
    Eat More Popsicles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRSignal View Post
    Ultimately, you have to do what makes you happy.
    I believe the phrase is: Ultimately, do what makes you happy, not 'you have to do what makes you happy.'
    IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRSignal View Post
    I get the "picky" part. I'm pretty picky myself. That said, there's another way to look at this: That's what updates are for! Seriously, though, consider making a route as correct as feasible with the information available, then update it as you learn more details. You're not going to get every tree, every rock, and every dip in the roads around your layout absolutely perfect no matter how much info you have.
    I realize that it can't be perfect. There are some details...or lack of details I'll just have to live with. There has been many times in the past that I worked on a building or an area using my best judgement only to have some reference picture or some kind of info become available that shows me that my guesses were completely wrong. When that happens enough you try to get it right the first time.

    I guess that is why I'm leaning towards something fictional.
    Last edited by BlackDiamond1964; February 9th, 2018 at 11:19 PM. Reason: Added thought
    Scott
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    May be you can write some tips also on a blog for newbie like us?
    Thanks.

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    I'd also like to say that, in my opinion, it's not a good idea to set a deadline. I don't set a deadline to release a piece of content as this adds extra pressure to make sure that I've got it 'right'. This means I don't have to make a new version that fixes any mistakes I've made that was pointed out by someone after I release it. I'd also suggest that you do what you want to do, not what someone else want you to do what they want. While this contradicts what I just said, but if I was going to create a fictional railroad, I'd go with a Model Railroadz, as I wouldn't have to use multiple baseboards to create a route. Philskene has shown that you don't need a lot of time to do such a route. Still, you get do decide, not us.
    IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by sumitsingh View Post
    May be you can write some tips also on a blog for newbie like us?
    Thanks.
    While I help out other folks when I can, I don't see myself as a dedicated blogger. Also, my opinions tend to be strong and I end up irking a lot of people.
    Scott
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    Quote Originally Posted by sumitsingh View Post
    May be you can write some tips also on a blog for newbie like us?
    One of the best features of Trainz is that there are many different ways of doing the same thing. What works for one route creator may not work for another - do you lay the tracks before creating the landforms or after, do you put consists into a session layer or a route layer, do you use layers at all (davesnow and I disagree on this point). Since the latest version of SpeedTrees was added to Trainz (the previous version was not as good), I now use them almost exclusively but some creators still will not touch them. There are endless other points of variation and some heated discussions in techniques and resources used.

    Try things for yourself and don't be afraid to ask questions, seek opinions and put forward your own point of view in these forums - you might get a few "grumpy" responses and some answers you won't want or like, but there is decades of experience (we like to call it "wisdom" but some will disagree) to be found in the members of these forums.
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

  12. #12

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    Speaking of Speedtrees, that bring me to another thought I had. Why make a route project at all? It would seem that different people possess different specialty content. Some folks make Speedtrees, some make steam locomotives, some make re-paints, some make bridges. The more you make them the better you get with it. Add a personal special interest with your modeling skills and you've found your own special niche. While my exact niche hasn't really been found as of yet, I do like making everyday scenery items. These are items that don't get much thought, but make a screenshot come alive. I enjoy seeing people posting screenshots with my content in it. I'm seeing my content pop up more and more in the screenshot section. So I ask myself, why not just continue make scenery items?

    One item I would really enjoy making are American cars. Modeling cars from 1955 to 1970. I really like the era of cars from the late 50's early 60's. If I could figure out a quicker way of making cars in Blender I'd probably spend the bulk of my time pumping out model cars and trucks over anything else. After testing many ways to make a car in Blender, I found that it either takes to long to create and/or the model is far over the maximum poly count. I know it can be done, I just haven't figure out the trick to it...yet!
    Scott
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDiamond1964 View Post
    I guess that is why I'm leaning towards something fictional.
    What about a major self-challenge such as DEMing a large section of ground from somewhere on the Earth, inventing a reason that a railroad might need to be built, and testing your own knowledge and abilities by designing the railroad to fit that purpose? Then try it out operationally in Trainz.

    For example, what if China decided to extend it's Lhasa-Shigatse railroad south to Khatmandu in Nepal, across the Himalayas? What about a Bering Strait railroad crossing, which has been spoken of half jokingly for decades but never acted upon. If you are a person who likes a difficult challenge, can you set yourself one? This would meet your current inclination to do something fictional too.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDiamond1964 View Post
    Speaking of Speedtrees, that bring me to another thought I had. Why make a route project at all? It would seem that different people possess different specialty content. Some folks make Speedtrees, some make steam locomotives, some make re-paints, some make bridges. The more you make them the better you get with it. Add a personal special interest with your modeling skills and you've found your own special niche. While my exact niche hasn't really been found as of yet, I do like making everyday scenery items. These are items that don't get much thought, but make a screenshot come alive. I enjoy seeing people posting screenshots with my content in it. I'm seeing my content pop up more and more in the screenshot section. So I ask myself, why not just continue make scenery items?

    One item I would really enjoy making are American cars. Modeling cars from 1955 to 1970. I really like the era of cars from the late 50's early 60's. If I could figure out a quicker way of making cars in Blender I'd probably spend the bulk of my time pumping out model cars and trucks over anything else. After testing many ways to make a car in Blender, I found that it either takes to long to create and/or the model is far over the maximum poly count. I know it can be done, I just haven't figure out the trick to it...yet!

    if you ever want to make classic US vehicles, there's a void where there's virtually nothing from 1920 -1950, all those classic trucks, and lesser known cars such as desotos.
    as far as i can see, there's not a single large US truck from the 1930s on the DLS , and smaller ones are not well catered for apart from the stakebed fords which are great.
    of course getting plans might be tricky .....
    re older prototypical routes, it is a labor of love to try and find stuff, but on does have to bear in mind that its impossible to ever be 100% accurate . Things changed position , stuff burnt down and was removed or substituted and sometimes one just has to make an educated guess and update later.

    google earth is invaluble for checking topography, bu you do have to persevere, today i was looking through a fast motion video on evacuation creek utah that was on youtube, i slowed it down and ran through it frame by frame and found a rock cutting that wasnt marked on rodger polleys book or shown in any map i have on the uintah. on google i spotted it and was able to measure how long it was and also how far the cliff face extended past the cut.
    i cant advise you what to make ,( although i have photos and dimensions for a number of 1880s denver south park/uinion pacific buildings if you are interested ) but with your 3d talent it would be really nice if you made more stuff , perhaps look for gaps in items we have , anything from the 1920s to 1950s is sorely needed and may encourage people to make more routes from those classic eras.
    Last edited by dangavel; February 10th, 2018 at 09:13 PM.
    WARNING! The Surgeon General has determined that the use of the simulator Trainz is highly addictive,

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    Though I was born in 1990, I've always like the 1950's, probably because I grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show, which my Mom is a HUGE fan of. It seems like a time when life was simpler, everyone wasn't in a rush to get somewhere, and things were cheaper back then (like gas). Of course, that was also railroad's 'Golden Era', where steam and diesels worked side-by-side, streamlined passenger trains such as The Super Chief crisscrossed the country, railroads' paint schemes were all the colors of the rainbow, and more.

    EDIT: Did you ever notice the painting hanging over the fireplace in the Taylor house on The Andy Griffith Show? My mom bought a replica of it and it hangs in the living room, just like in the Taylor household. However, it hangs over my computer instead of the fireplace, as a big-screen plasma TV sits on top of the fireplace mantle.
    Last edited by jordon412; February 10th, 2018 at 09:15 PM.
    IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

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