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Thread: How far the hobby has fallen

  1. #1
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    Default How far the hobby has fallen

    Note:
    At Tony Hilliam’s suggestion in order to hopefully generate some discussion I have moved this post to a new thread in the Trainz Simulator TRS19 forum, the version of Trainz it perhaps most pertains to, though not exclusively. I have edited the beginning to unlink it from the previous thread (So What’s next for Non-Subscription TRS19 Users?).

    I think [a] real issue that needs to be discussed [is] the negative impact entrepreneurship is having on content creation. As euromodeller has noted in post #1 of [the above] thread, “This game and forum was built around creating and sharing…”. N3V with their rewards program, among other things, is encouraging content creator to switch from hobbyist who free share their creations and expertise to entrepreneurs who cherish their knowledge as a way to make money off of Trainz. What entrepreneur is going to tell you how to make something if he wants you to buy it?

    Three months ago there was a thread on the forum titled “TRS19 Content delivery strategy causing major development problems”.

    Freeware items on the DLS when incorporated into DLC routes are being be labelled payware and thus were no longer available for editing. In fairness it was pointed out that when one uploads an asset to the DLS one agrees that one is “signing over all rights to N3V”, or something to that effect. The current agreement for uploading to the DLS allows N3V to do what they like with the content including selling it and limiting access for editing or other purposes. This is hardly going to encourage the hobbyist who wants to create and share work freely to upload to the DLS.

    The concern wasn’t lost on N3V as in Post #105 on June 6th, 2019 Tony Hilliam said, “We haven't forgotten this thread. Just letting you know we're working through step by step to cover all bases and work out the best outcome. We expect to have something for you next week.”. Three months later and, unless I missed something, nothing has changed.

    Tony Hilliam in post #90 of this thread said “…I'd really love to find a way to encourage more content creators, and one of those could be finding ways to compensate them for their efforts.” Perhaps an early reference to the rewards program? While it may encourage an increase in the number of content creators, that is yet to be seen. It certainly is not going to encourage content creators to share. And I am not just taking about offering assets freely. In my opinion of greater concern is the sharing of expertise through discussions and tutorials.

    I have felt this way for some time. All one has to do is take note of what I think is a lack of discussion on the Content Creation Support forum. For example, in the past eight days there have been only 8 (one a day) entries in the Content Creation Support forum while the forums in total averaged over 50 entries a day; that’s 400 in the eight days. Moreover, most entries on the Content Creation Support forum are solving specific problems not in a general way exchanging expertise.

    To try and be proactively and address what I thought, and still think, is the greatest impediment to more users becoming content creators I started writing tutorials. I am a Blender user so I can only attempt to record my experiences with Blender and currently T:ANE and TRS19. I believe what Trainz needs is not a rewards program but more sharing of creation techniques.

    And the need has never been more pressing. The graphics industry is progressing at a rapid pace. The introduction of Blender 2.8 has created a whole new ball game for Blender users. The discontinuation of the Blender Render Engine in Blender 2.8 has added to the challenges of being a Blender creator of Trainz assets. The exclusive adoption of Physically Based Rendering (PBR) by N3V for TRS19 I think for many creators has become an almost insurmountable roadblock. The need for supplementary graphic programs such as Photoshop, Substance Painter and 3D-Coat in order to texture TRS19 assets with PBR materials has added substantially to the cost of content creation. Photoshop and Substance Painter are subscription programs at $359.88 US and $238.00 US, respectively. Perhaps we are at a watershed where many hobbyists can no longer afford to create Trainz content, at least for TRS19. Currently I am spending far more in a year on new software, and software upgrades, than I spend of a gold membership for Trainz.

    I think the golden age for Trainz hobbyists was back in 2009 when for a short period of time Tainz Magazine was published monthly.

    It was free, ran to about 20 pages each month, and contained articles contributed by creators on a variety of topics. I read it cover to cover even if I wasn’t using or wanting to use a technique at the time. Somewhere I still have copies I downloaded and saved. Sadly this time is over. I see on the forum new Trainz users asking how to create content and being referred to tutorials that were created for Trainz 2010 and earlier.

    I once saw Auran (N3V) say, and I paraphrase, “We don’t create tutorials. We leave it to the users to share their experiences.” Ask the entrepreneur what he thinks about that!


    Cayden

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    It may also be a sign that some older creators are no longer able to make content , for various age related reasons. However , I am heartened by creators such as the trains forge crew and others who are creating excellent content in a variety of eras. It’s true that the new version of the game has made creating things a lot more difficult and thus may lead to more people stopping making free assets. I’ve made a couple of simple items a few years ago and the process of getting them to work in the game put me off going further. I agree that the advantages that trains had over other sims may being eroded by nv3s own actions. It’s a complex situation with no easy answers.
    WARNING! The Surgeon General has determined that the use of the simulator Trainz is highly addictive,

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    I think that this is a lot of fuss over nothing. "Fake News" as someone would say. Trainz interest and activity comes and goes in cycles but we have never had the quality of software and options that we now have.

    Nothing to see here!
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

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    Used to download all kinds of freeware. The game was awesome. Things looked right even if they really weren't and it didn't matter.

    Then I started making stuff. Kinda ruined it over time. Like pulling the curtain back on oz, if you get my drift.
    Toujours Prêt!

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazytrain View Post
    Then I started making stuff. Kinda ruined it over time. Like pulling the curtain back on oz, if you get my drift.
    You grew up, matured, were no longer dazzled by "bright shiny baubles". The new generation of Trainers are seeing in the new technology (new textures, TurfFX, clutter, etc, etc) the same wonder you once felt.
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

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    As long as there are folks that still use the older versions of trains, there will always be a need for content creators who make stuff for those versions. The content creation techniques between the various versions is kind of stark, but it is what it is. I started making models because I figured there would come a day when relying on all of the freeware stuff would rapidly become a hindrance to enjoyment of the hobby. Times change, sites go boing! for whatever reason, etc. At times it seems like a waste of time to do this stuff, because just when you think you've got something right, wrong rears it's ugly head. It's not easy, but that's what it's all about for me. Learning. From tutorials, forums, or other forms of information.

    That being said, there isn't anything wrong with someone spending hours and hours making content in current and future versions and getting paid for it. Also, there isn't any reason why these entrepreneurs should feel the need to divulge the blueprints to the factor just for nostalgic purposes.
    Toujours Prêt!

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    While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there are some inaccuracies here I should point out:

    Tutorials
    >>your paraphrasing is probably fairly wide of the mark:

    For example, there are dozens of tutorials here: https://contentcreation.trainzsimula...egory/scenery/

    Perhaps the comment was "we allow and encourage our users to create the bulk of tutorials, just as we encourge them to create more content".
    Content Creation Support forum comments
    >> most active creators now use the Discord channel. We're also in regular contact with creators directly.

    Freeware items on the DLS when incorporated into DLC routes are being be labelled payware
    >>
    As mentioned elsewhere, this is almost always in error (usually due to a build process bug that mis-categorosed items). We're overhauling the build process to ensure freeware remains that way.

    To try and be proactively and address what I thought, and still think, is the greatest impediment to more users becoming content creators I started writing tutorials. I am a Blender user so I can only attempt to record my experiences with Blender and currently T:ANE and TRS19. I believe what Trainz needs is not a rewards program but more sharing of creation techniques.
    >>
    The Rewards program is aimed at end-users to provide discounts for being an active part of the community and as a reward for purchases. We have plans to provide rewards for content creators but that isn't active yet.

    I think the golden age for Trainz hobbyists was back in 2009 when for a short period of time Tainz Magazine was published monthly.
    >>
    The "Golden Age of Trainz" posts appear from timne to time, and always with a different date and reason. The downfall of Trainz has been prophesied many times as well. We're still here, and feedback indicates that TRS19 is our best ever version.

    So, back to the original "topic" -
    the negative impact entrepreneurship is having on content creation.

    My take is that freeware and payware can co-exist. Market forces determine whether payware makes money or not. There is a market for payware, and any entrepreneurial UK content creator has a bug gap in the marketplace right now.

    Encouraging people to create high quality content will benefit the community. Providing commissions to people for spending hundreds or thousands of hours creating content seems to me like a reasonable concept.



    Tony Hilliam

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    This is a difficult subject.

    We have to accept that N3V must make money to survive, if they fail, we lose the backbone of the program - the DLS.

    Being old and ugly I can remember that Trainz was marketed as a Model Railway Simulator in the Christmas 2001 advertising, there was no mention of it being a game and was shipped with a stick-on label on the DVD. That hooked me and I have stayed hooked for nearly 18 years.

    As it became more complex, costs rose and Trainz had to be marketed as a game to appeal to non-model rail enthusiasts and I think that is where our present division started. We now have two very distinct type of user. The game user who I would guess provides most of the money, and the hobbyist who doesn't really need all the flash and just wants to fiddle with 'model' trains and is probably low down on the customer list with all the flashy treatment and increased complexity to provide the flashy stuff that is alienating the hobbyist.

    So, is there some way that both sides can get what they want? Are the hobbyists, of which I am one, prepared to pay the costs if N3V started a hobbyist stream where they select a target to debug only and otherwise has no unwanted development but with reasonable charges, and in parallel, develop Trainz as a fully fledged game, one not necessarily a version that the hobby types can or need to develop.

    Perhaps they could use TRS2019 as the division point, two paths, one to just thoroughly debug it and the other to extend it for the non-hobbyist 'buy it-play it-move on' customer.

    If you read all this, thank you for your patience.

    Peter
    I5-6 Core CPU. 1070-Ti video card, 16GB memory

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    I have purchased every almost trainz version today apart from the Mac ones- I don't use the DLS much - use it more as a backup source for my creations - and I do very much just stick to my own area of interest. I play with my trainz - Most of the content I wanted I have had to create myself or work with others to get.

    I did think that crowd funding was the best way to go and would love to see more of this for project development = N3V set a goal and a costing and time frame and if the commuity want it they have to fund it -

    I would love to see a list of TRS19 possible features = costings and deliver time projection and a ablity to make funding contribution to tasks that are of interest and importance to me.
    Last edited by NSWGR_46Class; September 9th, 2019 at 01:25 AM.


  10. #10
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    Well I've been around for about 15-1/2 years
    I've never really seen this as a game but always a hobby, a game as I see it is when your competing against something or someone to win
    As a hobbyist I want to continue to add to what I'm building but at the same time I'm interested in the "new flashy stuff " otherwise your stuck with say manual points on you model railway instead of upgrading to electric.
    This would be like buying a model train set, setting up a table to run it on and be happy with what you've got . Sooner or later you feel the need to upgrade but that would depend on your finances.
    So if your happy with the debug version why can't some of the so called gold goodies be offered as a add on through the shop so you only have to get the bits you want
    Last edited by big_b; September 9th, 2019 at 02:43 AM. Reason: edit
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  11. #11
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    Choice is a very valuable commodity where hobbies, passions, games and simulators are concerned.

    My banner doesn't show it, but I too date back to Trainz UTC. When the prospect of the Content Creator program was first launched circa 2009 (?), there was a bit of a furore, with many asset creators sabotaging their own uploaded assets, holding them back for 3rd Party sites only, or quitting making assets outright. All because of the prospect that their assets might show up in a DLC pack made by someone else because they forfeited any rights to them when they uploaded them.

    So I agree with the OP that entrepreneurship had a negative effect on the quantity and quality of assets being submitted to the DLS. You are most correct sir.

    However I submit that Choice has been enhanced overall. I can now choose to pay for a very high quality asset I want to use - or not. I can subscribe and get the lot - or not. Or I can continue purchasing full editions and continue using DLS assets - or not. Or I can continue using TANE or TS12 - or not. I can support the product I use by purchasing First Class Tickets - or not.

    So what happens when Choice is removed? Dare I mention the great DRM debate? Faced with the prospect of losing a Choice and being forced in totality into the Orwellian realm of DRM, the community revolted, and rightly so. Tony made adjustments accordingly, to protect payware only if I remember rightly.

    So I see the DLC program as giving a nice Choice to earn some pocketmoney to the Trainzers that are time-rich/talented/devoted enough to create assets that are of such high quality that other Trainzers will pay to use them. Which happens to be a purchaser's Choice too !

    My overall point is that Tony and N3V are doing ok provided they keep on adding to our available choices, not taking away from them.
    Last edited by anathoth71; September 9th, 2019 at 02:16 AM. Reason: clarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by anathoth71 View Post
    My overall point is that Tony and N3V are doing ok provided they keep on adding to our available choices, not taking away from them.
    Totally agree. I just do not understand the paranoia that choice is creating among some users. Statements such as "if they pursue this subscription model I will leave" have appeared repeatedly in these forums. The subscription model is a choice not something that is being forced upon us. Perhaps these people fear that the choice will eventually be removed and subscriptions will become compulsory. But who knows, N3V could go out the door (with or without a subscription model) which would be far worse, IMHO.
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

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    I do know that if I'd started out with TS2019 instead of TS2009 I wouldn't have started doing reskins and creating my Uk pre-grouping era rolling goods wagons and coach models most of which are now on the DLS. I'm a very small player when it comes to content creation so my opinion most probably doesn't count for much, but the fact is by working to TS2012 specs I can make reasonably good looking models using freeware software and techniques that mostly involve a lot of hand drawing and persistence. I simply could not afford to buy the software needed to make TS2019 models and then I would need to learn how to use it which would be a problem for me since I have cognitive problems due to narcolepsy.

    My concern is that the content creators like myself are simply going to get left behind and the technological barriers in making anything to TS2019 standards are going to act to reduce the numbers of Trainz folk who can actually successfully make models for TS2019. I have criticised TS2019 on these forums, but I do like TS2019 and I can see it's potential. I said in one forum thread that TS2019 is how TS2012 should have been and I've used TS2019 to successfully rejuvenate some of my favourite legacy routes, however the fact remains that when I make anything I use TS2012 to do it.
    Last edited by KotangaGirl; September 9th, 2019 at 04:21 AM. Reason: spelling
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    Quote Originally Posted by pware View Post
    Perhaps these people fear that the choice will eventually be removed and subscriptions will become compulsory.IMHO.
    Yep, and that would be a very bad "choice" on Tony's part. I'm not a demographer by trade, but an average Trainzer who is in a position to financially support a product for the long term might be in an age group that is naturally hostile to such arrangements. But that's a topic for a different thread one day..............
    Last edited by anathoth71; September 9th, 2019 at 04:34 AM.
    Forthcoming DLS releases - DSEPR02 Pilbara Iron, and DSEPR03 London to Lille

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    @Cayden:
    Thanks for sharing your - as always - comprehensive, welcome and easy to follow thoughts, Cayden. It's very useful to understand all in all better.
    I was also deeply impressed when reading your 'story of ancient times' in the other thread , although we might have missed the thread's title. And finally: your Blender 7 tutorials were very useful for me (long before I noticed it in your forum signature here). Tks and congrats.

    BTW, the Trainz magazine seems being closed.

    _______
    Josef
    Last edited by CitMusJoe; September 9th, 2019 at 05:46 AM.

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