Community Announcement.

Trainz is back on track!

We are very pleased to announce that n3vrf41l Publishing (N3V) have licensed two new versions of Trainz to be released world-wide over the next two years. These two releases will continue the evolution of Trainz from a simple piece of fun software to an in-depth and serious simulation. Trainz is a virtual hobby that combines the raw power of railroads with the digital power of computer simulation. As more and more people become connected via computer, the audience for train simulation continues to grow and as the longest running railroad simulation series, Trainz is set to capitalize on this growth.

These two new releases will deliver many of the enhancements and additions Trainz fans have been asking for and will reaffirm the position of Trainz as the most flexible and extensible rail simulation platform ever created.

We have elected to make this initial announcement on the Trainz forums to allow our regular community members the opportunity to comment and give their feedback on our plans. A more detailed public announcement will be made later in June to coincide with the launch of the new TS2009 website and forums as well as the new TrainzExchange community portal and the new TrainzDev site which is designed to further support the content creation community.

The Trainz Simulator 2009 platform

We have been busy researching, forecasting and planning the future of Trainz and believe there is a whole world of opportunity ahead of us. We have passed a million sales of all versions around the globe, and serial number registrations have never slowed down since our first release seven years ago. Back in 2000 when we first started work on Trainz, broadband penetration was a fraction of what it is today. It is the power of broadband that ensures content can be exchanged, friendships can be forged and creative teams established that produce the highest quality content.

Based upon our confidence in the Trainz franchise and with support from N3V to fund the development and marketing, we have begun gearing up development, community, web and marketing efforts. A big part of these new efforts will be to engage with the community, enlist their support and provide a tight feedback loop through the new TrainzDev site. This site will provide detailed information about changes and improvements to functionality and of course provide an ideal information exchange platform between content creators as well. This bi-lateral support will ensure TS2009 and TSX are not only are the most fully featured editions ever, but also the best quality editions ever.

With TS2009, we will be improving the existing tools and adding new tools to allow different types of creative talent to come to the fore. Many Trainz users are more “train fans” than computer users, and so a big emphasis will be to ensure they can more easily find and harness the power that already exists in Trainz. This will be achieved through a cleaner, more user-friendly interface and a new browser-based in-game help system.

With TS2009, we will be launching a new user-focussed Trainz Exchange portal to showcase everything related to Trainz. This will expand the concept of “content” from the traditional 3rd party routes, textures and models, to also include screenshots, videos and even Trainz Journeys. Journeys are stories that capture the spirit of Trainz and when combined with screenshots and videos, we expect a whole new generation of amazing content for people to share. This broader sense of online community will help foster collaborative learning and lead to greater volumes of higher quality content.

To kick off the Trainz Exchange website later in June, we will be posting sets of 100 images per day for people to vote on. These images were obtained from more than 20,000 images posted on our forums and they will be uploaded in no particular order. The quality of the images is absolutely incredible and shows just what can be done when the tools are in the right hands. And of course things will only get better.

Experienced route builders will be very pleased with the new generation of tools that will help create more detailed terrain and greater scene detail. The most dramatic change will be that the terrain tessellation will be quadrupled by moving from a 10 metre grid to a 5 metre grid (4 x 5m quads fit within the old 10m grid). This change, which has been the most often requested in the history of Trainz, will allow far finer terrain sculpting and texturing. In addition, the range of brush sizes will be greatly increased and new “greyscale” brushes will allow for a variety of new sculpting tools such as angled plateaus and “valley-carving”.

Drivers and Controllers will also be rewarded with improved physics, easy access to tweak performance parameters of locos and rolling stock and new Rules and Driver Commands to help create a more immersive living, working railroad. The fantastic improvements to steam physics can already be found in the Trainz Classics 3 edition and we expect similar improvements across the board for all motive types.

To help us complete all the scheduled tasks, we will be expanding the team and will be looking for additional artists, programmers, community support and more. The original Trainz Lead Programmer, Chris “windwalkr“ Bergmann, is back on board. He has already doubled frame rates in busy rail yards and is hard at work in optimizing re-use of instanced objects throughout a scene. Rob “that’s all there is to it” Shaw will be the chief line of communication with the content creators as well as providing new highly detailed 3D assets and James “bloodnok” Moody will be ensuring as many of those “favourite feature” requests by the community will make it into this release. In addition, I will be donning the Executive Producer hat and ensuring the team have the necessary resources to deliver the highest quality version of Trainz in our history.

Trainz down the line.

Trainz Simulator 2009 is the next major step in the evolution of the most flexible rail simulation ever created, but it is merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. As with every previous release, it is only once people have the new tools in their hands that the amazing improvements in quality can be made. Therefore whilst TS2009 will be a big step up from previous releases, we are even more excited about celebrating the 10th anniversary of the beginning of Trainz with the release of Trainz™ Simulator X. This release is scheduled for the end of 2009 and we can’t wait to talk about the big new features we have planned.

Of course right now, Trainz Classics 3 is ready to hit the online store shelves and there is no doubt that the new features included are a real treat for train fans. There is a great selection of ready to drive sessions across some lovely English countryside and steam fans will be especially challenged to ensure they keep their boiler performing well.

Thanks to the Rail Sim UK team for their enormous efforts in making this new edition possible and thanks to all of you for supporting the ongoing development of Trainz. By purchasing Trainz Classics 3 you will not only be taking advantage of many of the latest improvements, but also ensuring more time and effort can be re-invested into future editions.

Tony Hilliam.
CEO, Auran Games