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#919764 - 01/31/07 01:08 AM When I'm not playing the piano, I'm driving my Trainz.  
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,925
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member
John Citron  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,925
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Here are some pictures of a hobby I have that is completely remote and opposite of music. This is a virtual railroad simulator called Trainz Railroad (Railway in the UK and elsewhere) Simulator 2006. The program is sold by Auran PLC from Queensland Australia. This is the latest in their Trainz series, and I started about 3 years ago with TRS2004.

This is one of those very addicting programs that will eat up most, if not all, of your free time if you don't watch out. There are stories, and rumors of how this program (not a game!) was the cause of many a domestic squabble because the husband was not doing the house chores. Instead he was playing with his Trainz instead of mowing the lawn, etc. I can see how this can be true because I've caught myself using Trainz for a whole day!

My route, as it is called, is now nearly 87 miles long and counting, and is totally fake. The town names are real, but their places and locations are not. I picked a New England theme, coming from New England, and I looked at maps and town names for inspiration. The pictures are all actual screenshots taken during the game-play.

Here are some views of the Enfield & Eastern starting at the new Eastport passenger terminal. The train we will be following has actually left the terminal. Waiting to leave are some Amtrak trains for Maine and Loblolly Cove, and some DLRs imported from Europe. These are some imports that my railroad management team has tried out on the more scenic short routes because these cars have big picture windows that are popular with the tourists.

[Linked Image]

Here we are crossing the bridge from Eastport to Radford Jct. At Radford Jct., there is a connection with the Riverline to the left. That line also passes under the terminal branch in a tunnel just about where the engine is now. The inter-line connection is about 2 miles away behind us to the left. The main line to Enfield is to the center, and the Northern Extension to the right. There is a double-wye with a diamond in the middle where the gold-colored engine house is located, and this allows the terminal to serve all directions, and for River Line trains to continue on the Northern main.

[Linked Image]

After driving a short distance through a wooded area, we come to the first of many towns along the route. This is Radford with its pictureseque little downtown.

[Linked Image]

Rounding the bend after Radford just before we hit the second bridge over the River Line. This is a typical "T" consist from the late 1980's through the early 1990s.

[Linked Image]

Crossing the bridge.
[Linked Image]

Riding with Eric the AI driver.
[Linked Image]

Here's Geoff heading back to Eastport.

[Linked Image]

There are a lot more pictures. This is just a sampling of what my route looks like.

For more information on Trainz 2006, check out www.auran.com


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#919765 - 01/31/07 10:54 PM Re: When I'm not playing the piano, I'm driving my Trainz.  
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,257
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Jeanne W  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,257
New England
Hi, John:

I'm not into video games but can understand how those can be VERY addictive. The pix you posted scare me. Man. A person could just disappear into a virtual reality.

This reminds me of a little experiment I tried one day. In an area of the road I drive along on my way to work, where it's not too pleasant looking, I decided to try imagining the roadway lined with tall, beautiful trees and beautiful buildings.

I have to say the experiment was successful, but it scared the heck out of me. It seemed too real, for cripe's sake! I could see how a person could get wrapped up in an imaginary world. EEEEEEEEEK! I will not be trying that experiment again anytime soon.

The Trainz program looks VERY COOL. Just don't get too wrapped up into it, OK??? Remember to come up for air - and often.


Jeanne W

Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
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#919766 - 02/02/07 05:35 PM Re: When I'm not playing the piano, I'm driving my Trainz.  
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,925
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member
John Citron  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,925
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Hi Jeanne,

I know your experiment works because I do that all the time to reimagineer an abandoned rail route, or put tracks where a road is now. I do this because I am trying to emulate the area, but I want tracks and a passenger station and not a highway with a MacDonalds next to it. smile Don't get scared... It's a way of making some really aweful looking areas better.

Trainz is, as I said, really addicting. There are two main modules in the program that allow you to make your own virtual world, and enjoy it.

Surveyor is the landscape building module where you lay the tracks, put the roads in, and sculpt the landscape. There are almost 100,000 objects available for the program with many included with the installation CDs or DVDs. The other parts are available for download from their FTP site, with an increasing amount of objects every day that are made for free by other Trainz fans. There is a whole "school" into making 3D-objects, and the ones I've made pale against those of these experts.

Driver lets you drive your route. This can be both frustrating and enjoyable. The frustration comes from trying to get the AI drivers to follow your commands. This is where you find out if your junctions work properly, and if there are other scenic bugs like crooked track, floating roads, and other things that need tweaking. The enjoyable part comes from seeing your world from a driver's seat.

With all of the virtues, comes a price to pay. This isn't monetary, because the program costs about $20 for the CDs and $10 a year for fast FTP connection. The cost is in time and computer power. The Windows-based (soon to be Macintosh too) computer required is pretty high. The problem with Surveyor is you can put as many objects as you wish into a scene. You won't see much of a difference in Surveyor other than a bit of chunky movement. When you go into driver, well you can end up with a slide show instead of a movie because the computer spends most of the time trying to render the 3D images in real-time!

Anyway, I try my best not to let this consume too much of my time otherwise I won't be able to practice the piano. wink



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