Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap - December 8th 2022
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary
A quick summary for those who don’t want to go through the whole article (although why you wouldn’t, we don’t know – there are copious festive puns). There are more details on all these points within the Roadmap.
- The Holiday Express – Runaway Elf Add-on releases next Tuesday, December 13th!
- Find out how some of the assets we’ve made will help route-building in future
- New US-themed route expansion pack added to Roadmap
- New UK-themed route expansion pack added to Roadmap (developed by Rivet Games)
- We’ve made good progress identifying Dispatcher/pathfinder improvements, both within the Core game and our American routes
- Add-ons Manager will not release this side of Christmas
- A post-release Bremen-Oldenburg patch is on its way to you (if you haven’t seen it already)
- Class 20 and HST Livery Designer functionality are ‘development complete’, and ready to go into testing
- Roadmap Live Stream tonight (Thursday December 8th), at 17:00 UTC
Catch the roadmap VOD:
Ho ho ho! Welcome to December’s Roadmap! Just as Santa is preparing his goodies for all the good boys and girls, so have we added a couple of presents to the list (We've checked it twice, they’re both on the ‘nice’ list) in the form of two Expansion packs, which will be making their way to you in the new year. More to come on those in the coming Roadmaps!
Speaking of stocking fillers, we have a festive surprise coming for you next week. We’re beside our 'elves with anticipation for the all-new Holiday Express – Runaway Elf, announced earlier today. In this month’s Roadmap we talk about how some of the unique features of this smaller-than-life route might help our route-building in future.
Bahnstrecke Bremen-Oldenburg released earlier this week (yay n-Wagens!), and we have details on a post-release patch (that you might already have downloaded!) below. As well as this, we have news on:
- Add-ons Manager
- Dispatcher/pathfinder improvements
- The latest Patch Notes
- Our trip to Warley in November …and more!
And finally, before we get into the nitty-gritty, a little challenge for you all: can you see how many terrible festive puns JD Santa has hidden in the Roadmap? Yule be sorry if you missed any. Answers at the bottom!
This is our final Roadmap of 2022, with the first Roadmap of the New Year on Thursday January 12th, so that just leaves us to say that we hope you all have a wonderful festive period with your loved ones, and we’ll be back with our 3,000+ word essays in 2023. Not having all this text is surely a Claus for celebration, at least.
Train Sim World 3 core improvements
A progress summary on the core improvements the teams are working on. This month, we have updates on Add-ons Manager, Red Lights/Dispatcher Improvements, next week’s patch update, and more.
Testing has started on the TSW3 version of Add-ons Manager. We want to get it into your hands as quickly as we can, but also as safely as we can. This connects with the entire back-end infrastructure of loading Add-ons, so we have to ensure the disruption to your play is minimal when it launches.
It has taken longer than we would have wanted, and this is due to a number of factors. We’re now happy with the system in place in TSW2’s version, and that infrastructure has been used to build the TSW3 version. The team remain committed to getting it into your hands as soon as we can, as we know PS5 players are playing Add-on Tetris at the moment and aren’t able to get the full experience we want you to have.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that these changes will also likely have a small positive impact on crashing and performance (particularly with Gen8 consoles with lots of Add-ons installed).
At this stage, we are prioritising the most-impacted players (PS5 players), and want to get the system out to them first. We won’t provide a release date though until testing is completed, but we're on the final stages toward getting it into your hands.
Red Lights/Dispatcher improvements
We’ve been working on the core technology around our Dispatcher, and focusing on the pathfinding our AI trains do, particularly when in mid-service upon loading into a route.
We found that in some instances, the AI trains took an unexpected path, which caused various issues – including pile-ups, phantom red lights, etc.
In positive news though, we believe we have a fix for this issue, which is ready to go into testing. This should, when released, resolve a lot of instances of Red Lights in the game blocking player progress.
The exception to this fix is American routes, which have a slightly different issue (perhaps best illustrated in the Harlem Line due to its increased timetable). This issue stems from multiple trains starting their service in the same signal session, meaning some end up out of order and causing issues. This improvement is currently being investigated.
Patch Notes Highlights
But wait, here’s myrrh! Here’s a quick selection of some of the larger Patch Notes we’ve released in the past month, so you don’t miss them! We’ve also included some you can expect in our final update of the year.
- Micro-stuttering improvements (8th November)
- DB Doppelstock lights will no longer massively impact performance (8th November)
- Initial lag when loading into a route and rotating the camera removed (8th November)
- Save Game is now enabled by default (28th November)
- Series of post-release Birmingham Cross-City improvements (28th November)
- Players can use similar non-accented characters to search for unaccented characters (28th November)
- Sort Mode preferences are preserved between play sessions (28th November)
- Small performance improvements during Rain (5th December) – make it rein, deer (sorry)
- Improvements to trains and carriages ‘popping in’ on consoles (5th December)
- Bremen-Oldenburg post-release improvements (7th December, more details below)
- [TSW2] – improvements to Add-ons Manager (21st November)
Highlights of yesterday’s patch notes
We released a series of post-release Bremen-Oldenburg improvements yesterday, initially on Steam, with other platforms coming over the course of this week. Here’s a quick summary of some of the highlights:
Bahnstrecke Bremen Oldenburg improvements:
- Rain will no longer fall through the roof at Bremen Hbf station
- Improved lighting visuals inside Oldenburg station to remove light leaking and improve performance
- Improved collision and visuals inside Wusting station
(BRO BR 425)
- Physics improvements
- Marker and tail lights should now function as intended - (the light colour is being look at)
- Corrected the SIFA indicator light to only be illuminated when SIFA is disabled or warning state is active
(BRO DB BR 110.3)
- Fixed PZB restrictive mode indicators not flashing properly
- Added functionality to blowers, MCB, and overload
- Fixed HUD TE gauges
- Fixed MCB pop-off not being audible in cab
- Fixed sounds for brake hisses
( BRO BR 155)
- Accelerometer is no longer inverted in the Rear cab
- LZB will now work in the Rear cab
- PZB direction does not change unless Reverser direction is changed – this should prevent issues where using the Rear cab and applying brakes makes the PZB think you are reversing.
- PZB Start Programme will now correctly flash both 70 and 85 lights on the desk, alternating between them.
- Brake release key (;) will now function correctly
(General n-Wagen improvements)
- Fixed HUD readouts for train brake and e-brake levers
- Added functionality for additional indicators (blowers and MCB)
- PIS improvements (‘not in service’ will only appear when actually not in service)
- Showing correct timetable in route menu when a route has multiple timetables available
Creators Club will now show rotate Featured Liveries in the Main Menu screen
You can check out all the details on our full December 7th Patchnotes.
Find our other patch notes in full lists:
A quick note on…
Some areas of the Roadmap we don’t have a substantial update for you on this time around, but wanted to provide a quick summary as to where they are in development.
Here are some quickfire bullets below:
- Class 20 Livery Designer Compatibility – development complete, awaiting testing window.
- HST Livery Designer Compatibility – development complete, awaiting window for testing. Expected release after the Class 20.
- Spirit of Steam physics improvements – we expect these to launch in January
- Spirit of Steam AI SPADs – these are currently being investigated – we believe we know the source of the issue.
- Incompletable achievements – still under investigation.
- Performance improvements – continued incremental improvements coming in patches (see Patch Notes section for full details)
- Derailing improvements – the second of the three improvements, that focuses on harsh braking, is currently development complete and awaiting testing. The third improvement, related to couplers, will be reviewed after the second is out
- TSW2 Preservation Crew releases – in a queue for an appropriate build.
Special Projects Team update
The team have been hard at work building our Holiday Express – Runaway Elf release, as well as making some festive Mastery touches to the Training Center (available after completing tasks within the Add-on), but as mentioned in a previous section the Livery Designer compatibility for the Class 20 and HST are what we call ‘dev-complete’, and awaiting their first pass from our QA team.
The team have also investigated what is involved in upgrading some Train Sim World Compatible routes with Train Sim World 3 features (primarily lighting and skies). We’ll have more to share in the next Roadmap.
Third-Party developer (Partner Programme) update
The only Partner Programme addition to the Roadmap this month is a new Expansion Pack for a UK route, also being developed by our friends at Rivet Games. We expect this to release soon after their route, also currently on the Roadmap (keep your eyes peeled later this month for an update!)
With the Train Sim Germany team supporting the release of Bremen-Oldenburg, and working on their first standalone route for TSW3, progress on the 420 has stalled – and we thank them for their ongoing support as we look to continue to upgrade the quality of our new German routes.
Everything else is ‘as you were’ – the teams are getting their heads down and when we have more information to share, we’ll let you know!
Inside Development: Holiday Express – Trains, Escalators, and Lifts
Our next release comes next week (December 13th), and is snow joke! Christmas is under threat from a mischievous elf, and it’s your job to stop him, with the help of your Richie Rails F7.
We chatted to one of our artists, Adam, to talk about how we created some of the new assets built – namely escalators and lifts/elevators for the route will help us with future content. You’ll have to find out for yourselves where we use them! Take it away, Adam!
“Both technologies were developed as study and self-development projects to learn a little more about UE4’s blueprints and how far we can push artist tools without being an engineer and only using the most surface layer of programming - the node system.
“Escalators came first as they didn’t have the added complexity of having buttons and being player operated or “knowing” where they are at any given time (which an elevator cabin needs to).
“We started the project by establishing what we wanted the artist to have available, as well as what the tool requires of the artist. This needed to be balanced between complete freedom over all aspects of the blueprint, and actual usability and not being buried under a pile of different values needing to be set up.
“The second consideration was the minimum usability requirements. As train stations don’t necessarily follow a rigid grid of units, the tool needed to provide the flexibility of specifying the exact height and length of the rise between floors. With that in mind we have blocked out the main modular pieces, there are only 3, which is very artist-friendly in terms of modelling and texturing that would need to be done. Modularity also meant that we were stuck with static meshes, so traditional animation was mostly ruled out.
“With these established, I took to reverse engineering exiting spline technology we use for placement of repeating geometry like walls and fences, and adapted it to a more precise but simpler system, that allowed the construction of an escalator based on the previous assumptions of simplified controls.
“In the end, the construction script grew quite considerably, this is the final version that contains some additional logic for player movement, automatic size detection, etc. These are all fairly simple concepts, but were challenging enough at my level of knowledge of blueprints.
The final control panel for the blueprint has only the most necessary controls, most of which can be left at “default” and the artist is usually just left with setting the length, height, and direction of the escalator. The meshes can also be changed out on the fly to test out different styles.
“The final result, was a “blockout” version that had the basic functionality of being placed in the level and fit to required scale, as a side bonus, they could be flattened altogether to create travelators (I did not expect that to work)!
“This is where the project hit a little snag and required some research, it turns out that animating steps in an efficient way is not the most trivial. Some brainstorming with Tom, one of our Technical Designers, helped me greatly to come up with a very efficient way of rendering a huge number of steps and getting them to move along the custom angle of any given escalator.
“In essence, each step is an instance of the same step, meaning that the game just sees it as one object, and as such does not need a lot of resources to render it. These instances are then distributed along the spline that creates the steps in two forms - “resting” and “moved”, (moved being each step moving forward by one step). I have then added a simple blend between the two locations, which meant steps would slowly move up and forward by one position and then blink back to their original position to start the movement again. This creates a seamless animation and an illusion of movement. Think of it as a stairs equivalent of the spinning striped signs at a barber shop. The final setup for this was actually quite simple:
“Last, but not least, player movement! Since the game is seeing the whole array of steps as just one thing, and the movement is an illusion, physics just won’t work. This is where I was stuck perhaps the longest. After much deliberation on the viability of different approaches, I have decided that just like with all the other steps of this project, the simplest solution would be best.
“I have opted for adding a volume that is automatically generated for the length of the staircase, and once it detects the player inside it, it simply starts adding an invisible push force in the direction the escalator is going, synchronising it with the speed of steps was a little more math than I would have liked, but in the end, it’s quite a convincing effect, and you can still run up or down (albeit very slowly) against the stairs if you choose to, which would not be possible with a typical animation or “snap to step” method.
Last step was preparing some more appropriate geometry and textures that would represent final resolutions, so that the escalator could be tested with realistic overheads.
“The solutions employed in the tool have proven both usable and light enough to have multiple escalators at any given location. While there is still plenty to address that I would love to explore in the future, this is a solid first step and a good basis to work from and improve with time.
“Now that I had the modularity and utility of the tool outlined, I’ve decided to add a layer of complexity and adapt it to a lift tool.
“I have reused the same spline logic to create the main Lift structure. This allowed for the Lift to be modular with different style options just like the escalator, as well as to be tuned to the exact height needed. As a lift has a lot more movable parts, however, it required a few more pieces to assemble, early block-out meshes were narrowed down to the following:
“The data of the “bottom” and “top” locations of the lift were also used to add
“These were designed to let me clearly see the orientation and state of all the moving pieces as the script puts them together, and only roughly represent the actual sizes and proportions. I’ve decided that for the optimal amount of flexibility and art direction the modules would be (Left to right):
- Entrance mesh for top/bottom
- Entrance/wall doors
- Main shaft mesh
- Cabin mesh
- Cabin and outside button panels
- Cabin doors
“From here it was more iteration on similar spline logic to make sure all pieces spawned in the correct position and relation to each other. It followed the same principles as the escalator, but with more variables and parts needing to align, while time-consuming, this process was fairly simple. The final construction script ended up being quite large, but happens “offline” so gameplay performance is not affected:
“The most important part here was making sure that as long as the pieces are aligned correctly in your 3D software, the size and proportions are irrelevant, as the blueprint would read them and adjust accordingly.
“The result of first draft of the construction script:
“The parameters list that artists would have available was similar to the escalator tool, but expanded to account for more modularity in lift meshes, to aid performance, a cull distance was also added to interior meshes that would not be normally visible unless up close:
“The next step was to get the lift moving. This was far less trivial than expected, as the whole blueprint needs to track where the lift is and performed several timed actions based on its position:
- Move the cabin up or down depending on which panel is used and where the cabin is currently resting
- Animate the doors on the cabin door
- Animate upper or lower doors on the exterior structure
- Adjust the button function to appropriately call the cabin up or down
“Considering the lift in the Holiday Express works only on 2 floors, and moves only between the two points of spline that it’s based on, I’ve opted for a (slightly complicated) if/then logic, where all components respond to the relative location of the cabin along the length of the spline. This approach would only realistically work for this scenario. A setup with more floors and floor selection would become too complicated for this approach, and would most likely require a much more complicated approach (both in coding and implementation). The final logic grew quite considerably, so sub-parts and animations were collapsed to their own functions for more clarity on what happens in each scenario:
“Once the prototype worked, I once again created a more representative geometry, placeholder texture was no longer necessary as it would be similar to existing assets, which we know is acceptable. In the final version, I wanted to accommodate a glass and steel design that would allow the player to see the interior, so a roof mesh was added to hide potential engine chassis, as well as an animated cable that connected to the cabin.
“The final result worked to specifications and allowed for a granular height adjustment, with the blueprint building the structure and setting animations in the background.
We hope you enjoyed a little insight into the world of Development. Our aim with each project is to ensure that skills learnt, tools used, and assets created will benefit future projects, and here is a great example of it doing so. You can check out these in action from next Tuesday’s release!
Also, in other Holiday Express news, some eagle-eyed forumers had noticed a small change to the Controls menu, which came in a recent update.
All we’re saying at this stage, is there might be a Mastery reward you’d be interested in. We wanted a sports car, but apparently that made no fran kinc, ense
And finally… Warley National Model Railway Exhibition
The team headed off to the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in November, hosted at the NEC in Birmingham, bringing Train Sim World 3 and Train Simulator Classic to railfans from all over the UK. It’s snow coincidense it happened to be the week after Birmingham: Cross City released into TSW3, and we had lots of lovely comments about how the local route had been portrayed in-game.
We had a great time demoing, meeting lots of interesting people, and just generally nerding out. Here are some pictures taken by our cameraman for the weekend, Adam:
Adam at the Stand with the TSW team – L-R in back of shot: Matt, Cat, Chris, and Jordan
Getting to grips with the 323
3MT 82045 – a new build steam locomotive, being built at the Severn Valley Railway
‘Heyside’ O Gauge model railway
Hornby Magazine’s Narrow Gauge 009 Layout: ‘Fairlie Good Idea’
Hornby Magazine OO Gauge layout: ‘Great Central Railway’
‘Old Elm Park’ O Gauge layout from the roundhouse. We hope you’ve enjoyed the gratuitous model railway shots with jingle bells on!
THE TRAIN SIM WORLD ROADMAP
DOVETAIL GAMES RELEASES
These are forthcoming add-ons that are being developed by Dovetail Games. Where details are still being finalised for a release we are including the ID code for it when possible. This will give you a good idea of what to expect. For Train Sim World 3, we’ve amended these product codes. To see what these ID codes mean you can refer to this ID Guide post
- [New] [TSW3] – [3.XMAS-R 01] Holiday Express – the Runaway Elf
- [TSW3] – [3.NBB-R7 01] - US route
- [TSW3] – [3.NBB-L7 01] US loco
- [New] [TSW3] – [3.NDD-E7 01] Route Expansion Pack (US)
PARTNER PROGRAMME RELEASES
These are forthcoming add-ons that are being developed by teams outside Dovetail Games. Where details are still being finalised for a release, we are including the ID code for it when possible. This will give you a good idea of what to expect. To see what these ID codes mean you can refer to this ID Guide post
- [TSW3] [3.GBB-R7 03] UK route (developed by Rivet Games)
- [New] [3.GAA-E6 01] Route Expansion Pack (UK) (developed by Rivet Games)
- [TSW3] [3.DGG-R6 01] [GERMAN ROUTE] – (developed by TSG)
- [TSW3] [3.DBB-L5 01] DB BR 420 Electric Multiple Unit (Hauptstrecke München-Augsburg) - Developed by TSG
Core features are larger projects. These may be significant new pieces of functionality or changes that will affect players on one or several different platforms. Often requiring more time in development this list may move more slowly than others.
- [TSW3] Add-ons Manager (previously PS5 DLC Limit fix)
- [TSW3] – Derailing improvements (harsh braking derailments, coupling derailments) – these will be released for TSW2 where possible
- [TSW3] Red Light / Dispatcher improvements across multiple routes (starting with Rush Hour routes and Harlem Line)
- [TSW3] Save Game improvements (route-by-route)
- [TSW3] Performance optimisation
Projects that players will notice but don’t fall into one of the other categories.
- [TSW2/TSW3] Rush Hour passenger system for London Commuter
- [TSW2/TSW3] Spirit of Steam manual fireman functionality
SPECIAL PROJECTS TEAM
Projects that are being tackled by the Special Projects team. The additions or changes in the “upgrade” will include some or all of the following: station departure boards, animated crossings, platform climb-up functionality, improved track rendering, Rush Hour passenger density and appearance, support for RailDriver, contact signaller functionality, minor fixes to scenery, minor fixes to audio -ho -ho -ho, minor fixes to game-sleigh, minor fixes to menu items, Livery Designer compatibility and Scenario Planner expansion.
We have included a ‘scale’ of the size of the work/features put into the update.
Note: Preservation Crew updates will continue after the launch of Train Sim World 3
- [TSW3] Class 20 Livery Designer functionality
- [TSW2][TSW3] HST Livery Designer functionality
- [TSW3][TSW2] DB BR 187 Audio improvements
- [TSW2] [Tiny] Scottish Commuter
- [TSW2] [Small] Hauptstrecke Hamburg-Lübeck, including timetable update
- [TSW2] [Medium] Rhein-Ruhr Osten
- [TSW2] [Small] 2022 Bakerloo timetable (600+services)
- [TSW2] [Small] Long Island Rail Road
- [TSW2] [Huge] Peninsula Corridor – NOTE: there are further improvements to come on both games
- [TSW2] [Huge] Oakville Subdivision
- [TSW2] [Tiny] LGV MediterrannéeREMOVED FROM ROADMAP
Items that have been removed from the Roadmap. This is either because they have been completed, their status having changed or the project having been suspended.
- [TSW3] [3.DBB-R6 03] Bahnstrecke Bremen-Oldenburg - route released
- [TSW3] Birmingham Cross-City – route released
Please join us tonight on YouTube and Twitch (Thursday, Decemberrrrrr 7th), where we’ll discuss the above (and more!) with Matt and JD at 19:00 UTC. If you have any questions, please add them to our [December Roadmap Q&A thread](https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/roadmap-8th-december-q-a-thread.62316/)
Have a lovely festive period, and we’ll leave you on this final cracker joke:
What do you call a train loaded with bubblegum?A chew-chew train!
And, if you were counting, there were 13 festive puns. Wreath it and weep!. Okay, 14. We promise we’ll stop now. Have a lovely holidays, folks.
Train Sim World 4
Train Sim World Roadmap - December 8th 2022