Train Sim World 3

Hauling Freight

Take on the magnificent Appalachian Mountains with the Clinchfield Railroad, coming soon to Train Sim World 2!
Over the past weeks, we have learnt about the history of this spectacular route, the work that has gone in to building the iconic EMD F7 and looked at the locomotives featured on the route!
Today we are joined by Joe Burgess and Michael Alexander from the development team, to talk about how we have made the Scenarios for the historic Clinchfield Railroad.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves? What do you do here at Dovetail?

Michael/ Joe: We are both assistant technical designers. We focus on gameplay, which is anything from Scenarios, Service Timetables and Journeys. The things that make the game a game.

How do you create a Scenario?

Michael: We do a lot of planning. We research; how the railway or railroad runs, what’s plausible for us to design with the rolling stock or locomotives available, researching service patterns so we can better understand what we are doing for gameplay in general. We look for any sort of interesting features that come up that we can involve in the Scenarios.
Joe: Trying to find the data on service patterns and when the main coal duties are running, was difficult. There were some days when the coal traffic would be busier than others and trying to get that aspect down was complicated.
We have people in the community or third parties of Dovetail who are actively working or knowledgeable with American freight, we keep in contact with them and their feedback is invaluable when creating gameplay.
Michael: Once we have collected enough research, we come together as a group and fire off ideas with one another for Scenarios, we then pick however many we feel would be suitable for the pack.
We then get the rail vehicles placed in and make sure the paths they take are all correct. This then allows us to focus on the player, we start to look at things such as dialog, player objectives, and the help tips that appear for Tutorials, Scenarios and route introductions.
Once we’ve got all of the Scenarios to a point where they work, we start looking to add AI traffic and Scenario specific scenery which is part of the polishing stage/finishing of a Scenario.

How accurate to real life do you make a Scenario?

Michael: For any route it depends on how much data we get. The difference with this route and some of the more modern route Scenarios we have created is that Clinchfield is a historic freight route.
It’s more challenging trying to make it as authentic as possible with the sparse data, and this is where the Beta team and people in the community really help us, by sharing as much information that they can. This helps us to keep things as accurate as possible.

How does Scenario building change when you're making freight gameplay?

Michael: Passenger services are slightly easier because they have a repetitive service pattern. Whereas freight can change.
In terms of Clinchfield we can have a train going down one of the branches, filling up at one of the loading facilities, and then going to get the coal cleaned and processed. Or you might be going straight from Elkhorn City all the way to Dante.
Getting those service patterns to coincide and work together is very different compared to passenger services. A lot of US freight, especially if you’ve got switching going on, all need to work together and communicate, if one thing goes wrong the whole railroad could potentially go wrong. And getting that balance can take time.

Do you have to take into account things like adhesion when building Scenarios?

Joe: Actually, when making the Scenario, we don’t change that much apart from working out how long a train should be and how much power it should have. We would try and get that accurate anyway.
For the player, this is where it changes the most. Before we had adhesion physics, a train would just roll as if there were less physics acting on it. But now if the rails are slippery, the wheels will slip. From a gameplay perspective, it’s a fantastic thing to have, it adds that extra level of realism and it makes a Scenario more challenging.

What do you both enjoy most about this route?

Joe: One of my favourite things about this route is the company. They are happy with their trains functioning, so they didn’t wash them or anything. A lot of the time you will see them looking run down but they operate perfectly and they have this lovely character about them.
I’ve noticed a lot of the loaders weren’t replaced they are just patched up, if there’s a problem put a bit of metal on it. So, I enjoy that aspect as well.
Michael: I’m looking forward to seeing all of the services getting played by everyone and the AI working well with the players. Seeing players going down the main section from Elkhorn to Dante and having a challenge going up the inclines, especially in winter and rainy weather.
Clinchfield Railroad is coming soon to Train Sim World 2. Stay up to date with everything on this route by following @TrainSimWorld on Twitter and Facebook.
Screenshots and images displayed in this article may depict content that is still in development. The licensed brands may not have been approved by their respective owner and some artwork may still be pending approval. Screenshots Taken on Windows PC.
Train Sim World 3
Hauling Freight