Train Sim World 4

Train Sim World Roadmap: May 2023

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary

A quick summary for those who don’t want to go through the whole article. There are more details on all these points within the Roadmap.
  • Glossop Line: Manchester - Hadfield & Glossop
    Upcoming UK Route added to the Roadmap!
  • New German loco added to the Roadmap
  • Spirit of Steam Improvements Patch
    With improved physics and fixes to AI SPADs coming this week! - live now: https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/tsw3-update-steam-and-loco-add-on-bundle-2-improvements-4th-may.69919/
  • A closer look at Banking Comms on Peak Forest
  • Trenton Timetable improvements are in development
  • Third Party Updates
    from Skyhook Games and Just Trains
  • Inside Development
    Find out about how we use LIDAR systems to build our routes!
  • New format for Roadmap listings
    Based on your suggestions in the TSW forums!

The Roadmap

Hello, and welcome to May’s Train Sim World Roadmap. Thanks, as ever, for joining us. We’ve got lots of interesting and exciting content to talk to you about, but before we get into that, we wanted to review the past couple of months.

March and April review

Before we get into May’s content though, we thought it was important to kick off by reviewing what has been a busy last couple of months, with some real high points, as well as some areas we’d like to improve moving forward.
Some releases have been really well received, whilst some have not hit the consistency or quality bar we expect.
We are a business, and our staff rely on us to support them – whilst you in return rely on us to be able to have an enjoyable experience within our games. It’s a tough balance sometimes, and sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. We endeavour to provide the best experiences we can, and that’s what we’ll continue to do – we won’t get it right all the time, but we will work our hardest to bring you value for your time and money.
We’ll discuss some of these ideas in future Roadmaps, but here are a few things we’ll be implementing in the near future to improve our offerings in the long-term:
  • A standardised list of features for all first-party and third-party content, with a renewed focus from our QA team on ensuring these features are included before a project is signed off
  • A focus on squeezing as much gameplay from content as we’re able to
  • Reviewing and expanding our beta communities
  • Expanding our production team to provide more focus and rigour on Add-on development
  • Building an internal focus group of dedicated TSW players to better inform our plans moving forward
After Peak Forest’s release on May 9th, and the Spirit of Steam patch (which updates Steam physics, and fixes the AI SPAD issue), we have a break in content for a little while – giving us an opportunity to review our catalogue and improve areas we have the capability and resources we can do. We’ll be focusing on:
  • Releasing post-release improvements to Linke Rheinstrecke, Niddertalbahn, Bremen-Oldenberg, and Midland Main Line
  • Getting HST Livery Designer released with a Great Western Express patch
  • A Partner Programme release featuring the first selection of Midland Main Line improvements, as well as assorted improvements to the 1938 Tube Stock, Island Line, West Cornwall Local, and Arosalinie
  • Improving and testing Add-ons Manager in preparation for Xbox and PC platform release
(as a quick note, not all of this stuff might release before the next Roadmap update, but preparation work will be done to try to ensure it is out as soon as possible after).
The team will also be working on bolstering the Northeast Corridor: New York – Trenton timetable (more on this below!), with Joe and the team working hard on improving the gameplay opportunities on the route, as well as reviewing the Peninsula Corridor missing Baby Bullet services, and outstanding TSW2 patch).
We announced last month, that to celebrate our new owners, Focus Entertainment, we’d be making our French DLC free in May (https://live.dovetailgames.com/live/train-sim-world/articles/article/dovetail-games-update-20th-april-2023-3). We are planning that players will be able to download LGV Méditerranée: Marseille-Avignon for free between May 26th and June 2nd on all platforms. We are waiting on confirmation from Microsoft, but if there are any changes, we’ll let you know closer to the time. More information will be available closer to the time, but this will be a permanent addition to your libraries after you have downloaded it during this week period.
As a final note, we hear your calls for more communication around development. That’s why we’re going to pilot a new monthly video – a Roadmap ‘branch line’, if you will, which will aim to provide a little more detail on some of the things we’re working on. Keep your eyes peeled later this month!
Onwards to the Roadmap!
Additions to the Roadmap: Glossop Line - Manchester - Hadfield & Glossop
More information will be shared in the coming weeks, but we’re delighted to announce that the new British route will be the Glossop Line!
For now, here’s a Route Map, and a sneak peek at Dinting station.
Featuring the Northern Class 323 – updated appropriately – the first time Northern have featured within Train Sim World, this is a fantastic self-contained and fully-complete route travelling into a modern-day Manchester (arriving into a different terminus than in Northern Trans-Pennine).
Formerly part of the Woodhead line, before it closed in the BR era, it also features – again, for the first time in TSW – a unique operation with a triangle junction – where you change track ends at Glossop, to head to Hadfield.
For those who want to take the 323 on a spin up north, or who haven’t yet experienced it in Birmingham Cross-City, this will be right up your street track. We’ll share more – including lovely screenshots and videos – closer to release.
German loco
We’ve also added a German loco to the Roadmap, and more details will be available in the future as we move closer to release.
NEC: New York – Trenton: Updated timetable
We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear: you want more services. We underestimated the complexities of the signalling systems within the route, and this led us to be able to spend less time than we’d have liked on the timetable.
So, whilst the team have been beavering away in the background working on this, we wanted work to have progressed to a certain point before sharing it with you and putting it on the Roadmap.
We spoke to Joe about the work that’s been undertaken so far.
This timetable is based on the real NJT timetable and Amtrak timetable of 2019. I have also been lucky to access the diagrams of NJT that detail which train (equipment) does each group services. This level of detail is like the 387 and 395 timetables on BML and SEHS, albeit we do not have all the correct stock. If a train we don't have is running a service, it simply gets added as an ALP-46+MLs.
Anyway, at release we had:
  • The full Amtrak timetable, including again services we do not have correct coaches for.
  • Acela trains will stop at Trenton for the sake of these being playable. Otherwise more than half would just be between NY Penn and Newark. These also included virtual destinations to many places beyond Trenton & NY Penn, as well as named trains displayed in the PIS.
  • For NJT we had ~120 services, not the full timetable and most of which were led by the ML cab car. This was a mix, but not all, of trains 31XX, 32XX, 35XX, 37XX, 38XX, 39XX and 6XXX. All the deadheads do SSY were playable, including any of 6XXX, which gave it quite an unbalance between actual passenger services and SSY deadheads.
How the timetable we’re working on looks, as of right now:
  • Full Amtrak and Acela as with release. These services may be slightly different now with more delays etc due to the increased NJT traffic.
  • Full Electric NJT timetable (see below) is now complete with a few late trains that are being fixed/simulated as I type this.
  • Does not include: Arrow III Princeton Junction-Princeton AI or diesel equipment out of Newark Penn/Hoboken and no AI traffic at Secaucus Junction.
'Full Electric Timetable' - This includes all 31XX, 32, 35, 37, 38, 39 and 6XXX train numbers that are electric, as well as all Hoboken trains that use electric equipment.
With all the above, this is now the largest US timetable in TSW.
The team are looking at support for additional AI traffic as well, but this work is not started at this stage.

Spirit of Steam Improvements Patch

To coincide with the release next week, we’ll also be addressing some of your feedback for Liverpool-Crewe, coming in a pre-release patch update. We will aim for this to be released later this week.
Some of the current list (subject to the thumbs-up by our QA team):
  • Physics updates to 8F and Jubilee
  • Jubilee introduction, and 'Really Reliable Rescue' and 'The Tables Have Turned' scenarios should now be completable
  • Derailments when coupling to wagons in Edge Hill should be fixed
  • Derailments when going up a steep bank near Edge Hill signal box should be fixed (added 27th April)
  • Gold medal now achievable on Bovine Blockage Scenario
  • Reduction in volume of safety valves
  • AI locos causing SPADs (added 27th April)
  • Fixed headlights not showing on AI Jubilees (taillights is something we'll investigate later) (added 27th April)
  • Fixed Scenario Planner formations so that loaded wagons don't face empty wagons (added 27th April)
All of the physics improvements will be ported to both Spirit of Steam and West Cornwall Local Steam Railtour, and be there on day one for Peak Forest (for the Jubilee, 8F, and 4F).
We’re also currently investigating what causes firemen to intermittently vanish – we believe we have a fix, but as it’s a core game improvement, it’ll require more rigorous testing before release.
Note: manual firing is still in the process of being scoped out, so will not be a part of this update. We're also investigating intermittent running sounds for AI locos, but it's unlikely these will come with this update.
We also hope to get the promised Loco Add-on Bundle improvements, including the new scenario for the German pack, and changes to the US pack to update the trailer designs to be more prototypical of American trailers, and adding more Scenario Planner formations using truck trailers and centerbeams, out in this patch too. Full patch notes will be available upon release.
A little more detail on the Steam improvements: We’ve re-calculated the valve gear events using the new engineering features available to us. Previously the valve gear opened instantly. Now we track both the start of opening and the end of opening separately (same for closing).
This changes the player performance quite dramatically: you get less steam through the valves as they are open less for most of their travel, particularly at low cut-off. This means you tend to drive with a higher cutoff percentage - what you could pull at 20% cutoff before, you now might need 30% to achieve. It also changes the drafting on the fire, particularly at low speeds. The steam flow is smoother, and occurs over a longer time, meaning you can now achieve more sustained performance at low speeds.

Peak Forest: Ambergate – Chinley & Buxton

+Spirit of Steam update
Coming next Tuesday (9th May), our second Steam route comes to Train Sim World. A world apart from the industrial powerhouse of Liverpool-Crewe, Peak Forest offers a more scenic, tranquil opportunity to enjoy 1960s Derbyshire during the beginning of the end of the Steam era, using banking operations to negotiate inclines with extremely heavy locomotives. We asked Michael from our gameplay team to give you an insight into the world of banking, which is brand new to Train Sim World with this release.
But first, here’s the 4F in action in our Peak Forest loco walkaround video:

Banking in the Peak Forest

The role of a banker is to provide more power on steep inclines by being added to the rear of trains.
We knew we wanted to implement banking operations early in development, since it’s necessary to allow heavy freight up the steep inclines on this route.
Our implementation of it in-game is a close representation of how they would have done these operations back in the day: drivers would have been given notice of when their train would require banking on the route before starting work. Once they have collected Limestone Hoppers from Tunstead Quarry (represented by the 8F with loaded ICI Hoppers) they wait to be assisted by another locomotive (represented by the 4F).
The banking locomotive would push from the rear of the train, we have it coupled to our formations to allow for information to be shared across the train.
Once coupled, the driver of the 8F blows the whistle accordingly, notifying the driver of the 4F to release the brakes and begin the banking process.
The train is then assisted, banked up past Peak Forest station, where it then stops to allow the 4F to uncouple and return to the quarry for further duties.
The 8F then descends down the rest of the route past Chinley and beyond.
You would have seen this process regularly across the line. If a train exceeded the maximum load, they would have required banking across this section of the route.
When creating these services, there are a lot of dependencies on both the Mainline Freight and Shunting services, to allow for efficient running of the two. This took a bit or trial and error to get right but we’re happy with how it’s turned out.
There are many banking services included in the Route Timetable as well as a scenario, Breaking the Bank, which includes it too.
And if banking hasn’t whetted your appetite enough, here’s a short breakdown of the playable services included in the Timetable:
  • Local Stopping and Express Passenger services with the Jubilee & Mk1s.
  • Limestone Quarry Shunting and Banking with the 8F, 4F & ICI Hoppers.
  • Yard Shunting services with the 4F & various freight wagons.
  • Local freight with the 8F & various freight wagons
  • Light Loco services including all locomotives.
With release, there will be 110 playable services, and approximately 140 AI services – covering the variety of operations above. With this release, we’ve focused on variety of gameplay options, which we hope will provide a more diverse experience.
You can watch the live stream previewing Peak Forest this Thursday (4th May), with Jamie and Matt, on our YouTube and Twitch channels. See you there!
Thameslink Class 700/0
Not much new to report on the Class 700, but here’s a picture of the interior of the cab for you to whet your whistles with.
A progress summary on the core improvements the teams are working on. This month, we have a quick Add-ons Manager update, HST Livery Designer functionality, Peninsula Corridor Baby Bullet Services, and TSW2 Preservation Crew improvements.
Add-ons Manager
We’re currently testing Xbox Add-ons Manager. We’ve been experiencing some crashing issues with the current build, so our Engineering team will be taking another look at it.
Once Xbox is out, we’ll turn our attention to PC platforms.
HST Livery Designer Compatibility
Whilst we weren’t able to bring this to you with Midland Main Line, we believe this should be released in a patch later this month.
Peninsula Corridor and Oakville Corridor Baby Bullet services
Nothing to report from last month’s Roadmap, but as soon as one of our UI team become available we’ll investigate.
TSW2 Preservation Crew releases
Nothing further on this one from last month. To reiterate – we’re committed to bring this to you, and are hoping the window of time we have now will help us to get this out.
Patches (from the past month)
Here’s a quick summary of the contents of the patches released in the past month you may have missed.
4th April
17th April
Other content we’ve added to the Roadmap are post-release improvement patches to:
  • Loco Add-on Bundle 2, including:
    • New scenario for Railbow and Enhancement on Cajon Pass timetable for SD70Ace
  • Linke Rheinstrecke
  • Niddertalbahn
  • Bremen-Oldenberg
Updates from some of our Partner Programme developers. This month, we have an update from Skyhook Games after Midland Main Line’s release, and from the team at Just Trains.
Skyhook Games
After the release of Midland Main Line, the Skyhook team are reviewing your feedback from the content. Jane, their Chief Technical Officer, has started a thread providing an introduction, as well as sharing updates on post-release patch progress:
Here’s a quick summary of their areas of focus (these are not all confirmed, but areas Skyhook are investigating):
  • Expanding the timetable per community feedback
  • Whole new freight services added to the route
  • Major route re-signalling to address issues and enhance realism
  • Numerous environment fixes and updates
  • Station updates to add additional realism
  • Multiple bridges re-modelled from scratch to reflect their real-world counterparts
  • City updates to add in more bespoke buildings, The Velodrome, Pride Park and many other new points of interest.
  • Significant functionality updates to the Class 158
  • Multiple performance updates
  • re-adding the removed freight service and RHTT SEHS service
  • addressed the issue where NPCs get stuck in the doorway
  • updating vehicle coupling and logic.
  • addressing issues with the HST set, including system functionality, and unit numbers
We will have more information for you on these when these improvements are completed and are ready for release.
Just Trains
Many of you know that Just Trains have a proven (pun alert!) track record with our very detailed, accurate, high-quality, and great looking routes for Train Simulator Classic and those same qualities are coming brilliantly alive with our first route for Train Sim World. The Just Trains team are working very hard and are solely dedicated on this, our first route for this platform (another pun!).
Building any route has very many individual elements that need to be brought together but to recap, so far, we've completed 26 miles of scenery with around 20 miles left to go, so we're pleased to say our project is over half complete. Our environment artists are busy bringing the virtual world to life and our team of asset builders are creating superb, realistic looking objects such as signal boxes, distinctive buildings, churches as well as the many stations ranging from a simple platform to end of route Termini that you will be able to stop at when driving the route.
Progress on the train that will be coming with the route is coming along at a pace and is looking excellent. All of this will ensure that your driving experience has the correct look and feel and will provide you with a great sense of immersion.
Inside Development – How we use LIDAR scanning for our landscape
In the world of developing a simulation game, reference material is super-important – particularly when it comes to vast expanses of land. In the next instalment of our ‘Inside Development’ series, we spoke to Lukas, our Senior Technical Producer, who told us how we’re starting to use more granular data to better-represent real-life terrain in TSW. Early in my career at working on TSW, I searched for better ways to get accurate height data for track beds in countries like Germany, where public information does not include good gradient data for railway lines. This brought me to LIDAR Terrain – but what is LIDAR terrain, I hear you ask?
LIDAR Terrain is nothing else than terrain data, that has been laser scanned via plain. Often done by each state or country themselves, it continues to replace the data provided by NASA, which provided the basis for Train Simulator Classic and TSW route development. This was of roughly 40-50m accuracy, which allows to build on roughly the correct height, but it is nowhere near that of LIDAR scanning. Here we can get closer to 50cm, which is already lower than our terrain grid in TSW, which sports 2m.
Here you can see a comparison of the two inside the TSW Editor:
Which especially works well with valleys, like in our recent Linke Rheinstrecke route.
After starting to use this data to get information for tracklaying and with the further increase in free sources for LIDAR, especially after a push from the European Parliament to make it available as Open Data, we started looking into how we can use this more extensively for route building and for our terrain.
The main problem was that everyone uses different formats and filtering. While a lot of countries provided filtered data, that removes buildings and trees from the data, some will not. This requires fairly expensive programs to filter the data for our use. The bigger problem is presented by the variety of formats and coordinate systems. These are important, since global reference systems are not accurate enough. It would have taken years to make unreal engine work with all of these, so I need to filter and covert them beforehand. This is where we turn to an open-source software called QGIS which provides all the tools. The source data, often 100GB and more, is merged into a big file, where it is reprojected into the coordinate system we use inside TSW and then tiled into hundreds of pieces. These are then imported into our custom extension for the Unreal Editor, to be imported into our routes. Since the source format and system are often very different, it takes some time to figure out the right way to do it every time. The first time we properly used this feature was for Tharandter Rampe, especially its valley run benefited a lot from this technique.
Some countries, like the UK, are not yet finished in fully surveying their land. Here is where we only get spotty data, but even partial data is still better than going back to 50m accuracy!
Who can guess what this route is?
Since the data amounts are quite big, this process can take up to two days. But it’s all worth it! Next to the fact that routes are much closer to reality, it also makes the life of our route builders much simpler. They don’t spend ages sculpting terrain and can place houses directly onto their real foundations. The track layers also can see the difference now when there is no LIDAR. It shows gradient changes and other details perfectly and often shows the track bed more accurately then the likes of a Google Maps overlay would ever do. Especially complex hillsides and rocky cliffs would be impossible to sculpt by hand and could never match the result, when we can just import reality.
In future we will continue to develop this technique and hopefully combine it with procedural generation. Especially terrain painting and automatic road placement will hopefully benefit a lot from this.

THE TRAIN SIM WORLD ROADMAP

This month, we’ve added indicators to show how far along development various items on the Roadmap are.
  • Next Arrival:
    Our next release. Expect this content to be released before the next Roadmap article.
  • In development:
    Active development is underway; expect this content to be longer than a month away, but less than 3 months away.
  • In planning:
    In planning stages, Initial development has started - expect this to be between 3-9 months away.
  • At a red light:
    Not in active development, but something we’re committed to delivering. No ETA at this point.

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 our ID code guide.
Next Arrival:
  • [3.GAA-R5 02] Peak Forest: Ambergate – Chinley and Buxton
In development:
  •  New  [3.GBB-R7 04] Glossop Line - Manchester - Hadfield & Glossop
  • [3.GKK-L7 01] Thameslink BR Class 700/0
  •  New  [3.DKK-L7 01] German locomotive

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 our ID code guide.
In development:
  • [3.GDF-R5 01] UK Route – (developed by Just Trains)
In planning:
  • [3.DBB-L5 01] DB BR 420 Electric Multiple Unit (Hauptstrecke München-Augsburg) – (developed by TSG)

CORE FEATURES

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.
In development:
  • [TSW3] Add-ons Manager (Xbox, PC)
  • [TSW3] Derailing improvements (route-by-route)
  • [TSW3] Save Game improvements (route-by-route)
  • [TSW3] Performance optimisation

SPECIAL PROJECTS TEAM AND PATCHES

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, minor fixes to gameplay, 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.
Next release:
  • [TSW3] Loco Add-on Bundle 2 post-release patch
  • [TSW3] Spirit of Steam AI SPAD fix and physics improvements
In development:
  • [TSW2][TSW3] HST Livery Designer functionality
  • [TSW3] Linke Rheinstrecke post-release patch
  • [TSW3] Niddertalbahn post-release patch
  •  New  [TSW3] Midland Main Line post-release patch
  •  New  [TSW3] NEC: New York – Trenton timetable improvements
  • [TSW3] Peninsula Corridor + Oakville Subdivision – access to Baby Bullet services
  • [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 Mediterrannée
At a red light:
  • [TSW3][TSW2] DB BR 187 Audio improvements

MISCELLANEOUS

Projects that players will notice but don’t fall into one of the other categories.
In planning:
  • [TSW2/TSW3] Manual fireman functionality for Steam locomotives
At a red light:
  • [TSW2/TSW3] Rush Hour passenger system for London Commuter

REMOVED 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] US Content post-release patch (Trenton, Acela, UP Heritage Collection)
  • [3.GDG-R7 02] Midland Main Line: Leicester – Derby and Nottingham – (developed by Skyhook Games)
You can discuss the contents of this month’s Roadmap on our forums, and all our socials (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). We’ll be discussing the Roadmap and answering your questions live on-stream tonight with JD and Matt, so tune into our YouTube or Twitch account from 18:00 UTC. We’ll see you there!
Train Sim World 4
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Train Sim World Roadmap: May 2023