Train Sim World

Train Sim World 2 - Building Sherman Hill!

We spoke to Derek Siddle, Art Director at Dovetail Games and found out more about how he and his team have created the famous Sherman Hill for Train Sim World 2!
Sherman Hill is Coming soon to Train Sim World 2. Passing through the incredible landscape of the Rocky Mountains it is one of most popular landmarks of the Transcontinental Railroad amongst Railfans. To find out more about the creation of this magnificent upcoming Route, we spoke to Art Director, Derek Siddle.

What has your involvement been like on this route?

Derek: My role really is to support the team creating the route and assets, as well as removing any barriers that are in their way.
I set a brief and overview of the route which includes a style guide, that is what sets it apart from other routes. This includes the general look and feel of the route, it's key areas, and what to look out for, as well as and challenges we may need to overcome.

How does this route differ to ones you've built previously?

Derek: Every route is different, and the team need to reset after each one so a new look and feel can be adopted. This one feels very different due to the nature of the landscape. While it is mostly grass lands, there are a couple huge industrial areas.
Some of the rockier areas of the route were a challenge as it requires a slightly different mind-set, but the team really did a fantastic job of capturing these areas.

Where do you get your reference material from and how do you collect it?

Derek: We have been gathering reference material for this route for many years and is a well-known route by quite a few here at Dovetail Games. However, like most routes gathering reference material involves a wide variety of searches from looking through my own library of images (which is substantial after 16 years.), close contacts and a range of searches across the internet and social media groups.
Map data: Google, Maxar Technologies.

What challenges have you faced when creating the vast open landscapes?

Derek: One of the challenges for creating this landscape is the lack of towns and regular features. This location is also remote and hasn’t got great coverage on Google Earth or Street view as you would imagine.
What we made sure we did was to focus on a few areas, to really make sure we caught the essence of the environment in areas where roads crossed the track, and then extrapolated that feeling out along the areas where coverage was not so good. This involved creating a vertical slice that was used for the team to keep constancy over very long distances. Strong guidance is needed in routes like this when the reference material is not there to fall back on. Making sure terrain painting and asset placement conform to a clear set of rules.
Some of the large industries can be difficult to recreate. There is a real temptation to get lost in the detail, and as you can image something like an oil refinery could take years to recreate and contain hundreds of millions of polygons. The team worked their way through the various structures, highlighting some of the most useful components and buildings to make that best described the areas, keeping the work load manageable and game play with the required FPS.

What do you enjoy most about this route?

Derek: I enjoy the lonely vistas and peaceful driving experience. It is a wonderful and peaceful drive as you weave your way up and down the grades taking in the amazing terrain.
What features can players look out for as they're travelling across the route? Of course, the Cheyanne yard and roundhouse is fun and is much closer to the areas we usually recreate, as well as the Large Quarry and refineries that loom into view once you have crossed the plains.
The section either side of Hermosa tunnel is also a favourite location for Rail fan enthusiast in real life, so it is better documented with photographs than some other areas, which has allowed us to study it in greater detail and produce an incredible final experience.
However, for me Dale Junction is where I think the most stunning vistas come into play. It has a very dominant rock formation, and it was key that we captured this area well. It needed a whole new set of assets and splines. We have not made anything like this or to this scale on any of our previous routes, luckily the artists involved know their rocks!
Join us tomorrow, Tuesday November 16th at 20:00 UTC, on Twitch or YouTube where Natalie and Matt will be discussing the latest Roadmap and answering your questions. You can also find all our release previews over on YouTube.
Stay up to date with Sherman Hill and everything Train Sim World 2 by following @TrainSimWorld on Twitter and Facebook.
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.
Train Sim World
15 Nov
Train Sim World 2 - Building Sherman Hill!