Watford Junction to Milton Keynes - BVE route
WJ-MKC News (Archive):
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Just time for a quick update - WJ-MKC development is progressing well, and station buildings are now being added along the route, with textures to follow shortly. Work has started on building 3D cl. 86 and 87 locos, as well as Mk3 coaches for the external view, and the results look promising even now. Expect to see examples of these locos in some new screenshots sometime during the coming week.
While you wait for WJ-MKC's Winter effects, why not go over to Robert Glass' Scottish Rail Sim Files site and enjoy the latest version of his stunning Sandymill route - now available with excellent snow effects! I can also announce that he has been kind enough to allow me to modify and use some of the Sandymill terrain textures in WJ-MKC - and this has improved the appearance of the scenery considerably, adding more variation to the landscape. I hope to post some new screenshots in the not to distant future.
Apologies (again) for the lack of news - here's something to keep visitors occupied for a few minutes!
I'm pleased, make that relieved; to say that this weeks hard work appears to have paid off. I can now announce some information about the probable 'detail levels' which will feature in the finished route(s). All the new route versions will use more or less completely re-built objects - very few from the demo still remain.
The route which most people will want to use will be the 'Standard' version, which features the Mk1 catenary found in the old 'Low Detail' demo route, except this time the OLE supports shouldn't cause any pausing. The scenery has been completely re-written, and features some very nice tree placement effects, which keep the terrain interesting and (hopefully) non-repetetive. The terrain types seen along the route will be far more varied than that seen in all of the the demo versions; indeed in a few locations the terrain looks quite similar to the actual terrain seen on the real line. So good is this scenery, it also makes up the terrain in the High Detail route as well. Almost every bridge on the real line is re-created quite accurately in the route, as are a number of prominent lineside buildings. There's a limit on the number of these that can be added, so a balance has to be struck between accuracy and performance.
I have had tests performed on a PII 266 and a PII 350, both with Voodoo3 video cards. On the PII 266, in BVE2 with a drawing distance set at 200m, it acheived around 15 fps on average, with none of the dreadful '25 metre' pausing observed. This time around, the on-screen detail justifies this level of performance! Adding fog effects to the route will make the 200m drawing distance more appealing (a small hint there!). On a PII 400 with Voodoo5, the route runs on average at 15 fps at a drawing distance of 600m, and looks rather good.
There will also be a completely new 'Low Detail' version, which is the same as the 'Standard' route, but it doesn't have many trees, so the frame rate is higher.
A new 'High Detail' route is also under development, and will feature the same OLE detail as that seen in the demo, except I'm trying to reduce the pausing that this caused previously on some high end machines. I'm still working on these optimisations, so I can't say if I've been successful in this respect yet.
There may also be an 'Extra High Detail' version, which goes a step futher than the OLE detail in High Detail version - it looks great, but it's yet to be tested properly. If it works, I'll announce more details on this. Needless to say, a fast machine is needed to run this one, and it's definately for those who like detail more than anything else!
The 'Standard' and 'Low Detail' routes are optimised for BVE2 - I strongly recommend this version of BVE for use with these routes. They will work without error in BVE1, but they are smoother in BVE2. It's too early to comment on the higher detail routes at this stage.
Keep checking back for more updates.
Well, development has been painfully slow this week due to some unexpected problems with the route, especially relating to performance.
However, a drastic and somewhat tedious solution has been found and is being implemented at the moment, and this appears to be working well. Consequently, route development should begin progressing again shortly. Keep checking this page for updates.
Here's the latest update, apologies fot the lack of WJ-MKC specific news this week. I'm pleased to announce, that with the kind assistance of Robert Glass (developer of the excellent Sandymill route), work on removing those annoying B3D 'Vertex' errors from the objects is now well on it's way to completion, and this means that the final version of the route will not suffer from this problem in BVE2.
Major developments this week have been lacking due to non-BVE related work, however some progress has been made improving the scenery in the 'mainstream' Low Detail route, and this is now beginning to look good. It's still too early to say how well this will perform on various machines, but it will look better and run more smoothly than the LD route in the demo.
A great new link has been added to the links page, and is well worth visiting regularly. More news on WJ-MKC route development to follow soon.
A number of lineside buildings - quite a few of them recognisable, have now been built and positioned. Many prototypical bridges have also been constructed, and these enhance the appearance of the route. Contrary to the comments in the last news update, the latest incarnation of the Low Detail route is now running notieceably better in BVE2 - at this stage the pausing problems seem to have largely disappeared. Further testing is required to confirm this. BVE1 is still better for the High Detail route though.
Electrification between Watford and Milton Keynes is now largely complete. Additional terrain and realistic hills are nearly finished, which will nicely represent the fields and hills after Linslade Tunnel. Testing is ongoing with BVE2, and the route is working with cycled ground objects without error. Performance appears to be a little better in BVE1 though. A version of the route for BVE2 will feature fog - this is looking very good at the moment.
Some lineside buildings have now been built, including a feeder station to accompany the new neutral sections. Next will be lineside houses and a motorway.
Work is now being done on the electrification of the line after Apsley and Northchurch Tunnel, and the wires are now up as far as Bletchley - a total of 28 miles. Correct gradients have been added too, as well as signals. Work still to be done includes the extension of the wires to Milton Keynes (4 miles), the construction of additional station buildings, as well as new largely prototypical bridges; the construction of trains for the external 3D view, and the construction of motorway objects and lineside buildings.
Several B3D files also need editing to make them compatible with BVE2, and the new Low Detail route objects need finishing. More updates will follow.
Various pages have recieved small updates, and track laying is nearly finished between Watford and Milton Keynes. Next, a number of new objects need to be built, to represent new areas of scenery, and the remaining stations. Objects which will work better with slower machines/graphics cards will be also be built/revised.
With the release of the second BVE2 beta, which has different functionality to the first, the decision has been made to make the route fully compatible with the final release of BVE2, rather than the Beta version.
The second update is now available, and this will correct problems a few have encountered on some video cards, where embankments and points are lying across the tracks in certain locations along the route. The 'RW Update' patch can be found at the end of the downloads page.
The first update is now available - the set of 'Replacement Catenary Textures', but this should ONLY be used if the UK style mk1 cantilevers and gantries seem 'invisible' - i.e. some of the vertical masts can be seen, but the horizontal gantries or 'headspans' seem to be missing. If all the mk1 catenary parts are already visible in the route, you don't need to use these files. You can find the update at the bottom of the downloads page.
Regarding the future of the route in terms of performance, the decision has been made to discontinue the XLD route (possibly the LD too), and completely new versions will be built in their place, and these will offer better performance, at the expense of some detail. This will be made available once the entire route to Milton Keynes is finished. Those who are able to use the current Medium and High Detail routes will still have these detail levels available for use in the final release.
Now that the BVE2 Beta has been released, it has been discovered that it does not support ground object cycling, so the WJ-MKC 'Distant Rolling Terrain' system will not work within the Beta version. Hopefully it will once again be supported in the final release of BVE2. A non ground-cycling version of the route that IS compatible with the BVE2 Beta will be made available when the route is finished.
The 'Replacement Catenary Textures' update is still being developed, and will be released as soon as the files have been tested. An additional update is also in development, and this will fix a rare problem where embankments and some pointwork are skewed across the track at certain locations.
With regard to the performance problems, the decision has been made to finish the route as far as Milton Keynes first, and then a new version of the LD or XLD routes which will work better than the current versions will be released along with the finished MD and HD routes.
Investigations are still on-going regarding the poor performance of the route on certain hardware. After some more testing has taken place, a whole range of b3d files are going to be modified or re-written in an effort to improve the performance of the route. There will be a limit on how much can be done of course. Those who can use the route as it is will still have the option of using the detailed objects in the current version(s) if they wish. The set of 'Replacement Catenary Textures' mentioned on the 'Download' page is currently in devevlopment, and this should help those who are experiencing the 'invisible catenary' problem. There are a lot of textures to modify, so it could be a little while before these are ready.
Also, another great link has been added to the the Links page.
Updated the Links page, refresh the page if the new links don't appear. I'd still like to hear from anyone else who has had success running the route - please see the news for 07/03/2001 for details.
It would now appear that certain graphics cards and driver combinations are unable to handle some of the objects used in the route properly, causing severe pausing every 25 metres or so, while others seem to work much better.
At the moment, I would like to hear from anyone who has used the route, and found performance to be okay and useable.
If the route has worked well for you, could you please contact me at ________________________ and let me know the following:
Thanks for your help.
Unfortunately, many people have experienced serious performance problems with the demo route, so some major re-working is necessary. Download it if you wish, but it might be better to wait until the cause of the problems is found and corrected. On some hardware combinations it seems to work okay, but on others it just doesn't work well at all.You can still enjoy Paul Robins' excellent class 87 by downloading it seperately from the download page on his site: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/paul87101/link.html
The demo is now ready for download, apologies for the delay today. You can download the route on the Downloads page of this site, or on www.crotrainz.com or on the 'BVE' page at www.vernsrailpages.org.uk Please re-read the text on the 'Download' page, and read the 'WJ-MKC Demo Readme.htm' file before using the route - important information about how to use the different detail levels and weather conditions is included. You can read this while downloading the route, or look in your BVE 'Railway' folder after installation.
Slight delay with the release of the demo, it should now be released sometime after 21:00 (GMT) tonight.
There are 2 updated screenshots on the 'High Detail' screenshot page, showing some new OLE supports that were missing from the originals. Refresh the page if the old screenshots still appear. The demo will hopefully be released Saturday evening/night or Sunday.
Final construction and tweaking of the demo is proceeding well, and the new 'Extra Low Detail' version which should hopefully allow a few extra fps, is nearly finished. Take a look on the 'Screenshots' page to see what this new version looks like. A couple of minor corrections have been made on the 'Performance' page.
New WJ-MKC site created and launched. Variety of new screenshots added. Development has resumed again, and a demo running from Watford Junction to Apsley is nearing completion, and will be ready soon. The distant rolling terrain system has been built, and many objects have been constructed.
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