Well, that’s partly up to us. michelle has published an in depth article in which she sets out her vision for how openBVE could evolve in future, along with various ideas and plans which could pave the way to v2.0, which you can read here: » The potential future of openBVE «. But without our input, discussion about future direction, or sufficient interest expressed in these ideas, some of these developments may never happen… It’s possible to see what an incredibly flexible solution could be created in future, allowing for far more than is currently possible if an extensible, modular design and plugin based architecture is developed; e.g. detailed simulation of any safety system without having to rely on built-in approximations, plugins which can load different file formats, or customisable physics plugins allowing better support for more diverse applications such as maglev or even bus simulation, and much more, while still supporting legacy BVE add-ons.
To summarise, openBVE version 2 could (and remember this is all speculative at the moment) bring some much sought after functionality, such as true support for passing trains, parallel traffic and so-on, enabled by having more than one functional track (although this wouldn’t be a network of tracks which can be switched to and from at runtime, at this stage–this is something for the distant dream of version 3). Driving back and forth along a track could be better than in v1.0 as signalling could be functional in the reverse direction as well. 3D cabs with interactive controls, perhaps manipulated via the mouse, could be implemented. Weather plays an enormously important role on the real railway, and version 2 could bring us rain, snow and thunder, without having to “cheat” with pre-defined sound samples or creating scenery objects to create such effects, as I’ve done thus far. Wind simulation could result in altered performance characteristics of trains as well, making driving more challenging. Better Sun and Moon simulation could be provided as well, with realtime day/night transitions occuring, showing off openBVE’s illuminated object capabilities, especially at twilight. Then there are improvements to how add-ons are obtained and managed; currently this is messy where BVE is concerned and intimidating to the beginner, and all this could change with version 2, where a directory of add-ons and download locations could be referenced from within openBVE, with add-ons perhaps installed automatically via the user interface. A Level of Detail (LOD) system could be implemented, which might be enormously helpful on more geometrically complex routes, like Watford Junction to Rugby, or with more detailed exterior car objects perhaps.
Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? However, no feature is guaranteed to be implemented; indeed openBVE version 2 itself is not guaranteed to be developed–it depends on our level of interest, and our willingness to help.
This vision of the future is only likely to materialise with our support, so if we want any of this to happen, we–developers or users–need to make sure that we make known our interest in openBVE’s future direction and talk about it, express our intent to use these new features if we want them, and then experiment with new functionality as it emerges; in other words, take part in the project. This way, michelle knows what the community actually wants, she doesn’t waste her time implementing functionality which isn’t going to be used, and problems and pitfalls can be discussed or resolved before too much work is done. If you have any thoughts about this path to version 2, then you can post your thoughts in » this forum thread «; don’t post a wishlist though, consider the options already outlined in the article, and decide which are important and worth pursuing, and then, these can be prioritised and discussed. I’ll add my own thoughts later as well. Drop any comments on this blog too if you like, as I’m also interested in what you think is important or worthwhile.
Lets not miss out on a potentially wonderful opportunity here–we have someone in our midst who not only has a vision which could benefit us all, but also the ability and willingness to implement that vision, and it would be highly regrettable if our community lost this opportunity while it’s available to us. My concern is that if we don’t look to the future now, we may end up settling for what we’ve got in openBVE v1.0 (or even BVE 5 when it’s released), and then in a few years we’ll wish we had something better, only to find that it’s too late and michelle has moved on to other fields where I’ve no doubt her talents would be appreciated, or we may find that mackoy no longer works on BVE Trainsim either, in which case we’ll wish we could have done more to keep michelle motivated. Alternatively, we can actively create and shape the future of our hobby together, and demonstrate that it’s worth michelle’s while in continuing the project onwards towards version 2, or even beyond.
Of course I know that there aren’t many of us developers around, but surely between the relatively few of us (along with an increasingly enthusiastic user base), we can contribute enough to enable openBVE development to continue and evolve into a free trainsim we could only have dreamt of a few years ago, and as the program gains functionality, hopefully pick up new developers and programmers along the way?