Archive for April, 2009

Jaunty Jackalope and openBVE

Posted by Anthony_B on April 25, 2009 at 08:42

Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” (which is a Linux distribution for any dear readers who may not be particularly au fait with the wonderful world of operating systems…), has just been released. With this version, it’s possible to install a seperately packaged, unofficial version of openBVE maintained by Paul Sladen (currently at v1.0.2.0; the » official openBVE « release is at v1.0.3.0 at the time of writing) via the ‘Applications’ > ‘Add/Remove…’ menu item (I haven’t used Kubuntu in a while and I’ve forgotten what the equivalent in KDE is). A specially prepared, public domain version of the Cross-City South route (v1.31.03) is also installed automatically when openBVE is installed via this method, along with a reduced functionality (plugin DLLs don’t work on non-Windows operating systems), public domain version of the class 323 which Steve over at » trainsimcentral « also kindly donated.

X-City South v1.31.03 is just a cut-down version of the public release available from this site, with the copyright files removed and alternative backdrops added, and fewer route files; I prepared it so that openBVE could be considered for inclusion in Ubuntu’s list of installable open source applications, as for a game engine to be accepted, it requires some equally permissively licenced game data to be supplied with it. Eventually the Ubuntu X-City South package should be identical to the official X-City South v1.4 package once it’s been released, and I hope to send any updates to Paul so the Ubuntu version is kept up-to-date; by implication, X-City South v1.4 will be entirely copyright free as well. Any copyright material, like the Birmingham New Street announcement audio files, will be available as an optional extra only.

After installing the latest ATi Catalyst drivers (and, at last, my Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card finally works with Ubuntu), it was nice to see openBVE running in Linux myself, and with decent framerates too. The framerate in the first screenshot of XCS v1.31 was 80 fps (90 fps in Win XP), and in the third screenshot, showing XCS v1.4, 17 fps (20 fps in Win XP). The latter screenshot actually includes more animated trees than will feature in the final XCS v1.4 release though, and in-cab, I was seeing up to 30 fps):

openBVE v1.0.2.0 running in Ubuntu 9.04--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.2.0 running in Ubuntu 9.04--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.2.0 running in Ubuntu 9.04--click to enlarge

I admit there was also some momentary fascination after I turned on Ubuntu’s “Extra” visual effects option which enables hardware accelerated graphical effects to be applied to windows, and watched my X-City South v1.4 development route carry on running at 25-30 fps while I distorted and bounced the poor helpless openBVE window around the desktop (sorry I wasn’t able to capture a screenshot, just a low quality video still):

openBVE v1.0.2.0 running in Ubuntu 9.04

I may be finding that framerates are just a bit lower than in Windows XP, but they’re still good and I enjoy using openBVE in Ubuntu instead. The application’s forms all rendered nicely although the loading and error dialogs remained visible once the SDL window was created; I’ll carry on testing it and see if I notice any other issues.

Any Windows users who might be considering trying openBVE on Ubuntu, should remember that plugin DLLs don’t work natively on non-windows operating systems, so various functions in BVE 4 trains like TPWS won’t work. For this functionality to be available in Linux, you’ll need to use openBVE with Wine instead, which isn’t quite as easy to set up (I haven’t personally had time to try it yet, but as shown in this » YouTube video of the Northern Line « for example, if you do go to the trouble, it’s well worth it).

Information Icon Edit (1st May ’09): I have tried and succeeded in getting openBVE v1.4.0.1 running with Wine and Mono 2.4 for Windows in Ubuntu since this entry was published, and it was quite easy after all. See the comments for more. 🙂

E-mail problems

Posted by Anthony_B on April 20, 2009 at 22:34

Information IconI’ve discovered that anyone who has tried to contact me via my older .co.uk e-mail address since the start of April will have been unable to send mail to me. Hopefully if you’ve tried to e-mail me using that address, you’ll have received a Delivery Status Notification e-mail reporting SMTP error 550: “No Such User Here”, and then thought to check my Contact page for my newer e-mail address. But if not, please try to contact me again. I’ve now fixed the problem with the older address–it would seem that at some point, I accidentally deleted the e-mail domain forwarding rule which copies mail sent from the .co.uk domain to the .net domain. Quite how I managed to do this, I know not, but the rule has been reinstated anyway. Oops… Emoticon

Cross-City South 7-Zip trial

Posted by Anthony_B on April 19, 2009 at 07:55

In what may or may not prove to be a popular move, I’ve replaced my beloved NSIS executable installer within which the Cross-City South route was previously distributed, with a 7-Zip archive instead (and the other Cross-City add-ons have also been repackaged). I’m doing this as a trial to see how users cope with installing the route using a compressed archive manager instead of an installation program. I’m not willing to package the route using the more popular but less effective .zip format, as the resulting filesize is much larger than the .7z equivalent–the Cross-City South .zip version comes to a massive 32 MiB, while the 7-Zip archive comes in at 13.5 MiB, which is a little smaller than the installer it replaces (which figures, as both were compressed using the same LZMA compression method). All archives by default, have either the ‘Railway’ or ‘Train’ folder as the root folder within the archives, so you can always choose the same destination path when extracting the contents, and so there’s little doubt as to which folder the contents are supposed to be extracted to.

Okay, so I’ll miss using NSIS to package my add-ons as it was a very flexible installer creation tool, but more seriously, openBVE is intended as a cross-platform program, and executable (.exe) installers only work natively on Windows and not on other operating systems, which is unfair to non-Windows users wanting to use the route, or indeed those who have their add-ons installed in a non-default location. openBVE’s developer has also stated that add-ons released in installers aren’t considered to be openBVE content at all (and I can’t be happy if X-City isn’t considered to be openBVE content), so one way or another, distribution via compressed archive is the way of the future for openBVE, and I hope you’ll all be able to adjust to this change. If absolutely necessary I may reintroduce the executable installer alongside the .7z archive, but I’d prefer not to if possible.

There are no changes to the route itself (with v1.4 on it’s way, updating the old version isn’t really a good use of my time), however to prepare yourself for Cross-City South v1.4 and other openBVE add-ons in future, you can head over to the » Cross-City South download page « and try out the compressed archive installation method instead. I’ve also added new content to the » openBVE Help and Information « section of the site, which includes a couple of screenshots of what we can all look forward to with openBVE in the near future, along with step-by-step instructions to help with the downloading and installation of the Cross-City South .7z package for use with openBVE, along with recommended settings, and so-on. I’ve also slightly updated the » BVE 4 Help Section «, and you can also view an updated version of the » Cross-City South/Class 323 Tutorial « tailored for openBVE.

openBVE Help and Information
openBVE Help and Information
BVE Help and Information
BVE Help and Information

Information IconEdit: I’ve made a couple of amendments to the openBVE Help page and the Cross-City South download page, as they contained some unclear instructions and mistakes–sorry! I’ll continue to update them if necessary.

If you have problems installing the Cross-City South via the compressed archive method instead, I’d really like to hear about your installation experiences. Please feel free to add comments to this blog entry if you have any problems (no registration required, just click the ‘x Comments’ link below), or e-mail me. If there’s no feedback, I’ll assume you’re all managing just fine. 🙂

openBVE v1.0.3.0, homepage relocation, and Train Editor

Posted by Anthony_B on April 19, 2009 at 07:50

A new version of openBVE, v1.0.3.0, was released a few days ago; head over to the » official openBVE homepage « to download the latest stable release. Several changes have been made since v1.0.0.0, including:

  • Cross-City South users will find that the 323’s door indicator and guard’s buzzer now work when the cab is entered at Redditch (and similar issues with the LU Northern Line and Tokyo Metro Ginza Line are resolved as well).
  • The external views now have their last used position remembered, which is especially useful in the F2 view, for example if you want to ride inside a carriage as a passenger. The F3/F4 external view camera is positioned relative to the track rather than your train, which means the camera will stay in the position on the route where it was last used. The F4 drive-by camera position, when reset, is also intelligently placed further ahead of your train as it’s speed increases, or nearer as the speed decreases.
    Tip: If you want to position the F3 camera back at your train’s location again, just press the Numpad 5 key, and similarly, do this to reposition the camera ahead of your train when in the F4 drive-by view.
  • A default set of Points of Interest is automatically created at station stopping points on routes which lack this openBVE feature already. Press the Numpad 7 and 1 keys to switch between these POIs.
  • Users (but preferably not developers 😉 ) can now also disable the warning and error messages that appear when add-ons containing errors are loaded.
  • Some BVE 1 trains perviously accelerated too slowly at high speeds, leading to reduced maximum speeds; this is now corrected.
  • Various other changes have also been made, see the » Changelog « for more details.

After ongoing problems with previous hosts, the openBVE homepage has also been relocated, and now shares a home with » Trainsimcentral «. This server should provide much greater reliability. The new URL is http://openbve.trainsimcentral.co.uk.

Also, a new Train Editor tool has been released, which makes editing train.dat files suitable for openBVE trains much easier; e.g. configuring train characteristics, previewing acceleration curves, editing motor sound curves, and setting openBVE specific options. You can download the tool here: » here «.