Posts Tagged ‘Hardware’

openBVE v1.2.8 and increased rendering speed, openBVE v1.2.9 development branch with cross-platform .NET plugin support, Cross-City South v2.0 update, and openBVE performance with budget versus high-end CPUs, and discrete versus on-board graphics

Posted by Anthony_B on October 14, 2010 at 00:20
Updated: 16th October 2010 @ 22:50 UTC

openBVE v1.2.8 released, with significant rendering speed improvements

openBVE Logo openBVE v1.2.8 was released recently, which includes a reorganised renderer which can provide significantly higher framerates than the old renderer found in v1.2.7.4. This is achieved by rendering opaque faces (i.e. faces without alpha), using OpenGL display lists. There are two ways to enjoy the performance increase; if you currently have low framerates, then the boost could make routes more enjoyable, however if you already have high framerates, then you can increase the viewing distance significantly so that you can see much further away from the train, whilst maintaining similar framerates to those you are already used to seeing. You can visit the Official openBVE Homepage for the download and to read the changelog, as well as read this thread on the openBVE forum for more information.

Here are some framerate and image quality comparisons which I conducted on my main development PC (Core 2 Quad Q9650 / GeForce GTX 260), showing some notable improvements:

On the left is openBVE v1.2.7.4, and on the right, the new v1.2.8:

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openBVE’s default viewing distance is 600 metres, however, here are some screenshots showing what the upcoming Watford Junction to Rugby route looks like with an increased viewing distance of 2000m. This particularly benefits the straight sections of this route, allowing you to see more than one upcoming signal at the same time. Thanks to the new renderer, it’ s possible to significantly increase the viewing distance, while still having very playable framerates on a good computer with reasonably detailed exterior car objects:

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Most people are reporting better performance with the new renderer, however if you notice any previously unseen stuttering with the new renderer and detailed routes, I’d really appreciate it if you could contact me with some information about your computer’s specifications and the route being used, as it might be useful for me to know, when I draw up recommended system requirements and openBVE settings, particularly for the upcoming Watford Junction to Rugby project. Thanks.

openBVE v1.2.9 development branch released, enabling support for cross-platform .NET train plugins

openBVE Logo The latest version 1.2.9 development branch of openBVE, includes support for .NET assemblies (plugins), which enables cross-platform plugin compatibility, just as with openBVE itself. With previous versions of openBVE, and of course BVE Trainsim, only Win32 C++ plugins were supported, which limited their use to the Microsoft Windows platform, leaving Linux and Mac users to rely on openBVE’s built-in safety systems only, with a great deal of functionality found in plugin enabled trains unavailable. With .NET assemblies, these can be written in a variety of languages which target the .NET framework, such as C# or Visual Basic .NET, and users of non-Windows operating systems can also enjoy enhanced train functionality once new .NET plugins start to appear.

Anyone with at least some programming experience can visit the .NET assembly train plugin section on the official openBVE website, to download template projects to help you get started. If you’ve already developed a Win32 C++ plugin previously, you might prefer to look at the “C# project files (for updating from Win32 plugins)” download specifically. Anyone interested in making general comments can do so in this thread on the openBVE forum, while anyone wanting to help improve the design of the plugin API by making suggestions, can visit this thread instead.

I’ve started writing a replacement .NET plugin for the class 323, although I’ll design it such that it could be used with other trains too. I’ll release the new .NET assembly and publish the source code when there’s something worth showing, unless someone else writes a plugin which is sufficiently good enough, before me.

Edit (16th October): I forgot to mention that some .NET assemblies are already available; the plugins for the 1000, 2000 and 9000 series trains used by the Chashinai Railway have been ported to C# by odakyufan, and you can download them here (at the bottom of the page). These might be helpful if you’d like to see some example source code and structure, although bear in mind that openBVE .NET plugin support is still experimental at this stage, so you may need to check for both openBVE and plugin updates in future.

Of course, if you’re a more advanced non-Windows user and just want to enjoy driving trains, then you too can now experience some of the best in-cab system functionality available for openBVE. Here’s the openBVE v1.2.9.2 development release, with Chashinai Railway’s Misaki Line, and the 9000 series train with fully functional .NET plugin enabled safety systems, running in Ubuntu 10.04 32-bit Linux (itself running within a virtual machine under Windows 7 64-bit, in this case):

Chashinai Railway Misaki Line, and 9000 series train
with .NET plugin enabled safety systems, used
with openBVE v1.2.9.2 in Linux

Birmingham Cross-City South v2.0 update

Railsimroutes LogoIf you’ve been keeping an eye on the news infobox at the top left of the blog (or my Projects page), you’ll have noticed that I’ve been continuing work on the pointwork along the Cross-City South route, and I’ve also been working on updating the pointwork on the approach to Birmingham New Street as well. All pointwork between Alvechurch and Five Ways is now finished, and ready for animation to be applied prior to release. The pointwork on the approach to Birmingham New Street is a rather difficult task though. At this location, there are single and double slips, switched diamond crossings and three-way points, all crammed into a rather small space, and all located on quite a sharp curve. There are also a variety of point machines, including electric, hydraulic clamp-lock, and Westinghouse electro-pneumatic types, as well as cast manganese steel and conventional frogs. I like to model these kinds of details, so I’ve spent quite some time working on this area – I’m not finished yet, but will be shortly. Cross-City South was originally designed with a 25 metre block length in mind, however the pointwork doesn’t fit neatly, so much of the pointwork is contained in two large set-piece objects instead. I always felt that this task was going to be the hardest part of the Cross-City South v2.0 upgrade, as it’s rather tedious and difficult (and indeed I was right), however for me, the route wouldn’t be complete without it, as I want Cross-City South v2.0 to be of the same standard as Watford Junction to Rugby, so I’ll endure the pain.

Here’s a screenshot of one of the Birmingham New Street pointwork objects:


At first glance it doesn’t look like much, but on closer inspection, it’s actually rather detailed and intricate. This object features 4076 vertices, and loads 9 textures. Each rail is carefully texture mapped, to ensure that the Pandrol rail fasteners are as closely lined up with the underlying sleepers as possible, and that the inside of the railhead as depicted in the texture, matches the mapping on the object. Depending upon the location of a rail within the point assembly, different kinds of rail fasteners are depicted. If you examine the existing equivalent object in Cross-City South v1.31, you’ll notice that that old object is afflicted with z-fighting issues; I’ve taken special care to ensure that this doesn’t happen with the new version. In the case of the cast manganese steel frogs, these feature a combination of 3D geometry and use of a photographic texture of the prototype, to create the desired 3D effect:

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Each fishplate is also modelled in 3D, and these are also responsible for much of the vertex count, incidentally – this also means that they can be easily removed to create a lower detail object, however. Each point blade has a texture depicting baseplates beneath it, and where the tie bar assemblies will go, oil-stained ballast is featured. The object has also been designed in such a way, that animating any of the point blades is very easy to do in future. I’ll post a screenshot of the object within the route, once I’ve finished the second of these pointwork objects, improved the appearance of New Street station a bit, and finished some other things.

Prior to starting on the New Street pointwork updates, I also spent some time working on the Kings Norton area. In the existing Cross-City South v1.31, I didn’t lay any track in the sidings to the west of the station, and instead, I included a simple texture depicting a pair of tracks on a flat surface to the right of the loop siding. Cross-City South v1.31 was designed for BVE Trainsim 2 and 4 with their cab-only view and lower resolution, of course, so there wasn’t much point in modelling the extra tracks. With openBVE, it’s well worth adding them, however:


Here are some screenshots of the updated pointwork and track geometry at Kings Norton (I’ll replace these points with the more recently installed concrete sleeper versions soon):

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You might have noticed that scenery has been improved a little in those previous three screenshots; I’m currrently adding the embankment/tree alpha shadow technique I developed for Watford Junction to Rugby, throughout the Cross-City South route as well. Here are a few more screenshots showing the latest scenery enhancements I’ve been working on, as well as little things like extended length sleepers beneath electric point machines, and disused trackbeds:

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Budget versus high-end CPUs, discrete graphics cards versus on-board graphics, and openBVE/Watford Junction to Rugby performance

Information IconSometimes I see people talking about poor framerates or image quality in 3D games which they use, such as openBVE, or others. Upon finding out about the system specifications in use, the cause of the low performance, in the case of Windows 7 and Vista, is often due to inferior graphics drivers being used (i.e. those bundled with Windows by default or obtained via Windows Update, rather than from the graphics card manufacturer). However, the other frequent cause of unsatisfactory performance, is a slow graphics card, and sometimes, a slow CPU.

Personally, I’ve used less-than-stellar graphics cards in my desktop PCs for use with openBVE, but being a geek, I’ve never used on-board graphics solutions (integrated on the motherboard) in a desktop PC before, as I’ve always dismissed them as not being up to much. It occurred to me that perhaps I was being too hasty in writing integrated graphics off, as I’ve never actually tried to play games on such a solution in a desktop PC myself. The same goes for budget CPUs, such as those in Intel’s Celeron or AMD’s Sempron lines – I’ve never been interested in them as I’ve always viewed them as merely cut-down versions of “real” fully-featured CPUs, such as those in Intel’s Pentium and Core product lines, or AMD’s Athlon and Phenom lines.

So, I thought I’d test openBVE on a contemporary budget PC to find out what it was capable of, with the cheapest of Intel’s newer CPUs that I could find – a socket LGA 775 based Celeron E3300 with the Wolfdale-3M core (the same core used in Core 2 E7xxx and Pentium Dual Core E5/6xxx processors), which runs at 2.5 GHz with 1MB of Level 2 cache. This CPU is combined with the cheapest of all graphics solutions – on-board graphics integrated onto the motherboard – in the form of Intel’s “Graphics Media Accelerator” X4500, which is a part of the G41 Express “Eaglelake” chipset. I was also curious to find something out – if a choice has to be made between a better CPU or a better graphics card, which is the best to go for where openBVE is concerned?

I ran the hardware in a few configurations, and tested openBVE’s performance with my upcoming Watford Junction to Rugby route. Here are the results, and in all cases, the best image quality that each graphics solution is capable of was selected, and in all except the last test (number 4), the following constants apply:

CPU: Intel Celeron E3300 @ 2.5 GHz
RAM: 2 GB PC-6400 DDR2 SDRAM (dual-channel configuration)
Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (32-bit)
openBVE version: 1.2.8 (Sharp transparency, 1920×1200 fullscreen, 600m viewing distance)

Two locations were used for measuring framerates: Watford Junction, and Bourne End Junction.

Test setup 1:

Graphics: Intel GMA X4500 (G41 Express Chipset, 128MB shared video memory) [Antialisasing: n/a, Anisotropic Filtering: 2x]

Framerates (fps)
Watford Junction 12
Bourne End Junction 9

Test setup 2:

Graphics: AMD/ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro (256MB DDR2) [Antialisasing: 8x, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x]

Framerates (fps)
Watford Junction 34
Bourne End Junction 24

Test setup 3:

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 (896 MB GDDR3) [Antialisasing: 16xQ, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x]

Framerates (fps)
Watford Junction 118
Bourne End Junction 101

Test setup 4:

Lastly for comparison purposes, here’s what we get when the GeForce GTX 260 is paired with a faster and more powerful quad-core CPU:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 @ 3 GHz
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 (896 MB GDDR3) [Antialisasing: 16xQ, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x]
RAM: 4 GB PC-6400 DDR2 SDRAM (dual-channel configuration)

Framerates (fps)
Watford Junction 179
Bourne End Junction 160

From these results, we can see that the budget Celeron E3300 is actually a rather nice CPU (which isn’t too surprising I suppose, given the architecture in use), and more than good enough for highly detailed routes such as Watford Junction to Rugby when paired with a decent graphics card. By comparing the two GeForce GTX 260 results, we can see that the speed of the CPU matters, however performance is also very clearly determined by the graphics hardware, and I would say that it’s the more important factor when it comes to openBVE performance. While I didn’t test the Core 2 Quad CPU with Intel’s GMA X4500 integrated graphics, I think it’s highly unlikely that framerates would have been much higher with this combination (overclocking the Celeron E3300 from 2.5GHz to 2.92GHz, made a difference of only around 1 fps when the integrated GMA X4500 was used). Intel’s on-board graphics is simply too slow, and the image quality is a bit poorer too, as there is no antialiasing, and the anistropic filtering level is rather limited (compare this screenshot using Intel’s GMA X4500, and a screenshot using the GeForce GTX 260). Intel’s driver control panel claims to support 16x anisotropic filtering, although openBVE/OpenGL reports that 2x is the maximum supported. The framerates don’t tell the entire story either though, as the much faster GeForce GTX 260 graphics card also gives more fluid and stutter-free performance than the budget Radeon HD 2600 Pro does. This is especially true when large textures, animated objects and higher levels of antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are used, as well.

So, if anyone is thinking of upgrading their computer soon and would like to run something like Watford Junction to Rugby, and money is tight, then my advice would be to bias your budget in favour of getting the best graphics card possible, while trying to keep some balance between the CPU and GPU in terms of what each is capable of. For the energy conscious amongst you, also bear in mind that newer generation graphics hardware tends to be more power efficient for a given level of performance. While quad core CPUs are nice to have, dual core CPUs are just fine, too. Indeed, running openBVE on only two of the four cores of the C2Q Q9650 CPU, by setting the affinity for the OpenBve.exe process accordingly, makes only a small difference to performance. Running openBVE on only a single core, even at 3 GHz, does result in performance being halved though, therefore I can’t recommend a single core CPU any more, when dual core CPUs are so common now. Of course, if you can live without the rich graphics or geometrical complexity of the latest openBVE routes, and only want to run less demanding examples, or those previously designed for BVE Trainsim, then even the cheapest contemporary hardware including on-board graphics, may suit your needs just fine where openBVE is concerned, if you don’t mind losing a little image quality and have realistic expectations.
For example: [ Uchibo – Intel GMA X4500 | X-City South v1.31 – Intel GMA X4500 | Saijou Line – Intel GMA X4500 ]

Updated openBVE developer tools and openBVE v1.2.6.1, upcoming Network West Midlands updates, upcoming Taipei Metro route for openBVE, and server upgrade

Posted by Anthony_B on April 7, 2010 at 06:00

openBVE v1.2.6.1 and updated openBVE developer tools

openBVE LogoopenBVE v1.2.6.1 has been released, which includes a bugfix relating to the Options.UnitOfSpeed command, which could for example, involve an incorrect speed limit being determined when the Route.Limit command is used. Please » download the latest release « if this issue affects you.

Also, when I posted my last blog entry, I forgot to mention that the » openBVE Route Viewer « has been updated. When your route is loaded, you can now simply type in a distance via the main number keys (not the numberpad keys), and hit Enter — the camera will then be moved directly to the location you just entered. This is an immensely useful time-saver.

openBVE RouteViewer v1.2.6.0 with Jump to Track Position feature--click to enlarge

openBVE Route Viewer screenshot — click to enlarge

Also, when you pass a CSV format route or object file as a command line parameter to either Route Viewer or Object Viewer, the tools will now auto-detect whether the CSV file is a route or an object, and load the appropriate tool automatically. Please see the Tools section within the » Developing for openBVE « pages for more information. For developers who haven’t used the command line for opening routes or objects before, it can be done as follows (obviously replace the path and file names according to your own setup):

RouteViewer.exe “<YourDrive>:\YourPath\FileName.ext”
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Network West Midlands openBVE updates

Information IconThe » Network West Midlands « (NWM) team have announced some promising updates for the first 2010 release of the route network, which should make some good use of openBVE’s capabilities and features. We can look forward to such delights as random moving traffic on overbridges, moving passing trains similar to what I’ve demonstrated in one of my early YouTube videos, various points of interest, multiple eras, random routing/weather conditions/other features thanks to openBVE’s » $Include directives «, 3D signals, trees and lamp posts similar to those I’ve shown previously, along with the addition of catenary based on my own high detailed Cross-City South OHLE objects throughout the routes, where a very nice job has been done with their implementation. Some excellent new track textures have also been prepared for the route.

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openBVE / Network West Midlands screenshots — click to visit the NWM news page

Please visit the » NWM website « for more information and screenshots.

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Upcoming Taipei Metro route for openBVE

Information IconI noticed some new screenshots of the Taipei Metro Xinbeitou Branch Line, being developed for openBVE by » BVETRT «, and I wanted to mention them as I think they look superb. There’s richly coloured scenery, the detailing of the stations and near-track areas looks fantastic, and the railway infrastructure is very well modelled and convincing. Also take a look at this » YouTube video « of the line as well.

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Taipei Metro Xinbeitou Branch Line for openBVE — click to read developer’s blog entry
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Server upgrade

Railsimroutes LogoLastly, my webhost kindly migrated Railsimroutes to a new, high performance shared server recently, and they also installed the Nginx reverse proxy webserver in conjunction with Apache, which I’ve noticed has increased the responsiveness of the site along with page loading times. The migration went smoothly, but if anyone has had any issues with the site during the last three weeks, please let me know.

openBVE 2 Renderer Demo released, a new direction for me, some views on openBVE 2, and the release of openBVE v1.2.6.0

Posted by Anthony_B on March 15, 2010 at 08:00

openBVE 2 Renderer Demo released, and a new direction for me

openBVE LogoBefore I talk about the new openBVE 2 Renderer Demo, I just want to announce that aside from developing my routes, I’m also now working with Michelle as a C# programmer, and I’m actively participating in the development of openBVE 2. So far, apart from various discussions, I’ve worked on adapting openBVE 1’s .X object parser as a loading-stage plugin for the new program. So, while you’re using the program, if you have any problems regarding X format objects created via the BVE Structure Viewer (the output from this tool is what openBVE effectively supports), then you can probably point the finger of blame at me. 😉 Just to remind and reassure readers, I am still developing my routes, and I haven’t abandoned them!

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The openBVE 2 Renderer Demo

openBVE LogoAs many of you will know, openBVE 2 has been in development for some time, and I’m pleased to say that a demo of openBVE 2’s new renderer is now available for download. Unlike it’s predecessor, openBVE 2 is modular — many of the functions which were previously carried out within the program, such as loading and parsing routes or objects, or brake system simulation, is now carried out by plugins instead. This means that openBVE 2 is extensible in a way which openBVE 1 is not. For example, with openBVE 1, adding support for a new 3D object format, would require modification of the core program itself, and a new release. But with openBVE 2’s extensible architecture, support can simply be added via a new plugin, which means the core program need not be modified or recompiled. Clearly, this is a much better design in the long term.

The new renderer demo is intended for advanced users and developers only, and the main purpose of the demo is to test the performance of openBVE 2’s new renderer in comparison with openBVE 1’s, on a variety of computer systems. Indeed, no train simulation features are actually included at this stage, and not all visible features of routes, such as backdrops or animated objects, are accomodated yet.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could download and test the new renderer, and report your experiences; for example, what framerates you see, what viewing distance you find yourself liking to use, and what performance you achieve when equivalent settings are used in both the openBVE 2 Renderer Demo and openBVE 1. Hopefully you’ll find that framerates using openBVE 2’s renderer are far higher.

You can visit the openBVE Renderer Demo page for the download, and please read the information presented there carefully: » «

Please also consider posting your feedback in » this thread on the openBVE forum «, or send some feedback via e-mail to Michelle. Alternatively, you can leave some feedback in a comment on this blog entry or e-mail me, and I’ll pass your feedback on to Michelle. It would be helpful if you could include certain information, such as the following:

  • Your processor model and/or speed (e.g. Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3GHz, AMD Phenom II X2 545 @ 3.0GHz, etc…)
  • Your graphics card model (e.g. NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250, ATI Radeon HD 5670, etc…)
  • The amount of RAM you have (e.g. 2GB)
  • What operating system you’re using (e.g. Windows 7 64-bit, Ubuntu 9.10 32-bit, etc…)
  • The settings within in your settings.cfg file (found in the Binaries subfolder of the openBVE 2 Renderer Demo)
  • Your video card driver’s image quality settings (e.g. 16xQ anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filtering)
  • The framerates you encounter while running the openBVE 2 Renderer Demo, and openBVE 1, with equivalent settings
  • Lastly, don’t forget to take into account, the information on the openBVE 2 Renderer Demo download page…

You can find some help regarding identifying your graphics card model on » this page «. Where video driver settings are concerned, you can read » this page «. Windows users can often just press Windows Key + Break to find out CPU model and speed, amount of RAM, and operating system. Michelle is very busy, but if you would like to send some feedback and find yourself unsure as to what to do, then I’d be happy to help you. 🙂

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I’m delighted to say that all the routes I’ve tried, benefit greatly from openBVE 2’s new renderer. Not only are framerates higher, but the viewing distance can be increased significantly as well. 🙂 This is also good news for those of you waiting for Watford Junction to Rugby. For example, take the highly detailed Bourne End Junction area, which contains nearly a kilometre of 60mph crossovers between the fast and slow lines, lots of complex overhead line equipment, and plenty of track and lineside detail. With a viewing distance of 3000m (yes, 3 kilometres :)), in openBVE 1, the framerate here is dragged down to a measly » 19 fps « . But with openBVE 2’s renderer, I get an impressive » 155 fps « instead.

Here are some other examples of framerate improvements. For detailed specifications of the computers used in these tests, please » see here «.

Settings in openBVE 1:

Viewing Distance: [3000m]
Resolution: [1920×1200 fullscreen]
Image Quality: [Anti-aliasing: 16xQ, anisotropic filtering: 16x]
vSync: [Off]
Interpolation: [Anisotropic Filtering]
Transparency: [Sharp]

Settings in openBVE 2 Renderer Demo:

Viewing Distance: [3000m]
Resolution: [1920×1200 fullscreen]
Image Quality: [Anti-aliasing: 16xQ, anisotropic filtering: 16x]
vSync: [False]
Interpolation: [5]
objectOptimization: [2]
blockClipping: [true]
All other settings: [Default]

Please note that all framerates were taken with the camera left at it’s initial position and orientation, to produce reliable and consistant results. In openBVE 1, the F3 external camera key was pressed once and left remaining at the start of the route, and the train moved to the end of the route via the Jump to Station menu, to ensure that no external car objects were lowering framerates.

Core 2 Quad Q9650 / GeForce GTX 260 based system:

Route: openBVE v1.2.5.1 (fps) openBVE 2 Renderer Demo (fps)
Ferrovia Genova-Casella 109 325
Chashinai Railway (Ishinden Line) 78 366
Saijou 117 423 220 327
Guaianazes-Estudantes High-Res 64 327
ATS-Sn/P Test Route 83 437
Uchibo 86 456
Network West Midlands 105 412
Watford Junction to Rugby 38 231

Athlon64 X2 4200+ / Radeon 2600 Pro based system:

Route: openBVE v1.2.5.1 (fps) openBVE 2 Renderer Demo (fps)
Ferrovia Genova-Casella 24 52
Chashinai Railway (Ishinden Line) 15 63
Saijou 17 67 40 88
Guaianazes-Estudantes High-Res 11 51
ATS-Sn/P Test Route 17 71
Uchibo 17 74
Network West Midlands 20 66
Watford Junction to Rugby 9 34

As you can see, on my systems, openBVE 2’s renderer is far superior to openBVE 1’s. Of course over time, more features will be added, and these will use some more of the newly available CPU and GPU resources and reduce peformance a bit. However, for those of you with slow computers, these extra performance reserves could mean that more detailed routes and trains could be usable than would be the case with openBVE 1.

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Some more framerate comparisons… openBVE v1.2.5.1 on the left, openBVE 2 Renderer Demo on the right. Remember that we’re interested in the framerate, not the graphical quality, at this early stage! Support for backdrops and smooth transparency will be added to openBVE 2’s renderer in due course. Also note that the viewing distance likely used by many openBVE users is the default 600 metres, but here, the viewing distance is 3000 metres instead.

openBVE v1.2.5.1 openBVE 2 Renderer Demo
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All screenshots taken at 1920×1200 resolution, with openBVE’s anisotropic filtering setting enabled with sharp transparency/interpolation mode 5, and 16xQ anti-aliasing/16x anisotropic filtering (Core 2 Quad Q9650 at default 3GHz, and GeForce GTX 260 55nm)
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Community concerns regarding “openBVE 2”

Information IconI want to mention briefly the concerns regarding the name “openBVE 2” being changed soon, as architecturally, the new program is entirely different to openBVE 1, let alone BVE Trainsim, and I’ve noted some fears being expressed regarding the name change and widening scope of the project, particularly where add-on compatibility is concerned. However, I think these fears are being blown out of proportion. All openBVE content will still be compatible with the new program, so there’s no need to panic — add-ons aren’t going to suddenly become defunct. If any developers have concerns about this, please feel free to discuss them with either myself or Michelle.

I’ve also noticed people express concerns that openBVE 2 is going to be far more difficult to use and develop add-ons for. From the end-user’s point of view, and with cooperation from add-on developers (like me), it could actually be far easier, because it will be possible to install and uninstall add-ons from within the program itself, via it’s graphical user interface, rather than dealing with archiving utilities, self-extracting archives, different directory structures contained within them depending on which developer packaged them, and so-on. This kind of stuff is not easy for everyone, especially beginners, and it has to be repeated with every add-on. Where add-on creation is concerned, one of the benefits of the modular, plugin-based architecture, is that adding support for new file formats, such as file formats created by 3D modelling applications, becomes easier, not harder. It also means that route building tools, should they be made, can more easily interface with the host program via the new API. Those of us who prefer hand-coding methods, myself included, can still do what we’ve always done as well — it’s all a choice. Of course, with a program capable of rendering a vast world, it does become harder to make add-ons which fully exploit this new potential. Even I’m not exploiting this potential with my add-ons currently, but in future this may be highly desirable (just as I’ve upgraded my routes incrementally in the past), and the ability will be there for anyone who wants it, or who can envisage a use which even we haven’t even thought of yet. Anyway, the modular architecture makes it easier to build content creation tools, or provide support for existing tools and their file formats, which will make the growing possibilities easier to take advantage of. This does however, require some good programmers willing to devote some time to creating such tools, or writing plugins to support existing tools or formats; I recognise this, and I’m sure Michelle does as well. Lets try to be a little more positive about the future.

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openBVE v1.2.6.0 released

openBVE LogoLastly, openBVE v1.2.6.0 has also been released. Now is a good time remind ourselves that openBVE is a train simulator first and foremost, and with this latest release, the mass of the train is now affected by boarding passengers, which can slightly affect the performance of the train. A bug has also been fixed in the Jump to Station menu, and the Interior (Look Ahead) camera is now selected by default for 3D cabs (like the » class 323’s 3D cab « for example, or » Roberto Benini’s EM A1 3D cab «). There are various other changes too; please visit the » openBVE homepage « for more. 🙂

High resolution openBVE screenshots and updates

Posted by Anthony_B on October 12, 2009 at 07:39

Thankfully I have more time available now, so I should be able to pick up where I left off and resume development for openBVE. I recently upgraded my computer, and I’m rather pleased with how openBVE and various routes including my own are running on the new system, so I want to share a few more screenshots of how openBVE, Cross-City South v1.4 and Watford Junction to Rugby can run on higher-end hardware, as well as to show some progress being made. I’m working on adjusting the dawn lighting to produce some nice visuals on Cross-City South v1.4, and I’m also experimenting with some higher resolution catenary textures particularly suited to openBVE’s smooth transparency mode, as well as adding some 3D trees to Watford Junction to Rugby to see how the extra detail is handled. Here are some WUXGA 1920×1200 resolution screenshots from openBVE v1.2.2, with full 16xQ anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filtering, and with smooth transparency enabled; there aren’t many animated objects visible in these scenes however, so framerates on equivalent hardware (see below) will be a bit lower in the final releases. Some other openBVE add-ons are presented, as well as my own:

openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and X-City South v1.4--click to enlarge
» openBVE v1.2.2 «, and Birmingham Cross-City South v1.4 with new class 323 and 3D cab (1920×1200)
(London Midland Class 153 externals by » Steve Thomas «)

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openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2, and Watford Junction to Rugby with 2D and 3D trees (1920×1200)

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Amongst the features planned for openBVE 2, are thunder and lightning effects. Early on during the openBVE project I demonstrated rainfall effects and thunder using openBVE 1’s capabilities; while it’s possible to create these effects within a route, I think it would be better to have these effects handled by openBVE rather than the route developer, along with lightning. This is another feature which I’m very much looking forward to, but I wanted to see what kinds of effects could be created anyway, so I did a few experiments. The following screenshots show how I envisage lightning might look on a route like Watford Junction to Rugby in future; the textures require a little refinement as this is just a test, but you get the idea (in full motion, the lightning strikes flicker and the effect looks better):

openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Watford Junction to Rugby--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2, and Watford Junction to Rugby lightning experiment (1920×1200)
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Another openBVE project, the excellent » Chashinai Railway « network, was updated again a few days ago; the 1000 and 2000 series trains now have new plugins catering for ATS-SN as well as ATS-P in the case of the 1000 series train (don’t forget to read the train operation manuals on the website before driving with these safety systems), and both feature photo-realistic 2D/panel2.cfg based cabs with fully working ammeters and slightly dirty windscreens. The rivers found on these routes also demonstrate a good way of implementing moving water, and the new passenger textures, and photo-realistic trees and scenery textures enhance the routes as well. Here are some high resolution screenshots of the routes and 1000/2000 series trains; note the fully working ammeters in the in-cab screenshots (requires » openBVE v1.2.2 «):

openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Chashinai Railways--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2, Chashinai Railway (» odakyufan «), and 1000/2000 series trains with working ammeters (1920×1200)
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Also, here are a few high resolution screenshots of the recently released » Saijou Line « for openBVE as well, which include various animated objects, night lighting and great atmosphere:

openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge openBVE v1.2.2 and Saijou Line--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.2.2 and the Saijou Line (» «) (1920×1200)
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Watford Junction to Rugby, Performance, and *BVE

All of these screenshots were captured on a system with a Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPU (3 GHz), 2GB DDR2-1066 RAM and a GeForce GTX 260 graphics card, running on a motherboard equipped with the P45 Express chipset, and as you can see, even Watford Junction to Rugby runs nicely here, never dropping below about 40 fps in the external view with the class 87 and a 600m drawing distance (achievable with 2 CPU cores in use rather than 4). It will likely run even better with openBVE 2’s renderer, allowing those with slower computers to enjoy some higher framerates too. It’s also important to note, out of openBVE, BVE 2, BVE 4, and the latest pre-release version of BVE 5 (after the route has been converted to it’s new formats), that at the moment, openBVE remains the only simulator that is capable of loading and/or handling Watford Junction to Rugby with the high level of detail and object count it currently has, and openBVE handles the route on a slower Athlon64 X2 4200+ system with a Radeon HD 2600 Pro as well. Incidentally, I can’t assess whether Cross-City South v1.4 would be suitable for BVE 5 yet, as the route is very unfinished and there’s still a lot left to add; of course you’d certainly lose all the dynamic scenery and animation effects, along with the 323’s 3D cab, exterior and passenger views after such a conversion–hence I can say that my priority will remain openBVE. Naturally with Watford Junction to Rugby, I want to focus on openBVE primarily as well, and as the project is taking a long time to complete, BVE 2 and 4 compatibility and detail reduction will now be a lower priority, and I’ll only start on this task after all the openBVE features are finalised and the project is otherwise completed.

Lastly, I’ve been used to using openBVE with a 17″, 5:4 aspect ratio TFT monitor at a resolution of 1280×1024, but now I’ve seen openBVE running on a 24″ TFT with a 16:10 aspect ratio, routes and trains can look magnificent, and I’m highly impressed by the additional immersion which is offered, especially with the 323’s 3D cab. The higher resolution also makes arranging and working with a text editor and openBVE’s development tools much more enjoyable, and it’s also better for working with something like a C# IDE for example, or image editing software. More updates will follow soon.