My openBVE videos and other comments from users and myself can also be found via my YouTube channel.
Blog and Progress Updates
24th March 2009
After 347 days of development, openBVE version 1.0 has now been released! Personally I think this is an incredible achievement–not only that openBVE has been created in the first place, but that it’s been created in such a short space of time, considering the complexity and difficulties inherent in undertaking such a project, some of which I’ve become familiar with while following the development of the program and helping to understand some aspects of BVE Trainsim’s behaviour. Congratulations michelle.
Head over to the » official openBVE homepage « to download the latest in the stable branch of openBVE releases. Whether you’re a developer or a user, if you only use BVE Trainsim at the moment, now would be a good time to enter the world of openBVE.
michelle has also added some additional documentation to help you find your way around the program, which you can read here: » Using openBVE «. For BVE Trainsim, I found myself having to create help pages to guide newcomers through the installation and use of BVE, so hopefully I won’t need to go to such lengths any more, as these are very comprehensive, step-by-step instructions. However, if any of you still have problems installing openBVE, or using the Cross-City South with the program, let me know and I’ll see if I can assist. Depending on feedback over the coming weeks, I’ll see if I still need to work on the “openBVE Help” section of this site with regard to add-on installation, although I’ll certainly update my Driver’s Guide and Class 323 Tutorial soon.
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?
I am sorry for the lack of updates during the past few weeks. This is partly because more of my time has been taken up by non-railsim related stuff during the past month, but also because I’ve completed most of the experimentation as far as XCS v1.4’s animated objects are concerned now (I have to stop somewhere otherwise I’ll never finish it), and what remains to be done isn’t especially newsworthy in comparison–mainly adding what I’ve already shown throughout the route. I also can’t imagine that any of you would be particularly interested in reading about that sub-folder I renamed two days ago, those trees I added to a set of ground objects, or that exciting search through my archives to find a photo of a class 323’s seating?! However, the project is going well, and I should have some more news soon.
Hopefully you’ve noticed the different format of my Progress Updates section… I’ve now changed the path from /progress/ to /blog/ and incorporated full blogging functionality by installing » WordPress v2.7.1 « on my website, and thanks to some PHP and CSS editing, I’ve been able to integerate the software into my own site’s design. Hopefully there aren’t any embarassing coding errors which I’ve not noticed. I’ve also implemented permenant redirects using a .htaccess file, so any external sites linking to former Progress Updates monthly pages will be redirected to the equivalent monthly list of blog entries. I’ve discontinued my News page, as this blog, together with the reorganised homepage, serve the same purpose; news items from 2008 all the way back to 2001 can now be found in the News Archive.
Anyway, if you prefer, you can now leave comments here rather than e-mailing me, although I have no preference either way, so you can still feel free to contact me via e-mail if you like. Speaking of e-mail, I know I’ve been rather slow in replying lately; I’ll respond to outstanding e-mails shortly–sorry.