My openBVE videos and other comments from users and myself can also be found via my YouTube channel.
Blog and Progress Updates
11th July 2010
openBVE v220.127.116.11 released, new Railsimroutes.net site design, Cross-City South v1.31.07 and miscellaneous project updates, Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot featured in the UK’s PC Gamer Magazine, Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi) releasedPosted by Anthony Bowden on 11th July 2010 at 6:00 am
openBVE v18.104.22.168 released
Today sees the release of openBVE v22.214.171.124, and some interesting changes have taken place. To begin with, the handling of key and joystick buttons has been revised, and key repeat is now possible. This means that you can hold a key down, and after a short delay, the keypress will be repeated continuously until the key is released again. I’m glad that openBVE now supports this functionality, and this is great for quickly moving a power handle to the limit of it’s travel without having to keep tapping the key, or for sounding the horn in a long and loud fashion, for example. The fly-by camera has also been improved, and now, the leading vehicle (of the nearest train) is tracked by the camera, which is great for loco-hauled trains in particular. 🙂
Superelevation is now simulated differently as well; in previous versions, when cant was applied, the train would simply rotate around it’s z-axis, but now, the outer wheel is raised instead. Cant is also interpolated better now, leading to smoother transitions between differing levels of cant. I’m currently rebuilding the canted track objects used by my routes to make better use of these openBVE improvements, such that the wheels will remain on the rails when passing along superelevated track, and the cant transitions at either end of such sections:
Screenshot showing superelevation in openBVE v126.96.36.199 and Cross-City South v2.0.
Note the wheels touching the rails throughout the transition curve (scenery is not finished yet).
Cant behaviour can also be adjusted now, via the new 'Options.CantBehavior' command. Previously, cant was always applied towards the curve centre, i.e. banking inwards, and this couldn’t be overidden. Also, it wasn’t possible to have cant on straight track. Now though, cant be in either direction, regardless of the direction of the curve, and cant can be applied on straight track too. How might this be useful for simulating a real railway? Well, on the 11th July last year (exactly a year ago as it happens), I was unexpectedly invited for a visit to the preserved Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway, and this line has a curve known as Chicken curve, and one peculiar feature was that the cant at this location leaned outward from the curve rather than inwards. So, openBVE can simulate this too, now. Class 20 “chopper” (20154) was our traction on the day, and here’s a photo for fans of the class 20, which I took before we departed from Toddington:
In the cab of a class 20 loco at Toddington, on the
preserved Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.
The simulation of track inaccuracy has been overhauled, too. Previously, the familiar cab and vehicle sway was achieved with horizontal and vertical movement, but now, cant inaccuracy and bounce is also modelled, and cars rock from side to side as well as moving vertically and horizontally. While we were testing the new inaccuracy model, I found that this was an interesting way to represent the effect of travelling over more poorly maintained jointed rails. I’ve made some adjustments to the track accuracy in the newly udpated Cross-City South v1.31.07 (see below for download), and travelling over pointwork or on the jointed rail sections of the Cross-City South, should be a little more interesting now, especially when the class 323’s 3D cab is used. 🙂
Essentially, I think .Accuracy values of 0 to 2.0 are suitable for continuous welded rail, and values of 2.1 to 4 are suitable for jointed rails. I’m aware that not everyone may be sure about the new inaccuracy model, however I think it works well when used sensibly, and I would also point out that the development release has been publicly available for testing for at least three weeks, so if you don’t like it, you’ve missed your chance to give feedback prior to the latest stable release. Nevertheless, if you have any comments, please let us know. Personally I prefer the new algorithm and enjoy the representation it can give when accompanied by the sounds of jointed rails, but some may prefer the old; please give it a try with the updated Cross-City South v1.31.07 and class 323 3D cab though (see below), as this update shows what the new inaccuracy model can do. Also bear in mind that you may only prefer the old algorithm because you’re used to it, not because it was more realistic; the old algorithm had it’s limitations.
Also, BVE4 style timetable textures can now be displayed when 3D cabs are used, and not just with legacy 2D panels, although this is considered an experimental feature. The timetable texture can be shown as part of the in-game user interface overlay, or as part of a 3D cab (animated object); if the latter is not specifically catered for within the 3D cab, then the former is the default behaviour. Adding BVE4 style timetables to a 3D cab is easy to do; I would recommend simply creating an object with a four-vertex mesh and default texture applied (which is shown if there is no timetable image to display), and add this object to your panel.animated file. Then, make use of the new 'TextureOverride =' command:
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 0, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 1, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, 1, 1
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 0, 1
States = 3d_cab\timetable.csv
TextureOverride = timetable
I’ve added the aforementioned timetable functionality to the class 323’s 3D cab, but it’s commented out by default, as displaying the timetable images via openBVE’s UI overlay makes more sense where the Cross-City South and class 323 are concerned, plus the feature is still experimental.
You can download the update here, and if you want to experiment with the 'TextureOverride =' command, please see the included ‘Readme_3DCab.txt’ file:
→ 3D cab for unrefurbished class 323 – July 2010 [1.7 MiB]
For more detailed information about the new cant behaviour, and timetable support in .animated objects, please read the official openBVE documentation. For details of all the changes introduced with the v188.8.131.52 release of openBVE, including those not mentioned here, please see the changelog.
Cross-City South v1.31.07 update
As openBVE v184.108.40.206 has been released, I’ve updated Cross-City South v1.31 to remove an obsolete timetable texture, changed some of the timetable images to make them suitable for both openBVE and BVE4, and made adjustments to track inaccuracy to take better advantage of openBVE v220.127.116.11’s new track inaccuracy model. I’ve renamed the route folders to more clearly indicate which sets of routes should be used with openBVE, BVE 4 or BVE 2, as well. I’ve also decided to finally split the openBVE routes away from the BVE 4 routes, as testing every openBVE improvement across numerous route files for 100% backwards compatibility with BVE 4 is somewhat inconvenient, and this also lets me get rid of all those pesky "detail levels" in the openBVE route folder, as these simply aren’t needed with openBVE. The new naming convention is as follows, and should be much clearer (the BVE 2 foldername is as it is, so it’ll fit within the size constraints of BVE 2’s small file selection list):
Cross-City South v1.31.05 users can download a smaller update here, which updates v1.31.05 to v1.31.07:
If you have an earlier version of Cross-City South installed, or you’re not sure which version you already have, please download the full version instead.
Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far) for openBVE released
I wanted to mention that a fantastic new route has been released for openBVE, the Italian Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far, and 8.1 Km in length). This is one of the most graphically excellent routes I’ve seen to date, with superb textures, and I’m impressed; the route is beautiful. There are some animated objects to enjoy, and staggered catenary as well, which is great to see; pedantic people like me will note that some registration arms pull in the wrong direction, though. 😉
You’ll likely need to read the included PDF instructions before operating the newly released ALn501 – Minuetto v2 train, but it’s well worth the effort. Incidentally, the train comes with some very detailed exterior car objects. These look very nice, although they would benefit from the addition of custom normals to smoothly shade some of the surfaces. Please note that these exterior car objects may have quite an impact on your framerate; even on my Core 2 Quad Q9650 / GeForce GTX 260 system, I get around 30fps in the external view, which is down from anywhere between 80 – 300 fps in the cab view. If you have a slow PC, you may want to stay in the cab. I’m looking forward to seeing this route develop further. 🙂
The Italian Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far), available
from BVEMania (Trenomania) (see the Download section)
I’m officially announcing the Railsimroutes.net UK Railway Infrastructure Object Library today, which will contain all the objects and textures which are shared between my two upcoming openBVE route projects, Birmingham Cross-City South v2.0, and Watford Junction to Rugby v1.0. This library will be maintained by me, and all developers will be welcome to install and use this library with their own projects, without any conditions or requirement to seek permission.
The library will contain all sorts of objects, including track, catenary, signals, lineside objects, some basic scenery, and so-on, which might help to make new routes easier to develop. It will also have the advantage, that whenever I update the library, perhaps with higher quality textures or better objects, any routes which call upon the library, will also get updated. I’ll plan it carefully, to ensure that changes remain backwards compatible. I anticipate that the library will be released along with Cross-City South v2.0 initially, and then it’ll receive it’s first update when Watford Junction to Rugby is ready.
UK Railway Infrastructure Object Library
[Now in development]
Next, as you may have noticed, I’ve decided to increase the version number of my upcoming Cross-City South upgrade for openBVE, from version 1.4, to version 2.0. I think I’m making enough changes and enhancements to the route, to justify a version 2.0 release instead. 🙂
I’ve also updated the openBVE Help and Information section to cover the installation of openBVE in Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx). It’s hard to imagine how installing openBVE via the Ubuntu Software Centre could be any easier, and installing openBVE via this method, also makes installing and running the latest official openBVE release with Mono, easier too. I’ve decided to remove the instructions explaining how to run openBVE with Wine, as I’m experiencing problems with the version of Wine available for install with Ubuntu 10.04, relating to GDI+ (and the problem isn’t just occurring with openBVE, either). Perhaps something to do with a Beta release of Wine being supplied rather than a stable release, I don’t know. Running with Mono is much easier though, if you can live without plugin DLLs.
openBVE Help and Information updated for Ubuntu 10.04 users
I was lucky enough to have one of my screenshots published in the July issue of the UK edition of PC Gamer magazine, where I also gave a brief overview of the work being undertaken on openBVE 2. I will admit that it was nice to handle such a press enquiry! Here’s the screenshot which was chosen for the article, shown amongst screenshots of various simulators, such as Railworks, X-Plane, Sail Simulator, Space Shuttle Mission Simulator, and others:
The Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot chosen to appear in simulation
article “The Realists”, in the July 2010 issue of the UK edition of the
best selling PC Gamer magazine.
Incidentally, I also want to apologise for the lack of progress with my routes, and for posting so many screenshots and not delivering anything, which I feel that some of you are not impressed by. This is mainly due to me working on openBVE 2, which means that I don’t have much time to devote to the routes at the moment. openBVE 2 is a priority though, and a fantastic experience for me, so I hope fans of my routes will understand. Besides, both routes will run even better in openBVE 2, anyway. I know that the routes look more-or-less finished already, but they’re not – there are such issues as missing track in places, performance optimisations which still to be carried out, and an entire missing station to deal with at Rugby, to name but a few examples. I don’t make a habit of releasing junk and expecting people to be happy with it, so the projects won’t be released until I’m satisfied that a decent standard of quality has been achieved; that doesn’t mean they have to be perfect in every way, just not a disappointment.
New Railsimroutes.net site design
As regular visitors will have hopefully noticed, I’ve redesigned the website, as I felt it needed an update, and I also wanted to put some updated website design skills into practice. The site was last redesigned in 2007 with a theme called “Modern”, characterised by a metallic grey colour scheme and smoothly shaded backgrounds, where Windows users would have been greeted with the Tahoma font throughout, and it was designed to be XHTML 1.0 and CSS Level 2 compliant. However, the content of the site wasn’t reorganised very much since the time of the previous “Retro Blue” design, and over time it became somewhat cluttered and untidy in my view.
This latest redesign is the fourth incarnation of the site, with a new theme called “Clarity” (hopefully it might live up to it’s name ;)). The new design is meant to be clearer, better organised, and easier to read. The site has been completely rebuilt from scratch; PHP is now used as well as HTML, and much of the site is XHTML 1.1 and CSS Level 3 compliant. I’ve tested the new site using Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10, Chrome 5, and Safari 5, and everything works well. The site also works just fine in Internet Explorer 7 and earlier too (tested as far back as IE 5.5), but if you use one of those older Microsoft browsers, you might notice a minor rendering issue around the style selector dropdown box in the footer of each page. Essentially, I’m not happy having to devote much time to dealing with the quirks of browsers which aren’t properly compliant with more recent web standards, partly because it’s just annoying, but also because catering for them can lead to such browsers outliving their welcome (IE 6 springs to mind!). So, if you use Internet Explorer 7 or earlier and want perfect rendering, I would recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 if possible, which is just fine.
I’ve also decided to reorganise the content of the site somewhat. The navigation bar has been expanded with the addition of Gallery and Help links, and the Projects and Downloads section has been overhauled to place emphasis on active projects, and non-help related information. Much more background information and history concerning my route projects is provided now, and information and downloads should be easier to find when they’re ready for release. You’ll also find a "What I’m currently working on" infobox at the top right of this page, which you can check to see what I’m up to, between blog posts. 🙂
I’ve taken the decision to remove some old sections of the site which never received much of my attention, and I’ve moved my old BVE 2 and 4 add-ons into their own de-emphasised legacy add-ons section, as they’re not really reflective of the quality of work I’m now producing; the emphasis is now placed on my upcoming openBVE projects instead. I’ve also introduced a sitemap, as a couple of people have indicated that some information was harder to find, previously.
I’ve also used a different selection of fonts this time:
- Windows 7 and Vista users will get the Segoe UI font throughout (along with the rather nice Consolas for code snippets), giving the best appearance.
- Windows XP users will also get the Segoe UI font, if Windows Live Essentials applications have been installed (for example, Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery or Writer), or if Office 2007/2010 has been installed. XP users will also get the Consolas font with Office 2007/2010, or this can be downloaded free from Microsoft’s website. If neither Windows Live Essentials or Office 2007/2010 have been installed, but the free Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer 2007 is installed, then Candara (along with Consolas) will be seen instead. If none of these have been installed, then Trebuchet MS (along with Courier New for code snippets) will be seen, which are fonts included with Windows XP.
- Others will likely see generic sans serif and monospace fonts (although these look very nice in Ubuntu Linux, for example).
Incidentally, I experimented with CSS3’s @font-face declaration for embedding fonts, so that a consistent text style would be seen regardless of which fonts are installed locally on someone’s computer. This does indeed work fine, but I haven’t yet decided upon a set of fonts which I like, and which are also released with acceptable non-restrictive licencing terms, so that I can host the fonts on my own server without issues. I’ll explore this again in future, however.
More observant visitors will have noticed that I’ve also renamed the site slightly. I’ve dropped the “UK” part of “Rail Sim Routes UK”, and the site is now called “Railsimroutes.net” instead. The site is still available via two domain names, railsimroutes.net and railsimroutes.co.uk; I have no plans to retire the .co.uk domain, although you might want to update your bookmarks if you still use it.
Anyway, I hope you like the new Railsimroutes.net design. 🙂
Tags: Animated Objects, Artwork, Cross-City South, Functions, openBVE, openBVE 2, openBVE Community, Screenshots, Site News, Watford Jn to Rugby
Posted in openBVE, openBVE 2, Site News | 34 Comments »
14th May 2010
Animated digital station clocks for openBVE, and 3D cab for 1992 stock released at BVE Routes & TrainsPosted by Anthony Bowden on 14th May 2010 at 6:50 am
Animated digital station clocks
I’m not sure if any other openBVE developers have attempted this yet, but a feature I’ve been wanting to add to my routes for some time now, is animated digital station clocks which show the actual in-game time. Of course, we’ve seen a very nice working analogue station clock featured in » DemoRoute1 « (see right), but a digital clock would be useful, too.
I studied the functions in DemoRoute1’s analogue clock .animated file, along with openBVE 1’s source code to see how the display of in-game time is handled, and eventually opted to use multiplication rather than division in my functions as per the animated object in DemoRoute1. You can find some details of the finished set of files below.
Animated 24-hour digital clock shown in the openBVE Object Viewer utility.
Sample files can be downloaded here.
Please feel free to download and use the above files if you’d like to adapt them for your own route, all you need to do is create an enclosure for the digits, and translate or resize the digits, to suit your own needs. The digital clock consists of an object which shows a single digit from a texture containing a strip of digits from 0-9, a separator, and a black background. The .animated file is as follows:
States = back.csv
Position = 0, 0, 0
States = digit.csv
Position = -0.51, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[mod[time * 0.000277777777777778, 24] * 0.1]
States = digit.csv
Position = -0.33, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[mod[time * 0.000277777777777778, 24]]
States = digit_separator.csv
Position = -0.21, 0, 0
States = digit.csv
Position = -0.09, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[mod[time * 0.0166666666666667, 60] * 0.1]
States = digit.csv
Position = 0.09, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[time * 0.0166666666666667]
States = digit_separator.csv
Position = 0.21, 0, 0
StateFunction = value == 0
RefreshRate = 0.5
States = digit.csv
Position = 0.33, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[mod[time, 60] * 0.1]
States = digit.csv
Position = 0.51, 0, 0
TextureShiftYFunction = 0.1 * floor[time]
Note: The purpose of the mod function used in displaying the hour digits, is to ensure that the displayed time wraps around back to 00 when passing midnight, rather than 24 or higher being displayed.
Here’s a screenshot of the above working digital clock, adapted for use in a prototypical structure at Kings Langley on the Watford Junction to Rugby route; note the displayed time on the clock, matching the in-game time shown at the bottom left of the screen:
openBVE / Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot showing animated digital clock — click to enlarge
Note: Station nameboard textures created using » Station Nameboard Generator v2 «
3D cab for 1992 stock released
I also just wanted to briefly mention that a new openBVE 3D cab has been released for the London Underground 1992 stock, with animated features including a traction/brake controller, speedometer, and working in-cab CCTV monitor. Night-illuminated cab indicators and screens are also included, and the overall effect created by the cab is very nice, despite a couple of initial teething problems. The 3D cab is an add-on for the BVE4 1992TS, which needs to be installed first; both downloads can be found at » http://bveroutes-trains.co.uk «. A note on installing the 3D cab — at the time of writing, I noticed that the 3D cab download contains an incorrect folder structure, i.e. there’s no “1992TS” subfolder included, and the files could easily end up accidentally being placed in your Train folder directly instead, which won’t work, of course. You will need to be careful as to where you choose to extract the files. For further information, you might like to monitor » this thread « on the BVE Exchange forum.
openBVE / 1992 Stock screenshot
» Download from http://bveroutes-trains.co.uk «
14th April 2010
What I would consider to be one of the flagship routes for openBVE due to it’s innovation, and one of the most varied and enjoyable, namely » odakyufan’s Chashinai Railway «, has been updated. The Misaki Line from Tawaramoto to Hitachiomiya can now be driven back and forth in both directions (via seperate route files), which is fun. The ATC system has also been redesigned, such that a gradual, smooth brake curve is now implemented, along with a Rapid Mode which removes the smoothening for use in the rush hour where trains are more frequent and adhering to the timetable is harder. Driving the Chashinai 9000 Series train with ATC, TASC and ATO activated is one of the most enjoyable things which can be done with openBVE, so I’d strongly recommend that you give this a try — it’s well worth it. Instructions can be found » here «. Please also note that the source code for the plugins used by the Chashinai Railway’s trains is included within the train download, and I’d recommend that anyone considering plugin development in future, study the cleanly written, concise source code as well, of course bearing in mind that a move to cross-platform .NET plugins will occur in future. Incidentally, publishing the source code for plugins is something I would like to see more train developers doing in future, and certainly something I will be doing in future (I’ll be writing a new cross-platform .NET plugin for the new class 323 of course), once » openBVE 2 « is in a more advanced stage of development.
Moving road vehicles have also been added together with traffic sounds, shown to best visual effect on overbridges, I think particularly on the Koriyama Line (also bi-directional), Takahagi and Ishinden Lines, and vehicles can be seen travelling parallel to the railway between Shirosato and Motegi on the Misaki Line as well. The use of texture shifting functions here, enables vehicles to appear as though they’re travelling along the road, despite it’s apparent gradient and directional changes. I’ll be doing something similar at Watford Gap and other locations on the Watford Junction to Rugby route, using a technique developed for 3D vehicles by odakyufan, » details of which can be found here «. Other details, such as beacons correctly aligned with sleepers and track are taken care of too, as I’ve tried to do with AWS magnets in my routes. You’ll also find far more variation in the numbers of passengers waiting to board your train, which makes stations pleasing and fun to approach as there’s far more to see now; the recent changes to openBVE regarding the weight of the train increasing with passenger load and the effect this has on performance, can be used to good effect here (don’t forget to download the most recent version 18.104.22.168 of » openBVE « for this to work). Watch out for wheelslip depending on location, environmental or meteorological conditions too!
Developers might also be interested in taking a look at how the Chashinai Railway’s route files have been prepared. openBVE’s $Include directive has been used extensively, with much greater efficiency and flexibility now possible.
Please visit » The Web Presence of Odakyufan « to download the latest release of Chashinai Railway, and also » this thread on the openBVE forum «, where additional screenshots, information, details and benefts of $Include can be found. This is sophisticated, high quality and beautiful work, and I look forward to seeing more in future.
|Images captured at 1680×1050, with smooth transparency and 16xQ anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering
(Please hover over any thumbnail image for a description)
openBVE / Chashinai Railway screenshots
Download from » The Web Presence of Odakyufan «
I know haven’t posted any updates regarding my own projects for some time, about which I can only apologise. I have a couple of features which I want to be working on for » openBVE 2 « first, however when I have time spare I’m also working on implementing another feature for both of my routes, and I’ll post some screenshots of this once I’m happy with how it all looks. More to follow fairly soon…
7th April 2010
Updated openBVE developer tools and openBVE v22.214.171.124, upcoming Network West Midlands updates, upcoming Taipei Metro route for openBVE, and server upgradePosted by Anthony Bowden on 7th April 2010 at 6:00 am
openBVE v126.96.36.199 and updated openBVE developer tools
openBVE v188.8.131.52 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 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):
Network West Midlands openBVE updates
The » 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.
openBVE / Network West Midlands screenshots — click to visit the NWM news page
Please visit the » NWM website « for more information and screenshots.
Upcoming Taipei Metro route for openBVE
I 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.
Taipei Metro Xinbeitou Branch Line for openBVE — click to read developer’s blog entry
Lastly, 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.
15th March 2010
openBVE 2 Renderer Demo released, a new direction for me, some views on openBVE 2, and the release of openBVE v184.108.40.206Posted by Anthony Bowden on 15th March 2010 at 8:00 am
openBVE 2 Renderer Demo released, and a new direction for me
Before 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!
The openBVE 2 Renderer Demo
As 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: » http://openbve.trainsimcentral.co.uk/openbve2.html «
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. 🙂
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]
Interpolation: [Anisotropic Filtering]
Settings in openBVE 2 Renderer Demo:
Viewing Distance: [3000m]
Resolution: [1920×1200 fullscreen]
Image Quality: [Anti-aliasing: 16xQ, anisotropic filtering: 16x]
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:
Athlon64 X2 4200+ / Radeon 2600 Pro based system:
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.
Some more framerate comparisons… openBVE v220.127.116.11 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.
Community concerns regarding “openBVE 2”
I 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.
openBVE v18.104.22.168 released
Lastly, openBVE v22.214.171.124 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. 🙂
31st January 2010
12th October 2009
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 Birmingham Cross-City South v1.4 with new class 323 and 3D cab (1920×1200)
(London Midland Class 153 externals by » Steve Thomas «)
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 lightning experiment (1920×1200)
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, Chashinai Railway (» odakyufan «), and 1000/2000 series trains with working ammeters (1920×1200)
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 the Saijou Line (» http://tozai.s77.xrea.com «) (1920×1200)
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.
28th September 2009
openBVE v1.2.2, working ammeters, X-City South v1.31 bug fixes, minor 323 3D cab update, openBVE route updatesPosted by Anthony Bowden on 28th September 2009 at 6:34 pm
Note: Updated 21:40 BST
openBVE v1.2.2 Released
openBVE v1.2.2 has been released, and this version includes some new variables for developers to use in animated objects or 3D cabs, including new variables for acceleration and motor acceleration; more variables can now be used to query specific cars as well. New subjects covering acceleration and motor acceleration which developers can use in the legacy panel2.cfg file are also provided, and some bug fixes are also included in this release. Please visit the » openBVE homepage « and read the » Changelog « for more details.
One new variable is accelerationMotor. As mentioned on the openBVE forum, this can be used for creating working ammeters. The class 323’s cab doesn’t feature an ammeter, however, anyone wanting to experiment with this might like to consider the following panel.animated code as a *starting point*. You can copy and paste the code below into the 323’s panel.animated file to add a new ammeter needle to the cab and see it in action. Please bear in mind that I’ve not had time to test this in a variety of scenarios though:
|panel.animated code for a simple ammeter (including illuminated needle):
states = 3d_cab\speedometer_needle.csv, 3d_cab\speedometer_needle_dark.csv
statefunction = if[hasPlugin == 1, !pluginstate, 0]
position = -0.43, 2.23, 11.45
rotatexdirection = -1, 0, 0
rotatexfunction = -2.4 + abs[accelerationMotor] * 1.5
rotateyfunction = -1.11
rotatezfunction = -1.57
rotatexdamping = 2, 1
Notes: in the rotatexfunction line, -2.4 determines the needle rotation with no motor acceleration, and 1.5 determines the needle rotation with maximum motor acceleration. You can adjust these two values according to your ammeter gauge design. If you add an ammeter to your own 3D cab, remember that the statefunction line and multiple states (*.csv files in this case) may not be necessary depending on what plugin DLL, if any, you wish to use. When it comes to designing full 3D cabs for the class 86 and 87 electric locomotives for use with Watford Junction to Rugby, I’ll revisit ammeter design in more detail.
Cross-City South v1.31 Bug Fixes and 3D Cab Update
I’ve also fixed a few bugs in the Cross-City South route. There were a few objects (houses, warehouses etc.) which included some surface lighting issues, which have now been fixed. Some class 170 3D objects also contained incorrect ‘Color’ commands resulting in errors being reported when the routes were loaded; these have now been changed to ‘SetColor’, which is correct for CSV format objects. As some of you will know, the Cross-City South also uses some .Sta commands only for signalling approach control purposes, which aren’t meant to be stopped at. However, you would still be penalised if you passed such a station without stopping. Thanks to Paul Sladen, I’ve now corrected these .Sta commands so that you can pass them without being penalised, while preserving the approach controlled signalling functionality.
You can download the full v1.31.03 route package via the Cross-City South download page.
There aren’t any new features included, as all of those improvements are going into the Cross-City South v1.4 project instead, and I’d prefer to hold those improvements back until the v1.4 is ready for release, as the end result will be more enjoyable that way.
Incidentally, the changes to the .Sta commands are as follows (the ArrivalTime and PassAlarm arguments, which are underlined):
Old: .Sta ;;09.4300;;-1;1;;;1;0;;11 New: .Sta ;P;09.4300;0;-1;1;;;1;0;;11
Important Note: Those of you still using BVE 4, will find that the route files now call upon the openBVE version of the unrefurbished class 323 EMU by default (Train\Cl323 Unrefurb_openbve). BVE 4 users can either install the openBVE version of the train, or edit the route files to use the older BVE 4 class 323.
I’ve also updated the 323’s 3D cab so that it makes use of the new hasPlugin variable. If you’re using openBVE v1.2.2 with a non-Windows operating system, then this will allow the cab illumination to work in the absence of the Windows only plugin DLL, which wasn’t the case previously.
I’ve also made some adjustments to the placement of the brake gauge, as it wasn’t quite right before, and now when you pass through a neutral section, the cab lighting should remain unaffected as the UKMUt.dll’s ats30 (pantograph up) is used as well as ats31 (Line Volts) now. The carriage light dimming effect will be retained in the passenger area once the new 323 external objects are released however. I’ve also remembered to remove several superfluous GenerateNormals statements from some objects this time, as they serve no purpose in an openBVE add-on.
Someone also kindly informed me that there may be some further innaccuracies with the cab’s indicators; once I’ve investigated further I’ll address these issues at some point in future. It’s also nice to note that the 3D cab may have been downloaded perhaps as many as 1500 times since it’s release.
» 323_unrefurb_3d_cab_28-09-09.7z « [1.7 MiB — requires openBVE v1.2.2]
I’m not making much progress with my projects at the moment, and I know that some of you may be disappointed that I’ve not yet finished Cross-City South v1.4 despite me saying that it’d be done before now (this is also why I’m usually reluctant to give release dates, and I shouldn’t have done so where this project is concerned). Rest assured, barring any disasters, it will be finished eventually and I’m still in the game, however, sometimes circumstances in the real world prove to be too much of a distraction, and it means that what one wishes to accomplish in the simulated world has to wait for a little while. This won’t last long however, and patience will be rewarded.
The Saijou Line for openBVE was released a few days ago (the author’s » blog « is linked to via my blogroll), and this is an openBVE exclusive route featuring some very nice atmosphere and night lighting. There are a few errors, however the route is well worth giving a try, as it’s a good example of how animated objects and lighting can be used to bring much more life to a route and make it that much more enjoyable. You’ll find a variety of blinking lights, such as car indicator lamps, and the aviation obstruction lights fitted to tall structures (I’ll be modelling the same feature on the cluster of 250m tall VLF radio towers at the Rugby Radio Station on the Watford Junction to Rugby route). Moving cars and buses can also be found on roads, as well as flashing level crossing lights, road based traffic lights which change when the train is approaching, animated water, and moving elevators. You can download the route here: » http://tozai.s77.xrea.com/BVE/Sjyou.html « (the author’s homepage is here: » http://tozai.s77.xrea.com «)
Edit: Another openBVE route recently updated, was the Chashinai Railways network, along with the 9000 Series train; when this train is used with the Misaki Line in particular, in addition to ATC, you can now enjoy simulated TASC (Train Automatic Stopping Controller) and ATO (Atomatic Train Operation) systems which enable fully automated driving, thanks to a new plugin which enables sophisticated safety system simulation. The 9000 series’ panel also includes photorealistic dirt on the windscreen, increasing realism. Visit odakyufan’s website for the updates, and don’t forget to read the Train Operation Manuals before you start: » http://odakyufan.uuuq.com «