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Project Status (21st April 2019)
Welcome to the Railsimroutes.net Blog, where I'll be posting progress updates, work-in-progress screenshots, information about the progress I'm making with active projects, as well as anything else I feel is worth mentioning. Hopefully more frequent updates here will make the wait for upcoming releases more bearable! News from 2008, all the way back to 2001, can be found in the News Archive.

Railsimroutes.net YouTube Channel My openBVE videos and other comments from users and myself can also be found via my YouTube channel.



Blog and Progress Updates


3D cab update for class 323 EMU now available for openBVE v1.2

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 30th August 2009 at 12:30 pm

I’d like to apologise for the lack of updates recently, unfortunately I had to take a break from the world of openBVE during the past few weeks. This means that the Cross-City South v1.4 project has lain dormant for much of that time, however I’m pleased to say that a pre-release version of the new class 323’s 3D cab can now be downloaded as an update for the openBVE beta class 323 available from trainsimcentral.

This initial release of the 3D cab comes complete with working gauges, as well as an animated traction/brake controller, reverser, AWS reset button, and horn lever, along with working TPWS indicators, AWS sunflower, DRA, and other indicators as well. Cab lighting is also included, along with semi-functional headlights (but not in the daytime headlight configuration). With openBVE’s Interior (Look Ahead) camera view accessible by pressing F1 until the view mode is selected, the Mouse Grab option enabled by clicking the Right Mouse Button within openBVE’s 3D view, as well as the driver’s body/head motion simulation model, a more realistic experience of driving the class 323 should now be possible.

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openBVE 3D cab screenshot

Download:

Please see this more recent blog entry (look for the image of the 3D cab at night)

Please note that this 3D cab isn’t entirely finished yet, and some non-essential details are yet to be added; it’s been updated since the version shown in the recent » YouTube video « however, especially on the non-driver’s side of the cab (a big thanks to » Steve Green « for his help here).

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This release works best with a route designed to accompany it, in this case, Cross-City South v1.4. Of course this isn’t available yet, so I’d recommend the following routes for testing. The Network West Midlands routes also include neutral sections, of course:

Cross-City South v1.31.03

Any routes, including the experimental night route.

Network West Midlands (» bve4.net «)

Network West Midlands Apr 09\2006-today\14.40 [323] Maybank-Hammerwich 3car local 2008.csv

Network West Midlands Apr 09\2001-2005\23.10 [323] Maybank-Hobbs X 3car local 2002.csv

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Major issues in this initial pre-release preview:

  • Wiper animation is inadequate, and wiper control knob isn’t implemented yet
  • Raindrop effects aren’t implemented yet
  • Headlight effects may need some work
  • No details added to the rear of the cab behind the driver; ceiling details are likely inaccurate
  • The seats are comprised of only temporary meshes

I would have liked to release the exterior views and/or Cross-City South v1.4 along with the 3D cab so that a greater experience could be had, however neither the route or external objects are in a state which I would consider fit for public release yet. In the case of the exterior car objects in particular, they’re much closer to being ready, but only for those of you with faster CPUs and graphics cards. I don’t wish to discriminate against those with slower hardware, so I’d prefer to only release the 323 exterior car objects after I’ve created optional lower detail 3D models as well. Hopefully the 3D cab will make the wait a little more bearable, though. 🙂

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Posted in openBVE | 16 Comments »



New Video Uploaded: 3D Cabs (openBVE v1.1 Development Branch), 323 Interior, Watford Junction to Rugby Hi-Res

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 5th July 2009 at 3:50 pm

openBVE v1.1.1.0 (Development Branch), 3D cabs, and other stuff…

openBVE 3D cab / X-City South screenshot - see video belowThe first release (v1.1.0.0) in the development branch of openBVE was made available a few days ago, and now v1.1.1.0 has subsequently been released — the development branch includes support for full 3D cabs with animated objects, and mouse controlled camera rotation. v1.1.1.0 also introduces driver’s head motion, which responds to acceleration and deceleration, as well as inertia.

As many will no doubt have noticed, I’ve not shown much by way of screenshots or video of openBVE’s in-cab experience thus far, as personally, I’ve always viewed the existing 2D panel support as something of a legacy feature which didn’t really demonstrate openBVE’s true potential, so I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and I have to say, it most certainly lives up to expectations and is quite simply fantastic! Applying emergency brakes has never been so much fun. 😉

Firstly, releases in the openBVE development branch are intended for developers who wish to expermiment with new features and offer feedback before these are eventually incorporated into the stable branch. Development releases may contain undetected issues, and features are subject to change, which means the development releases aren’t entirely suitable for regular users and the less technically minded, however I strongly recommend that developers and advanced users take a look at the development releases. If you’re interested in examining the new 3D cab support, you can head over to the » openBVE homepage « to download version 1.1.1.0, along with a demonstration 3D cab update for the 113-1000atccab train (look under Examples via the » Developing for openBVE « menu). Please also read the » Changelog « for a full list of alterations and new features.

Anyway, I’ve spent around a week working on a 3D cab for the new class 323 EMU and Cross-City South v1.4, and I’m really pleased with the results so far. I’ve uploaded a new YouTube video to briefly demonstrate the immersive nature of a 3D cab, the added realism, and some of the animated object possibilities — animated traction/brake controller, reverser and horn lever, working in-cab safety system indicators, simulated working headlights which give the effect of outside illumination (but see caveat below), along with working in-cab illumination. I think the potential of openBVE as a cab based simulator can now be truly realised, and speaking personally, this has forever changed the way I experience openBVE routes, and as long as photo-realism is maintained in new 3D cab environments, I’ll likely not want to go back to 2D cabs now.

This latest video was originally intended to show some other things I’ve been working on, so you’ll find many clips of the new 3D interior for the class 323, which includes seating, working television screens and lights, moving and streaking raindrop effects (inspired by the rain effects from Flight Unlimited 3), and ground illumination from the windows and pantograph sparking at night. The performance improvements which came with openBVE v1.0.7 also enabled me to capture some higher resolution video of Watford Junction to Rugby, of which many shots are included (and it has train sounds rather than my dreadful music this time 😉 ).

I’m also pleased to say that Cross-City South v1.4 now includes a full set of on-train conductor’s announcements, with enormous thanks to voice recording artist Pete Kingwell » http://www.petekingwell.com «. Pete has also recorded a set of alternative Birmingham New Street station announcements, and we agreed that all these sounds could be released into the public domain along with the rest of the Cross-City South v1.4 files once released. Thanks must also go to Paul Sladen (maintainer of the Ubuntu version of openBVE) for intiating this aspect of the project as well. I’m glad to be able to remove another set of copyright files from the route now, while being able to add something new which has been missing from the Cross-City South route for years as well, and an example on-train announcement is included in the video.

While viewing the 323’s cab, please note that I don’t actually know what the non-driver’s side of the cab looks like in any detail at all, so I’ve just had to use my imagination; if anyone can point out inaccuracies, feel free to tell me about them. Other than that, enjoy. 🙂

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Video: Demonstration of class 323 3D cab, interior fittings, and Watford Junction to Rugby hi-res (work-in-progress)

I strongly recommend viewing this video in full screen due to some night time shots, in which some details might be hard to make out otherwise.

By the way, yes, I know 323 EMUs don’t run from Watford Junction — that part of the video is just a bit of fun. 🙂


» Link to YouTube page (HD – *Best Quality*) «
» Link to YouTube page (High Quality) «

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Here’s a 1280×1024 resolution screenshot of the new 3D cab. The framerate here is 25 fps, with 8x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled (on a Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card). Smooth transparency and anistropic filtering was also enabled in openBVE’s settings as well:


openBVE v1.1.1.0/3D Cab/Cross-City South v1.4 screenshot--click to enlarge

openBVE / 3D Cab / X-City South v1.4 screenshot–click to enlarge

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3D Cab Features and Animation

For the 323’s 3D cab, I’ve opted for a combination of moderately complex 3D geometry combined with photo-realistic textures, some of which were easily adapted from the existing 2D panel images. Developing the new cab wasn’t really more difficult than developing any other animated object, as that is exactly what the cab is — it just took longer as there are more animated parts. The most difficult tasks I found, were probably the gauges and needles, which needed quite a lot of experimentation before the results were right, partly because the 323’s panel is sloped backwards rather than being vertical, meaning that correctly tilting the axis around which the animated needles rotate took a little while.

As an additional starting point for other train developers, here are the functions I’m using in the panel.animated file for the speedometer, main reservoir and brake cylinder needles, amongst other features, which I’m using.

Note: Some examples include two states, where one specifies an object illuminated by in-cab lighting, and the other specifies a non-emissive version of the object, shown when the power is cut, based on state of the ats31 plugin variable defined in the 323’s panel2.cfg file (when used with Simon Gathercole’s UKMUt.dll).

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The Base 3D Cab
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above

Base 3D Cab Objects:

[object]
states = 3dcab\class323_dmso_cab_interior_lights_on.csv, 3dcab\class323_dmso_cab_interior_lights_off.csv
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]

These two objects contain any non-animated portions of the cab, but one is a duplicate with emissive properties disabled, so in-cab lighting can be turned on and off according to the state of plugin variable ats31 in this case, which simulates the effect of the power being cut, or a cold and dark cab environment.

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Speedometer and Brake Gauge
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above
Speedometer Needle Object (with day/night textures):

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex,-0.003,0.04,0
AddVertex,0.003,0.04,0
AddVertex,0.003,0.00,0
AddVertex,-0.003,0.00,0
AddFace,0,1,2,3

LoadTexture,speedometer_needle.bmp, speedometer_needle_n.bmp
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 0, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 1, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, 1, 1
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 0, 1
SetDecalTransparentColor,0,0,0
SetEmissiveColor,200,200,200

RotateAll,0,1,0,90

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Speedometer (100 mph):

[object]
states = 3dcab\gauges\speedometer_needle.csv, 3dcab\gauges\speedometer_needle_dark.csv
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]
position = -0.5505, 2.232, 11.452
rotatexdirection = -1, 0, 0
rotatexfunction = -3.678 + abs[speedometer] * 0.0945
rotateyfunction = -1.11
rotatezfunction = -1.57

The gauge background and cover are included as part of the base 3D geometry of the cab itself, not as seperate objects. The value -3.678 in rotatexfunction rotates the needle to 0 mph on this speedometer (adjust for your own gauge as required, using ObjectViewer to check the results). Where the last value (0.0945) is concerned, you can adjust this, initially, in 0.01 increments and test drive your train in openBVE until your speedometer is calibrated correctly (press Ctrl+V multiple times as required in-game, and compare the actual speed with the speed shown on the speedometer). Alternatively, you can temporarily replace the variable speedometer with a value in m/s (converted from the unit of measurement shown on your speedometer), check the calibration via ObjectViewer, and adjust the last value accordingly. The other rotation commands are there to tilt the axis around which the needle rotates, to match the sloped 323’s panel.

A similar approach applies to the following needles:

Main Reservoir (range covers 7-8 bar, as per the 2D panel):

[object]
states = 3dcab\gauges\brake_needle.csv, 3dcab\gauges\brake_needle_dark.csv
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]
position = -0.741, 2.263, 11.462
rotatexdirection = -1, 0, 0
rotatexfunction = 1.12 + mainReservoir * 0.0000051
rotateyfunction = -1.11
rotatezfunction = -1.57

Brake Cylinder (range covers around 0-3.5 bar, as per the 2D panel)

[object]
states = 3dcab\controls\brake_needle.csv, 3dcab\controls\brake_needle_dark.csv
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]
position = -0.731, 2.263, 11.462
rotatexdirection = 1, 0, 0
rotatexfunction = -1.52 + brakeCylinder * 0.0000053
rotateyfunction = -1.11
rotatezfunction = -1.57

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Combined Traction/Brake Controller
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above

The reverser is pretty straightforward, however this is what I’m using for the combined power/brake handle:

Combined Traction/Brake Controller:

[object]
states = 3dcab\controls\power_handle.csv, 3dcab\controls\power_handle_dark.csv
position = -0.952, 2.0, 11.173
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]
rotatexfunction = if[powerNotch >= 1, -0.125 * powerNotch, 0.10 * brakeNotchLinear]
rotatexdamping = 20, 0.8
rotatezfunction = if[powerNotch >= 1, 0.05, 0]
rotatezdamping = 20, 1

Class 323 Combined Traction/Brake ControllerThe rotatexfunction line allows both brake and power notches to be taken into account; adjust the -0.125 value to change the angle of the controller when position P1 or above is chosen, and similarly the value 0.10 for the brake steps. While determining what values to use, you can temporarily replace the above function in rotatexfunction with a simple function in the form of ROTATION_VALUE * x, where the former determines the degree of rotation, and x represents your chosen power/brake setting (for example, in the case of the class 323, a value of 1 to 4 for position P1-P4, and similarly 1 to 4 for position B1 to B3 and EMG as we’re using brakeNotchLinear here).

Also, the class 323’s combined traction/brake controller doesn’t just pivot back and forth; it’s also offset slightly to the left during the P1-P4 steps compared to the B1-B3 steps (you can see this in the screenshot on the left), which is what the rotatezfunction and rotatezdamping commands are for.

Incidentally, you might have noticed that the combined traction/brake handle appears to be a rather rounded, and smoothly sculpted object — this is achieved with a combination of 3D geometry and a good texture which captured some reflected light, further improved with custom normals (as another side note, the spherical object at the end of the horn lever shown in the next section is a pair of simple 2D surfaces arranged in a cruciform fashion; no detailed 3D geometry is needed there). How might one go about creating an object like this power/brake controller, without a 3D modelling tool? What I do, is apply the idea of the computed axial tomography medical imaging technique (CT scan) to object building; I first create a set of flat, 2D polygons or layers with temporary faces to build the basic framework of the mesh (you can draw this on paper first and number the vertices, if it helps — handy when it comes to defining faces and texture mapping later), then I adjust the vertices of the first layer until the shape looks about right, and then create the next layer and adjust and so-on, and then define final faces of the object and delete the temporary faces, followed by the addition of custom normals and texture mapping:
Class 323 Combined Traction/Brake Controller Mesh
This is also the technique I used for creating the AC electric loco roof sections, by the way:
AC Electric loco roof section

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Horn Lever
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above
Horn Lever:

[object]
states = 3dcab\horn_lever.csv, 3dcab\horn_lever_dark.csv
position = -0.07, 2.06, 11.234
statefunction = !pluginstate[31]
rotatexfunction = pluginstate[24] * 0.5
rotatexdamping = 30, 0.8
rotateyfunction = -0.3

The horn lever was straightforward to implement; it’s rotation simply depends on the value of the ats24 plugin variable in this case. rotateyfunction = -0.3 simply rotates the object so it’s perpendicular to the desk panel it’s attached to.

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Other indicators
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above
For any other standard atsi plugin variable with two states (e.g. 0 and 1):

[object]
states = 3dcab\indicators\tpws_isol.csv
position = 0, 0, 0
statefunction = !pluginstate[10]

This is simple and works fine, and is also recommended. However, if on a state change, you notice that the newly loaded object appears momentarily untextured, and this bothers you, then you can use the following technique instead…

[object]
states = 3dcab\controls\dra.csv
position = 0, 0, 0
textureshiftyfunction = pluginstate[13] * 0.5

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Texture mapping in dra.csv object:

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex,-0.5905,2.0885,11.381
AddVertex,-0.5485,2.0885,11.381
AddVertex,-0.5485,2.0525,11.365
AddVertex,-0.5905,2.0525,11.365
AddFace,0,1,2,3

SetTextureCoordinates,0, 0, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 1, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, 1, 0.5
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 0, 0.5
SetDecalTransparentColor,0,0,255
SetEmissiveColor,255,255,255
SetColor,130,130,130
SetBlendMode,Additive

Here, the illuminated DRA image is placed in the bottom half of the texture, while the top half of the image is transparent. By using a texture shifting function, no state change occurs, so you won’t notice any momentarily untextured surface appearing which can happen when a state is changed and the object hasn’t been loaded previously.

DRA example

If, for example, your ats subject had 4 states rather than 2 as in the above DRA example (with it’s bitmap split into 4 sections), you could use a value of 0.25 (i.e. 1 / 4) in your texture shifting function instead:

Proving lights example
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Simulated Headlight Effects
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openBVE / 3D cab screenshot - please see video above

I’m still experimenting with the simulated in-cab headlight effects and some refinements are needed, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Working Headlight (panel.animated file):

[object]
states = 3dcab\ext_headlight_1.csv, 3dcab\ext_headlight_1a.csv, 3dcab\ext_headlight_1b.csv
position = 0, 0, 0
statefunction = if[pluginstate[20] > 0, pluginstate[20] – 1, -1]

The object code I’m using is like the following:

Working Headlights (csv object example):

ext_headlight_1.csv

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex,-1.3, 3.0, 11.67
AddVertex,0.6, 3.0, 11.67
AddVertex,0.6, 1.5, 11.67
AddVertex,-1.3, 1.5, 11.67
AddFace,0,1,2,3

LoadTexture,transparent.png, headlight_interior.png
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 0, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 1, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, 1, 1
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 0, 1
SetBlendMode,Additive
SetColor,150,130,100,120

The three objects are flat, vertical surfaces which load a simple texture with a sunburst gradient fill, representing a glow (similar to the light_xxxxx.png signal glow images included with openBVE’s compatibility signal objects, or the pantograph sparking effects I’ve shown previously). The glow colour in the texture is white, and the SetColor command is used to determine what colour headlight is depicted (a yellowish-white in the example above); this way, only one texture is needed. These objects are positioned just beyond the cab window, and the additive blending mode simulates the effect of illuminating whatever is behind the surface (the track and scenery, in this case). The height of the surface determines whether just the track, or the scenery, appears to be illuminated. The file “transparent.png” is a tiny, completely transparent PNG file loaded as the daytime texture, so the headlight effect is only visible in low light (as it’s loaded as a nighttime texture), or when the .Brightness command is used.

The states are linked to the proving lights in the cab (ats20), and each object has it’s surface repositioned to simulate headlights on the left or right, or centred in the case of the marker lights.

There is one caveat however; while this works well at night, or when in a tunnel during daytime, the effect doesn’t look so good when passing beneath a short overbridge (i.e. where a low .Brightness value is set over a distance of just a few metres), as the headlight glow becomes visible here, when in reality it wouldn’t. As a compromise, what I’ll probably do in the final release, is reserve the headlight effect for the nighttime headlight configuration only, not the daytime configuration (possible with the UKMUt.dll plugin). You’ll have to decide whether this minor issue is worth it or not.
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Class 323 Interior

I thought I’d talk a little about the 323’s interior as well. The interior view features the expected things; i.e. seats and partitions, but I’ve also included working TV screens, working carriage lighting, raindrop effects which run down and streak across the windows at varying speeds (depending on the speed of the train), and ground illumination from the windows and sparking pantograph.

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Working TV Screens
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openBVE / class 323 interior screenshot - please see video above

The working TV screens use simple texture shifting and translation functions — for the left screen with the car and rolling news ticker, there’s nothing I haven’t described before, apart from applying the functions to a very different set of meshes. Where the static effect is concerned, this is created by using two surfaces with a small texture containing a patchwork of black and white pixels; one of the objects has the texture reversed vertically and horizontally. One object is positioned slightly in front of the other, and both have alpha values set via the SetColor command to soften the appearance of the end result. These objects then have their textures shifted via the same function:

TV Screen Static Effect (Object 1):

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex,0.46, 3.492, 3.597
AddVertex,0.765, 3.492, 3.597
AddVertex,0.765, 3.273, 3.597
AddVertex,0.46, 3.273, 3.597
AddFace,0,1,2,3

LoadTexture,Class323_TV_Texture_2.png
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 2, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, -0.001, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, -0.001, 2
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 2, 2
SetColor,0,0,0,180
SetEmissiveColor,255,255,255

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TV Screen Static Effect (Object 2):

AddVertex,0.46, 3.492, 3.595
AddVertex,0.765, 3.492, 3.595
AddVertex,0.765, 3.273, 3.595
AddVertex,0.46, 3.273, 3.595
AddFace,0,1,2,3

LoadTexture,Class323_TV_Texture_2.png
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 2, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 2, 2
SetTextureCoordinates,2, -0.001, 2
SetTextureCoordinates,3, -0.001, 0
SetColor,0,0,0,180
SetEmissiveColor,255,255,255

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TV Screen Static Effect (Animation Function):

[object]
states = ..\Class323_TV_2.csv, ..\Class323_TV_2a.csv
position = 0, 0, 0
statefunction = if[pluginstate[31] == 0 & pluginstate[33] == 0, -1, value == 0]
textureshiftxfunction = 2 * time
refreshrate = 0.01

The pluginstate[i] variables are there so that the TVs are only switched on when there’s power, and stay on when passing though a neutral section (ats31 is the Line Volts indicator, and ats33 the Vacuum Circuit Breaker indicator). The refreshrate = 0.01 line just adds a slight degree of flickering to the screen.

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Window raindrop effects
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openBVE / class 323 interior screenshot - please see video above

The raindrop effects also deserve a little more explanation. These are comprised of two surfaces, the first of which has ordinary raindrops similar to what you’ve seen in BVE 4 cabs, except here, the surface simply has one tiled, transparent texture containing multiple raindrops and the texture is slowly shifted. The second surface, loads a texture depicting several streaking rain drops, and the speed of the streaking is linked to the speed of the train, although they still move slowly down the window when the train is stationary. What I did differently, was to make the surface irregularly shaped, so the raindrops appear to change direction as they travel across the window due to turbulence or inteference:

Raindrop mesh--click to enlarge
Raindrop effect animation code:

[Object]
position = 0, 0, 0
states = Class323_DMSO_1_RainDrops_1.csv
statefunction = !pluginstate[200]
textureshiftyfunction = -0.1 * time
textureshiftxdirection = 0, 1
textureshiftxfunction = value – delta * speed / 60
refreshrate = 0.01

ats200 is one of the raindrops you’re familiar with from the 2D BVE 4 cabs…

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Pantograph spark and ground lighting effect
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openBVE / class 323 interior screenshot - please see video above

The pantograph sparking and ground illumination effect is a simple additively blended glow effect, which will appear mostly briefly at various times during a journey, but not continuously and not necessarily frequently. When seen for the first time, it might seem as though the effect appears at random, but actually the times at which you’ll see sparking are based on the speed of the train. This is acheived via the following function:

Sparking effect:

[Object]
states = Class323_Spark_1.csv
position = 0, 0, 0
statefunction = if[mod[speed, 3] > 2.9, value == 0, -1]
refreshrate = 0.03

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Flashing Tail Light
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openBVE / Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot - please see video above

In terms of visual effect, the tail light is implemented just like the signal aspects. The animation code I’m using to achieve a short blink followed by a longer period of extinguishment is as follows:

Flashing Tail Lamp Animation:

[Object]
States = TailLamp_1a.csv
Position = 0, 0, 0
StateFunction = if[mod[time, 0.55] > 0.08, -1, 0]

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Signal Ground Lighting
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openBVE / Watford Jn to Rugby screenshot - please see video above

These effects are really easy — the objects are just like the headlight objects mentioned previously, except these extend out behind the signal and are animated objects loaded via .SigF commands instead. The simple animation function I’m now using is as follows:

Signal ground lighting animation function (assumes .Section 0;2;3;4 commands and 4 aspect signals):

[Object]
Position = 0, 0, 0
States = Sig_GroundLight_R.csv, Sig_GroundLight_Y.csv, Sig_GroundLight_Y.csv, Sig_GroundLight_G.csv
StateFunction = if[section > 0, section – 1, 0]

Incidentally, I’ve now adopted more or less the same technique developed by michelle for openBVE’s compatibility signal objects where my own signal aspect/lens and glow effects are concerned, as it’s obvious that a lot of care went into these effects, and they look superb when applied to my own signal objects with the lens hoods as well (see the video…).
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Updated Pantograph Animation Functions

Lastly, I’ve updated my old Animated Exterior Car Objects blog entry to include some updated unctions which resolve a problem with the code which I hadn’t considered previously. Bascially, the code I used meant that the pantograph animation speed was dependent on the framerate on the user’s computer, which is obviously no good — if slow framerates were encountered, the animation would proceed very slowly, while if high framerates were experienced, the animation speed would be too high. By incorporating the delta variable and a factor into the functions, this problem is solved. Actually this should have occured to me, because I observed this behaviour when I was experimenting with the wheel rotation initially… D’oh. Thanks michelle !

I also thought you might like to see a high resolution image of Cross-City South v1.4 and the new high detail class 323; in this screenshot, I’m running openBVE fullscreen at a resolution of 1280×1024, with 8x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled (on a Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card). Bilinear interpolation was enabled in openBVE’s settings, with the Transparency mode set to Sharp. I was getting around 16-19 fps at the time; the framerates in the next version of openBVE will hopefully be a little higher due to performance optimisations where animated object normals are concerned, although this gain may be offset by the addition of more animated scenery objects to the route:

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Posted in openBVE | 25 Comments »



Upgrade to WordPress 2.8

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 20th June 2009 at 12:18 am

I’ve just upgraded from WordPress v2.7.1 to v2.8. Well, actually I backed up the database contents, deleted the previous WordPress installation and MySQL database, and took the opportunity to start again with a fresh installation and then imported the backed up data. As far as I’m aware everything is working fine, but please let me know if you have any problems.

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Posted in Site News | No Comments »



openBVE v1.0.7.1 released; performance improvements and new object development features

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 16th June 2009 at 12:04 am

openBVE v1.0.7.1 is now available; I’d recommend heading over to the » openBVE homepage « to download the latest stable release, and don’t forget to read the » Changelog « for a full list of alterations and new features.

Information Icon Update (18th June): openBVE v1.0.7.2 was released yesterday. This version includes a bugfix relating to problems when some objects were loaded, which also resulted in error messages. As far as I’m aware, the objects concerned were those with meshbuilder blocks containing both Cylinder commands and AddFace commands referencing the cylinder’s vertices, which should now be loaded without any problems in v1.0.7.2.

This release can offer some potentially superb performance improvements on some routes. With Cross-City South v1.31.02, and 8x antialiasing/16x anisotropic filtering set via my graphics card drivers, along with bilinear interpolation set via openBVE’s options, I see between 20-35% increases in framerates compared to openBVE v1.0.6.2 with identical settings. With anisotropic filtering and smooth transparency enabled via openBVE’s settings, I also see between around 25-46% increases in framerates with identical settings in both openBVE versions. So for example, where the entrance to Birmingham New Street used to take me down to 15 fps with smooth transparency enabled, now I can reach a much more fluid 21-22 fps. I won’t publish any figures regarding Cross-City South v1.4 yet, as the route is still in development and the performance level changes often as I experiment with it. These results are obtained on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ @ 2.2GHz, 2GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-15, ATi Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256MB DDR2 PCIe equipped system by the way.

The improvement which has most impressed me though, is the performance of openBVE v1.0.7.1 with Watford Junction to Rugby. To say that I’m delighted would be a massive understatement, as I’ve seen between 30-160% increases in framerate compared to v1.0.6.2! Generally though, framerates of around 17-21 fps (on the four track sections between stations, in the external view with those nice AC electric and Mk2 coach objects) are now fairly typical, where around 11-14 fps was a typical range before. Framerates are higher when in the cab view, of course. Certain extremely detailed areas which still need to be simplified for openBVE 1’s renderer, like the Bourne End and New Ledburn Junctions, as well as Tring and Bletchley, are now handled much better as well (10-12 fps rather than 4-6 fps as it was before, with framerates recovering to normal levels after passing through these isolated locations). To put this in perspective, the route loads around 2600 objects of all types with over 72600 .Freeobj commands, which is a lot more than usually found in a BVE route, and this is over a 106 km distance (in comparison, Cross-City South v1.31 loads around 700 objects of all types, with around 5600 .Freeobj commands over around a 25 km distance). In BVE 4, the framerate may be comparable initially, but if I start driving from Watford Junction, it stutters frequently, and BVE 4’s renderer gives up after reaching Kings Langley just a few kilometres into the route, and BVE 4 crashes without even an error message shortly after; WJ-R is a long way past being suitable for BVE 4 now, hence an awful lot of stuff will need to be removed in the BVE Trainsim versions of the route.

These latest openBVE optimisations which give rise to improvements in framerates, may also mean that route loading times increase a little as the object geometry is optimised, although in practice, I’m finding that only 5-6 seconds are added to Cross-City South v1.4 / new class 323 loading times, and 9 seconds added to Watford Junction to Rugby’s loading time, bringing the total loading time to 39 seconds for the latter route. Nevertheless, if this is a problem for you, please read » this thread « for information about the hidden options which enable you to limit what the new object optimiser does, allowing for faster loading times, but naturally at the expense of in-game performance.

If you’re interested in how these performance improvements have been implemented, take a look at » michelle’s blog « where the relevant OpenGL concepts are discussed (the May and June 2009 pages). Essentially, OpenGL’s GL_TRIANGLE_STRIP and GL_QUAD_STRIP structures are now used along with GL_POLYGON structures which were used exclusively in prior versions of openBVE, and using these structures where possible means that fewer vertices need to be transmitted to the rendering pipeline (due to there being fewer effectively duplicated vertices), thereby improving performance. These other structures are generated automatically by the new object optimiser included in v1.0.7, which was written for openBVE 2’s engine but has been added to openBVE 1. Version 2 of openBVE should deliver even greater performance improvements however, thanks to the use of display lists rather than the immediate mode currently used.

This early performance improvement also means that I can capture some higher resolution video of Watford Junction to Rugby now, so come back soon as I’m preparing another of my YouTube videos, in which I’ll also show a couple of other things I’ve been working on. 🙂

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New Object Development Features

Two new features have been added which allow developers greater flexibility and functionality where object creation is concerned — the Shear / ShearAll commands, and the ability to specify vertex normals in B3D and CSV objects (previously, vertex normals could only be specified in .X objects, which were awkward to hand edit). Before experimenting, please make sure that you’ve downloaded the latest versions of » openBVE«, » Object Viewer « and » Route Viewer « (if necessary, clear your browser cache first to ensure you aren’t just getting older versions of the downloads from your hard disk cache instead of the webserver).

Shear and ShearAll

Using the Shear / ShearAll commands, we can now skew meshes or entire objects, which makes certain kinds of objects much quicker and easier to create. Take a bridge which crosses a railway at an angle for example; designing the bridge object such that it’s perpendicular to the railway is relatively easy, but creating it at an angle can be more time consuming, especially if the bridge includes an arch. Using the new commands, we can create the bridge in a perpendicular fashion, and then easily perform a shear mapping operation on all the vertices in either a MeshBuilder block or the entire object:

Original bridge object, perpendicular to rail--click to enlarge Original bridge object, sheared to the right--click to enlarge Original bridge object, sheared to the left--click to enlarge

These results are created with the following commands added right at the end of the object file:

ShearAll, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0.75

or…

ShearAll, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, -0.75

Please see the relevant openBVE documentation » here « for more information about these commands and the parameters.

Vertex Normals

If you’ve used the Cylinder command in your objects, you’ll probably have noticed that the resulting collection of faces were smoothly shaded. Creating any other mesh however, resulted in flat shading. If the object was converted to the .X format, it was possible to manually hand edit the vertex normals to smoothly shade faces, but due to the nature of the format this wasn’t user friendly, and wasn’t possible at all in B3D or CSV format objects. Now though, what I think is an easy way to apply vertex normals and smooth shading to meshes has been implemented. Take the following screenshots:

Standard mesh--click to enlarge Standard mesh with vertex normals specified--click to enlarge

On the left, we have a simple mesh with 8 vertices and 3 faces:

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex, 3, 0, 1, ;vertex 0
AddVertex, 3, 0,-1, ;vertex 1
AddVertex, 1, 1, 1, ;vertex 2
AddVertex, 1, 1,-1, ;vertex 3
AddVertex,-1, 1, 1, ;vertex 4
AddVertex,-1, 1,-1, ;vertex 5
AddVertex,-3, 0, 1, ;vertex 6
AddVertex,-3, 0,-1, ;vertex 7
AddFace,0,1,3,2
AddFace,2,3,5,4
AddFace,4,5,7,6
SetColor,190,160,160

On the right, we have the same mesh, but with vertex normals specified, resulting in the smoothly shaded appearance:

CreateMeshBuilder
AddVertex, 3, 0, 1, 0.6, 1, 0
AddVertex, 3, 0,-1, 0.6, 1, 0
AddVertex, 1, 1, 1, 0.3, 1, 0
AddVertex, 1, 1,-1, 0.3, 1, 0
AddVertex,-1, 1, 1,-0.3, 1, 0
AddVertex,-1, 1,-1,-0.3, 1, 0
AddVertex,-3, 0, 1,-0.6, 1, 0
AddVertex,-3, 0,-1,-0.6, 1, 0
AddFace,0,1,3,2
AddFace,2,3,5,4
AddFace,4,5,7,6
SetColor,190,160,160

In the first annotated Object Viewer screenshot, you can see that the automatically generated normals are depicted via the vector lines emanating from the vertices (you can view these by pressing the N key within Object Viewer). Note also the flat shading, and how this relates to the direction of the normal vectors. In the second screenshot however, which shows the same mesh with manually defined normals, smooth shading is now applied, and vertices 2, 3, 4 and 5 now have one normal vector each, affecting all faces that share those vertices. You can see that each normal vector is created relative to the associated vertex coordinates.

To give some examples of where to use this feature, the ability specify normals allows me to, for example, reduce the number of faces on a curved surface to improve performance in some circumstances, or smoothly shade the grass embankments shown in the bridge screenshots above, or the curved surfaces of locomotives and rolling stock:

Original object with automatically generated normals--click to enlarge Object with vertex normals specified--click to enlarge
Original object with automatically generated normals--click to enlarge Original object with automatically generated normals--click to enlarge
Object with vertex normals specified--click to enlarge Object with vertex normals specified--click to enlarge
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Finally, for the more technically minded amongst us, openBVE’s debug output layout (viewable via the F10 key) has been revamped and contains some interesting extra data relating to the number of each different face type in use:

openBVE v1.0.7.1 debug output

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The innovative Chashinai Railway, RSR-UK route randomisation, hi-res Watford Junction to Rugby screenshots, and server upgrades

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 1st June 2009 at 11:40 pm

The innovtive Chashinai Railway, randomisation and new development techniques for openBVE

Some of you may remember the Chashinai Railway network which was released way back in 2004, but soon after publication it was withdrawn, after controversy surrounding permissions where certain files were concerned. The fictional Japanese route network has now been significantly updated and is available again, and is now designed exclusively for » openBVE «. The route’s developer, Jens (Odakyufan), has devised some innovative new techniques which take advantage of openBVE’s capabilities, and together they introduce some exciting new possiblities for developers and users, including for example — even within a single route file — randomised time of day selection, randomly selected choice of train and service to drive, determining the probability of certain end results occuring, and more. Using if conditions and casing, it’s possible, for example, to choose which platform or siding is departed from or entered at random, provided code for each of these routing options has been written, specially prepared and added within the route file.

This is clever stuff, which presents all kinds of new possibilities for openBVE developers. Visit » Odakyufan’s website « to download the Chashinai Railway network which includes all the required trains (you need the latest openBVE v1.0.6 release), and take a look at the » development techniques and tips section « to see how randomisation and conditional pre-processing can be applied by developers creating routes for openBVE, along with ideas for improving the handling of tunnel object lighting, cab brightness and time of day. Incidentally, Jens also hopes to model a section of the well known Odakyu Odawara Line starting from Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku station, which should be fascinating due to the railway infrastructure, proximity between the line and the surrounding city and it’s roads and numerous buildings, and the object density to be depicted in such scenes.

Some atmospheric » Chashinai Railway « screenshots:

openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Kawarada, Ishinden Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Ashikari, Ishinden Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Minaminaka Sidings, Minaminaka Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Izumozaki North, Misaki Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Izumozaki North, Misaki Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Chashinai Railway (Izumozaki South, Misaki Line), Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge

Incidentally, the situation surrounding the Chashinai Railway presents some issues to consider. It’s a route that was built using a large number of other author’s objects, and was originally made just for personal use — publishing the route wasn’t originally intended, so it’s author didn’t keep track of where each file came from. However, over time, the project evolved into something which was worth publishing, and this creative endeavour was shared with the community. The route was also notable as being one of very few Japanese styled lines developed by a European author (the only other I can recall right now, being Viktor’s fictional » BVE Garden Line «). Unfortunately, because Jens hadn’t kept track of the origin of the many files used, determining the authors of all these files at a later stage became problematic, so some work was uncredited, and not all permissions saught. Upon it’s release, some developers objected to this. Back then, the Western (English speaking) BVE community as it seems to me, was more like a microcosm of the worst aspects of international relations and ideological conflict than an ideal community at times, and soon after it’s release, despite conflicts with developers being resolved, the Chashinai Railway was withdrawn, presumably because of all the controversy it caused, and I guess Jens was put off from releasing anything into the community again for several years. Having seen the innovation, intelligence and artistic excellence which he’s now shared with us some years later–as a community–I think we’re rather lucky that he wasn’t driven away permanently by the awful, polarised atmosphere which used to dominate the community in the past (and I’m certainly not blameless where this state of affairs was concerned either); if he had left for good, then people in another field might be enjoying the fruits of his creativity instead of us, or indeed nobody else at all would be enjoying the results, and we would all be the poorer for it.

Information Icon Edit: I was going to discuss the community, my own changed attitudes towards copyright, and the role the BVE Developer Guidelines play as a part of this blog entry, and talk about whether for the good of the community in the future, they should be revised or whether they’re even needed any more. However, this entry is primarily about innovation and development techniques, so I’ll save the extended discussion until later.

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Randomisation in RSR-UK Routes

Having seen what Jens has achieved, I’m experimenting with these new innovations on my own routes as well. With Watford Junction to Rugby for example, I’m able to use the random pathing feature of » BRR « to create short alternative paths between, for example, Watford Junction and the crossovers to the north of the station, or between Hemel Hempstead and Bourne End Junction. This is the tricky part as it involves carefully setting up the .Rail related commands (or even inserting temporary crossovers) to ensure alternative paths can be selected and generated, followed by replacing .Turn commands with .Curve commands in BRR’s temporary route file output. Then, by referring to the casing technique example which Jens has provided, I can easily add all the $Sub() preprocessing commands to these code fragments via a couple of simple search and replace operations, and then copy and paste these sections into the WJ-R route file making any tweaks necessary, and add the condition and randomisation code, to allow openBVE to randomly choose whether the player starts on the fast or slow lines, or switches between them for short sections en-route. Currently this isn’t practical for longer sections of the Watford Junction to Rugby route; not really because it’s too difficult, but rather because it increases loading times too much due to the sheer number of commands I’ve used in the WJ-R route file, which takes too long to be parsed. I can also randomise the time of day chosen, along with the service and traction, and the optional display of a multitude of objects within the route. The location and types of passing trains shown can all be randomised, along with appropriate sounds, and so-on. All within a single route file and program. 🙂 The » example code « for achieving some of these things may appear complex at first, but actually it’s not so bad once you’ve tried it–naturally something like Watford to Rugby is much harder to work with as it’s so complex, so if you try it with your own route, it shouldn’t be as difficult. I’ll continue to experiment with this as my projects develop… More to come in future.

In the meantime, it occurs to me that I don’t think I’ve ever uploaded many, if any, high resolution images of Watford Junction to Rugby before, so here are a selection showing the aforementioned junctions, and a couple of others (please forgive the mixture of pre 1990s and post 2000 infrastructure at Watford…). This is still very much a work in progress, and neither the lighting or shading is refined yet. The scenery quality has fallen behind that of X-City South v1.4 in some respects now, and 2D trees are still in use at the moment as so much detailed 3D geometry has been applied to the railway infrastructure itself; with openBVE 2’s graphics engine, perhaps more will be possible though…


openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Watford Junction)--click to enlarge
openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Watford Junction)--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Hemel Hempstead)--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Bourne End Junction)--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Bourne End Junction)--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Watford Junction to Rugby (Near Blisworth)--click to enlarge
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Server Upgrades

Lastly, apologies if some of you were unable to access the site for a little while yesterday; my webhost was performing a scheduled hardware upgrade of the server where Rail Sim Routes UK is hosted. I’ve been very happy with the performance and speed of the server since I moved the site to the new host last November, with no problems reported to me, as far as I’m aware. However, it should perform even better and with greater reliability now after this upgrade, which I gather consists of a step up from a single to a dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor configuration along with a doubling of the quantity of RAM to 8GB. In the unlikely event that anyone tried to e-mail me while the server was briefly offline (sometime between 23:00 and midnight on 31st May), any messages should have still reached me, however if you think there might have been a problem, please try again just in case.

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openBVE v1.0.6.0, Cross-City South v1.4 Updates

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 24th May 2009 at 11:50 pm

New openBVE release–v1.0.6.0

A new version of openBVE is now available, version 1.0.6.0; head over to the » openBVE homepage « to download the latest stable release. One of the three most noticeable improvements in this version (the other two being time acceleration and the ability to mute sound, more below) concerns the Smooth Transparency feature, which has been dramatically improved. If you’ve enabled this option in openBVE previously, you might have noticed that while the quality of the rendered scenes was much better with Smooth transparency enabled, occasionally, unsightly fringes appeared around some transparent textures, where translucent pixels were rendered. This was problem was also more pronounced on Cross-City South v1.4 due to the frequency with which texture transparency is used in the new scenery. This issue concerning texture transparency and the z-buffer is a complex topic which I gather not all OpenGL developers adequately address, however Michelle has found a way of solving the problem, and while the performance is a little lower than with the previous implementation (especially on routes where a very high number of polygons use texture colour transparency), the visual quality is far better, as the following comparison screenshots demonstrate (along with the new X-City South v1.4 screenshots below).

On the left, we have the » ATS-Sn/P Test route « in openBVE v1.0.5.0; click the thumbnail and note the fringes around the catenary gantry texture. On the right, we have v1.0.6.0–no such issue can be observed, and the end result is superb:

openBVE v1.0.5.0, ATS-Sn/P Test Route, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
Smooth transparency [openBVE 1.0.5.0]
openBVE v1.0.5.0, ATS-Sn/P Test Route, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
Smooth transparency [openBVE 1.0.6.0]

Similarly, here we have the » Chashinai Railway «:

openBVE v1.0.5.0, Chashinai Railway, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
Smooth transparency [openBVE 1.0.5.0]
openBVE v1.0.5.0, Chashinai Railway, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
Smooth transparency [openBVE 1.0.6.0]

For a detailed explanation about this solution, please see michelle’s » Developer’s Blog «

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Other welcome enhancements and changes in v1.0.6.0 include:

  • A time acceleration feature (Ctrl+J, switches between x1 and x5 speed);
  • The ability to mute the sound (Ctrl+M — now you can listen to music via your media player while in-game, which is quite a lot of fun when used with the time acceleration feature! 🙂 );
  • A consistent look is now achieved where fog and background images are concerned, regardless of viewing distance;
  • And more… Please see the » changelog « on the openBVE site for details.

If you’re still using openBVE v1.0.3 or 1.0.4, then after updating to the latest release, you’ll also benefit from changes which were introduced with v1.0.5, including amongst other things, a bug fix relating to odd behaviour where unwanted roll was initially applied to the external camera view, enhanced AI driver behaviour where cruising is concerned, and additions to the Doors parameter of the .Sta command.

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Cross-City South v1.4 scenery improvements

Firstly, apologies for the lack of project updates recently… Unfortunately I’ve not done quite as much as I’d hoped to in the past month. Nevertheless, I’ve been working on updating the scenery objects for Cross-City South v1.4, and this is proceeding quite well now. It’s proving to be quite time consuming, and the bulk of the work involves replacing a fair number of the previously 2D trees and bushes with more realistic partially 3D versions, allowing the scenery to look good even when the camera is panned to the side, such as when looking out of the windows, while also enabling the camera to be moved a little further away from the train in the external view without the scenery looking unrealistic. Hedgerows have also been improved, not just the trees.

I’m currently adding pretty highly detailed vegetation just to test performance and visual quality, but once I’m finished I’ll likely perform a batch search and replace operation on all the scenery files to reduce the number of surfaces to improve framerates a little. I’m relatively happy with how the scenery is turning out, but I have to say, it’s just a little tedious; I’ll be glad when this task is over and I can get back to the animated objects!

Here are some screenshots to show the progress so far; the scenery, lighting and shading isn’t finalised yet, but the images give a general impression of the end result I want to achieve. The trees and hedges still look a little too repetetive to me–I’ll try and improve upon this if I have time… All screenshots depict the route at 1280×1024 resolution with 8x antialiasing, 16x anisotropic filtering, and with openBVE v1.0.6.0’s smooth transparency enabled. A fast graphics card will likely be needed for higher framerates with the latter feature in use, at least with openBVE 1’s renderer:

openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
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I’m also experimenting with mixing both 2D and 3D trees to achieve a balance between visual quality and performance; 3D trees are placed near to the lineside, while 2D trees are placed behind these, and the overall effect looks reasonable to me; I hope you agree. It should work well, provided the player doesn’t move the camera beyond the effective scenery edge boundary which the 2D tree surfaces create–openBVE is still primarily a cab view simulator, after all. Here are some examples of the scenery testing location at Longbridge:

openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
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I’ve also added shadows beneath the trees and OHLE masts (another feature brought in from Watford Junction to Rugby), as well as beneath hedgerows to improve the appearance of the scenery. The shadows are simply very low resolution textures, which in the interests of performance, don’t use alpha channels, just ordinary texture transparency. The low resolution of the textures provides the necessary blurring:

openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
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Lastly, I’m also updating the pointwork so it’ll be up to the standard of Watford Junction to Rugby:

openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge openBVE v1.0.6, Cross-City South v1.4, Smooth Transparency option enabled--click to enlarge
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openBVE Help Guide updated

Just in case anyone hasn’t read through the comments on my last blog entry or otherwise noticed, I updated my openBVE Help and Information Guide recently, to include instructions explaining how openBVE can be installed and used by Ubuntu Linux users, either via the Add/Remove option, or by installing and running the program via Wine (which allows BVE 4 plugin DLL equipped trains to be used in Linux). I update the guide regularly as well, so if you need any assistance with openBVE which isn’t covered elsewhere, please visit the updated guide for more information: openBVE Help and Information.

Incidentally, since I replaced the X-City South executable installer with the .7z archive, downloads have been just as frequent as before, and I’ve had no more requests for help with installing the route than usual (and I don’t get many requests for help usually); indeed someone who was a newcomer to train simulation kindly informed me that they’d managed to install openBVE, BVE4, and Cross-City South with help from the guides I’ve prepared. So I’m assuming that most of you are managing fine with the installation process. 🙂

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Jaunty Jackalope and openBVE

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 25th April 2009 at 8:42 am

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

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

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

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

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

openBVE v1.0.2.0 running in Ubuntu 9.04

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

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

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

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E-mail problems

Posted by Anthony Bowden on 20th April 2009 at 10:34 pm

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

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