My openBVE videos and other comments from users and myself can also be found via my YouTube channel.
Blog and Progress Updates
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 126.96.36.199 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 v188.8.131.52, 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 v184.108.40.206 and updated openBVE developer tools
openBVE v220.127.116.11 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 v18.104.22.168Posted 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 v22.214.171.124 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 v126.96.36.199 released
Lastly, openBVE v188.8.131.52 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
1st June 2009
The innovative Chashinai Railway, RSR-UK route randomisation, hi-res Watford Junction to Rugby screenshots, and server upgradesPosted 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:
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.
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.
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…
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.
19th April 2009
Alan Wheeler’s new Platform Generator (Plat Gen) tool was released recently; head over to » eezypeazy.co.uk « to download this handy utility. The program creates a variety of photo-realistic customised platform segments, allowing route developers to choose the surface and side textures, create platform ramps, curved platform lengths at various radii, and more. The generated objects are placed via the .Freeobj command rather than the .Form commands. Here’s a screenshot of one of the resulting platforms at University station on the Cross-City South v1.4 route:
openBVE / Cross-City South v1.4 plus 323 screenshot