TS 2017 ROUTE BUILDING #1 - Introduction and Planning

TS 2017 ROUTE BUILDING #1 - Introduction and Planning

It has been said, "We do not plan to fail... we fail to plan." With that in mind, let me say that considerable foresight and planning is required if one wishes to build a quality, workable route. There is one more thing. You'll need a speedy computer with lots of RAM to construct a route, unless you don't mind waiting a long time for some processes to take place.

In my exuberance at the beginning, I dove right in to building a route only to find out later that I had made some big mistakes with respect to naming conventions and folder hierarchy within TS2017. Needless to say, those errors required that I go back to the beginning and start all over again.

I had searched the internet high and low seeking tutorials or information on route building. I found several video tuts on YouTube but they were difficult for me to follow because the presenter moved so fast that it was hard to keep up, and he used terminology that I was not yet familiar with. Even at that rate, I found that his tuts were lacking a great deal of important information. No offense intended toward the presenter.

So, let's start at the very beginning: Let's get planning...

Obviously, the first thing you must decide is where the route is to be situated. You must determine if your route is to be fictional or prototypical.

If prototypical, you will require the SRTM data in order to shape the terrain accordingly for the region. American SRTM data is available from the USGS website using their Earth Explorer program. Canadian SRTM data is available for download from my Canadian DEM downloads page, or from Natural Resources Canada. SRTM files will have a .hgt file extension and must be stored in the folder: "...\Railworks\Dem\srtm\". The ... represents your computer folder structure leading up to your parent Railworks folder. More will be shared on how to import the srtm data into your route in a subsequent tutorial.

In addition, prototypical routes can be accurately enhanced by placing assets according to the Google Map Overlay. This is a most useful tool in building a route. You can obtain a Google Maps Embed API key by going here. Once obtained, open Train Simulator; choose Settings on the main screen. Select the Tools tab. Then click on Google Maps. A new window will appear where you can enter your API key. I would further recommend setting the type to Hybrid and the area to 3X3. You can leave the resolution at 640 or increase it to 1280 if you have a faster computer.

Is your route set in the era of modern times or days gone by? This is necessary to determine what type, and genre of assets will need to be used to give the impression of the era.

What kind of driving experience are you trying to create? Is this to be a passenger route, a freight route, or a combination of both? Determine the track and speed requirements of the route from your own research. High speed tracks ought to use super-elevation in the curves (more on this later). Does the route have signals or is it an OCS (Occupancy Control System)? Are you creating a Freeware route for sharing with others, a Payware route, or something just for you? Is the motive power Diesel, Electric, or Steam?

Let's not get carried away with this one. Even though my first project was a monumental undertaking, I recommend starting small until you get the hang of things. One hundred miles is about the maximum one should go in size or you may find that you could lose interest in the project, or it may take an unearthly long time to complete. My first attempt at a route landed me in Divorce Court. I'll just leave it at that.

Depending on the what type of route you are constructing (freeware, payware, or personal enjoyment only) there are a number of considerations that will come into play. No matter what type of route you will be building you will probably be using at least some assets created by other people. Many of these assets are available for download in the train simulator forums at TrainSim.com and Railworks America. European assets are more readily available on UKTrainsim.

The following notes contain important legal items for consideration:
  • FREEWARE route for sharing with others - You are free to use all the default assets; that being the ones that came with the base game Train Simulator. In addition, you may use freeware assets produced by others provided that proper credit is given to the asset author in a ReadMe file included with the route. It may be helpful to keep in mind that downloading and using freeware assets can tak
  • PAYWARE route for profit - You are free to use all the default assets; that being the ones that came with the base game Train Simulator. All other assets MUST BE YOUR OWN! It is unlawful to use assets produced by someone else if your route is intended for sale. The use and redistribution of such assets is an offense unless one has written permission from the copyright holder outlining the conditions of use and/or redistribution.
  •  PERSONAL USE ONLY - You can use any asset from any provider in your sim. The one restriction is that the route cannot be shared, given, or sold to anyone... not even your friend.
Your answers to the above questions may lead you to others pertaining to the route you are endeavoring to build.

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