Trainz Simulator 2009 Launch Plans
Posted: 1st August 2008
Recently we announced we were working on the biggest and best ever version of Trainz. Today we are very pleased to announce our launch plans for Trainz Simulator 2009.
Recognizing the strengths of Auran as developers and the passion and talents of our core community as creators of amazing content, we will be releasing two separate editions of Trainz 2009, each designed for a slightly different audience. Trainz Simulator 2009: World Builder Edition (TS2009) is the core program designed primarily for content creators and route builders and Trainz Simulator 2009: Engineers Edition (TEE) is designed more for those who enjoy driving and controlling trains. Both editions will be totally compatible so will operate seamlessly when both are installed.
Trainz has always been as much about "creating" and "collecting" as it has actually "simulating" the world of rails. It has also been about the community creating amazing content. We will soon reach the milestone of having 100,000 items available for download from our Download Station and almost 100 million individual downloads in total since 2001. Some of those items, such as routes, may have taken many hundreds of hours to create. At an average of just 10 hours to create each item, there is roughly 500 man years of content available on the Trainz Download Station. This confirms to us that our role is to continue to add features and functionality and assist the community to continue making awesome content.
These figures also show just how much the "online" experience enhances the "out-of-the-box" Trainz experience. By downloading new content, users can continually explore new routes and discover new experiences. Right now there are over 8,500 different locomotives that can be downloaded and an almost unbelievable range of scenery items ranging from regional speed signs to fishing trawlers to a woman hanging out the washing. Whilst some 3D modelling experience is necessary for creating many of these items such as locomotives, practically anyone can create and upload their own routes for others to share.
With each new release of Trainz to date we have added or expanded functionality in each different aspect of the program; world building and track laying tools, content sharing programs, and simulation aspects such as physics, signalling and AI. We have prepared a Feature Comparison page to show just how much is included in each new version of Trainz and what is new in this next version.
With the upcoming 2009 release, in addition to the new functionality, we are also making major changes to some of the core engine systems. With optimisations to the Auran Jet engine for TS2009, a whole new level of detail and realism will be possible. Firstly there is "quad terrain" which works on a 5m grid (previously it was 10m) which allows four times the detail for terrain and textures. There is support for higher polygon and higher texture resolution models as well as new materials such as gloss maps on the ground texture. Also, with new methods to handle placement of the same object many times, forests can be denser and traffic heavier on the roads. These are probably the biggest changes to Trainz since the introduction of steam engines and interactive industries in 2004 and it marks the beginning of a whole new era of providing everything a rail fan needs to recreate their dream railroad.
With our continuing focus on improving the tools and support, users can continue to develop more realistic and more entertaining worlds. This in turn means better content for everyone. With TS2009, we also wanted to ensure all users had a window into that exciting world of Trainz that lies beyond the content in the box and the result is the new "Trainz Online" in-game web browser.
With Trainz Online, uses will be able to create and search for content just like on the World Wide Web. In addition to searching for information and content created by other Trainz fans users will also be able to post to the forums, add to and search the Trainz Knowledge Base, ask or answer questions in online chat channels, post screenshots to their own Trainz Gallery; and much more, all without leaving the game.
New pages can be created using the open source "Joomla" Content Management System. These pages could be to showcase payware or freeware content, to update your roster of drivers on virtual railroad operating procedures, or to provide tutorials for other users. Of course there will be ideas emerge that no-one has even thought of yet. Once people discover how easy it is to add their own pages and to search for content that interests them, we are confident the Trainz community will grow at "Internet speed".
TS2009 will include the familiar Surveyor, Driver, Railyard, Content Manager and Content Creator modules and of course the new Trainz Online module. It will come with a huge range of built-in content from previous editions to ensure backwards compatibility and a straight forward upgrade path We realize many users have invested thousands of hours into creating their own routes and we want to ensure they can be up and running quickly and easily in TS2009.
Using the new TS2009 tools and code support, once old routes are imported they can be updated by reworking the terrain and textures (adding more detail), and upgrading scenery and trackside objects with new higher resolution objects as they become available. All these systems are designed to ensure TS2009 is like a virtual hobby kit that allows people to quickly and easily create their rail world and bring it to life.
To deliver TS2009 into everyone's hands as soon as possible so they can start upgrading their routes with new content, it will only be available to order online in either Digital Download or DVD versions. We are aiming for a November 2008 release to allow time for delivery prior to Christmas (expected price $29.99).
Following the release of TS2009 we will be working with a number of content creation groups to develop the best quality routes ever seen, for inclusion in Trainz Simulator 2009: Engineers Edition (TEE). TEE will be released both online and through retail stores early in 2009 (expected price USD$29.99). This process allows more time for the routes to be completed and tested and also reduces the price which ensures wider distribution in retail channels and higher sales volume.
TEE will include a simplified Content Manager and will not include the Surveyor or Content Creator modules. With the new Trainz Online module, users will be able to discover and download new freeware and/or payware content. There will be a new interface which will allow users to set their "Driver Session Parameters" and also for trains to be placed on the tracks from within Driver.
Users can upgrade from TEE to the full TS2009 edition to gain access to Surveyor and the additional content creation utilities, and similarly, TS2009 owners can decide if they want to purchase the new routes and content that comes with TEE or not.
Depending on the quantity and quality of content developed with the new tools, we also plan to release "Route Packs" (e.g. an 1850's steam pack) or smaller Regional Editions at regular intervals. It is our goal that all content in these new releases will be fully updated to the new Trainz 2009 standards.
To cap off our current plans, we will continue working on new features and support throughout 2009 culminating in the release of Trainz Simulator X (working title) to celebrate 10 years of creating rail simulations. The highlight of this edition will not only be the wonderful new high resolution, high detail content that will have been developed with the new 2009 tools, but also the introduction of Trainz Multiplayer. This has been far and away the most requested feature and we look forward to further expanding the online experience Trainz offers.