Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Ehh, seven weeks it's been!  I'm still here though and the route plans are still very much alive. :-)

I've been taking a little bit of a break and also creating a "Route Building Guide" for people working on the outlying parts of the route.  If anyone's interested in seeing this it is available at Suburban Glasgow Route Building Guide.docx.  It's intended for Suburban Glasgow but works for any route in theory.  Just take note of  some of the things mentioned if you do use it for other routes.

I do actually have some screenshots to show you though.  The route building guide in question is based on the stretch between Clarkston and Busby, which I completed as I was writing the guide, so I could reference work in progress etc.

Here we are looking back towards Clarkston from Overlee Playing Fields:

The viaduct across the White Cart, looking north:

and finally, from Busby itself:

The up and down platforms are not aligned, as you can see here!

So I'm not quite ready to get stuck in to the next phase of route building hammer and tongs, but it's not that far away...  Maybe expect to hear from me in a month or so, with the continuation from the M80 towards Gartcosh and Cumbernauld.  Cheers!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Hello and welcome to Suburban Glasgow version 6.0h!

If you'd asked me 6 months ago what that meant I'd probably have told you that the Cumbernauld and East Kilbride lines were completed, but obviously that's not the case now since the scope has completely changed! (these will be Phase 6.1).

So to recap, this version is:

- everything that was Suburban Glasgow Phase 5.2 with a handful of fixes
- Edinburgh to Glasgow (the DPS extended version with Stirling and Carstairs)
- West Highland Line South
- West Highland Line Extension
- Glasgow Airport Rail Link (with the actual airport bit removed, funnily enough)
- The original UKTS Oban Line

Thanks to Thomson and Milepost for permission to include their products in this merged route, and also to Darren Porter and Michael Hamilton for permission to include their work too.  As previously mentioned, I've altered the textures to work with Suburban Glasgow so they may now look a bit different for some routes than originally intended.

Obviously, the increased scope of the route has required me to add more DLC to the list of requirements.  These are now (for the core route at least):

WCML North
WCML Over Shap
Edinburgh to Glasgow
London Faversham High Speed
West Highland Line South
West Highland Line Extension
Glasgow Airport Rail Link

The UKTS Oban Line is included in the route so nothing more needs to be downloaded for it.

Installation of the route is exactly as it was before, with the Workshop route getting set up and verified, then the detail pack installed on top of it.  As the route is now enormous, it's even more important that steps 4 and 5 in the detail pack instructions are followed to the letter, or else you'll end up with something that keeps crashing.

It's maybe also worth mentioning that I've not been able to have all the scenarios tested by second eyes (but I've tested them all myself) simply due to the fact that some of them are extremely time consuming with the longest taking almost eight hours.  If anyone finds they get 95% of the way through one of the longer scenarios and then something breaks, please be gentle!!  If you complete any of the 3+ hour scenarios then I'd appreciate it if you could let me know, so I can sign it off as complete. :-)

People who have made their own scenarios for previous versions of Suburban Glasgow might need to tweak a few things here and there to get them to continue to work, as I have had to raise/lower track here and there to make it connect to the various routes.  It shouldn't be much though (hopefully).

So as always, I'm going to go away and take a break to do something completely un-train-sim related, in this case playing Red Dead Redemption 2, before I come back and get started on some proper route building - coming back to the M80 and continuing the line to Stepps and Gartcosh Junction along with the Busby area.

I've also made some enhancements to the "route origin move" tool I developed to do some other things - like mass batched asset swaps, with the ability to swap single assets for multiple assets (picking them at random - good for trees etc), while resizing and rotating (only 90/raising them etc too if desired.  I'll be using this to experiment with replacing the ageing Kuju trees etc I have in the route with the more recent 3D ones.  It can be done on a per-tile basis too so it's possible you'll see updates creep in to future versions bit by bit, perhaps along with updated modernised OLE (again, per tile, so you might not see it all updated at once).  None of this is in this recent version though and it may be several months yet before any of it creeps in to released versions, so don't hold your breath!

Finally, for those who do not want the large merged route, a version of Suburban Glasgow Phase 5.2 will continue to be available in the Older Versions section of the website.

So I think that's it for the moment (until I remember and come back and post some more!).  Enjoy the latest phase and please let me know how you get on!

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=907769903
http://www.suburban-glasgow.org.uk/home/detail-pack/

Cheers
Iain

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Good evening!  Well, it has been a long time, hasn't it?

So I've learned a good bit more about working on huge routes since the last post!  Basically, the route editor is every bit as capable for huge routes as it is for small routes, however capable you think that might be.  Other than the age it takes to save Tracks.bin, it performs pretty much exactly the same and is perfectly adequate.

Now the Scenario Editor on the other hand, was not designed for this!  Goodness me, no chance.

Basically, the reason it's taken so long to get to this stage is that it has taken a long time to get the scenarios ready due to limitations in the editor.  It's always been the case that you try creating and testing a scenario, something doesn't work like an AI doesn't move as expected, you fix it, start again and so on and so forth until the scenario is ready.  But for scenarios that can last up to eight hours this just isn't feasable!  Thankfully I didn't come across an error seven hours in to the Alcan scenario or else I'm sure my PC would have been thrown out the window.  However, I did have to restart the 6Y15 and 1Y44 scenarios several times, several hours in to them, so it's a very slow and frustrating process.

Anyways, we're here now, so here are some screenshots from the West Highland Line scenarios.

Starting with 1Y44 - from Mallaig to Queen St.  Passing the Jacobite at Glenfinnan:

Next up was a 1980s Class 37 hauled service from Fort William to Queen St, using the new Armstrong Powerhouse Class 37:

6Y15, the TTA wagons run to Fort William Yard in winter.  Passing Red Road (ok, it's demolished, I've taken a bit of route-builders-license here!):

....Helensburgh Upper, at the start of the West Highland Line:

....and passing Corrour:

Finally, 6S45, the Alcans scenario.  Thankfully this was a straightforward test!  At Craigendoran Junction:

....at Horseshoe Bend:

....crossing Rannoch Moor:

....west of Tulloch:

....and finally, working the Alcan Smelter itself:

So for the actual release, I'm hoping to get the next full version released as early as next week.  However, if anyone wants to help testing scenarios in the meantime, I can give access to the pre-release version just now!  This offer is also available to anyone that wants to start creating their own scenarios.

Watch this space and I'll update you when the next release is ready!

So in other news... :-)

I'm delighted to say that I'm getting a bit of help with the route these days.  Not just for scenarios and testing, but even route building is getting to the stage now where it's not just me.  So introducing Callum Gordon, who will be adding in the scenery to the line from Stirling to Alloa.  This is scheduled to be part of Phase 6.1, approximately towards the end of the year, which makes the scope now:

- Springburn to Gartcosh and Coatbridge
- Busby to East Kilbride
- Stirling to Alloa

I'll give Callum access to this blog as well so he can give an update from time to time too.

Finally, I've created a new section on the website for Forms outlining key information for the more involved scenarios.  This is at:

http://www.suburban-glasgow.org.uk/home/downloads/form-downloads/

and is already available so you can get an idea what the new/extended scenarios are going to be like. :-)

So I think that's it this time.  Take it easy!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Hello again...  I've decided to make an additional blog post to address several questions I've been getting since making the merged route...

These questions all revolve around enhancements and extensions, and whether or not I plan to do this and that.

So let me break everything down...  For potential changes, there are four types:

1) things I plan to do
2) things I might do eventually
3) things I'd love to do but probably never will
4) things I have no intention of doing

It all sounds pretty obvious, but let me give you a different list now. :-)

Here is the list of things I plan to do after the big merge is complete:

- create scenery from Springburn to Greenhill Lower (about 9 months)
- create scenery from Busby to East Kilbride (about 3 months)
- create scenery from Airdrie to Newbridge Junction via Bathgate (about a year)
- create scenery from Carfin to Midcalder Junction via Shotts (about a year)

So when someone asks me if I'm going to do things like electrify the Edinburgh to Glasgow line, recreate the route with easements where there are none (EtoG, WCMLNorth, GARL), recreate the electrified sections with newer OHLE, replace the older foliage with newer versions etc etc, the first question I would ask is, exactly when do you mean?  Are you asking if I'll drop my current plans and do this instead then I'm afraid the answer is definitely no.  If you're asking if I'm going to do it in 3 years after all the other stuff is done, then, well, that's 3 years from now - I have no idea what I'll be doing!!

So the answer to all these things is somewhere between 2) and 3).  I would like to do all these things, but I'll not be doing them any time soon.  But three years from now when all the other stuff is done? Who knows!

The only thing that might change here is if someone else offers to do some of the updating instead of me, leaving me with time to do the stuff I plan to do.  This might work for some (but not all) updates, but it would be severely limited by a number of things:

- The Tracks.bin file, which is one single file, can only be updated by one person at a time.  This means that if I released the file to someone to be updated with this and that, then it's not available to me to work on during this.  As I'm hammering changes to the file left, right and centre just now, this isn't really practical!  This rules out other people making OHLE changes, for example.  Also, significant track changes (easements etc) are likely to break existing scenarios so I'd be hesitant to allow it at all.

- I have reuse permissions for the parts of the route that I have not created myself (all of it except Suburban Glasgow, basically).  This has been given with the caveat that I use the Workshop to distribute it, which means I cannot use my own custom assets, or for that matter, any assets that are not on Steam.  This rules out quite a lot, unfortunately, like the use of custom OHLE or any redesigned nameboards or other items that people might have created.

- I've had a few people offering me some changes and updates they've made to WCMLNorth or Edinburgh to Glasgow to make them a bit more up to date.  However, once a route has been merged in to another route, it effectively becomes part of it and cannot be merged again.  Therefore, I'm afraid I cannot accept changes made to the core routes that are contained in the merge.  I'd need to know about and include the changes before doing the original merge for this to work!

But despite everything I've just said here, there is scope for some updates to be done by other people, if anyone was so inclined.  If someone offered to do pure scenery updates to some of the merged in routes (to specific tiles, with no track changes, keeping in line with the look and feel of the route in general) then I'd certainly consider it.  And of course, the scenery part of the route building itself is now open to others, with the Alloa line already in development by Callum Gordon!

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Evening!

Just another quick post to say I've uploaded another test version of the route to the Workshop as Suburban Glasgow Test Version.  This update only contains changes to the Workshop route.  Note, however, that you will still need to reinstall the latest test detail pack once you verify the Workshop route is version 6.0d as pulling the Workshop will overwrite some of it.

This version has:

- further changes to the West Highland Line South section to bring it up to date with modern day signage etc
- smoothed out a handful of gradient changes on the Edinburgh to Glasgow section
- added a bit of detail to Stirling station.  It may be added to the detail pack eventually, in which case there will be even more detailing.

This is going to be the last test version before I move everything over to the live Suburban Glasgow version and start updating/extending all the scenarios, with one or two additions. :-)

Just one quick pic for today.  Stirling station, facing north, from the new version:

The platforms are a lot brighter than I'd like to be fair as I used concrete blocks to fill them in!  I may try and darken them somehow, some time, but it's fine(ish) for now...

Will give an update later on when I'm well in to the scenario creation...

Cheers
Iain

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Latest test version, 6.0b online now...

Changes are:

- more detail on the WHL South section of the route
- addition of GARL.  For this I have removed the actual airport link and freshed up a few things here and there.

As always, please install the Workshop route and ensure the version in Finnieston Siding is 6.0b before even starting to look at the detail pack.

Any issues or feedback, please let me know!

Cheers
Iain

Friday, 7 June 2019

Evening all...

Just over a week of the first test version of the route being released, and nice to see lots of pics of the run from Edinburgh to Fort William or even Mallaig appearing!

From what I've seen, the route has been completely stable, so I'm going to update it with the next part of the merge - GARL, with the airport link removed, which I guess makes it just G!

There is one small issue here, particularly for people who have been creating scenarios on the first version.  It's probably best that I show you this with a couple of pics as it's easier to explain!


Notice how the descriptive text is Larbert Platform 1 but the internal name for the platform is just Platform1.  This is actually what gets stored in scenarios - not the descriptive name!

So in a standalone route this is fine as Railworks will always assign a unique name to it.  But then again, look at this from Paisley St James in GARL!


I'm sure you see the issue here - the internal names are duplicated between the two. :-)

So to fix this I basically created a quick macro to scan through Tracks.bin and update anything with a default Destination, Siding, Platform or Portal marker, and copied the descriptive name in to the internal name.  Worked fine, but I'm afraid scenarios that have already been created on the first merged route will break from this point on, unless individually fixed by manually going in to the scenario editor and updating each broken destination on every train and piece of AI in the scenario!

Well, I guess this is why we have test versions!

I'll make a small update when the next version is online, which also includes several changes to the speed limits and signage on the West Highland Line.

Cheers
Iain