As of late I've turned my attention back to finish off a number things that still bugged me about the MacTier Sub V1.5. Unlike the first two updates which were just fixing of minor issues, this update is more substantial and essentially brings the CP MacTier up to the same levels of completed detailing as was done to the earlier CN Blackfoot V2 project. The result is an update package that will contain the following:
1) Switchstands Added Everywhere
I never added these originally to the MacTier Sub. -- Why not? -- Well, I used the only good Canadian switchstands available for the CN Blackfoot Sub, but impeccable models they are they are also over 2500-polys per stand. Ouch!!! Put a number of these in a big yard (like Vaughan Intermodal) and your framerates take a serious downturn. I know this will not be such an issue with Open Rails, but MSTS is still around. Also the creator made these in (I think) GMax and exported them sideways into MSTS models. This makes planting them in the Route Editor a real bear.
Well after threatening to do this for years, I finally spent some time in Google Sketchup and created these babies...
Hi- and low- version manual stands, and a CTC remote machine. Nowhere near as nicely detailed as the GMax ones, but they're also only around the 500-poly mark or lower. You can plant 20-40 in a yard without a serious FPS drop.
So now switching out Honda autoracks in Spence Yard will give you scenes like this...
2) Added Switch Heaters
Back prior to 1991, the ABS section of the MacTier Sub still had all manual throw switches at passing sidings. CP installed remote machines to accommodate caboose-less trains, but were too cheap to install full CTC here (it's only part of their transcon, not important really), or even switch heaters initially. Well everyone knows it snows in Canada, and eventually CP figured that out too. So the propane heating system on the MacTier Sub is a newer installation, and I finally got around to assembling a decent MSTS version.
So all the controlled turnouts at passing sidings have proper detailing completed.
3) Improved terrain textures
I wish there were a manual somewhere about the optimal creation of terrtex and terrain transfer .ace files. Maybe there is, but I've never found it. I knew it was possible because Tundra's CZ Greenery package from 2004 had all DTX compressed terrtex files that still rendered great in the sim. Well it took me a few years, but now I know the secret - it's called selecting "Point Filter" in TgaTool2. The results are in this MacTier update too...
Spence Yard cuts in the MSTS tiles on a diagonal. So terrtex .ace files with farm fields on 45 degree angles were used to create the farmland neighbouring either side of Spence. These rendered "mushy" in the sim because I didn't know how to export the original artwork properly. Not any more, resolution is improved and these fields render nicely now.
Oh, and I included a 'grassy' microtex.ace file of 512x512 texture size.
4) I wanna rock...
Well in "Shield Country" there's more rock then you can handle. I didn't think there were enough rock outcroppings on the northernmost 30 miles of the route, so more were added. You need to be smart about these things too. The screenie below shows where one would expect to see a rock face. Right at a hill where the CPR obviously had to blast out the bedrock to maintain the grade.
5) Yard Cam
I forgot I did this on the CN Blackfoot, so now the CP MacTier has the #7 Yard Cam enabled all over the route. This allows you to capture extreme fish-eye lens screenshots like this now...
Looks like an Open Rails shot huh? I guess this cam helps with making switching moves too.
Well I can't very well 'show' this one in a screenshot. But aside from the talking detectors I forgot about external sound-sources on the MacTier Sub (even though the Blackfoot had it). Steve West (Noisemaker here) has given us some wonderful MSTS sound clip packages that few routebuilders have discovered. I'm helping to change that. I was careful not to use woodland sounds that contained lots of crickets and frogs, that way when running train in winter it won't sound stupid. Just wind and birds chirping. It does help make the MSTS experience come alive when railfanning in #4 view now.
7) Train Info
I updated the MacTier Sub guide to include the trains running in 2011, since CP closed their Ottawa Valley line last year and re-routed all their Montreal trains via Toronto and the MacTier Sub. This should help the activity creators out there.
None of this will effect pre-existing activities, these are all just eye (and ear) candy changes. Hoping to have this done and tested in a week or so, so stay tuned.