Okay without reading anything else in this thread since I last looked, First Impressions as a paying customer - no other agenda!
Install went easily enough but game wouldn't run. A passive check of the Run8 forum revealed this likely to be because I hadn't installed the XNA framework. Sure enough, found that and after installing able to get Run 8. A minor hurdle but given this is a retail product, would have been better if the installer checked the user's system for XNA and offer to install if not found.
Front end menu, well... This is not a very good shopfront at all for the product. As noted elsewhere the manual/help screens have not yet been written. To start a run in SP mode there's a list of train headcodes (to use the UK terminology) on the RHS of the screen, but no description as to what the trains are in terms of power, consist or starting location. I happen to know that the BKDOU (or similar) is the loaded oil tanks from Bakersfield over to Mojave which seemed a good place to start.
After poring over the keyboard instructions posted here I eventually grasped that I needed to move towards the train in freeview mode and select the lead engine to get on board. Up pops a menu with various parameters, I opted for quick start and quick handbrake release. Ctrl-F11 is not exactly mnenomic to get in the cab, but once aboard and set the switches and breakers as described in the forums, there was a nagging EOT message on the MFD. This meant getting off the loco and "walking" (quick travel didn't work) to the rear of the train to set the EOT. Once that was done Ctrl-F11 put me back in the front cab and we're off to Mojave - or so I thought.
At this point a word about the Despatcher screen. It is beautifully designed and a credit to the artist but... the most important functionality - interlocking - appears non-existent. I was able to clear signals in opposite directions which would have caused a collision, I was able to clear signals with points set against them and able to move points while the signal was cleared over them. I also noticed passage of the train was not putting signals back to red behind it. So never mind the kiddies getting in a MMO session and causing havoc, it would be quite easy for whoever is acting as despatcher to overlook something and with no interlocking cause a collision or derailment.
Meanwhile back on the "high iron", chugging along merrily, progress did not exactly seem very gainful, the 1% grade up to Sandcut having reduced speed to around 18 MPH. On a hunch, I called up the DPU screen on the MFD to see if the locos behind mine were working but nothing shown. So it appears (correct me if I'm wrong) on the train prep you need to individually start each loco? Also appears you need to nominate the lead DPU but should that be the loco behind the head end unit or the first mid-train? I know, I'll RTFM - oh dear, there isn't one.
In order to do this I had stopped the train. Following the procedure detailed in one of the text documents I applied Notch 2, released the brakes and promptly started to roll back. Obviously still not got all the locos powering so I went to apply the brakes (which BTW I'm assuming are self lapped positional rather than set and lap) to find there was no pressure in the system, the compressor running was not recharging the main res - eek... runaway!
At this point I did a Casey Jones and jumped to drive another day, i.e. exited the programme.
BTW the Save function is undocumented and only found after scrutinising the Run 8 forum.
Anyhow in conclusion. I actually think Run 8 has great potential but it has tremondous wrinkles and strikes me as still being a work in progress. This should never have been put out in such a raw state and needed a couple of months extra to tidy things up, put a decent front end on it and write up some decent documentation. It is definitely a product for the hardcore simmer. Anyone coming straight from driving a Class 166 turbo in Railworks is going to be in for a massive shock. The learning curve is almost vertical. Run 8 would benefit from a proper structured tutorial and in addition to Tehachapi maybe they should have included a shorter, flat route where noobs could cut their teeth on basic train handling before attempting to traverse the mountains. I think it is worth persevering with but it needs tidying up by the developer fairly quickly and the lack of interlocking on the signalling is a major bug that shouldn't have made it through beta.
Sounds to me like this program had a few hours at the most, of beta testing prior to it's release, if even that much. Any beta tester worth his salt would have never OK'd the release of such buggy software, in my opinion. I guess that is why they put that "No Refund" no matter what statement under the credit card Logo's.