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Default Replacement Tracks - Option 1 (ATracks)

File date: 2024-05-23 19:00:00
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    Default Track Replacements

    There's a discussion going over at Elvas on this, but I thought I'd share some of what's going on... a few of us are tackling replacement default track shapes for the A1T's commonly used with XTracks and the default routes.

    This replacement project will come out to a couple thousand shapes by the time all is said and done.

    Never one do to things on a small scale when you can go Texas size.... and tonight I tested bigly. 217 pieces of track auto-generated tonight in about 20 minutes using the US_Tracks profile. Looks infinitely better than Kuku/XTracks...

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    This first batch was the proverbial low hanging fruit --
    • All of the straights for A1T, A2T and A3T
    • A1T Curves in 1/5/10/20 degrees for the following radii:

      75 - 90 - 100 - 120 - 150 - 175 - 200 - 250 - 280 - 340 - 380 - 400
      500 - 600 - 700 - 750 - 800 - 900 - 1000 - 1500 - 2000 - 2500
      3000 - 3500 - 4000 - 5000 - 6000 - 7000 - 8000
    Yes, I know it exceeds the defined pieces A1T's but if the script that's doing the real work is going to crank them out "for free" I might as well generate them.

    The medium lifting is next ---
    • Building out the JSON for the 2T - 8T curves
    • Building out the JSON for Straight sections 4T-10T

    After that, the work gets a lot more tedious --
    • Simple A1T switches
    • Standard A1T Crossovers

    Switchstands may be a bit problematic for Kuju/Xtracks because of the naming. Scalerail has the M and IM variants which place the switchstand outside or inside the curve. XTracks didn't do that because they didn't have switchstands...

    Ideas on how to accommodate that are welcome.​
    If you like what you see here at Trainsim.com, be it the discussions and knowledge in the forums, items saved in our library or the ongoing development of our TSRE Fork, I hope you'll consider a paid membership to help support keeping the site operating.... Thanks!

    #2
    This will be an excellent replacement for all routes that still use the Kuju/XTracks mixture!
    -Shawn K-
    Derby Rail Shops
    Maine Central Mountain Division: 20% Track, 10% Scenery.

    Comment


      #3
      Eric,

      I hate to be nasty but radius means nothing in doing a US route. I'll continue to use M-tracks as much as possible. All of my past and future routes are done for existing or not abandoned very long ago routes and I use track charts. Track charts state the curve in degrees. There is a well known (to surveyors) constant (5729.7) which if divided by the degree of curve will provide the radius in feet. It is good up to about 10 degrees. Likewise in meters this constant would be 1746.86 and so a 10 degree curve would be 174.686 meters radius, or effectively 175 so you have included that. We cannot have an infinite number of curve sizes, while any value is legitimate in the real world if it is less than about 19 degrees in standard gauge or 24 degrees in narrow gauge. You jump from 175 meters (10 degrees) to 200 meters (8.73 degrees). This is approx. 8 degrees 44 minutes so I would use it if I had a 8 degree-30 minute curve but for a 9 degree, I would use M-tracks 9 degree curve piece. I noticed track textures like yours in the Bluefield East route done by Austin Yoder some years ago and in the future, I will use those instead of putting texture files under the track. While easy to do in TSRE, they just don't look great in ORTS, maybe because I have a low end graphic card. Those new pieces do look really great though, especially the more legitimate rail shape.

      Jerry Sullivan, P.E. (retired from CSX, SR, C&TS Friends Docents)

      Comment


        #4
        Nah, no offense taken. Unfortunately, it's the way the game was designed.

        I stopped using XTracks 15 years ago, and likely wouldn't use these myself, but it's really intended to provide:
        1. A hands off upgrade to the hundreds of routes in the library which still have default tracks
        2. An alternative to those who never purchased MSTS and wouldn't have a legal path for obtaining them
        They'll have the A1T naming convention and share the same shape index, so they'll be a a one-for-one direct replacement intended to overwrite the defaults when loaded into an existing GLOBAL\SHAPES folder.

        EricC was possibly going to work on a profile that meets most needs -- probably 130lb rail with wood ties and cut ballast for drainage. There will need to be one for concrete tracks as well.

        That said.... the utility that was created for this is not just limited to XTracks, US Tracks or Scalerail. There's nothing preventing the creation of new MTracks, DB Tracks, or UKFinescale. Narrow gauge. Tram curves. Monorail or maglev channels. All possibilities...

        I'm a fan of 4m track spacing, which is similar to MTracks, so this is a godsend in that I've been able to fill the gap on some two and three track curves for my 1900's built CNW mainline. I've avoided the 5M Kuju spacing for my own builds.

        You could have a more complete set of curve pieces in theory by using a custom TSection / miniroute approach. As I've offered for Shawn and others, if there are track sections in MTracks you need but can't find, let me know. The profile takes a little work, but once that's done, it's literally minutes of work to create a half dozen track pieces.

        But for this, the scope is somewhat limited: the 250 or so Default Tracks, and a follow-on set to replace the XTracks base set by Okrasa Ghia and then the additions by Steven Masters. They've served us well, but it's time for a facelift.
        Last edited by eric; 01-03-2024, 12:53 PM.
        If you like what you see here at Trainsim.com, be it the discussions and knowledge in the forums, items saved in our library or the ongoing development of our TSRE Fork, I hope you'll consider a paid membership to help support keeping the site operating.... Thanks!

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by eric View Post
          Nah, no offense taken. Unfortunately, it's the way the game was designed.

          I stopped using XTracks 15 years ago, and likely wouldn't use these myself, but it's really intended to provide:
          1. A hands off upgrade to the hundreds of routes in the library which still have default tracks
          2. An alternative to those who never purchased MSTS and wouldn't have a legal path for obtaining them
          They'll have the A1T naming convention and share the same shape index, so they'll be a a one-for-one direct replacement intended to overwrite the defaults when loaded into an existing GLOBAL\SHAPES folder.

          EricC was possibly going to work on a profile that meets most needs -- probably 130lb rail with wood ties and cut ballast for drainage. There will need to be one for concrete tracks as well.

          That said.... the utility that was created for this is not just limited to XTracks, US Tracks or Scalerail. There's nothing preventing the creation of new MTracks, DB Tracks, or UKFinescale.

          You could have a more complete set of curve pieces in theory by using a custom TSection / miniroute approach. As I've offered for Shawn and others, if there are track sections in MTracks you need but can't find, let me know. The profile takes a little work, but once that's done, it's literally minutes of work to create a half dozen track pieces.

          Eric,
          I've been blasting away at the MEC Mountain Division route again, of course, using Scalerail. I haven't popped onto the DAR line to see what is needed to convert everything over to the US3 Tracks that I was using for that route. I believe it's mainly just the switches that need to be swapped, I am currently unsure if there are any dynamic tracks used.
          -Shawn K-
          Derby Rail Shops
          Maine Central Mountain Division: 20% Track, 10% Scenery.

          Comment


            #6
            That sounds awesome, definitely beyond my capabilities here. At any rate, will definitely be welcomed.

            There are a lot of routes out there I am sure will benefit greatly.
            M. Payne

            Comment


              #7
              Hi Eric,

              That looks absolutely fantastic.

              Will this mean the "berm" will be superelevated with the track - if so - that would be a big improvement.

              One thing I tried with the old track system (default, X) that looked good - was placing a feathered black shadow on the texture - underneath the rail - so that only the feathered black halo was visible on the ties. It gives the rail a "presence" on the tie texture. The issue was the mappings under the rails weren't uniform - so the black halo became disjointed and offset as many of the track pieces fit together. I had to remove it. If procedural rail can fix that - it would be another big plus.

              I'm not a gandy dancer - would this work on Paul Charland's routes (when complete)?

              Thanks.

              Regards,
              Scott
              <a href=https://www.trainsim.com/forums/filedata/fetch?filedataid=80663&type=full title=thumb_80663.png >thumb_80663.png</a>​ My Blender Models

              Comment


                #8
                Ultimately, the goal of the project is to completely overwrite the default and XTracks shapes with new ones, so the end user would have two tasks to complete:

                1. Install the new shapes into the global folder and overwrite the old ones
                2. Copy the new texture file to the appropriate texture folder in each route that uses the default track or XTracks

                The track profile that I ended up with is very similar to the default track in TS20xx, and, in fact, it's much like a finescale version of the default Kuju track with the correct railhead width, a proper gradient on the ballast, and competent mapping (e.g., the right half of the ballast is mapped to the right side of the texture, and the left is mapped to the left side, rather than being off-center like the Kuju tracks). All track and tunnel textures are in a single map to reduce drawcall counts. That map looks like this:

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                This is a reduced-size image. The full map is 2048 pixels square and loops every 24m, which is the closest integer meter length to 78 feet, or twice the standard US jointed rail length of 39 feet. This is because each rail is mapped separately, meaning you can draw staggered or non-staggered joints on the tracks to represent jointed rail.

                The base profile looks like this:

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                This profile has 18 triangles per segment as it consists of 9 square polygons. The ballast is correctly graded based on a CP standard and is the same width (5m) as the default ballast. This means that the ballast may go below the ground in some situations. In my experience, most older routes have floating track anyway, so I don't think it'll be a huge issue.

                Tunnel profiles were also created, complete with endcaps:

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                The space to the right of the texture map will be used for switch stands. Several of the default track shapes had stands integrated into them, so a suitable stand will need to be present in the replacement shapes. The XTracks shapes don't have stands in them, so it makes sense to not have stands in the replacements as any routes using XTracks probably have separate stands placed anyway.

                One final note: before suggesting ideas or changes, consider the scope of the project. The intent isn't to create a new system with all of the bells and whistles. We have USTracks and Scalerail for that already. The intent is to create a suite of shapes that overwrite the existing default and XTracks shapes. Anything that isn't in those shapes shouldn't be in the new ones, and anything present in those shapes should also be present int he matching new shape. The end user shouldn't have to touch TSRE or the route editor, their only tasks should be to first paste the new shapes into the global folder, overwriting the old ones, and then paste the appropriate textures into their route folders.
                Last edited by Erick_Cantu; 01-04-2024, 10:47 AM.
                sigpic

                Comment


                  #9
                  Erik C. - that is quite appetizing. Thanks to both Erik and Eric!
                  Neil

                  Chicago Railroading Fan

                  Comment


                    #10
                    This is both a very ambitious an exciting project. It'll definitely be a great step towards giving older freeware routes a solid scenery upgrade.
                    Kyle

                    NYC - Road of the Future

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Indeed.

                      I've almost got the initial script for generating all of the geometry JSON's done.

                      Right now, including all A1T straight and curves (no tunnel/bridge/exotics), and all A2T - A10T straights (again, no tunnel, bridge or exotics), it's up to 480 pieces. There are considerably more curves now than what I posted earlier this week, and I've decided to only limit to what's in the TSection for A1T. I *could* publish more, but that's not in scope just yet...

                      Generating the JSON and executing the two batch files to create the individual JSON files followed by building the track shapes runs about 8 minutes for that subset.

                      For testing... I'm using the ORTS Starter Route and replacing all the A*T shapes in that isolated GLOBAL directory.


                      Before:

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                      Midpoint (rookie mistake, the curves are supposed to be negative, not positive):

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                      So far, it's been a simple swapout -- replace the shapes and ensure the appropriate textures are in the {route}\TEXTURES folder.

                      It's easy to see what's old and what's new, and as the bridge shot shows (ballasted curve used instead of a bridge shape), it might uncover a few route building flaws here and there, but it definitely looks much better to me.

                      I'll have some more screenshots in a couple hours -- I'm attempting to do a few turnouts next.​
                      If you like what you see here at Trainsim.com, be it the discussions and knowledge in the forums, items saved in our library or the ongoing development of our TSRE Fork, I hope you'll consider a paid membership to help support keeping the site operating.... Thanks!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        That looks fantastic. hats off sir.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Still on the BNSF Scenic aka ORTS Starter Route....

                          These are the finished turnouts -- dynamic track is still Kuju'd in this shot:

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                          In this shot, I've applied the TrackProfile and stf file for USTracks -- you can see a slight anomaly where the dynamic track starts and generated track ends. That's somewhat normal with DT since by design it's not exactly precise (and yet another reason I try not to ever use it).


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                          Little to no doubt that the rail tops are at the right height.... no melting into the rails or hoverboarding here:


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                          If you like what you see here at Trainsim.com, be it the discussions and knowledge in the forums, items saved in our library or the ongoing development of our TSRE Fork, I hope you'll consider a paid membership to help support keeping the site operating.... Thanks!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            you make a good point on that eric. when did you get so smart and a that make you a good admin jdark34

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Looking real nice, Eric!!!
                              Neil

                              Chicago Railroading Fan

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