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Thread: Official FAQ for Open Rails v645

  1. #1
    mnjrr Guest

    Default Official FAQ for Open Rails v645

    FAQs ORTS v645 effective March 9, 2011.

    What is Open Rails?

    Open Rails is an open source train simulator project.

    Is Open Rails freeware?


    Is Open Rails just an improved version of, or a big patch to MSTS?

    Open Rails is not an improvement to MSTS, but a complete new game platform that can read MSTS routes, activities, consists, and train sets. It currently uses the MSTS entries in the Windows registry to locate where your MSTS files are on your computer to read them into the Open Rails game engine. Open Rails does not utilize or change any original MSTS 1 code. Open Rails will eventually be a completely stand alone sim, once suitable utilities have been developed for it.

    Is there a downloadable version available?

    Version 645 of the Open Rails software will be available at starting on March 9, 2010 at 9 a.m United Kingdom time which is 4 a.m EST in the United States.

    Can I use my collection of MSTS locomotives and rolling stock with Open Rails?

    The short answer is 'yes', but with some limitations due to the early nature of the development program.

    Can I use my collection of MSTS routes with Open Rails?

    The short answer is 'yes', but with some limitations due to the early nature of the development program.

    Can I use my collection of MSTS activities with Open Rails?

    The answer is “yes,” though to a limited degree for the time being. Open Rails can currently read and duplicate certain elements from the original MSTS activity, such as the location of where the activity begins, the time of day, the scheduling of AI traffic, and placement of consists.

    Does Open Rails use MSTS Bin?

    You do not need MSTS Bin to run Open Rails, nor are any of the executables from the MSTS software required.

    Does Open Rails improve the performance of MSTS?

    No, Open Rails has no affect whatsoever on the performance of MSTS. Open Rails is a completely new game engine.

    If I install Open Rails, will it change my MSTS files?

    No, Open Rails does not modify any MSTS files. However, because Open Rails is work-in-progress software we suggest you always have a backup of your MSTS installation, just in case.

    Does the Open Rails team have access to the MSTS source code?

    No. The Open Rails team is not attempting to duplicate the efforts that resulted in the BIN patch to MSTS. The Open Rails software is a platform built from the ground up using 100% new code.

    If I were to install Open Rails on my computer that has NO MSTS folders or files, with no MSTS engine installed, will Open Rails work (within its limits)?

    Yes. However, Open Rail will have limited capabilities because the program relies on MSTS content for the time being.

    Will Open Rails improve my frame rates; decrease stuttering; or make my MSTS content look better; improve the lighting compared to MSTS?
    The point of Open Rails is not just better frame rates or display colors, but those may be side effects. Open Rails is more about the future!

    Will Open Rails make my MSTS routes and trains look better?

    MSTS displays textures as 16-bit color even though most are stored as 24 or 32-bit ACE files. Therefore, the foundation is there to support these higher bit textures. Open Rails could provide better lighting effects and texture effects to give a better view of the current MSTS models. Nevertheless, Open Rails will not magically make everything look much better.

  2. #2
    mnjrr Guest


    Open Rails Technical Questions

    What computer specs do I need to run Open Rails?

    In general, Open Rails currently requires the exact same hardware specification as MSTS. Community members have gotten Open Rails to run on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. Some OR users, however, have reported difficulties with operating the program and low FPS because their graphics card does not support pixel shadowing.

    Are the better FPS achieved through Open Rails because the graphics card is doing more of the work in rendering the graphics?
    Yes, Open Rails basically places less demands on the CPU for processing information and rendering the graphics. The GPU and CPU now share these functions.

    Why are there two Open Rails menus?

    Both menus are currently work in progress. We have left it up to members of the train simulator community to decide which menu they would prefer using. You can cycle between the OR Game menu and the basic menu by clicking on switch menu.

    Why doesn't my train operate realistically in Open Rails?

    For the time being, Open Rails has a basic set of controls for operating trains. Presently, there is a very basic power curve, basic braking, and basic resistance, and some basic steam locomotive physics.

    Why don’t I see distant mountains?

    Open Rails does not currently feature distant mountains; however, the development team is currently working on ways to implement this feature.

    How do I change my view?

    You can move about in the route and locomotive in Open Rails with several camera views. The F1 key assignment window details all the views available in Open Rails.

    In version 645+ of the Open Rails software, you can do more than MSTS with BIN. The #4 camera (trackside) automatically jumps as the train passes. Use the #8 key to "unlock" the #4 camera to a fixed view which is movable like all the other cameras. Then just press the #4 key to jump to the next automatic viewpoint. You are able to jump between cars (and to first/last cars) in cameras #2, #3, #4, #5 (cars with passenger views only), #6 (cars at each end of the train only) and head out (cars with head out views only).

    I encounter an error message “Index was out of range and less then the size of the collection.” Is this a problem?

    No, for the casual user, the errors should not be of major concern. As one person wrote, think of these error messages as an “opportunity” to learn about some of the problems with existing routes, locomotives, and rolling stock with MSTS.

    What should I do if I get “Index out of range” effort message?

    Go to the Options tab and move all of the sliders to the highest levels – 10 and 8.

    Last public release, I saw gaps in the track, but I was still able to drive the train over these sections? Can Open Rails now display Dynamic track sections?

    Yes, Open Rails now displays Dynamic track; however, there might be a few visual anomalies present because of different track textures used. For example, certain ScaleRails textures, when viewed in Open Rails, have a flat appearance.

    Does OR have working signals?

    The Open Rails team has a basic signal system in place currently. The team is developing a more comprehensive signal system that will a high standard for simulated railroad signaling operations.

    What should I do if I find problems, issues, or stuff not working with Open Rails?

    The Open Rails is a constantly evolving project that runs on volunteer participation. Please feel free to post questions and comments about Open Rails at the Open Rails forums at,, and Elvas The Open Rails team will be periodically monitoring these forums. If the train simulator community wants to ensure the Open Rails team gets their feedback, please use the feedback form on the Open Rails website at Your feedback helps the team to gauge how well we are doing and /or what additional features you are most interested in us developing. The team will release a summary of the feedback to the train simulator community once we have closed downloads.

    What’s the graphic engine in Open Rails?

    Open Rails currently uses Microsoft XNA technology to display its environment. The XNA technology was developed by Microsoft specifically for computer gaming.

    What about a route editor for Open Rails?
    A new route editor is a long way out on the road map. Community members should plan to use the MSTS route editor for some time to come.

    Open Rails & Other Train Simulators

    Will Open Rails incorporate all the features from MSTS, KRS, RW, and Trainz?

    No, but the Open Rails team’s objective is to provide best features from all of them.

    Does Open Rails support the use of KRS, RW or Trainz content?


    How will we find out more information about Open Rails?

    The official Open Rails web page is at In due time the FAQ will include links to other helpful Open Rails resources.

    Will I be able to contribute my skills to the development of the Open Rails Project?

    The Open Rails team is in need of volunteers to help with developing the Open Rails project, an open source train simulator. We are particularly looking for programmers, who are knowledgeable in C# and have experience working in this language, to join the team and contribute code to the project. Key areas of the project that need volunteer contributions include physics, environmental features, AI, Signaling, and other aspects. If you are interested in joining the Open Rails project, please visit

    Will there be other help available?

    Yes, as time goes by Open Rails users will build on their knowledge base, which we hope will be freely shared and discussed.

    If I want to model for Open Rails, what should I do?

    Continue to build as you would for MSTS 1, if it works in MSTS 1 it should work okay in Open Rails. You can use better textures, more about that later. Your documentation should make it clear the model is for Open Rails.

    What is meant by 'open source' in relationship to Open Rails?

    There are many interpretations for the term open software. Ours is a little different. It is our intent to provide a code platform that users and content creators can rely on into the future. There will be no mystery files or undocumented behavior since the source code will be available for analysis. We will invite the community to participate in improving and extending the code. But we differ from many open source projects regarding copyright. The Open Rails project retains all copyright for the source code. You may not redistribute the source code and you may not use the source code in other projects without our permission. We are taking this approach to discourage splinter projects and to prevent profit making from our volunteer efforts. We will generally approve requests for use of the source code on projects that benefit the community so long as they don't conflict with the previous point. Contact [email protected] for more information. Also, we fully support the commercial enterprises that provide tools, routes, and other content for the virtual rail hobby. This platform is for you as well and we welcome your participation in making the hobby better for us all.

    Are there any other 'open source' programs I can use for my Open Rails projects?

    There are many useful freeware 'open source' developed software packages; some are handy tools for Open Rails modelers.

    One of the most useful is Paint.NET, a paint program with a lot of power and it's all free. Paint.NET is missing a 'spray can', but apart from that it is a 'must have' tool. Google Paint.NET to find out more information. While you are searching, also look for The Gimp, another freeware paint program. Another helpful tool is ConTEXT Editor, which is a freeware text editor suitable for editing ENG, WAG and other data files that require Unicode text.

    Which coding SDK are being used for the Open Rails project?

    Open Rails is being developed using Microsoft's XNA game platform using C# programming language and .Net framework.

    How will textures display in Open Rails?
    Open Rails can only display the resolution of the original ace file. So, if the user has a 1 bit transparency or 8 bit alpha ace file, Open Rails will only display the native resolution of those files -- not full 32 bit color.

    Why doesn't my train operate realistically in Open Rails?

    We have begun our physics implementation in Open Rails. The present physics is similar to MSTS in terms of realism, including weather, slipping and other factors. In the near future, Open Rails will offer advanced physics for diesel, steam and electric locomotives. That will require adding parameters to the ENG or WAG file for theses advanced physics to work. If those parameters are not present, then Open Rails will default to MSTS style physics.

    I am getting really low frame rates (FPS) with locomotives, rollingstock, and route textures that use 1024, 2048, and 4096 textures. What can I do to solve the low FPS?

    Open Rails uses video memory to render scenes. On the other hand, MSTS uses your System RAM to load and manipulate all the textures. MSTS just passes the frame to the video card for rendering - much less stress on your video card. That's why you have the long pause to load the textures, then MSTS moves merrily along to rendering the next scene. For users who are experiencing low FPS, we recommend updating the graphics card.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Brockville, ON, CA


    Here's a question you might want to add to the FAQs...

    Can I use TS Modeler to draw objects for Open Rails?

    Reason I ask is Walter asked about some structures I'm drawing for a MSTS route, my answer included that when I have time I'll probably post the TSM files for the structures. Now that I think about the question and my reply and knowing Walter is working on/in OR, I didn't mean my answer to insult or exclude Walter from using the files, just never occurred to me to find out if objects drawn in TSM can be used in OR... so I'm asking!

    Paul :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA.


    Paul, OR displays any .s file without regard to which CAD software was used to produce it. At some future date there may be additional file types allowed (e.g., whatever Flight Simulator uses, something else, who knows what) but at present nothing has been done on this subject other than noting that such a thing is feasible.
    Dave Nelson

    Seldom visiting, posting less often that that.

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