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Thread: Progress on the BC RAIL Route

  1. #1
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    Default Progress on the BC RAIL Route

    I will now resume posting upgrades on some work still being performed, on the BC RAIL Route team project . At this point in time, there would be myself ( Jean Brisson ), and team member Jim Stotesbury , still actively working on this project . The current objective is to simply bring the Route , to a point where the development is balanced all over, and sufficient, to allow for a "version 1" release .

    All the trackwork had been 100% completed, and this, a few years ago, already , and this project , always had participants which had demanding time scheduling issues / dealing with the usual real-life constraints, and overall development / progress, always had been stop-and-go .

    Nevertheless, there still is far too much work that already had been done / completed, with this project , itself, and both Jim and I felt this would be a shame to simply leave the project piling dust on the shelves . We are super-thankful that both Steven Masters and Dale Miller, have given us permission to carry on the responsibilities associated with this team project .

    This still will be a real challenge to bring this project to an initial release, in consideration of the size / magnitude of the project . This would be like preparing to release 7 ... conventional "subdivision" type of Routes, as we often see ( as being the most realistic and practical "route size" ) .

    Hope you will enjoy seeing some further / fresh developments, and feel most welcomed to ask questions, or post any comments .

    Jean Brisson Route Builder October 2012

    Here are some InGame screenshots , with comments, to show what I personally have been up to, in the last few weeks . Starting from the North end of the Route , at Prince George, B.C., there are 3 different starting points for paths / activities, so let's start with a first one .

    The first screenshot shows one of the three starting points at the North End of the Route . It will be left undetailed, such as this , or perhaps, add such as forest blocks on the background , as this is the equivalent of a ( model railroading’s ) “staging yard”, and did not originally have all of the required tracks fully laid out , in the first place , to replicate the ( original ) CN railroad yard, at that precise location , in Prince George , British Columbia .

    The water tables have been activated in this area, and sure do change everything , and now make it very tempting to detail this area a bit further . Each of the 3 “staging” tracks can handle a full 100 car train each , for proper AI train spawning .



    Going southbound , our light consist enters a very long / multiple spans, Through Truss bridge .

    A bit of trivia surrounding this very specific MSTS bridge , is that, this was originally provided courtesy of Ron Picardi . Based on real-life photographs, I went about enhancing the textures, for a closer match to the real-life bridge itself . The bridge spans themselves, are of a very slightly different design , but creating exact prototypical replicas of the proper spans , will have to wait for a “version 2”, of this Route project .



    You gotta love those through truss bridges, designed by Ron ! …’-)



    Going fast forward a bit, here, our test train, after crossing the river, had veered to the left, and remained on ( pre-2004 ) CN-owned right of way , very roughly heading in the general direction of Edmonton, Alberta ( I hope I have this right … ) .

    The deck bridge immediately ahead , is the BC RAIL line itself , after it had crossed the same river we just did . It obviously could use some extra support piers , and I still do not have any photos of the real-life bridge itself . I will have to ask my friends in the Historical Societies, if they can hep with this .



    Doing a fair bit of research and preparation, using all available resources such as Google Earth, real-life photos , in addition to a few years ( by now) , of working on the scenery part of this Route project , I feel I did a fair job to capture the overall feel for this specific area of the Route . Make no mistake, here , this required a lot of hard work, but working the north end of the Route , at Prince George , really got me back in the saddle, for some all-out Route Building , that will carry on for the next many months .



    There will be a part 2 to this, tomorrow .

  2. #2
    mnjrr Guest

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    Impressive, and realistic looking scenery work, Jean!

  3. #3
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    It's so realistic it's like being there. Great work Jean. You're raising the standard bar to new heights.
    Steve Burr, PE - Clinton, MD
    Southern Serves the South

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    Part 2

    Some of the screenshots posted, also, are to share with others, how I went about certain things, and not simply for “entertainment” , per se . If sharing some tricks and tips , can get some others to try things on their Route mods, or perhaps on some original routes of their own , that would serve the purpose .

    Still on the CN line , heading eastbound , we still follow the river for about a mile .

    Of special interest , here, is how I went about creating the vegetation cover, that we see towards the top right of the screenshot. As we all know, MSTS is quite pathetic , as far as terrain-shaping, for railroad-built terrain “cuts” . In this situation, here, the cut was covered with thick vegetation, and I had no stomach to use such as “trackside” type brushes, etc , and attempt to “tilt” those to even half-decent position .

    Using a “one-for-one” model shape of mine , replicating one of the “CG” ( 3 dimensional ) narrow treeline , I simply applied the ( 200 meters long ) treeline, straight on top of the track, and then , “slid” it sideways, until it was partially emerging, as shown . If you were to go into wireframe mode, in RE, you would see an entire 200 meters long / 3 dimensional ‘treeline” clump shape, almost 80% buried into the terrain .



    Note just how effective the use of those billboard-type forestlines , truly is, at providing this very effective treetop “jagged edge”, at the top of the Cliffside .

    I use such billboard treelines very-very extensively ( you could even say as a “default” installation, on as many tiles as I possibly can ), as the tree specie is totally appropriate for the Route , to start with , and those ( background billboard forestlines ) , dramatically reduces the need to add forest blocks or standalone trees / tree clumps, to a Route , in order to create a convincing “thick forest” look .

    A new “twist” to the installation of the forestlines, is that I install those , at first , using the ( Gantry.dat ) auto-placement . This will “drop” a solid forestline , straight on top of the track, and then , I simply “multi-select” a number of “panels”, and simply drag those ( “slide “ ), to final position, with a bit of fine-tuning of their rotation and height , due to the fairly rough hillside top terrain contours .



    You may note in this screenshot, yet another texture variation, for some auto-placed trackside grasses & bush shapes . I did a good number of different texture variations , and this type of item, also, I try to make it some kind of “default” , as appropriate to the location.

    Because the terrain at trackside always seems to be very rough , I do have to fine-tune the auto-placements for just about every single auto-applied trackside shapes, but this is totally worth the effort, due to much more “random” and far less “mechanical” / “cookie cutter” look associated with most auto-placed items we have seen .




    I have been returning “in full force” to the use of forest blocks . The trick for me, was to “narrow down” the forest density “range” selected, between 2,000 ( and never lower ), to about 25 to 35,000 , maximum . I also was more cautious with the forest blocks first 2 parameters , to have those as identical to another, as can be , and will have to further experiment using “exact/ same” parameters, for both width and height .
    In as much as I can already see the need to “rejig” the ace textures for this, this is an easy thing to do, if one was to ultimately end up ( for an entire 450 -500 miles Route ), with something like one million identical “entities” …’-)



    Last screenshot may show I do my best to pay close attention to Google Earth screen captures . While this specific spot, also is part of one end-of-the-line ( yet another “staging track” for the Route ), the “clear cut” opening on the left , would resemble what can be seen in Google Earth .

    Google Earth never covers all the bases ( word of caution, here .. ), and for all the screenshots in this part 2, for what shows on the right side … of the screenshots, I had to rely on “on the ground” documentation from photos ( even if those were shot by tourists ) .

    Oddly enough , many such “geo-tagged” photos, from certain “photo galleries” , such as Panoramio and Google’s very own Picasa, will have an “icon” embedded” into the Google Earth Satellite view, and never ignore “clicking” on those very-very tiny “camera” icons, as you may have some significant surprises, at fetching some photos of , say “the Central of New Jersey bridge in that spot”, as viewed from under … the bridge itself ( yielding some priceless model-building clues ) .



    To be continued, obviously …’-)

    Jean Brisson Route Builder

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    Quote Originally Posted by sburr View Post
    It's so realistic it's like being there.
    Steve : I like the way you say this . I am perhaps ( naively ) making all those efforts to bring MSTS into some kind of "Virtual Reality", instead of just remaining within the realms of what we may describe as being "digital model railroading" .

    I do believe there is a place for everything / every approach ( I truly and honestly enjoy everything others are doing, in MSTS ) , but I remain convinced , that , thanks to the dedication, committment, and hard work of so many of you guys , things can only keep getting better.

    As far as the BC RAIL ( MSTS ) Route itself, let's also keep in mind this is a team project , and my own input, still to this day , remains minimal at best ( although this is steadily and gradually changing , one milepost-at-a-time ) .

    Perhaps , as it relates to Walter's comments, I do need to say I have drawn incredible benefits from being allowed even a minor amount of input into this team project he is co-ordinating , and come to think of it, this still fairly recent exposure, directly translates into what can be seen in those ( also recent ), screenshots ( on the BC RAIL Route ).

    Jean Brisson just another Route Builder, somewhere ...

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    Here's a few more screenshots, as of November 6 2012 .

    The following are more or less odds & ends, but what I found interesting , is that , seen in a sequence, those really highlight the teamwork nature of this Route project . In one word, on some screenshots, my own input / participation, actually amounts to barely 2 or 3 % , while on others, up to 75% .

    Also showing parts of Williams Lake , B.C., for which screenshots have rarely been posted so far .

    Hope you guys enjoy !

    Jean Brisson Route Builder





















  7. #7
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    This is a route that I will look forward to. I am particularly impressed by the last image showing the curving bridge
    structure out around a cliff. I'll face that myself when I get around to doing the 2nd sub. of the Milwaukee Rd.
    Coast div. at McClellan's Butte. As I understand it, too much dynamite was used at that spot, and instead of
    blasting a shelf for the 14 degree curve, the entire face of the Butte was blown away making a bridge that ties
    one side into the Butte necessary. This appears to be the type of structure on the BCR as well.

    J. H. Sullivan
    (aka landnrailroader)

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    Quote Originally Posted by landnrailroader View Post
    This is a route that I will look forward to. I am particularly impressed by the last image showing the curving bridge
    structure out around a cliff. I'll face that myself when I get around to doing the 2nd sub. of the Milwaukee Rd.
    Coast div. at McClellan's Butte. As I understand it, too much dynamite was used at that spot, and instead of
    blasting a shelf for the 14 degree curve, the entire face of the Butte was blown away making a bridge that ties
    one side into the Butte necessary. This appears to be the type of structure on the BCR as well.

    J. H. Sullivan
    (aka landnrailroader)

    Feedback : What you may see, on that last screenshot, could very easily have been the location of a wooden trestle, in earlier years . The British Columbia Railway's predecessor, the Pacific Great Eastern, was very much a "narrow gauge" type of railway , and very much one of those "cliffhangers" type of Route . Many wooden trestles had been covered with crushed rock material fill , over the years.


    Jean Brisson

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    Showing some more recent in-progress screenshots . Not everything shown here, is to be considered permanent and “final”, but this is definitely showing an overall direction, for this specific part of the Route , for which I am personally increasingly pleased with .

    Being a team project , what is shown here, still has very little input on my part, although I did a very recent ( actually, just last evening … ), further “fine-tuning”, of some of the tree textures, that seem predominant, in that section of the Route .

    As far as the overall vegetation treatment , if this all starts to “fit together” and blend-in more and more seamlessly , make no mistake…There’s a lot of work “behind the scenes”, and this actually had been unfolding over many years, by now, to eventually harmonize everything being used / from some many different authors .

    The first screenshot shows a grade crossing , where all the world objects already had been in place , and where I only introduced ( to the entire Route ), a whole new set of roadways textures, which are a whole lot closer in replicating typical pavement surfaces, in British Columbia ( and I am sure, a whole lot more areas in North America ) .

    The roadways textures do have an alpha channel component, for the outer edges of the roadway textures, and in this case, here, and “by default”, the shape ( files ) used for such as the Hwy2Lane , and ( “Conrail Indy” ) Cr2 selections, are properly enabled to render alpha channels , “as is” ( from the NewRoads roadways conventional package ) .

    Launching the auto-placed trackside grass ( as shown in another thread ), with all the “pre-populated” vegetation near this Grade crossing, everything blended together very nicely .



    The following screenshot, is to show just how effective random placement of trees, can just about convey the appearance of a forested area . Personally, I do not even see the need to add “forest blocks” to this spot . Even though I may suggest a “random” placement , to achieve such level of credibility , yet another “make no mistake about it” , this does become a “fine art” on its own , and fortunately for this project , here, there are many such examples I can use for reference ( and you could perhaps say , “mentorship” ) .

    Also, note that this screenshot strongly emphasizes the terrtex texture itself, where the exact shade / color, surprisingly enough , took a large number of attempts, to come even close, to the overall “feel” for the geographic region in this part of the Route .

    One compromise I could not overcome, is the necessity to “DXT1-compress” the terrtex ace files I am using ( using 1024 X 1024, exclusively ), and as the result of the compression, a certain amount of “green” gets introduced to the images ( although if you DTX1-compress all your vegetation textures, eventually, it all “evens itself out” nicely , overall ) .



















    One quick note, concerning the above screenshot, at Milepost 341 . Yes, by having access to “top-of-the-food-chain” source of Engineering Documents, for the BC RAIL, I did outright create an exact scale “replica” of a milepost sign , as used on the BCR .

    And , Yes, you could say with “rivethead’ precision, except for the font type, which is the correct one, but, as some may know, there are subtle variations of fonts, such as ‘Bold” / “extended” , etc … and for the font used here ( out of convenience ), this is not the cigar, but pretty darn close .

    Especially for “railroad company” trackside items , I would encourage everyone to go the extra mile, in locating the proper blueprints / documents from Engineering dept. , etc…, as this is significantly rewarding , to have such ( “railroad company” ) trackside details , be designed as very near “photo-replicas” of the real thing . Totally worth the extra effort … ‘-)

    Jean Brisson Route Builder

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    Default Part two for November 23 2012

    Part two



    The screenshot above , shows what ultimately what I had been after, all along ( in as far as a trackside grasses model building , and/ or upgrading & modifications ) , and perhaps we could say “Looks like we’ve got a winner, here” …’-)

    I am sure I am no different than many other Route Builders, when endlessly pursuing something until we hit those ‘woo-hoo-hoo” kind of moments…’-) …. So incredibly rewarding , after some very hard work … ‘-)

    The thing that stands out the most for me, is that the overall texturing of the grass + brushes, is so much more “summerlike” , ( if you want ), such as in late July / August, etc … Also, this is a whole lot closer to the actual trackside vegetation, for this specific “region” , as part of a multiple-ecosystems type of Route ( because of its true North-South traffic flow ) .

    The telephone poles, in the screenshots, are just “tests” for now ( the two are models from other authors / both were “auto-placed, with noticeably different results, if positioned “as is”, according to auto-placement scripts which, also, were not mine ).



    The auto-placed trackside grasses + brush , is actually “floating in the air”, on the left side of this screenshot.

    Depending on the specific spots, I would now much prefer to ( manually ) “raise” the trackside terrain profile, up to the point where it would “support” the bottom part of the shapes, rather than to delete the shape, and manually apply one , that would only cover the trackside as seen, on the right side of the screenshot ( e.g. : applying a ‘”left side-only” shape, or “right side –only” one ).



    Having at least two possible “options” to workaround such “flying grass” syndrome, does help . ‘-)

    Jean Brisson Route Builder

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