Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: AI (pie in the sky vs. reality)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
    Posts
    3,603

    Default AI (pie in the sky vs. reality)

    OK on that last thread there was an interesting topic that wasn't an issue and that is AI. A question was raised why haven't we seen it in any train simulators? Let me expand from a programming and dispatching point of view, and at least one of the other simulators out there.

    MSTS was one of the first that I recall to use an AI system of having trains run. The model was based on a European system where train lengths where not such an issue, and most trains ran according to schedule. Still an attempt was made to allow some variables to come in play and you had the passing path. The failure with that though is it was based on signal clear ahead, and no regard to timing issues that humans would face. Further more other trains should handle differently depending on the physics as far as weight on one side of the hill vs the other, where loads are compared to empties, etc. HP/Ton in fact is not just the only variable to describe what typically would take a train to arrive on time.

    I really can't say too much about Trainz as it was my only other experience besides Run8. From what I've been told it has one of the best AI's. But from what I recall it was so smart it would take any possible path to the destination regardless of what purpose that track was being used for. For example a passenger heading down a freight line or the other way around, industrial service tracks to get around, etc.

    TD3 is a dispatching simulator that I used for years. As tight as TD3 is as far as interlocking rules goes and running time if you through a signal to stop on an oncoming train, it had a very basic way of simulating how the actual trains were doing. Yes there were random factors involved, but actually simulating tonnage, or what a train was made out of was often relegated to speeds that the designer would set in blocks that would be typical for the train type.

    Having dispatched in TD3 for a long time, I felt very comfortable dispatching in Run8. Not all of the same systems were in place as it was more open ended and not based on a prototype. But the one thing that I first noticed in dispatching Run8 was obviously the human element, but also the train element.

    Now there are many different techniques out there that have their pros and cons, and can be used or adapted depending on the dispatcher's style. I liked using a 30/15 system where I cleared signals every 15 minutes to where I thought a train would be in 30. Often this resulted in good meets well in advance, and if things changed I could always adjust at the 15 minute interval or sooner if necessary.

    But the actual physics of the train involved, not even the HP/Ton value determined how the train would perform. If the train had helpers to push the rear of the train and assist in momentum was a factor. But so was the construct of the train because how loaded a train was and where the loads are though minute when you first look at it becomes a contributing factor over the course of time in a session.

    This is why there are AI dispatching systems in mass transit because many of these things don't come into play. However experiments have been done on freight systems. I've heard reports that a bystander in one of these automated CTC systems actually would see the switch go back and forth from normal and reverse because it was constantly trying to keep up with the expected timing.

    For an AI system to be a success it has to know how to handle all these elements, especially timing and change. It also has to be able to make decisions that in some cases may end up being the less efficient decision. Essentially any time a train comes into the window of decision is when an approaching train comes up to the 1st restrictive signal. Before that train even gets into that block the decision often has to be made.

    I'm not a people person, so I enjoy having my time alone in a simulation where I'm by myself running trains. But I too want that AI traffic in a simulation I run. For me luckily there are options out there for Run8 and choices so that you can find what is best for you to fit your style. But for those that think it's easy especially with limited resources if Microsoft couldn't do it, and none of these other bigger companies can, including the prototype, don't expect it any time soon to include full blown AI.

    My only hope is that AI gets introduces as one that can be dispatched. I know for single players that means manning a dispatch board, but trust me on this popping in and out of dispatch every 15 minutes to line up trains without worrying about the human aspect so much is not going to hurt you. The only thing you are going to miss out on is the surprise element when your actually running a train and get a signal where you have to take a siding. For that I'm afraid us loners and introverts (not implying anything just relating to what I am) are going to have to require humans.

    They have stated that they will only put in AI if it is done right, and I don't blame them. So I'm optimistic that one day you will see this perhaps sooner than later. It's going to take a product that has longevity and I'm still confident this product indeed has it. For the record MSTS did not have longevity it has dedicated users who have continued to use it and upgrade it. In that respect right now franchises like Trainz seem to hold that title, just not for me.

    Thanks

    Sean

  2. #2

    Default

    I hope they never put AI in RUN8. I don't see trains running by them selves where I live. Yet. AI is sooo boring. I have so much fun running run8 that I deleted all the other so called train sims. Now dont get me wrong they were good at first because there was nothing better but, now there is.
    sparkplug

  3. #3

    Default

    Run8 will be the only sim on my new computer, spark. But I also see from many posts here that Run8 will never have a large enough customer base without AI (for those who have no interest in MP, for whatever reason) and without allowing for third-party modeling, which is why so many people are still with MSTS. The modelers just like to look at the train and don't seem to see the attraction that you and I have for the prototypical realism of MP. To each their own. Despite accusations to the contrary, I don't want to force people to do things they don't want to do. I do like to tell them about my experiences in the hope they might be inclined at some point to try something new, maybe a little outside their comfort zone. That's what I did the night of August 26, with great trepidation and not just a little fear of messing up. But the decision I made that night has brought me hours and hours of train sim pleasure since!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
    Posts
    3,603

    Default

    AI is much more boring I agree compared to live people. However many cases even when things are going well on a server they're not quite up to the traffic levels of the prototype. That is why the best sessions in my opinions are those well advertised, and well in advance. Also if you get like I have been and try and do more instead of less you end up splitting your base.

    I remember when going from 48 to 40 that I had a bump in traffic. However that being said I recall how disappointed many users were from Australia and Europe who didn't get to enjoy part or even any of my sessions based on me trying to find a balance between popular times and what worked for me.

    Going 24/7 actually brought plenty of freedom, as does anarchy mode. The problem with that though it's often a crap shoot. I'm seeing that keeping it in anarchy after a planned session may be a good idea because you have the late comers who haven't had enough yet of the current session, combined with those that didn't make it at all coming in. It is still a crap shoot.

    We know at this point that the development kit will not be coming around until late next year. That will actually bring many over to give it a shot especially if those who use the kit come up with compelling routes etc. How big of a bump that will be without AI for me is a bit of an oddity, but I will most certainly be a client only at that time (something I am right now for the time being). If AI was in right now I wouldn't hesitate to put the server back up simply because the one negative impact was spreading it too thin.

    Keep in mind there is also a server model down the road they are talking about, not to mention all the other stock etc. All of those will boost things some what. If anything I hope the passenger and Needles brings in some revenue for these guys. I'm not a huge passenger train fan, and I have lots of work on Tehachipi already. But when you think about the number of free upgrades they have already provided, I really hope that people will keep buying into the Run8 product.

    Even with me getting back to reality in the spring I intend on purchasing both products and probably others too.

    Thanks

    Sean

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Swindon, England
    Posts
    5,685

    Default

    Zusi 2 (German sim) has a level of AI that surpasses any of the other sims, including built in signalling logic that will resolve conflicts, regulate trains according to priority and dynamically re-route as required. It leaves MSTS, Trainz and Railworks standing still in that respect. That a lone wolf programmer working in his spare time can achieve that is proof it can be done, even if graphics wise Zusi 2 resides firmly in the early 90's MS-DOS era.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
    Posts
    3,603

    Default

    Interesting

    Does it handle trains of lengths over the siding(loop) as well? I would say it's more of a challenge in Run8 only because of the physics calculations (which in itself player mode I'm sure is plenty to handle). But with advances in programming technologies who knows.

    Thanks

    Sean

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Yamba, N.S.WALES, Australia
    Posts
    4,142

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SurvivorSean View Post
    .....Does it handle trains of lengths over the siding(loop) as well? ...
    That aspect doesn't come into play because the AI will not route a train to or through a siding that is not of suffieient length to accommodate it.
    Also bear in mind that (a) the majority of the traffic is passenger and (b) it operates to European (German, mainly) standards.

    I can endorse Vern's comments 100%: the capability and operation of the AI in Zusi blows all other train-sims into the weeds.
    And this has been created by essentially one person.

    Bruce

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by flarrfan2 View Post
    Run8 will be the only sim on my new computer, spark. But I also see from many posts here that Run8 will never have a large enough customer base without AI (for those who have no interest in MP, for whatever reason) and without allowing for third-party modeling, which is why so many people are still with MSTS. The modelers just like to look at the train and don't seem to see the attraction that you and I have for the prototypical realism of MP. To each their own. Despite accusations to the contrary, I don't want to force people to do things they don't want to do. I do like to tell them about my experiences in the hope they might be inclined at some point to try something new, maybe a little outside their comfort zone. That's what I did the night of August 26, with great trepidation and not just a little fear of messing up. But the decision I made that night has brought me hours and hours of train sim pleasure since!

    I have not looked back that's for sure. Hey if they want to keep going on those old games good more fun for us. Too bad they don't know what their missing but, as you and I know I see them creeping in little by little And they are changing their tune. I had so much wanted for RW to work out but It just didn't happen. In hind site I wish I knew this as I spent so much money on that thing. That is as far as I will go on that subject As I refuse to buy The same DLC over and over as ver. 2.0 or 2.1 etc. I see streamlines is playing the same game but MSTS is too old now and has been deleted And I have moved on.

    I am hopeful that RUN8 will not do this. They have been very helpful and they also really like trains. Right now I am enjoying running trains and doing what we at Run8 do but, I am fearful of what might come if they let just anyone make stuff for it. Routes Would probably be ok but if they start making stuff that if you don't have it you cannot join in that would not be good. It could get out of hand or very expensive. lol I am satisfied with just the Mojave sub. Real engineers do not change districts at least not from one side of the country to the other. lol I am praying that they keep it wrapped pretty tight so we can enjoy this for a long time Ovhaaa.
    sparkplug

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    10,803

    Default

    Interesting how people complain about payware in other sims, but are willing to pay for whatever Run8 tosses their way. To me that seems really silly.

    As for AI, I'd be more than happy to see how the run8 crew takes that effort on, if they making it sloppy like we have seen with other games, or if they actually advance on it, and make it well close to perfect.

    "Too bad they don't know what their missing but"
    And what is that? Rude people that continue to praise this product left and right, putting down the "non believers", and a group that obviously cannot take the construction criticism when it comes to it, because the creator wants it done HIS way, and HIS way only, yet managed to get people to purchase the product. I'm sorry, but focusing on the MP all together and not giving a hoot about SP, just shows, money is what is wanted. I guess maybe I should make a game how I want it, and make people purchase only what I give and make it so 3rd party content is not allowed.

    This isn't the first time I have seen this "for the money" scheme either. Even recently with Epic Games, no longer doing it for the fans, they are doing it simply for the money. Which is a shame, because despite the small community of players, there are many people upset over the changes, and will not be spending money on their next release. And it is a wonder why several key folks of the company, have left over the past few months..

    I may just see things differently I guess, when it comes to gaming, and production. I guess I just see it as, making something for many to enjoy and love, and not for his or her self, with a select few to enjoy and basically say the hell with all others.

    It's funny about that too, people complained so much when SLI didn't allow repaints, yet this is okay? smh. Some things I will just never understand.
    Last edited by PORU333; 12-24-2012 at 08:13 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
    Posts
    3,603

    Default

    People complain about plenty of things including those that actually like it, and post it in a Run8 forum. That I still don't understand, but hey whatever floats your boat.

    As for a company that wants to make money, and stick to what they love doing I don't see nothing wrong with that either. You can't please anyone, and nobody is forcing people to buy the product. So why is it then that people are buying the product?

    I don't know their numbers but I'm sure it certainly has some limits compared to others. They've announced that content will be released, so their goals are simply not just to make money now but to make more money down the road, and yes enjoy what they are doing. What is wrong with a company or individual who wants to make money. Considering the small price it is to get what you get now (even though it is an entry level) stand alone, or MP this simulator is worth it.

    This simulator on 1 route with about 50 pieces of stock, and yes MP has plenty of repeat playability. Now the funny thing is I recently took down my server and I'm finding there is plenty of single player potential though for me it's not as fun. AI has not been announced, but I do believe it's eventually going to make it in some form. That for me will be gravy. I'm already programming utilities that may lead to 3rd party stuff down the road.

    Honestly I don't see this as take your money and run, because quite frankly for the amount of time they have put into this they haven't been paid for what this program is truly worth. Plenty are willing to hand them more money as well. As for the add-on content and routes I have my concerns too, but I think they will manage.

    Thanks

    Sean

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
-->