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Thread: Time Stands Still

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

    Default Time Stands Still

    This is a bit of a story, but I feel to explain it in full I have to take you on this journey. The ideas here are based on some of my experience over the past year with this amazing program. But I started a bit of an experiment that has helped me in my journey. I wanted to write about this and see if it helps others. Perhaps those with less than perfect servers or even single player trying to make your world feel a bit busier than it actually is. If you know my history you may want to skip a couple of paragraphs.

    When I first started hosting over a year ago, I used to run multiple sessions a week. At the time it was only Mojave Sub and it would typically draw 6 to 8 people for 6 to 8 hours. Some times I'd manage to only get a few to come out, other times I could get as many as the magic 13 number. Even back then I've always had a particular following outside of North America. It started with some UK members and gradually began to see those from down under that still frequent the server today. One of the things I found that no matter what times I seemed to run, timing was great for some where as others inconvenient. In 2013 I began to see the concept of anarchy sessions take hold. I had seen a slight drop in numbers and decided to take a chance and start a 24/7 server. Though I now had regulars at certain times I found this to spread to thin. Eventually I went back to sessions but it wasn't the same. When I found it discouraging I looked more towards the system, and how to improve it. Once Needles came along Barstow really got my juices flowing and I was back 24/7 and haven't looked back. Despite the relatively low numbers, I can honestly say I'm having the most fun yet.

    Through the summer I managed to finally get the RTS software to make a significant difference. I now had a huge number of symbols in the BNSF system generating random consists based on waybills. Most recently I had the now visible destination tags automatically added to these consists. I finally had every train and car with a purpose, thus why I'm having so much fun. The next step recently achieved was to get the actual generation data (before it simply just made the train files) into data form as well. This was a step I needed for 2 upcoming goals: Get a virtual hump yard going, and be able to automate movement and switching.

    I'm about a week away from getting at least the automated movements running. By next Tuesday I'm hoping to have it in place (if not it's no big deal as it can be implemented at any time after then). The hump well I'm hearing some interesting things, so I'm holding back at least for now on that one again (besides manually switching out Barstow has been fun). But these events got me thinking about how much work it would take just to maintain the system on a daily basis. I already had hundreds of trains (probably the total number is close to 2000 - no kidding) being generated over the last month. In actually I was likely to see less than 5% if that ever see the light of day. Not a big deal since the system generated them. But what was I going to do with 24 hours worth of trains over the course of 24 actual hours. Even with all that automation that is coming what was the point of all the work if very few would see it. So I came up with a compromise, and this is now the point I wanted to get to.

    Considering my numbers are so few (again a similar thing can be said for those who run single player) I came on some interesting facts. First of all being 24/7 my friends from down under often run quite a bit in the dark. I personally don't see too many sunrises (though I just seen one in the system tonight). So remaining 24/7 I've actually cut my schedules from a full day into an 8 day rotation. Over the course of the day I either freeze the clock or replay it. The actual time is not that important if I go over etc. The point is it gives me something different to do every night. More importantly I get to see more of these generated trains.

    But think of it this way, if your single player your going to probably not want to do the same thing. I know last week felt more like a job then a hobby because I was so busy trying to keep up with switching Barstow (this was a temporary 1 week thing as I wanted to get as many old trains into the system before programming again). I can report since I've started this experiment on Monday that it feels like a hobby again for me. Each day I move the clock ahead 3 hours and create a new list of trains to spawn from. Tonight for example I let the clock run from 0300 to 0600 running a train up from Needles as the sun began to rise. After midnight I began running a train east from Caliente in the early dawn. After I finish some programming before going to bed tonight I'll freeze the clock. Tomorrow when I want to run again I'll simply reset it back to 0600 and run some place else perhaps. The concept here is in a busy railroad several people 24 hours a day are running trains. Even the busiest can't maintain this in less than prime time. So instead you simply duplicate jobs that could in theory be running at the same time (when even you are not).

    The only down sides I see to this so far is my clients will have to deal with a frozen clock now and then (when I'm sleeping or doing other things like looking for a real job). The other is if you have a favorite train such as an Amtrak or a particular local you only can run it once every 8 days. For busier servers you can adjust it to perhaps a 4 or 2 day rotation if at all. Other than that I find it refreshes things up quite a bit for those used to running at the same time in real life each day.

    As I was saying the train movement routines are being written now and as early as next week should have that as a tool. The benefit I see with that is moving the trains that sit around for days and getting a fresh batch of trains in place. I'll finally get to see what my program is generating. For BNSF as an example I have it throw in a random rare UP, SP, CSX, or NS on occasion. One day I had this train for some strange reason that had tons of green cars on it (hoppers, boxes).

    Again the point of all of it is food for thought of what can be done in single player and a small server. The software I speak of by the way I'm hoping to have available this winter if all goes well. This developmental version is being tested on my server on an ongoing basis. The current beta that is available only takes advantage of single routes and is pretty much obsolete.


    Last edited by SurvivorSean; 10-16-2013 at 03:40 AM. Reason: missed something

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013


    Why do all your long winded posts always contain so many "I"s? I this, I that, I, I, I, I, I, I. You make the same posts on numerous forums. I'm sorry to inform you that this sim includes multiplayer, so there is so much more to it than just you. I always wondered why most of our private group want it to stay private, but after reading your posts, I can see why.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Metro Vancouver


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    Why do all your long winded posts always contain so many "I"s? I this, I that, I, I, I, I, I, I. You make the same posts on numerous forums. I'm sorry to inform you that this sim includes multiplayer, so there is so much more to it than just you. I always wondered why most of our private group want it to stay private, but after reading your posts, I can see why.
    Personnel attacks WILL NOT be tolerated here.Thread locked.
    Work Safe play hard

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