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Thread: Running On A Tiny Tablet!

  1. #1
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    Default Running On A Tiny Tablet!

    This is an experiment, but so far it works! Unbelievable! ORTS installed and runs in a $100 pink Win10 (32-bit, not 64) 2-in-1 (has detachable keyboard) tablet with a 10" display, Atom CPU (quad-core, 1.33 GHz but speed varies and can briefly reach 1.8), basic Intel HD graphics, 2GB RAM, and the install on a 32GB Micro-SD card. In the EB 1 activity of Bob Wirth's Chilicothe Div. (daytime, clear weather, default MSTS trainset), the train starts (with much slip), moves, speedometer very jerky, in debug F5 the frame time is maxed but the other performance measures are roughly consistent with each other. Stated frame rate is 8, but not really very jerky overall. I'd actually rate it as almost playable!

    This is in stable 1.1.x OR using the non-LAA binary (it's a stock 32-bit system after all); haven't tried an update yet (downloading now). Given that (per Task Manager) it's redlining one processor core and using large percentages of the other 3, I probably can't run it for long without hitting thermal throttling, but still, it's fun. And the main menu does have an issue: it's a tad too big to fit the height of the 1280x800 screen. Works, but the bottom row of buttons is inaccessible. Again - this is a smoke test; picky details like reaching all of the buttons aren't really relevant.

    This test demonstrates that you don't absolutely need a mongo gaming rig to run ORTS, at least at present; it *runs* though maybe not with fabulous numbers - I suspect I could optimize a few settings and get it up to 10 fps - in a computer that barely competes with a phone these days. The old ASUS i5 laptop does double the frame rate, with Win10 64-bit Home in 4GB RAM and older Intel graphics, and the mongo rig (Win10 64-bit Pro, Core2 Extreme, 8G RAM, nVidia graphics) will exceed the monitor refresh rate in nearly all cases. So the mongo rig does run a LOT better. But in this barely-a-computer rig ORTS actually runs!

    BTW, 32-bit has an advantage if you're into ancient software. It has the NTDVM which allows running DOS and Windows 3.1 (16-bit) software. Train Dispatcher 2 works like a charm in the tablet. Can't run Railroad Tycoon, though; the keyboard has a non-standard layout outside of the basic typewriter keys, and no numeric pad (which is required to build anything).

    Cheers!
    Last edited by mikeebb; 12-14-2016 at 02:33 AM. Reason: type

  2. #2
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    You need to get out more Mike!

    Interesting test though in terms of spec needed etc. However apart from lack of Numeric keyboard the lack of any separate keyboard on most tablets would seem to be more of an issue? BTW it always baffles me when folk have breakdowns because there rig won't reach 60 f.p.s. Feature films used to be shot at 24 fps (TV in the UK films at 25fps).

    BTW did the touchscreen allow use of the controls in the cab?
    Geoff
    Dorset - near The Swanage Railway.
    UK

  3. #3
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    I tend to agree on framerate overkill, although with a couple of caveats. Frame rate is somewhat in indicator of control response -- that's because control/position refresh may be linked to the absolute screen bitmap, and faster refresh allows for finer control response. But even so, a frame rate of 30fps is usually fine for most computer games. Microsoft Flight Simulator X is best at 20fps and up (which is pretty forgiving, really) but if frame rates drop much below 20fps, control inputs can get laggy. First-person shooter games and 3rd-person view tactical games often need faster framerates to keep the player control/movement responsive and in-step with the display.

    Computer monitors also have some characteristics that differ from film in how the image gets perceived by our eye. Basically, it's the difference between a scanned top-to-bottom image of a computer vs the flash-the-whole-image-at-once method of film projection. Faster frame rates hide the top-to-bottom scan from our eyes better. 60fps is good for that. 30fps can show visual artifacts to some eyes if you move the viewpoint rapidly, due to the scanning effect.

    But for a train sim -- which doesn't need fast-twitch, ran-and-gun perspective -- high frame rates are nice for subjective smoothness, but generally anything above 18fps looks and works pretty good. That's why over in another conversation over at ET I had the opinion that as long as Open rails runs adequately on hardware from 2010 or so -- around a seven-year typical computer lifespan -- there's no need to worry about moving toward higher-end hardware specs. There are a lot of older, basic computers with more than adequate performance out there, particularly in the i-series Intel and corresponding AMD families that can run it and will continue to do so even if OR's ability to take advantage of fancy hardware advances. They won't be left behind very quickly. Advanced hardware capabilities are nifty if they're available, but dialing the settings up or down seems to allow OR to run reasonably well on a wide range of hardware, especially if you don't obsess over the highest possible framerates.

    Cool to see how far you can get with very basic hardware!
    Last edited by EricF; 12-14-2016 at 07:15 AM.


    MSTS-Roundhouse

    With Open Rails and ZDSimulator
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    Well, if you are Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, and are in the midst of a cross country road trip, and you absolutely have to get your daily dose of Judge Wapner at 5 o'clock, then its great to know Open Rails, at present, can accommodate your needs from the passenger seat of the old Buick.

    Just keep in the back of your mind that Open Rails is just now beginning its divorce from 'MSTS compatible'. And like all divorces, they are often traumatic and usually leave some of the lesser coping dependents crying.

    Honestly, the last thing I care to see from Open Rails is slower development timelines to accommodate some lowest hardware denominator, or to be known as the last resort collector of individuals who were pushed out of other sims by various hardware bar raisings, and who are hobbled going forward in their ORTS experience by their collection of 'misfit toys'.

    Like it or not, mongo is the future for many advancing train sim genres just like it is for many non-sim games. And the sooner we all plan properly, save appropriate funds, and get on it, the less painful it will be for all of us. Right now, there is enough MSTS compatibility in ORTS for those who cannot move forward, hardware-wise, due to finances to stay put where ORTS is now and at least experience a better simming environment than MSTS. But make no mistake, ORTS has totally fulfilled its obligations in the area of MSTS compatibility, and does not need to advance around that principle anymore.

  5. #5

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    I have a touchscreen laptop. Most cab controls work, although a lot don't.
    It's a pretty cool interface when it works.
    Christopher

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricF View Post
    I tend to agree on framerate overkill ... Cool to see how far you can get with very basic hardware!
    It was raining, and I was vegging. I'm using the little attached USB keyboard (it's a 2-in-1 not just a plain tablet) not on-screen.

    Then, one other thing happened. OR wanted to update, of course. I said go ahead. The update failed. And it wiped out all of the files (but not the folders) in the OR install folder. Including the selected MSTS content I had loaded for testing. Grumbles... Oh well, I hadn't actually expected to play it on the tablet anyway (have the laptop and desktop for that).

    Then WINDOWS insisted on updating (Patch Tuesday, even though it's Windows 10), which I left running overnight. And for all those people complaining about Win10 restarting with no warning ... I have the opposite problem: even in non-active hours, it sits and waits after downloading for me to say 'Restart Now', so I had to do that when I got up.

    Now let's see if I can get something useful done today...
    Last edited by mikeebb; 12-14-2016 at 09:59 AM. Reason: cut out some overkill

  7. #7
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    Touchscreen controls would be nifty if you were in the cab of a Gevo or ACe or a locomotive that actually had computer-screen equipped cabs, where you could touch-screen the in-cab computer console to get your F5 HUD info, or to work with DPUs or EOTs or cab audio. They are out of place in an SD40-2 or GP9 control stand, that's where a next-gen Raildriver would be more appropriate.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeebb View Post
    It was raining, and I was vegging.
    Now let's see if I can get something useful done today...
    LOL! well trial and error all adds to the human bank of knowledge Mike. Bizarrely warm and sunny day here today for December so the dog got a longer walk.

    I quite agree with other posters that most PC's have little more than a 7 year lifespan and certainly no development is going to "push the envelope" if you try and make it work on outdated kit. Simulators always run better on better kit but they haven't needed cutting edge specs like 1st person shooters etc.

    As for MSTS divorce? Not how I see it at all. In the real world good sound designs in aircraft AND in locomotives have been "re-engineered". Better control systems, better more fuel efficient engines etc. If you have a solid design develop and tweak it because the ones that re-invent the wheel often bring a whole load of new glitches to be worked out. A Reality check means that whilst we have pretty decent "current state of the art" rolling stock no one is going to rebuild all that lot to higher specs anytime soon. Just as with MSTS those interested will develop new techniques, improve upon skin detail and weathering, sort out physics so that the stuff uses OR's coding etc.etc. What's needed is evolution not revolution IMO. BTW that's before we even look at routes!
    Geoff
    Dorset - near The Swanage Railway.
    UK

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    Why yes, Goeff, mommy and daddy are going to stay together 4ever! Keep telling yourself that from the safety of your bedroom.

    What good is refining aircraft and locomotive designs when the Z-train is going to be made obsolete by home package delivery drones? That's the level these other sims are reaching for. And the dysfunctional 'dragging' marriage of MSTS and ORTS is still worried about refining trusted locomotive designs. The others have 'gone drone', so ORTS had better cut that boat anchor from its leg chain pretty soon. lol

  10. #10
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    The future of OR doesn't have much to do with the original subject of the thread, except that what I discovered is a point-in-time and shouldn't be relied on for future reference. It was done for fun, not profit! Absolutely, hardware requirements will change (and increase) as time goes by.

    IMO Open Rails seems to be following the Windows (and IBM mainframe!) path: improve but maintain backward compatibility. Yes, at some point, the improvements will become essentially a new system (arguably, is at that point in some ways), and the Good Stuff will be built for that. But a defining feature of OR, compared to most other train sims, is that the large library of stuff from MSTS still works more or less correctly. That makes a lot of models that people are no longer interested in working on still available and usable.

    The Other Train Simulators, for the most part, follow the Apple model: regular (and frequent) updates that break what you already have, so you have to buy a whole new "set" every update or few. As commercial ventures, that's expected, and it's great for the purchasing "ecosystem" and results (if done right, respecting 3rd-party developer needs) in fairly rapid improvements, but it tends to limit asset development to a small group of people who do it as a business. And it's not so great for somebody who doesn't have the budget for constantly re-purchasing things.

    On the whole, I prefer OR's current approach. Though I could see a split at some point into, effectively, a "legacy" thread that gets mostly just maintenance, and a "current" thread that receives all the latest updates. Essentially, a DOSBox for running MSTS stuff, and the mainline OR going forward. And btw I don't agree that OR is fully MSTS compatible yet - there are still some things to figure out - but it's more than good enough.

    Oh yes, and it would be very nice if it could somehow be made to run on Linux (I've tried it in Wine and so far no joy, even with the MS dependencies covered). OR and ACD Canvas (illustration and GIS software) are the only things I have right now that just don't work in Linux.
    Last edited by mikeebb; 12-14-2016 at 12:20 PM. Reason: typo, cleanup

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