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Official Open Rails FAQ (updated for public release v360) Some Questions and Answers

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#1 User is offline   captain_bazza 

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 05:20 PM

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the Official FAQ below for Open Rails v360.

Open Rails & MSTS Questions

What is Open Rails?
Open Rails is an open source train simulator project.

Is Open Rails freeware?
Yes.

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?
The Open Rails software will be available at www.openrails.org/coders.html starting on September 17, 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. However, Open Rails does support MSTSBin compatible sounds.

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, presently 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.


Open Rails Technical Questions

What computer specs do I need to run Open Rails?
Right now, Open Rails 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.

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 doesn't my train operate realistically in Open Rails?
For the time being, Open Rails has a basic set of controls for operating trains. All that is present 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. Pressing the 1-key will give you a heads out view from the locomotive cab window. Pressing the 2-key will give a basic heads out from the front of the locomotive. Pressing the 3-key will give you a view of the back of the train. Pressing the 5-key will give a passenger view from inside the train. Pressing the 6-key will give a brakeman’s vantage. In the view, pressing the home key will take you to the front of the train whereas pressing the end key will take you to the back of the train. Pressing the 8-key allows you to move freely about the route. Check out the ReadMe file as key assignments may change from time to time.

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 MSTS 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.

I do not see any signals when I opened up a route in Open Rails. Where did the MSTS signals go?
The Open Rails team is currently testing a signaling system for the program.

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 UKTrainSim.com, TrainSim.com, and Elvas Tower.com. 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 www.openrails.org. 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?
No.

How will we find out more information about Open Rails?
The official Open Rails web page is at http://www.openrails.org/. 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 www.openrails.org/coders.html

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 admin@openrails.org 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.

#2 User is offline   captain_bazza 

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 04:55 AM

Why are there no smoke or steam effects in Open Rails?

A smoke and steam emitter protocol is under development.


Why do I get the message, "ERROR: The device does not support creating a render target of the given format.
Parameter name: format
"?


If you receive this error message, please check your video card for compatibility with OR requirements for Pixel Shader 2.0.

Check that your video card's documentation to find out whether it supports this shader, most did from 2005 onwards.


Updated 7 May 2010 by Bazza


#3 User is offline   captain_bazza 

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 04:04 AM

Updated at UKTS, Walter.

Cheers Bazza

#4 Inactive_Alexander_*

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:06 AM

Question developers OR what limits for rolling stock in the form of 3D? I tried to convert the model of Trainz 95,000 polygons, OR works good. :pardon:

#5 User is offline   captain_bazza 

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:17 PM

It's difficult to give an upper limit - some models work okay at a bit over 100,000 polys, other's don't. Some require a post conversion processing in ShapeFix. Our current suite of conversion tools (3d shape and textures) still use the original MSTS conversion utilities. There could be updated tools around, but they're not available. You still need to obey the basic MSTS rules regarding the heirarchy tree and setup for pivot points. There is some flexibility in parts naming.

Currently, if a part is named in the wheelsx sequence and isn't animated, the wheelset will not show in OR. These are the driversets that are normally modeler animated, or done by the model program's MSTS conversion plug-in, depending on the software used. Bogie wheelsets named in the wheelsxx sequence are auto animated in the sim and don't appear affected. (Bogies are auto animated by the sim.)

FreightAnimation isn't required for Open Rails models.

Texturing is per default MSTS protocols, there are no special shaderFXs.

Cheers Bazza

#6 Inactive_Alexander_*

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 10:10 AM

Thank you, I'll know, because already started making models for OR.

#7 User is offline   R H Steele 

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 10:47 AM

A Qualified Yes Vote ..... because one VERY important feature of Open Rails in not mentioned (maybe I missed it). Open Rails utilitizes the GPU to process the simulation, while MSTS is CPU oriented. This results in better graphics content, higher simulation quality and "usually" higher FPS. Routes that ran slow or with "stuttering" will run smoother in Open Rails. I'm sure it can be worded more accurately and correctly by someone with in-depth knowledge, but I think it should be mentioned. Cheers, rhs

#8 User is offline   R H Steele 

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 12:03 PM

Questioning my reply .... I looked over some old docs about OR and MSTS and I wonder if what I opined about is even in the ballpark? MSTS did not use GPU resources like are current today, mostly relied on CPU to perform all the tasks relating to the simulation.... correct BUT it still used GPU resources if available ....SO what is the difference between OR and MSTS in terms of GPU resources verses CPU for performing all the tasks required of the simulation? Just asking. rhs

#9 User is offline   Lindsayts 

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 10:26 PM

View PostR H Steele, on 17 July 2013 - 12:03 PM, said:

Questioning my reply .... I looked over some old docs about OR and MSTS and I wonder if what I opined about is even in the ballpark? MSTS did not use GPU resources like are current today, mostly relied on CPU to perform all the tasks relating to the simulation.... correct BUT it still used GPU resources if available ....SO what is the difference between OR and MSTS in terms of GPU resources verses CPU for performing all the tasks required of the simulation? Just asking. rhs


When MSTS first came out 3D capable GPU's where quite limited in what they could do in constructing, translating, projecting and texturing objects. The current graphics cards are vastly more complete, off loading much work from the cpu. The massive amounts of memory on the cards also allows the main system to store both both shapes and textures in the GPU's memory, this from my experience from my own work speeds up things significantly as the main CPU does not have to keep passing large data structures to the GPU.

Lindsay

#10 Inactive_Alexander_*

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 11:56 AM

Whether the OpenRails included new models of rolling stock? I would like to offer some of their models of the russian rolling stock which I did for MSTS.

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