Content Creator Story - Peter Ware - Pware

By admin-n3v, November 03 2022

My two great interests in my earlier years were computers and trains. I eventually discovered a railroading game "Railroad Tycoon" and loved it. MSTS followed with its far more realistic 3D graphics but I quickly discovered that its great weakness was in route creation - it was just far too difficult.

When I saw a TV news report about a startup Aussie company called Auran showcasing a "Model Railway Simulator" back in 2002 I immediately ordered a copy. With its easy to use "world builder" Surveyor it was the perfect fusion of trains and computers. MSTS and Railroad Tycoon went straight to the digital trash can. Learning from the work of other creators and a certain fearlessness in experimenting with the available tools and techniques, I was able to quickly create routes. But it wasn't until 2004 before I felt confident enough in my skills to upload my first creation, a fictional route. This was followed in 2006 by a second fictional route.

From there I moved to routes that modeled real railroads. In 2007 and 2008, based on Google Maps, historical records and old photographs, I created and uploaded four routes based on the recently closed narrow gauge system around Peterborough in South Australia. In 2009 I uploaded a combined, expanded and updated version of all four routes for TRS2006. This was followed in 2012 by another narrow gauge route, the Fingal Line, this time from the island of Tasmania.

I concentrated on old narrow gauge lines partly because all other Australian creators seemed to be doing current standard gauge routes. So I saw a niche area that did not risk intruding on someone else's territory.

I did make a few exceptions. The excellent work of PGibbons was an inspiration for creating three short standard gauge branch lines that could be merged with his Picton 2 Goulburn route.

After the release of the combined Peterborough Division route I received a message from N3V asking for my permission to possibly include a modified version in their upcoming Android release of Trainz. I gave my permission but as I heard nothing further I assumed that another route had been selected instead. I was both surprised and honoured when Trainz Simulator 3 was announced with the Peterborough Division (a.k.a. "Aussie Outback") as one of its routes.

In 2014 I collaborated with another creator, elstoko, in upgrading the Fingal Line route to include his "Staff and Ticket" Safe Working Officer Rule and control panel. I continue to rely on many of his signal and other track object assets in my work.

Since then I have updated both the Peterborough Division and Fingal Line routes to make use of the improvements and new features that have appeared in later Trainz releases. Work on the Peterborough route continues today to include effect layers, PBR textures, procedural track and the addition of the Hawker line and part of the Pichi Richi Railway - release date "real soon now(TM)".

I collaborated with Marky7890 to create a session for his DLS Liskeard to Looe V2 route in 2018. An updated version of the route and session were recently released as content included with TS22. Again N3V asked for my permission, which I freely gave and I refused an offer of remuneration. I have never asked for, nor have I ever received, any remuneration from N3V for any of my work.

The Peterborough Narrow Gauge Division has become a favourite of mine. Its role as a vital part in the history of two transcontinental rail lines (east-west and north-south) plus its now largely abandoned and forgotten status made it obvious that it should be remembered in some sort of a "living" simulation.

The need to provide structured sessions followed on from my experiences with downloading routes created by others. Without supplied sessions the routes often lacked context. What were the typical rail operations? What types of trains were operated? Where did they run to and from? Structured sessions provide users with context but, as I discovered, can take a long time to create. For the Fingal Line I added 13 sessions and their development time, in total, was longer than the 12 months needed for the route development. In an attempt to reduce this I have been experimenting with replacing structured sessions with web based "scenarios" on the Trainz Wiki. I create a single unstructured session (no AI or controlling session rules) for the route with all the consists in place, all the industries preconfigured and provide, via a HTML asset, links to Trainz Wiki pages. The pages describe the tasks to be performed and give links to other pages describing the layout and other information. The Wiki pages are quicker to create and can be easily updated. The session also allows users the freedom to roam and run whatever trains they want. For the update to the Peterborough Division I still intend to provide a few structured sessions.

My skills in creating scenery and rolling stock were (and still are) non-existent. 3D modeling software totally baffles me but I have developed skills in reskinning existing assets (with permissions) and in creating assets, such as non-environmental textures, that do not require 3D modeling skills.

A significant area of deficiency in Trainz is information. Experience has taught me that printed information, be it paper based or even PDF documents, dates very quickly and can be difficult or even impossible to keep up to date. Web based information is far more flexible and easier to keep current. However, I have found that the Trainz Wiki was (and still is) somewhat lacking in the range and, in some cases, the usefulness of its information for both creators and users. Fortunately my other great interest, computers, had led me to be involved in writing and editing several textbooks on computing technology and the social effects of that technology. I have also been involved in creating web pages almost from the day the world wide web became available to all Internet users.

So I set about creating new Wiki pages detailing the steps needed to perform tasks such as creating certain types of assets, using some Surveyor features and performing various other operations. I collaborated with another user, coop2, to create a dictionary of all the (then known) session rules, what they did and how to use them. Today I continue updating and adding to the Trainz Wiki. Many of my pages had their origins in questions raised in the forums, and I have updated them as more information has appeared in forum posts.

In my early creation days the forum was a source of useful information, and it still is today. To repay the advice that I was freely given by other users, some sadly no longer with us, I contribute forum posts with advice, opinions and suggestions whenever I can.

My main advice to new Trainz creators is to have patience. Creating an asset, such as a route, session, scenery item, etc, is always more complex and time consuming than you think it will be. Most of the long development time for my projects is due to the attention to detail (complexity) that routes and sessions really require to work realistically. Start simple and add complexity as you improve your skills and confidence. If you run into problems (and you will) then firstly check out the Trainz Wiki, the solution may be waiting there. The Trainz Forum is also a great source of advice and information if you know how to ask the questions - include as much info as possible including your Trainz version build number. Other users will be much more helpful if you can fill in the blanks for them. Posts that basically read as "Its not working, fix it" will get few if any responses. Don't expect immediate feedback. Trainz is a worldwide community and the one person who may have the answer you need may live in another time and date zone and will probably not be on the Trainz forum 24/7.

The same scene from the same route 16 years apart. Gladstone from the SAR Peterborough Division in Trainz TRS2006 and TRS22. The latter uses procedural narrow gauge track, PBR ground textures, Speed Trees, TurfFX and Clutter Effect Layers - all missing from the TRS2006 version.

Trainz Railroad Simulator 2006

Trainz Railroad Simulator 2022