Content Creator Story – Bob Cooper (Robert3a0)

By admin-n3v, September 09 2022

I first encountered Trainz in 2002, when I bought the first version of Trainz by Auran. Although the original version was rudimentary by today’s standards, I found I got a great deal of enjoyment constructing and testing new routes. 

I went away from Trainz until 2010. I had just entered semi-retirement from the Royal Australian Air Force and decided to start using Trainz again; fortunately, that resurgence in interest coincided with the release of Trainz 10 Engineers Edition. I was particularly taken by the Avery Drexel Route (Uwe Metzner) and some of the work by Phil Skene contained in the Edition. Their magnificent work inspired me to become a content creator.

My first route releases to the DLS were made in TS 12 and were mainly works of fiction. Those routes included: European Vacation, Port Oron to Thompson Heights, NSWGR Semaphore Creek Branch line and NSWGR Humula to Melaney.

Although much of my early work was self-taught, I learnt a lot from other developers by examining ideas contained in their routes. I also got a lot of ideas reading various pieces on the Trainz Discussion Forums, which I found invaluable.

On the DLS I found quite a few Trainz Route Blanks, created by various authors using TransDEM. I later purchased a copy of the TransDEM programme but have never been able to master the ‘beast’.  One of the Blanks I selected was based on the Bailey Yards in Nebraska, USA. At that stage I had never heard of the Bailey Yards, so I commenced some detailed research (Google was certainly my friend). It was at that time I first started using Google Earth, which has since become a staple of my content creation. 

In 2013, an N3V advertisement appeared in the Forums seeking expressions of interest from content creators to construct pay-ware routes. I put forward the Nebraska route on which I was working. I later named that route ‘Fall Harvest Nebraska’. N3V saw potential in that Route and invited me to become a member of the Content Creator Team. 

 In those days, the Surveyor ruler only measured distance; not direction. In order to measure correct angles, I needed to use a virtual protractor in conjunction with the ruler. I laid out the whole of the Bailey Yards using that process, which really complicated its construction. I mentioned that to N3V and suggested that the ruler could be modified to include degrees. Sure enough, the next patch released included the necessary modification.

I submitted the Fall Harvest Route for testing in mid-2014. We then went through the Beta testing process, which took several months to complete. In the meantime, N3V were heavily into the development of TANE, and my content fell by the wayside. 

In the meantime, I developed several other Routes, including: NCTD Oceanside - San Diego - Phase 1 - Amtrak Coaster Sprinter, 1950s Glory Years USA - Valley Run, and another European route, Biatorbágy – Tatabánya in Hungary. The latter was never released as I could not get it to meet required N3V standards. The rapid ongoing development of Trainz at the time was a contributing factor.

I saw the advent of TANE as a huge potential to change the Game up to a new level, so I had no hesitation in becoming a Kickstarter supporter. Although the early releases of TANE were plagued with performance issues, they were soon rectified sufficiently for me to move out of TS12. 

I was able to remodel several of my routes in TANE, which led to the release of ‘Fall Harvest Nebraska’ in 2016. Also, in 2016 I released another prototypical route in TANE named ‘Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad’ (I have since released a Redux version in TRS 19). 

In 2014, I had commenced (what would become) a mammoth project in the form of ‘1930s English Branch line - The Maritime Line (Truro to Falmouth)’, located in Cornwall. I was looking to do a UK route and I literally just blindly plucked a place on the map that appeared interesting. I did a lot of research on the history of the Route and found that a pre-war version would show the railway at its peak. Fortunately, there was plenty of web material that was freely available to support the Project. I found two sites that were to become particularly helpful: The Cornwall Railway Society and The Great Western Signal Box Register. 

I developed all the topography using Google Earth imagery. To do so, I had to develop techniques that would enable me to accurately recreate the various terrain elevations, which I was able to achieve using the correct spot heights for every spline point I created (e.g., tracks, roads, hedgerows, etc). I put a tutorial demonstrating the process on the DLS in 2016. Although this procedure was more demanding than using TransDEM it turns out to be much more accurate method of recreating scenery.

During the development of the Falmouth branch, I was contacted by Bob Sanders, a well-known content creator, who invited me to join his content creation group, trainz-carriage-wagon-works, based in the UK. There I was able to collaborate with other well-known content creators, many of whom provided me invaluable guidance concerning the Falmouth Route. They also became Beta Testers for the Route. I released the Route as Freeware in March 2016.

Following the release of the Falmouth Branch, I decided to create the mainline, and its subsidiary branch lines between Truro and Penzance. In mid Jul 2015 I released the first phase of the Route (Truro to Redruth) and the second Phase (Camborne Sector) on Nov 15. I completed the most complicated sector, between Camborne and Penzance in Jul 2017. The final sector included three branch lines: Helston, Hayle Wharves and St Ives.  

During development of the final sector, Paul Olsen from N3V asked if they could package the entire Route for release later in 2017. Indeed, the N3V package was released in time for Christmas that year. Later, Paul asked if N3V could include the Route in the release of TRS 19, to which I proudly allowed. 

I need to highlight that I did not ask for, nor did I receive, any gratuities from N3V on any version of the Route. As far as I was concerned, I always meant the Route to be Freeware, and it remains that way. The reason I mention this is because I received some very negative feedback from a series of ‘narks’ criticizing my work and making other accusations. At the time, I was well into extending the Route between Truro and Plymouth, including its branch lines. However, by late 2019, I was so overrun by the ‘whingers’ that I decided not to continue further with any UK based routes. Pity, it was turning out to be a very nice route. Maybe one day?  

Since 2019 I have revamped the Fall Harvest Route, hopefully to be released by N3V sometime this Century, and I have released a Redux version of the 1950s Glory Years USA - Valley Run as freeware.

I have a few routes under consideration; however, my main project over the past two years has been a Route that covers a large portion of New York State, running from Bath to Hammondsport and from Bath to Wayland, and from Bath to Painted Post. I still have at least six months of work remaining for completion. When released, the Route will be titled ‘Upstate New York’.

Throughout the Project I have attempted to reproduce the beautiful scenery this area encompasses.