First off, we would like to take a moment to thank all of our fans and customers for a successful launch of the GP40 packs for TrainSimulator, and for a great 2014 in general. People all over the world have supported us in our efforts to bring realistic locomotives and rolling stock to the game, and we are grateful that you have given us the chance to ride the rails in your home.
Now that 2014 is behind us, we thought we would take a moment to let you in on our plans for 2015. Plans are things that are fluid, things that at this point we dream of doing, so understand that things can change depending on how the wind is blowing. Anyhoo, the first order of business is to wind down the GP40 project. It’s been a great ride with our first commercial asset. We have learned a lot, and have pushed the game to it’s limits and beyond with the locomotive. But two years is a long time for development in the world of software, and the time has come to move on. We still have one, maybe two more repaints to do, but come hell or high water, on March 1 the GP40 project will be done for us. However, to compensate for the abbreviated run, we will be releasing an “undecorated” pack with three body styles and repaint templates for those who wish to continue creating their own favorite paint liveries.
2015 will bring even more challenges for VRC. Time is ticking for the TrainSimulator TSX engine, and the switch to Unreal may be just around the next bend. Our current modeling software, 3DCrafter, is no longer up to the task of building complete models, and has really been showing us it’s limitations with the more sophisticated versions of the GP40. As far as we know, 3DC is also unable to export to the Unreal format, so it will become useful only for building small, simple parts that can be exported to other programs that can export that format. So that we may continue modeling in our chosen (for now) train game, we are moving to Blender for our rendering chores. From the loins of this powerful program leaps our next locmotive for TrainSimulator (hopefully), the General Electric U30C.
The U30C was touted at the time to be an alternative to the SD40. GM was having trouble keeping up with the demand for it’s flagship product, so some railroads bought U30’s to fill out their rosters and replace aging equipment. By some accounts, the hulking, chugging behemoths were good pullers. But electrical issues plagued the units, and their numbers were limited to the 600 range, far below the roughly 1300 SD40’s sold. But the U30’s found new life in secondary sales, and they are a favorite among railroads south of the border. Most of the state-side U30’s became trade-in fodder for the Super Seven series.
This new locomotive model will require us to once again push the boundries of train gaming to learn new modeling techniques and to research how this unique machine worked. We hope to be able to bring the locomotive to both TSX and Unreal, but there is much still to do, and it’s to early to give a realistic release date.
Finally, after the dust settles on the Unreal engine, towards the end of the year we may return to our roots – route building. To take a break from locomotive building, we may create a another route that is similar to the Atlanta North District. Keep in mind though that a new game engine will mean all new assets will have to be created, so don’t expect anything on this front until very late 2015 or early 2016.
That’s all for now. Have a Happy New Year and keep those trains rollin’!