Clearing Trees on Tracks in Open Rails

Beginning with Experimental version  x.3369, it’s possible to clear trees appearing on the tracks in Open Rails. Not every route has this issue, but you’ll know it when you see it — Trees appear too close to the rails, in between the rails, in tunnel openings — anywhere a tree has no business being. If you run the same route in MSTS, the offending trees are nowhere to be found. So what’s going on?

When a route is built in the MSTS Route Editor, it’s possible to create “forest regions” — simple boundaries that define an area for trees to be automatically populated. If the tracks fall too close to, or even inside of, the boundaries of a forest region, MSTS will automatically suppress the trees that would intrude on the tracks. Open Rails doesn’t use the same method to separate trees from the rails, so some routes will display trees intruding on the tracks.

Early attempts to apply an algorithm to find and suppress tree/track conflicts where a forest region intrudes on the tracks could remove the trees, but incurred a heavy impact on frame rates. A recent re-evaluation of the methods has finally resulted in a successful means to prune away errant trees without adversely impacting frame rates or causing any other problems with scenery objects.

Read more in the “Tutorials” section…

Java and Route Riter

Mike Simpson’s Route Riter is the go-to utility for both Open Rails and MSTS for checking and fixing rolling stock and route files, plus it has an invaluable set of tools for route builders and a good consist editor. It also includes the TSUtil suite and provides an interface to the TSUtil tools inside the Route Riter interface. TSUtil, however, needs Java to run, and that’s added some extra manual configuration steps to get it working in modern versions of Windows and Java.

The most common problem is that, after installing Route Riter or after taking a Java update with an existing, working Route Riter installation, you get an error when Route Riter Starts that says “You do not have a Java Runtime system” and Route Riter won’t work. It sounds bad, what’s really happening is usually fairly simple to fix.

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Correctly-Sized, Configurable Digital Displays Now in Open Rails With New .CVF File Statement

Open Rails now includes a syntax which can be applied to .CVF files which allows you to modify the fonts used in digital cab displays. This is a huge improvement over the previous one-size-fits-all treatment in Open Rails. All it takes is adding and configuring a line in the .CVF file for each digital display in the cab, and it wont affect how MSTS handles it if you run in both sims.

Read more in the Tutorials section…

Open Rails Short Horn Blast Fix – Another Solution For “Unfixable” Horns

An early problem in Open Rails, and one which hung around for a bit, was an inability to play a short horn blast — something necessary for common horn signals, including the usual North American long-long-short-long pattern for grade crossings. The basic horn behavior was resolved fairly quickly, but there were still a significant number of horns & whistles that didn’t play correctly, instead playing out a full-length blast regardless. The issue was figured out in the community and resolved by editing or adding in cue points (where they were non-existant) in the sound effect .WAV files. That has been the standard fix for a large variety of horns that don’t play correctly in Open Rails. Unfortunately, there have still been a few “unfixable” ones that didn’t improve with editing the cue points in a sound editor.

The solution turns out to be a parameter in the .SMS file that determines how the horn sound is triggered and stopped.

Read more in the Tutorials section…

Memory for MSTS – Accessing Memory Space Beyond 2GB

There was an active discussion some time ago on the TrainSim.com forum about a means to increase MSTS performance by increasing the memory space it can access beyond 2GB — the normal limit for a 32-bit application. It is possible, and it can have surprisingly good results, particularly on a computer with limited resources due to the way Windows manages memory.

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Migrating MSTS

In the time I spend on the TrainSim.com forums, I’ve noticed a repeating “theme” of forum members and MSTS users — new and old — discussing the (sometimes daunting) task of migrating an MSTS installation to a new computer or through the process of upgrading the operating system on an existing one. Re-installing MSTS doesn’t have to be the only way to do it; in fact, it’s often far simpler to move or backup/restore MSTS to a new location without re-installing everything from scratch. It does take a bit of careful work and attention to detail, but with some preparation it can be done with a minimum of fuss.

Read on in the Tutorials section for more…

MSTS Process Priority Improvement

Finding a way to get significant performance improvements with MSTS can be somewhat hit-or-miss, but here is one trick that does make a noticeable improvement. Windows has a means of allowing users to change the priority at which various processes are handled; it’s buried in the Task Manager interface but often known only to power users.  In the first tutorial added to the site, here’s how to take advantage of this feature with a free-for-private-use tool called Prio.

Read on to learn how in the Tutorials section…