|Trainz Content Creation—Intermediate to Advanced Topics
Trainz Asset Management & Creation
For your creations to run smoothly in Trainz it's best to know a little on how the program works.
The TC3 content creator's guide is the latest one available as a *.pdf file that completely covers modeling concerns and tutors the process. It is an update of the excellent preceding guide published with the release of TRS2006 when Auran, an well established game company of note with a large staff was financially healthy. Unfortunately they soon overextended on developing an expensive unrelated game (Fury) leading to the rights acquisition by the smaller N3V during the bankruptcy proceedings. N3V hasn't the staff to output such a well developed work, and even their wiki is undeveloped and unfinished since it's start in October of 2008, — primarily because they alienated the user community by over controlling the project, discouraging the many from contributing. With the launch of TS09 N3V's tiny staff elected to establish the TrainzOnline Wiki to provide content creators with 3D modeling guides and rules which could be easily updated and maintained.
Modeling guidelines http://online.ts2009.com/mediaWiki/index.php5/Modeling_Guidelines
Image texture guidelinesEdit
Compressed image formats such as
.jpg are good for storing images because file sizes are small relative to images stored in uncompressed formats such as
.png (Portable Network Graphics) or
.tga (TARGA). However they are not good for Trainz as they need to be decompressed on the CPU which degrades performance.
.bmp files are best as they do not have to be decompressed.
TRS2009 handles textures differently than previous versions of Trainz. TRS2009 transparently compresses textures by a factor of four so you can use larger texture files for the same performance.
.jpg texture files are not a problem in TRS2009 but be aware that because they are a compressed format, the quality degrades each time they are saved.
Normal mapping can give added detail without putting extra load on the cpu, its fairly easy in Blender and is supported in TRS2004 upwards. Technically TRS2009 handles it a little better.
Level of Detail (LOD)Edit
LoD (Level of Detail) Chris Bergmann Auran:
"A decent rule of thumb might be that each LOD should shave off at least 50% of the polygon detail, and that LODs below ~500 polys are not worthwhile unless you expect the item to be static and present numerous times in the same scene. (For example, a tree or generic house.)
More LODs means more memory usage and more CPU/GPU time in order to swap the LODs in and out as appropriate. You want to make sure that the time and memory lost in LOD swapping is more than compensated for in the polygon savings. Small polygon gains just don't make sense in this light."
Each texture file incurs an overhead of roughly 200 polys equivalent so keep the number of texture files to a minimum, preferably one unless using a normal map then two.
To load anything in Trainz incurs an overhead of roughly 300 polys equivalent, Chris Bergmann in Trainzdev, so a block of houses has a lower overhead than six individual ones.
When building a layout select large items that use .tga or .bmp texture files and ideally just one of these. Try to avoid items that have thirty odd .jpg texture files. That nice simple 120 poly building is carrying a hidden unnecessary 6,000 poly overhead.
Locos and rolling stock often use scripts these weren't protected from each other in TRS2004 and often two items that work separately will cause TRS2004 to crash when used together. Later versions are better for scripts.
Heavy smoke kills the frame rate so use it as lightly as possible from as few places as possible.
TRS2009 is very good at spotting errors that can cause problems even in other versions. Use CM2 to error check your work.
Notes and FootnotesEdit