Trainz/Introductory Trainz/How to build a route in 10 minutes

Surveyor Workflow to create a route edit

This page provides a step by step guide to the Surveyor workflow and will guide you to create a simple Route and Session—as a 'Programmed Instruction (PI) challenge' or module— that could take just 10 minutes to create—given a little practice and familiarity with the Surveyor tool sets.

Fundamentals for Trainz Trainees

Trainz Asset Maintenance and Creation
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 Mouse use

Creation of a fictional layout edit

The goal of this PI-module is to help you learn-by-doing about Surveyor Tools whilst doing something fun and creative. We and more importantly you will be building on this introduction through several iterations of skills building challenges, so exercise care to master the tools as we introduce them, and spend some time experimenting. This page is directly inspired by the recent belated addition of template forms an external link to an N3V Wiki HELP namespace page given only the page title.

  • It add NS and HowTo parameters to link to Help namespace like:  

internal coding
<span class="plainlinks">[{{{1|{{{URL|{{{url|}}}}}}}}} {{{p|{{{2|{{#replace:|{{{1|{{{URL|{{{url|}}}}}}}}}|_| }}}}}}}}]</span>

Usage edit

A close read of the shows the linking string given as {{{1}}} or URL= or url= is the subpage address after the TrainzWiki Help TOC-page listing N3V help articles.

  • Like most every Trainz template it may be given the pretty-text parameter '|p= some string which forms a priority output, otherwise, the template is designed to replace underscores in a url with spaces and display the page title, just as if it were a local page link on any Wikimedia based Wiki project.
  • It is also designed for placeholder parameter {{{2}}} to support the more convenient pipe-separated call normally seen in wikimarkup language:
{{HT|some_underscored_url_pagename |Some pretty name'}}'''

For this template, since the subpage names AND the Trainz Wiki divisions are named for topic clarity, the shorter form using the page name is likely to be what is desired:


</noinclude>the similar page on the TrainzOnline wiki put up by N3V CEO Tony Hilliam. Some of the editor's suspect the general workflow goes back to the examples in all the Trainz retail releases 'Manual' documentation from Trainz to the forthcoming TANE.  

In a September Skype voice conference 3 of 4 long experienced Trainzer's were surprised to find that the Trainz Manuals booklet was also included in the TS10 and TS12 releases in the folder 'extras\manuals' off the install's root as a pdf resource! As new Trainzer's, we suggest opening that with freeware Foxit and have that searchable resource open and ready on your second head or by ALT+Tab ↹ and ⇧ Shift+ALT+Tab ↹ switching while learning Trainz!


Naming your Route edit

To begin, click Start Trainz from the Launcher then Click-LMB on “Create Route” at the bottom of the Routes screen.
Enter the Main Menu and select Surveyor. In the Surveyor Menu, Click-LMB+Create New.

The display will have a dialog API box with the top line "New Route" already highlighted.

Change the name of the route (Suggest: "The Ten minute route-M000") then
A) accept the defaults provided in the dialog by clicking the Checkmark, as the (source) route building tutorial page on the Trainz Wiki suggests. Or, take the advice of users experienced with running the program and developing a route from stage to stage over the years and so...
B) Reposition to the Session name, and give it a good title too. (We're using "Figure Eight rail-tripping-m000")
B2) Call the session (whimsically descriptive, we think) "Figure Eight Rail-tripping-M000"

Tip: Yes! On session names too! You'll thank us later! If you don't, the various Save As occasions, will give too many routes with the same identical name, so distinguish them now! One of those 'good practices' people adopt after getting hurt! Protect thyself!

Suggest Thinking ahead,... Let's assume a first route eventually developed along the lines of a basement Model Railroad Empire, 6-9 baseboards to 16 (4x4). Our 'draft' specification: We want to develop a map with figure eight center section, one feature of which will allow reversal of direction and a perimeter oval with a passing siding, small yard(s), some industrial spurs feeding interactive businesses and a town scene with a few grade crossings. All dominated by a mountain and foot hills terrain, giving a number of places where we need bridges and somewhere, a tunnel, a lake and river system, and a couple of Train Stations.

  • Keep that long term goal in mind and perhaps sketch something out on paper as a target—we'll return to the concept as a project from time to time here and this is part of your assigned tasking.
  • For the moment, we're resuming with our initial one board project.
B3) Select a region--intro: region & reference: kind region, this selection is important for traffic (TrainzCarz) and the look-see-feel, including season's effects, time calculations based on Latitude and Longitude, and other realism factors. We suggest United States (as our tutorials about the built-from-scratch together example map will be) or another Continent scale region; without having downloaded from the DLS, your basic choices are currently tightly limited.
Your blank baseboard awaits...

On experimenting and safing your work. "Nothing is quite as disconcerting as finding after three or five hours intensive trial and error... 'you just can't get there from here... and you've ruined what you had trying."

  When you get a notion that you aren't sure you can make work, save the files; Then immediately 'Save As' again or soon after you start your experiment. This is called being safe, being prudent, or by programmers, 'safing your work' (state).

  • Experiment by all means, but make sure to safe your work before making radical changes that might not be easy to recover from. Bad enough to loose hours in a failed trial, but it's much worse when you have no way to back up to the status quo ante without having a backup to go back to.
  • Key Point: Surveyor saves in pairs - it always wants a session associated as a dependency with a Trainz Map (Route) asset. So it makes one.
  • So protect your time--Save often, and use a different suffix for a project using a two or three digit suffix (the 'M00' above, for "Mod-00", meaning a modification with zero significant changes.


Making Mountains edit

Click the Topology Tab (F1) then the 'Height Up tool'. Click-LMB on the radius knob, and drag it until the dial is in about the 12 o’clock position. Do the same for the sensitivity dial. Move the mouse cursor into the 3D world and it changes into a dotted circle called the “circle of influence”. Click and hold LMB and a hill will begin to form. The longer you hold the LMB the higher the hill becomes. Move the mouse around while holding LMB and you can create various peaks and ridges. Tip: Use the Undo/Redo buttons (CTRL-Z/CTRL-Y) that are found on the top menu panel to retrace your steps if you make a mistake.

Ground Texturing edit

Click-LMB on the Paint Tab (F2) and the Topology menu is replaced by the Paint menu. Use the scroll bar to scroll through the texture palette or type in the edit box to look for a specific texture. LMB to select a texture and it will show between the Direction and Scale dials. Click-LMB and drag to apply the texture to the terrain. Select and apply a different texture and play with blending textures (overlapping), rotating them using the “Direction” tool (or the [ or ] keys). Change the size of the pattern (the scale of the texture) by using the Scale tool (or CTRL-[ or CTRL-]). Change the size of the area being painted using the Radius tool or the + or - keys.

Placing Objects edit

Select the Object tab (F3) from the tab panel and select an object. As you click on an object from the list, a small 3D preview appears in the preview window. The Add Object mode (A) is enabled by default. Click in the world to place the object. Use the Move and Rotate tools by first enabling the tool in the Menu then click dragging the object in the 3D world. Tip: Save regularly in Surveyor to ensure you don’t lose your work should the unforeseen happen.

Laying Track edit

Select the Track tab (F4) and choose the track “TS15 Trk Oak V6”. Ensure you are in Add Track mode and lay a short section of track by clicking twice on the baseboard; firstly where you want to start the track, and then where you want it to end. The white circle at each end of the track is called a “Spline Point”. Click on the Move tool (M) and click and drag one of the spline points. Notice that the track follows you. Release the LMB where you want to place the spline point. Select the Add tool again, a click-LMB on a spline point (the white circle). As you move your mouse away you will see the track is being extended. Click again on the map to complete the second track segment. Next click on the Straighten Track tool (B) then click on one of the spline segments between the spline point circles. The track is immediately straightened. Try each of the other tools including the advanced tools to insert, raise and lower spline points and even to smooth the ground under the track.

Adding a Turnout edit

In the Track Tab, click-LMB on the Add Track button, and then click on a section of your existing track in between two spline points. A new spline point appears and you can now Click-LMB again, away from the exisiting track, to create your turnout. Use the Move tool to position the direction of the track to give the best appearance. Notice that the check rails and sleepers are placed automatically, and move as you move the rail.

Adding a Lever edit

Trainz will automatically add in a junction lever, which controls the direction of the junction, whenever you create a junction. The Red and Green arrows indicate which way the turnout will be set when you begin to operate your new Route. To change the turnout’s default direction when in Driver, select the “Junction Direction” (J) found in the Trackside menu (Y) then click on the arrows to toggle the direction. Note: The Switch lever can be deleted using the Trackside Object Delete function, but you must replace it with another of your choice if the Turnout is to function properly.

Adding Spline Objects edit

Just like adding track, it is possible to lay roads, fences and other spline based objects. Click on the Objects Tab and then click on the Spline tool. Follow the same process as laying track to lay down a road and a fence alongside the road.

Understanding Session Components edit

Now that we have created some terrain, scenery and track, it is time to move onto the “Session” components - the variable parts of the experience such as the locos and Rules governing how the Session will operate. A Session can be as simple as driving a specific train from Point A to Point B or as complex as the author desires. As the Session author, all the decisions are up to you. To set up a Session, the author needs to decide upon a range of factors including:

  • the route (which part of the world) where the session will take place
  • the locations on the route (are you going from one end to the other or working in a single section of the route?)
  • the quantity and selection of locos and rolling stock
  • the driving mode required
  • placement of trackside cameras
  • placement of trackmarks and triggers
  • level of instruction provided to the user
  • what penalties will be applied for poor performance
  • whether scoring will be used

Changing to Session Layer edit

When you create a new Route, you are by default working in the Route Layer. Anything in the Route Layer is also present in any Session created for the Route. To switch to working in a Session layer, open the Layers tab (F6). Click the Session-Layer entry and any objects you add will now be placed in the Session layer.

Adding Locos & Rolling Stock edit

Select the Trains Tab (F7), select a locomotive from the list then Click-LMB on any position on the track to place the locomotive in the 3D world. Arrows will appear above the loco defining which direction will be “forward” in your Driver Session. Next, select a freight car from your list of rolling stock. Click-LMB on the track just behind the placed locomotive. Keep on Clicking LMB just behind the last car in the consist to add cars. Lastly, add one more loco which will be our “AI Driver”

Adding a Trackmark edit

Select the Track Tab (F4), then the Trackmark Mode (V). Select a a trackmark and click on your track ahead of your AI loco. Click on the Checkmark to accept the default name of the trackmark and close the window.

Assigning a Driver edit

To define how your Session will operate, click on the “Edit Session Rules” icon (CTRL+R). There are 6 default rules already included and these are configured so it is possible to start a Session and run it without any amendments. Click-LMB on Driver Setup Rule, then Click-LMB on the Edit button to open the Properties window for that rule. This Rule is responsible for assigning driver characters to each train placed on the tracks for the Session. Click on the driver character icon (not the name) to bring up a list of drivers. Choose any driver from the list and click on the Checkmark to return back to the Driver Setup rule properties window. The driver you chose is now assigned to the locomotive.

Issuing Commands edit

Next we are going to add a driver command. Click on the green arrow in the command area. Choose Drive to trackmark from the list and then choose the Trackmark you just placed. When your sessin starts, your driver will head for that trackmark. Close the Driver Setup rule properties window by clicking LMB on the Checkmark. Then exit the Edit Session window with changes saved by clicking LMB on the tick near the bottom right corner.

Save and QuickDrive edit

Click-LMB on Main Menu and Click-LMB on the Save option to save your creation and make it available in the Routes and Sessions lists. To jump straight into your Driver Session from Surveyor (and back again into Surveyor when you are done driving), Click-LMB on the QuickDrive icon (CTRL-F2).

Troubleshooting edit

The Driver mode will now be loaded and the route you just created will appear with your two trains. Your camera will be focused on one train, and the AI Driver will be operating the other one, heading for the trackmark.

If this isn’t happening, choose Main Menu > Exit Driver and you will load back into Surveyor to make any adjustments. Re-read this section to see which aspect you may need to change.