Friday 15 February 2013

Trainz Rediscovered

After a few years of absence, I rediscovered the computer game Trainz last week. It helps that I have a new(er) computer on which to run it. This is an old version of the software ("Trainz Railway Simulator 2004") but just as playable as the latest version.

My first challenge was to get it running on Windows Vista. There is plenty of chat in the forums on getting Trainz 2004 to run on Vista, some of it less helpful than others. The main problem is Vista's heightened security awareness, which prevents nornal users from modifying anything in the Program Files folder. There are ways around this, but after a bit of tinkering this is what I did to get it working:

  • Run the installation program as Administrator. To do this, you have to right-click on setup.exe and choose "Run as Administrator". Don't just double-click on it.
  • Do not install into C:\Program Files - instead install it into a different folder like c:\Trainz.
  • Once it has finished installing, go into the Trainz/TRS2004/Bin folder and right-click on the main application. Then go to Compatibility and tick the box "Run as Administrator". 
I have also been reading the reviews on the newer versions of Trainz, to determine whether I should upgrade. Reviews are mixed. The hardware specs for the newer versions are beyond what I have at the moment, However, the Trainz Download Station is no longer free, and I am either faced with upgrading, or buying a subscription to be able to download additional stuff.

One of the interesting things about Trainz (and possibly other railway simulators) is that it allows users to create their own content. If you can use a 3D graphics program you can design your own rolling-stock and buildings. If you don't mind doing some programming, you can write your own code to enhance the way that the simulator works. This means you can create whole new industries, with wagons and loads and loading points to go with them. Very flexible.

There is plenty of user-generated stuff out there. One group called TrainzProRoutes has created some highly detailed railroad routes from around the world, including some that take 4 to 5 hours of real time to drive from end to end ! 

Now I don't need to build a model railway in the spare room ... I can build it all in the computer...  and it looks very realistic. Hours - maybe months - of fun are guaranteed.