The Trainz Driver, a virtual reality GUI module is the active gameplay mode of Trainz, and the one New Trainz users will experience first. It may surprise the new user—Driver is probably the least used of the three main Trainz run-time modules by the dedicated Trainz ethusiasts—who are more likely Creating content. Most avid Trainzers prefer and enjoy the many seductions of the creative side of the hobby to the entertainment side, not that we don't drive, just not all that often in relative terms. OTOH, there is a strong core of ten year Trainzers who do nothing but drive. Trainz has the flexibility to satisfy all the shades of grey in between the two extremes.
Yet Driver skills will come into play as necessary skills if you do want to play, and some of us play so much we buy fancy expensive video cards able to drive three widescreen monitors, and expensive console controllers which mimic a real locomotives cab controls.
Trainz Driver is the part of the Trainz program suite that allows you to control trains on a layout and is the 'really doing things' (missions) or interactive 'Gameplay' part of the software system, and the part the new Trainzer first becomes comfortable with.
Operations and scenarios
Trainz Operations can be as simple as driving a light engine around a circle of track or as complicated as operating a large marshalling yard, with many different trains arriving for you to manage by giving the AI Drivers apropos commands hopping busily between consists, directing the railyard operations.
- To be a Session or a Scenario,
- ... that is the question...
Driver game play adventures, designed 'Scenarios' are called Sessions or Scenarios (older tech, to be discontinued in forthcoming Trainz: A New Era expected late 2014) depending on the technology of how they are constructed. But regardless of their class and keywords in the Trainz Data Model, both are the scripted activities using a special extensible C-like TrainzScript language—making canned activities presenting Driving challenges; most of which puts you into the cabin of the locomotives and usually require you to perform to some "task and standard" (keep to a schedule, this type is frequently scored, so you can beat your former best) or sort and place traincars in the correct places (Switching scenarios) and many combinations of these in problem solving and skills hurdles.
- Camera view, Camera position, Camera mode
- Camera location, directional angles from that co-ordinate axis, and zoom are how we see inside the Trainz virtual world—they define a viewpoint from which we observe, all generated by the graphics engine. They place us within the game graphics.
Driver has four camera viewpoints or 'camera modes':
- selects an Internal camera— there most often will be more than one; you know you're in an early loco model when there aren't at least five. Use + to select by toggling between them.
- selects an External camera, this is attached to the consist somewhere and moves with the train, use / to select which traincar the camera follows by scan-toggling between them. This mode normally starts on the engine so will move the camera towards the rear of the Train. This is also the camera mode in Railyard.
- selects the Tracking Camera mode. This is a camera in a fixed location the route designer places in the world with a viewpoint to showing the Train externally either at a fixed direction & angle, or which stays in place, but stays focused on the train and rotates (tracks) to stay locked on the targeted car. Use + as in camera mode 2 to view a different anchor car.
• The Mouse, mouse wheel, and keyboard arrow keys , , , & are used to position, zoom, and move this camera about including through objects.
• Use and drag the tool pointer (cursor) right, left, up or down screen away from screen center to slide the camera around, or rotate the view angle. (Surveyor Options settings dependent, customize to suit self: two controls pan and rotation)
• This lets us use and clicks using the 'mouse pointer' (tool tip) to operate junctions, turn valves, turn the DCC Mode dial, operate slider controls, and generally toggle or select button options, and like actions.
selects the Free Camera mode, and is arguably the feature which lead to Trainz successful growth. This is also the Camera mode used in Surveyor and it's focal point is always at the center of your display.
There are four main camera modes available in Driver to allow you to enjoy your train from any angle. The external camera and free camera modes also allow tipping of the view—in effect letting you use your galactic conqueror's anti-gravity belt to fly and look down at the scene of interest. All but the tracking camera allow zooming using a mouse wheel rotation or key board. The modes are switchable by mouse click or hotkeys;the camera control buttons are situated on the top right of the Driver screen, just below the game time, current speed and speed limit indicators. From left to right and correspond to hotkeysto , they are, Cab View, External View, Tracking View and Free or Roaming View. Some scenario writers will lock out one or more of these, to increase the driving challenge. Coupling a consist, once you get a little practice from the external mode a bit above and Trainz and Trainz UTC didn't have the Free Camera mode at all.
- Cab View seats you in the cab of the locomotive, and allows you to operate the cab controls when in cab mode both or either using the mouse or keyboard control keys. Some mouse tool-tip operations have an advantage over hotkey controlling, notably braking operations, throttle adjustments, and especially in that later class, the fine tuning of the controls of a steam loco called the Collective and Reverser—which together make driving the 'Iron Horses' of the first hundred and thirty years of railroading something of an art.
- External View allows you to view your train from any angle while still retaining operating capability using the hotkeys, but the train remains in the centre of view and the camera revolves around it, including pitch rotations allowing looking down or up at it. To select a different vehicle simply click it. The mode also support successively connecting to the next car ahead (
- Tracking Camera View allows you to watch your train from any of the tracking cameras placed around the route. These are implemented as essentially fixed viewpoints placed in surveyor; they don't move but as a choice made by the route creator can pan or remain showing a fixed view depending on the type of camera used. When the selected train is not in sight of any tracking cameras, the view reverts to external view until it is in range of another.
- Roaming or Free View was introduced in TRS2004 and the powerful feature is in all later versions. The Free Camera operates exactly as the Camera mode in Surveyor and allows you to move the camera in any direction using the arrow keys, without being anchored to anything. It is possible to zoom in and out using this view, and to pan or tilt; the pan and tilt is the same as elevating your View giving a bird's eye view and ability to fly and explore rapidly. In the TS10/TS12 releases rotating the bird's eye viewpoint up to look down while zooming far enough back (to see a panorama or wide view) will at one point transition the view into a large map view or spy plane's viewpoint (but without the clouds).
Trainz Controls Modes
In Driver it is possible to control trains in two ways: either DCC mode or Cab mode. When launching a driver session you are often asked which one to use, and then Trainz Driver operates in your chosen mode, what used to be—for the remainder of the session—but it is now possible to use the GUI Options Drop down menu to switch to the other mode (Session writer permitting). Both modes have a set of hotkeys (cheat links to the page top-right) which allow keyboard control as well as mouse modes, which are arranged to be very intuitive and so the same key has a similar function in every mode and locomotive type. In fact, the major key controls are a double set—one for left handed and right handed drivers and flipped mouse modes. tool-tip
Driver controls, and this should be no surprise given a bit of thought, and driver operations will vary somewhat in CAB mode; in particular when in a different locomotive and especially between steam locomotives and diesel-electric classes. Electric locos also have a somewhat modified throttle set-up, having (correctly modeling) real prototype throttles with 32 instead of the 8 throttle settings of a Diesel or diesel-electric.
One seemingly, but in time pressured situations, then not so trivial difference is British locomotive and railway conventions have the operator on the left side of the cabin, drive with oncoming travel to their right side, and have signals on the left side of the tracks (normally to the outside on double trackage corridors).
In contrast, the fast accelerating, quick stopping, short consists result in light rail and commuter locos (people movers) which often have the operating controls centered, and the North American convention has the operator on the right side of the cabin, the signals right, and oncoming traffic normally passes on the left. Light rail and metro commuter services conventions are more situationally-driven for such railways often have tight turns and constrained track spaces (i.e. in tunneled caverns under cities!) so signalling can be found in such tight quarters any side, and travel directions depend more on the needs of connections with spur lines than on ideal main line practices, but with a nod to the national convention if, and where possible.
The British and American conventions were born in the age of Steam locomotives, and each convention also places normal trackage used for express travel to opposite sides and so also the signals relative to the direction of forward travel.
It has been said many times, and will no doubt be oft repeated in the years ahead... there is driving on the right side—the North American convention of driving the mainline to the right of on coming traffic—and then there is driving on the wrong side!
DCC mode is designed to operate with a less realistic physics model than Cab mode, and is useful for people who wish to have a play with a layout or manage a lot of trains without getting too in-depth in operations with one particular locomotive. Route builders will often tour their developing route to spot places which are in need of further attention, to see if that panorama is as stunningly beautiful as they'd intended.
- DCC mode essentially operates like a model train set - to move your train you drag with your mouse tooltip to manipulate a circular dial - where moving it clockwise is (usually) forwards and anticlockwise is (usually) backwards. The further away from the 12 o'clock position you move the dial, the faster your train will both accelerate and stabilize at speed in that direction under the relaxed physics modeling of DCC mode.
- The mass and momentum of a train or consist has reduced effects giving a lessened degree of difficulty to driving. This has been termed an arcade style of game play, and the mode is useful for figuring out how to beat a tough session before returning to the greater realism and difficulty of CAB Mode.
- This mode is often used by route builders and session writers to debug a route and establish degree of difficulty parameters and time-test obsticles, like loosing the right of way to an on coming train using the mainline when you were just settling into a comfortable speed—oops! Time to exercise those braking skills! Surprise!
- CAB meaning Cabin Mode
- The more realistic and more challenging of the two driving modes in Trainz.
Train consists in CAB mode operate very differently for the full physics of each traincar is simulated, as is the delay for the air brakes systems versus train lengths come into play and to begin to have significant effect, as does wheel slippage on the Locos, speed of acceleration, over heating the power plant, having failures and a host of other Real World physical modeling that is one of the attributes of Train simulators where once, 'for a long while,' Trainz software separated itself ahead of other competing packages.[notes 1]
In Cab Mode the user can operate the driver's controls inside the 3D virtual cab by Click-N-Drag with the mouse, as well as use a superset of the hotkeys that are available in DCC mode; most of which operate similarly but with a few important differences, and there are a few other differences driving locomotives with Diesel, Diesel-Electric, Electric, and Steam Loco prime mover technologies.
Cab mode involves operating locomotives from their cabs and pulling levers and pressing switches for reversers, regulators, brakes and other controls, just like on a real locomotive. Instead of the DCC dial you get the Heads Up Display, which displays useful information such as throttle position, brake position and brake pipe pressure. Driving locomotives in cab mode is discussed in detail elsewhere in this Wikibook.
Managing Multiple Trains
At the bottom left of the Driver screen in TRS2004 and above is a portrait of a man. He is the driver for your train. If you have placed multiple trains with AI Drivers then you can click above your consist's driver-portrait to expand the left bar to show the drivers for the other locomotives in the session and then double-clicks to select them and their trains.
To operate two or more trains simultaneously is relatively straightforward - of course the easiest way is to simply set each locomotive up to run and leave them to it. The problem with this method is that the locomotives will simply travel until either the session ends, you stop them manually or they derail - they will not obey switches, signals or buffers. This is where your drivers come in handy.
The most effective way to run multiple trains in a session is to give orders to the drivers. The long rectangular pane at the bottom of the Driver screen shows the orders for the currently selected driver. The symbol closest to the driver's portrait is his current order, with other orders progressing from left to right across the pane. To assign an order to your driver simply right-click in the order pane and choose an order from the menu. The most common orders are 'Drive To', 'Drive to Trackmark', 'Drive Via Trackmark' (In TS2009 and later the word 'Navigate' is used instead of 'Drive'), 'Load' and 'Unload'. When carrying out orders. the drivers will drive the train, keep to the speed limits and obey signals. They will also change switches (turnouts/points), provided that the path is clear and that no other driver is already in control of them. The degree of success to which drivers execute their orders is largely dependent on how effectively the layout is signalled and tracked. Whilst carrying out orders the driver is in control of the train - the DCC control or HUD is inaccessible. To go back to manual control tell your driver to 'stop train'; He will bring the train to a standstill and the DCC control or HUD will reappear.
Switches (also known as turnouts or points) are controlled by a large set of arrows over them, the current selected path (left or right) is shown by the green arrow. It is possible to have a maximum of 3 diverging tracks from a switch, and in that case there are three arrows. Click the set of arrows to select which path to take. By default, no current version of Trainz uses with animated turnouts with blades due to the way that track is laid in Surveyor. Hpwever third party-created animated turnouts are available from the DLS, although they work in a slightly different way. If you click a switch and the direction does not change, there could be one of three reasons why:
- 1) Your train is standing too close to or on the turnout and therefore the switch cannot be changed in case of derailment.
- 2) You are not clicking in the right place. Particularly with later versions of Trainz and in areas densely populated with switches, you may find that the wrong switch is moving. Try readjusting your camera angle and try again.
- 3) The switch is currently under the control of an AI driver because his path takes him in that particular direction and he's close by. Find which driver is causing the problem, tell him to 'Stop Train' to regain control of the switch and the tell him to 'Continue Schedule' once that you are clear. If you obey the signals of a layout that is well signalled, this problem should be rare.
- From TS2012 upwards a yellow padlock icon indicates when a switch has been 'locked' by a train - either because a manually controlled train is too close or an AI driver has called a route across it.
Although not technically a control, signals are of course worth mentioning as a basic feature of Driver. Trainz features two basic types of signal, the modern colour light and the traditional semaphore. Signals are generally placed in 'blocks', but this is covered in more depth elsewhere in this wikibook. A feature of Driver is that if you hover your mouse over a signal aspect, Trainz will explain why the signal is showing that aspect. This is especially useful when a train reaches a signal at 'danger', as you can hover your mouse pointer over the signal to find out why it is at danger. Driver will then say for example, 'block is in use by another train'. If you then click on the red aspect, Driver will take you to the cause of it; for example in this case Driver will focus on the train currently fouling the block. The same system also works of the line is closed - Driver will take you to the closed turnout so that you can change it if required.
Map View shows a 2d birds-eye representation of the layout and all consists on it. It is useful for learning a new layout or navigating a complex one. The Map View button on the bottom right of the Driver screen.
In TRS2004 and later, the active industries send a waybill to the awaybill screen when they get below a certain stock level, this show you where products are most needed.
- DCC Mode dse
- (simulated) Digital Command Control. The simpler of the two driving modes in Trainz. The term comes from the world of model railways where DCC chipsets automate railcar behaviors, but really applies to the 'dial type controllers used in electric powered Model Railroad. In Trainz, the term refers to a simulated dial controller or the 'power pack' that will be somewhat familiar to anyone that has played with a typical (non-Lionel) model railroad such as H.O. Scale trainsets from toy and department stores.