Trainz Online - a window to the exciting world of Trainz.
Trainz Online is a union of technology and content that encourages Trainz users to become part of the online community. It enables content creators to showcase their content and provide additional information and real world background about their route, loco or even scenery objects. It enables users to locate and browse useful information without leaving the Trainz game environment. It also allows users to share their feedback with creators directly and to share information amongst themselves.
Trainz Online is a new community-driven website that will provide mechanisms for the online community to share information, content, and participate in discussions of Trainz-related topics. Whilst in development, Trainz Online is a subset of the TrainzDev site. As it is fleshed out more it will be tested online and then in-game prior to being fully launched in conjunction with the launch of TS2009.
Trainz Online will provide numerous community features including forums, per-user blogs, per-user image gallery, a wiki, and some community management features such as news and home pages.
Future extensions of the Trainz Online site may include the ability for users to embed DLS content, content galleries, user-driven community groups, etc.
Within the Trainz game environment, Trainz Online is expressed through an embedded web browser window. This allows new users to get a taste for the Trainz Online site without having to go out of their way to locate, sign-up, and participate in our web community. It is expected that frequent users will use a regular web browser for most online activities, since a regular browser is optimised specifically for browsing and does not carry the overhead of the Trainz game for simple browsing tasks. The intent of the embedded browser is not to compete with a regular browser, but rather to make specific content available in a context where a regular browser would be inappropriate.
From the point of view of a content creator, this means that users can click on a link from a menu page and become immersed in whatever content can be delivered through a web page. The current limitation to this in-game is the lack of support for Flash or other plug-ins. Currently it is expected that webpages will be published through an Auran controlled website for security reasons. Webpages will be published using similar tools to the current TrainzDev site.
The following specific tasks are intended to be solved through the use of the embedded Trainz Online browser:
- Encourage new users to become involved in the Trainz online community by providing integrated access to selected areas of the Trainz Online site from within the game environment.
- Allow the browsing of tutorials and rapid lookup of online community-driven help and information without leaving the game environment.
- Promote third-party content creation by encouraging personal and group areas within Trainz Online and allow content to lead the user directly to these areas.
- Allow the use of standard HTML editing tools for the creation of in-game tutorials and informational pages.
Within the game environment, Trainz Online can be accessed from anywhere- Surveyor, Driver, even the main menu. The user may open the Trainz Online interface at any time, and content may provide links to Trainz Online help or information pages. Trainz Online users have access to the following components:
- iTrainz Chat allows communication between users whenever they are in-game, enabling community chat channels and private messaging.
- The embedded web browser allows users to surf the Trainz Online site.
- The online help system provides contextual information on tools and content.
- Trainz Online pages may provide asset links, which the user may preview or install without leaving the game environment.