How To Make Scenery

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Trainz, the game, comprises two basic components: a railroad and scenery. Trainz aficionados are a diverse group and individual users interests and talents are likely to emphasize one or the other of these two components. Developing realistic scenery surrounding the railroad is an aspect of the game that only a few users have really mastered. This integrated series of How-To pages will introduce those interested in improving the look of their route—improving the scenery—to techniques they can easily learn and apply. Although scenery objects (assets) are important and will be discussed, the focus here is on the landscape itself: especially the use of the Topology (sic) and Paint tools in Surveyor Mode. Although applicable to any version of Trainz, the text is based on the tools and renderings available in TRS2019.

How important is realistic scenery? It is fair to say that Premium Routes, free to Trainz Plus members and for a small fee to others, are selected by N3V Games largely on the basis of the scenery. Location is a substantial part of the interest in mastering a Trainz Session set in, say, the Rocky Mountains or Northern Italy; and the same can be said for conducting operations in a complex and realistic industrial area. It is conceivable that some users may have little or no interest (oh the horror!) in actually running a railroad. From T:ANE version forward a gamer may create a world in which the railroad is just part of the scenery. Travel about such a world ("Route") would be by car, truck, bus, boat, or airplane—or just walking. This approach is now possible in Trainz, appealing to a user with a strong artistic nature.

Table of Contents

The folowing subject areas are part of this Trainz Wiki How To Guide (click on a chapter title):

LAYOUT Starting a route; Linear vs. Area models; hiding the "Edge of the World".
HILLS and VALLEYS Ups and downs: creating terrain.
OBJECT and SPLINE ASSETS Adding objects and spline objects; spline shadows; backdrops.
COLORING (PAINTING) Selecting and applying ground textures.
WATER FEATURES Creating surface waters: creeks, streams, lakes, waterfalls, and the ocean.

Some Basic Rules

For every route builder, the first consideration is achieving a scenery consistent with the landscape they are mimicking. Choice of objects, particularly vegetation (types of trees, for example.), is perhaps primary but topography—creating the terrain of hills, mountains, gullies, etc.—is of great importance and should be the starting point for a new route or expansion of an existing route. Another rule requiring consideration is the "decrease detail with distance" rule. The computer will attempt to render everything you have added within a scene (up to the "Draw Distance setting); and the scene is constantly moving with the train being operated. Great detail may be called for close to the track, but not at distances far from the track. Details should decrease with distance on the premise that no one is really going to notice them, no matter how much fun they might be to create, and rendering them places a cost on performance. Note that a decrease in detail with distance from the viewer is built in to most assets and ground textures to reduce strain on the rendering process.

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