Frequently Asked Questions
What freedom do I have in this simulator?
Predefined tasks are available to start immediately. But you can also create your own tasks and trains. Then you can:
- Start the train at any station/yard/siding you want (waypoints marked as “depart”).
- Go to any station/yard/siding you want, provided that exists a viable route to that destination.
- Select intermediate stations/yards/sidings by concatenating them to create your route.
- Create your train by concatenating any reasonable combination of available train units.
- Customize the cargo weight of every car in your train. This will realistically affect the physics, so you must be careful about the final P/W ratio of your train, and be sure it will overcome the steepest grade of your route.
- You cannot manually change turnouts or signals. This will be done by the IA dispatcher.
- This simulator encourages good practices and prototypical operation, but you are free to drive your train however you want. The simulation will be terminated in some extreme situations, like a derailment or passing a stop signal.
Where are the track monitor, the next speed and signal information, the destination marker, the grade indicator... ?RunOnRails tries to mimic the real train driving experience. Don't expect that the simulator provide you with any advantage over a real train engineer. So watch for the mileposts to know where you are, be careful to not miss a signal or speedboard, use the locomotive distance counter, study the timetable in advance, figure out the grade from mileage or train response... and enjoy the experience of safely drive a train to its destination.
What are you working on right now?
- Improve locomotive systems. Our goal is that you can use the real locomotive manual as a reference. (Expected progressive releases, more relevant systems coming first in the next months).
- Improve graphics and sound. We are fully aware that our graphics have room for improvement. There are lots of details that we have delayed to future releases, to prioritize other developments that we think are of major significance in this kind of software. (Continued improvements will be released interleaved with other developments).
- Variable weather. This is not only aesthetics, physics are also affected by weather. For example, our physics engine has contact physics from day 1. You can now, try to get a heavy train moving with full power on grade and see the effects. But since the current weather is always a sunny and comfortable 20ºC / 68ºF day, you cannot feel how adherence between wheels and rails changes in function of temperature and humidity. Variable weather will provide this. (Expect progressive releases start on 2021).
- Radio communications using a text chat. Real train engineers chat over the radio, so we believe this feature will bring realism, while allowing you to get to know each other virtually. Of course you can turn the radio off and ignore it. (Expected release before end of year).
- Rolling stock: before the end of this year more cars will be added and, at least, one more locomotive.
- Scenery: improvements on buildings and other 3D models on both Northeast and Southwest U.S. sceneries.
How often will you release updates?
Our development process is iterative, but without a predefined iteration length. We are following this principles to release:
- To launch frequent small improvements, better than sparse big updates.
- Every release launch is seamless from the user perspective. Next time you log in you may be in a new release, so you have not to worry at all.
- Of course, all is included in the yearly subscription. You have not to pay anything more to enjoy new releases and new contents.
Will you release a downloadable desktop version?
We do not rule it out, but we are not working on this now. The new WASM and WebGL standards allow for graphical applications that run on web browsers at speeds like native code. Compiled to WASM programs (the technology we are using on the client side) are automatically assembled to native code for your CPU just after download, therefore it runs as fast as a native desktop application, because it is native code. Also, since server side performs almost all computing except graphics, your PC gets alleviated.
We think this approach brings great advantages. You can play from your Windows desktop PC at home, but likewise from your Mac laptop elsewhere. In addition, you have not to worry about any sowftare installation, configuration or update. Almost any current PC comes with a standards compliant browser and working graphics drivers preinstalled. This is all you need.
Will you release an VR version of the simulator?
We are conducting some tests with VR. Although it will not be in the coming releases, eventually RunOnRails will enter the VR world. Note that VR technology is still experimental in web browsers.
Where can I send my questions and feedback?
We greatly appreciate your feedback. Feel free to write us your questions, wishes and suggestions, your contributions will help us develop a better train simulator. But we are a small development team, and time spent responding is at expense of simulator features, so a FAQ like this, where most common questions are answered, is a reasonable middle ground.
We expend some time reading forums and social networks to know more about our fellow railfans, so we are also answering elsewhere questions in this FAQ.