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From: "Tupaczewski, Paul R (Paul)" paultup AT lucent DOT com
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 00:13:33 -0400
Subject: Microsoft Train Simulator
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Hello folks,

I'm typing this from a hotel room in Los Angeles. I'm here on
business, attending the Electronic Entertainment Expo ("E3").
One thing I wanted to check out was the Microsoft booth at the LA
Convention Center to see their "Train Simulator." Fortunately for me, they
had two displays there that demonstarted the game. I also found out from
their product manager that it just went "gold" last week and the CD's are
being pressed as I type this. The game should be available by the end of
June/beginning of July.

Overall product review from my 30 minutes of playing with the game:
It works beautifully! You can use the mouse to move the cab controls, or use
key combinations to do this. The audio is very well done (the sound changes
as the locomotives go under a bridge, you hear occasional flange squeals,
you hear the hollow metal sound as you cross bridges, etc.). The graphics
are also equally well-done, and you can position yourself ANYWHERE - in the
cab, at trackside, in a helicopter, or even as a passenger on the train! The
two US-specific scenarios are Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (Philadelphia,
PA-Washington, DC) with related Acela equipment, and BNSF's line over Marias
Pass. You can run trains at night (quite beautiful, actually), and in the
rain or snow (VERY neat!). All the weather conditions affect how the
locomotives respond. You can "free operate," or follow the rules. You can
also "play" the game by performing certain scenarios (way freights with
assigned tasks, passenger trains with assigned stops, etc.). The
architecture is completely open-ended, and the product manager mentioned
that several of the beta testers of the game are already coming out with
free libraries of new tracks and equipment. The track/world design tool he
showed me is VERY impressive and highly advanced. You won't be creating
track layouts very quickly, but they will certainly be detailed. The
unfortunate thing is that Microsoft will NOT provide technical support for
the track design tool - it's a non-supported tool, but it is the tool the
developers used to create the track profiles in the game.

I mentioned to the product manager that they should create some
equipment/track scenarios from the 1940's and 1950's, as that would probably
do better in the US. He said they'd consider it for future releases. If
you'd like to see something, E-mail Microsoft. I want to see EL SD45s!!! :)

Performance was perfect on their machine (an Athlon 1GHz machine
with a GeForce 2 graphics card). The game requires a graphics accelerator
card. I'll report on how well it runs on my Pentium 2 450 with a graphics
accelerator in a month or so....

I've attached four screen shots I took with a digital camera today:

Photo 1: The view out the cab of an Amtrak HHP-8 diesel as it
departs Washington Union Station. Note the color PRR signals, as well as the
catenary structures - very close for DL&W!
Photo 2: A view out the cab of a GE C44-9W diesel.
Photo 3: An elevated view of the same train in photo 2. Note the
smoke from the first unit. That was somewhat odd - both BNSF diesels were
constantly smoking in the game. I'm surprised that partner BNSF allowed
Photo 4: An Amtrak Acela train snakes through the switches as it
departs Philadelphia, PA heading towards Washington.

I can't wait to get my copy to start creating the Boonton Line in
digital form! :)

- Paul

Paul R. Tupaczewski_______________________
Lucent Technologies
Wireless Networks Group Phone: 973-386-4966
Mobile Internet Applications Fax: 973-386-3538
67 Whippany Road, Room 15C-121
Whippany, NJ 07981

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