|Railroad Simulator Professional Edition|
|Platform(s)||Windows/Mac OS X|
|Rating(s)||ESRB: Rating Pending (RP)|
Rail Sim Pro (fully Railroad Simulator Professional Edition) is the next railroad simulator from Auran Pty. Ltd., a software firm based in Brisbane, Australia. RSP is a follow-up to Auran's popular Trainz franchise series. One common misconception is that RSP will be another installment in the Trainz franchise, but in reality, it will be all-new code, rewritten from the ground up.
In mid-2006 Auran informally announced that RSP had been scrapped.
The original concept of Trainz was conceived by Greg Lane, one of Auran's founders and then the CEO. It began life as a simple model railroad designer, allowing the user to create his/her own routes based on their model railroads and see them in 3d, driving their own trains. It was well-known for its easy-to-use Surveyor tool, the module that allows users to create their own virtual railroads. The original Trainz saw three Service packs. The first two were, for the most part, bugfixes. The third, however, added onto Trainz many of the things that are now standard. One is the KUID system of identifying custom content. Along with that was Content Dispatcher, a utility that made .cdp files that Trainz can read. This was another thing Trainz was well-known for: installing custom content was as easy as downloading the .cdp, and double-clicking on it. The other major improvement of SP3 was the introduction of the TrainzScript scripting language, and the ability to create Scenarios or Activities for Trainz. Unfortunately, as activities had to be scripting using the TrainzScript language, only folks familiar with programming concepts could make them.
The second major release of Trainz was Ultimate Trainz Collection. In essence, UTC was Trainz with SP3, a few new features (not many), and some new content. Many consider UTC to be the purest form of Trainz, as it came the closest to Auran's original concept of a virtual railway simulator, before Auran started adding proto-simulator-type features.
The third major release was Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004. TRS2004 was a real turning point for Trainz and added many features that make up the Trainz we know today. The first and foremost addition was the new sessions system. Auran also introduced interactive industries and rolling stock, with visible freight loads and other things. There were also a number of improvements for custom-content creators that made things a lot more flexible. There have been four service packs for TRS2004. The first expanded upon steam-locomotive functionality and fixed most initial bugs. SP2 was also known as the 'passenger edition' but, in essence, it brought TRS2004 up to what Auran originally wanted for it. SP3 was a "Let's break everything' patch that fixed stuttering issues from SP2, but broke just about everything else. SP4 fixed SP3's mistakes, and brought TRS2004 to its current state of stability. It was around the time of SP2 that Greg Lane released a statement regarding the Future of Trainz; more on that later.
The fourth, and latest, edition of Trainz is Trainz Railroad Simulator 2006. Although TRS2006 has a number of smaller features and tweaks, it does not offer much in the way of groundbreaking new features. Its main improvement is the amount of new content included, graciously contributed by several community members. About 30% of Trainz community members have decided that TRS2006 is not for them and have returned to TRS2004.
Around the time of SP2, Auran's CEO Greg Lane decided to play a little game with the community. He designed a puzzle that, with all of the pieces together, pretty much revealed the Future of Trainz. He then took each piece and hid it on the internet; most on Auran's website, but some not, hidden much more deeply. He gave the Trainz community 18 days to find all of them, giving them one or two pieces every day to further the effort along. This was a period of much speculation based on the available pieces of the puzzle. When the puzzle was complete, there was a small lull as the community awaited the official explanation. When Greg made his Future of Trainz Statement is sent ripples through the forums. Trainz was to be split into two distinct products, each one focusing on a different style of users. One, called Tranzportation, would deal with all sorts of various modes of transportation; however, Greg said very little about it in his post and virtually nothing since. Rail Sim Pro, on the other hand, would be a full-blown simulator aimed at the Train Simulator market. Auran has acknowledged that, due to code limitations, Trainz cannot and will never be very prototypical; thus, the reason for RSP. RSP is to be a complete re-write, from the ground-up, and is considered an entirely different product from the Trainz Franchise.
Some of the features Greg highlighted in his Future of Trainz post (which was mostly centered around RSP) include:
You can read the full statement, as well as all of the feedback, at http://forums.auran.com/TRS2004/forum/showthread.php?threadid=60622