Microsoft Train Simulator
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|Microsoft Train Simulator|
|Release||May 31, 2001|
The simulation allows players to operate a train on various routes in Europe, Asia, and North America. Players need to stop and start the train, couple wagons, using the computer mouse, keyboard or a hardware addition such as Raildriver to operate the controls. Sound effects are enabled.
The game featured six routes in four countries: Austria, Japan, United Kingdom and United States of America. Four of the routes use in standard gauge (1,435 millimetres (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in)) and two in 1,067 millimetres (3 ft 6.0 in) Gauge.
Train Simulator sold 191,952 units in the United States by the end of 2001, which drew revenues of $8.7 million. These numbers rose to 330,000 copies ($11.6 million) in the United States alone by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to rank it as the country's 54th-best-selling computer game released since January 2000.
Internationally, Train Simulator received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In the German market, the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD) presented it with a "Gold" certification in early 2003, for sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Reviews and awards
John Lee reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "All aboard for HO scale fans, trainspotters, and nostalgic rail buffs. Train haters, however, may prefer the old cliché, 'Run for the roadhouse, boys. They can't corner you there.'"
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences nominated Microsoft Train Simulator for its 2001 "Computer Simulation Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.
The game also included a route and activity editor, that enabled users to create and modify routes, trains and activities. The game also allowed for mod support to add and change routes, trains, cargoes, scenery, etc. The installment of the mods is somewhat tricky since they have to be loaded into set files like Routes for Routes and Trainset for Trains, rollingstock, consists, etc. Over 1,000 mods were created for the game and are mostly hosted on community sites such as trainsim.com, uktrainsim.com and elvastower.com, to name a few. Additionally, MSTS BIN, a community mod that aimed to add features and fix old MSTS bugs has since been released.
On May 7, 2003, Microsoft announced that it would be developing a sequel called Microsoft Train Simulator 2 and it was first demoed to the public at E3 on May 15. Seemingly its main improvements were the addition of people to the game (e.g. passengers waiting at the stations, people operating the new locomotive roster, etc.), more realistic crashes and other accidents, and turntables. It was being developed by Kuju Entertainment, the original MSTS creators. Despite restructuring efforts at Kuju, the project was however handed over to Microsoft Game Studios on August 18, 2003.
This project was ultimately halted, as the following statement on April 24, 2004 from Microsoft confirmed:
Microsoft Game Studios has halted the Windows-based game "Train Simulator 2.0." The decision to halt "Train Simulator 2.0" was made some time ago and was based on a long, hard and difficult look at our business objectives and product offerings. We remain focused on the simulations category with successful, platform-driving franchises such as "Microsoft Flight Simulator."
On January 19, 2007, Microsoft announced the relaunch of the Microsoft Train Simulator project. This time the game was being made in-house by Aces Game Studio (Microsoft Game Studios) known for its long line of Microsoft Flight Simulators, as a part of the "Games for Windows" initiative. The game would have used the Microsoft Flight Simulator X graphics engine and it was planned to be compatible with both Windows Vista and Windows XP. A post on 'The Little Wheel Goes in Back' blog, written by one of the developers, on August 23, 2007 suggested the working title was 'Train Simulator 2'.
On January 23, 2009, Microsoft announced that it was permanently closing Aces Game Studios, the internal development studio responsible for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series and the development of Microsoft Train Simulator 2. As a result, all future development on Train Simulator 2 (which was entering the final stages of development at the time of the closure) was immediately halted, marking the second time that the project was terminated. While Microsoft stated that "they are committed to both the Flight Simulator and Train Simulator brands", it is unknown if the Train Simulator 2 project will ever be resurrected and completed sometime in the future. However, considering the fact that they discontinued support for Windows XP in 2014 and Windows Vista in 2017 (the two operating systems the second attempt was to be compatible with), as well as the Games for Windows initiative discontinued in 2013, it seems unlikely.
Many former employees of Aces Game Studios went on to join Cascade Game Foundry, a new company that was itself founded by two Aces alumni. Cascade Game Foundry focuses on developing entertainment simulations.
MSTS content is compatible with the open source train simulator project Open Rails. Open Rails boasts the largest collection of digital content in the world thanks to the following of MSTS. Hope of developing MSTS further ended in 2009; however, the support for 3rd party dlc that MSTS provided gave Open Rails a talented community. Open Rails uses the GPL license. Open Rails is now moving on from achieving legacy support for MSTS to adding new features. Open Rails takes advantage of modern graphics processors. This allows Open Rails to achieve better frame rates than MSTS.
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- Bradshaw, Lucy (January 31, 2002). "Markle Forum on Children and Media" (PDF). New York University. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 19, 2004.
- Edge Staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
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- "Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Announces Finalists for the 5th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards" (Press release). Los Angeles: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. February 5, 2002. Archived from the original on June 2, 2002.
- "Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Announces Recipients of Fifth Annual Interactive Achievement Awards" (Press release). Las Vegas: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. March 1, 2002. Archived from the original on March 6, 2002.
- "The Editor and Tools". Microsoft Train Simulator - Engineer's Handbook. Microsoft. 2001. pp. 89–90.
- http://www.trainsim.com/vbts/showthread.php?292660-MSTS-Add-On-Web-Sites Retrieved 27. March 2017
- "MSTS Bin - MS train simulator upgrade". mstsbin.uktrainsim.com. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
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- "Microsoft takes over Train Sim 2 – PC News at GameSpot". uk.gamespot.com. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
- "Train Simulator 2 canceled – PC News at GameSpot". uk.gamespot.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
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- "Open Rails - Free train simulator project". www.openrails.org. Retrieved March 20, 2022.