Day 1: Discover - Trainz - Original Edition
Day 2: Discover Ultimate Trainz Collection
Day 3: Discover Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004
Day 4: Discover the Future of Trainz (2004)
Day 5: ?
Day 15: ?
Throughout the long history of Trainz, nothing generates interest (and discussion) more than a post about the future plans. In early 2004 following the release of Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004, then-Auran CEO Greg Lane began a promotion releasing a piece of a puzzle each day on the Auran website. The completed puzzle looked like this:
The puzzle was the lead-up to a momentous announcement which began with the following news post:
(Published Feb 9, 2004)
Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the first retail release of Trainz but more importantly it is time to lay out the track plan for the future direction of the whole Trainz franchise. Before we explain our plans, let's look back at some of the highlights of where we've come from.
This snapshot of the history of Trainz shows how the product has evolved over time and at each stage we have added features and functionality to broaden the railroad experience. Each product has improved upon the previous version and TRS2004 is the fastest selling Trainz product ever thanks to a wider audience awareness, more concentrated launch schedule and greater retail presence.
Our immediate plans going forward involve the release of Passenger Pack - Service Pack 2, scheduled for March 2004. SP2 adds interactive passenger stations, driver timetables, improvements to the rules, commodities and commands systems, mini-map display toggle, tweaks to AI and many more features. Taking on board customer feedback, we won't be releasing SP2 until is complete and thoroughly tested, even if this means slight delays. This will be the last free upgrade for TRS2004.
So, the big question remains, what do we plan to do next?
Our goal going forward is to continue to expand the product and enhance those areas that we believe will appeal most to our customers. In order to achieve this goal we also are presented with the challenge to generate sufficient revenue along the way to ensure we have an appropriate budget and market appeal for each of the products. The path ahead is therefore a careful balance between design and commercial realities.
To leverage the solid foundations of TRS2004 and to build upon the platform already laid, the next product we have designed for release will be an "Engineers Edition - Expansion Pack" (EE).
The aim of EE is to add to the overall realism of the simulation for budding (or retired) engineers. EE will include new prototypical routes, new locos, new cabs and a number of new features focussed on cabs, tracks, and the overall driving experience. The Expansion Pack will require a full version of TRS2004 and will be totally backwards compatible (with TRS). Pricing, full feature sets and release dates will be announced during the year.
We also plan to release a TRS2004 "Gold Edition" which is effectively a stand-alone version of TRS2004 and EE combined. This product is targeted at new purchasers and will include an upgrade pricing model for owners of older versions of Trainz. We are also examining plans for other expansion packs for TRS2004 along the lines of our original plans for Brachline, Commuter and Network Packs.
The most important decision we have had to make is what to do looking longer term. The decision we have made is to split the product and follow two diverging paths - one heading down the prototypical route, titled "Railroad Simulator Professional Edition", and the other down the management simulation path, titled "Tranzportation". Greg Lane, Auran CEO and original Trainz visionary, has prepared a detailed article explaining the direction of RSP. You will notice that the word Trainz has been dropped from the title indicating that this product will not be an updated version of Trainz, but rather a totally new project designed from the ground up.
Tranzportation is aimed more at the casual gamer. Whilst still focussed on railroads, Tranzportation will introduce other elements of freight and passenger transport such as planes, ships and trucks. The gameplay is more about managing transport fleets and expanding your fleets to meet the needs of industry, towns and cities, and not driving vehicles. You will be able to zoom right in to see your reflection in the paint work, and also hop inside the cab or cockpit of the vehicles. We are in discussions with several leading publishers regarding plans for the Tranzportation product and will keep you informed regarding that project as more information comes to hand.
One of the key aspects that has characterized Trainz has been the willingness of 3rd party content creators to donate their time and energies into proving additional content for our recent releases. Without their support, we simply could not afford to continue developing the product line. However, this process has not been without its pitfalls. Having almost 100 people in the 3rd party content group fording development of TRS meant that we were unable to provide each of these people with the level of support they deserved. We also simply couldn't provide sufficient time with a stable code base for the creators to work on, meaning that it was always difficult to meet deadlines.
Learning from our past experiences, we are making a few changes for the upcoming future releases. We will be appointing a full-time 3rd party liaison officer whose primary role will be to co-ordinate 3rd party content efforts and help them in every way possible. This person will help to hand select several small teams to work on various mini-projects that fit into the overall design of the particular product. Volunteers will be invited to apply for positions on the various teams. We will also ensure that there is ample time in the development cycle for content to be designed, created and tested.
This collaboration will ensure the highest possible quality of content ever produced for Trainz and will be a highlight of our upcoming products. Full details regarding the formation of the new groups will be published after we release Service Pack 2.
We know that we already have a fantastic community and it is currently the fastest growing rail sim community in the world. The future success of Trainz and the other products we have outlined here is very much in your hands. The product is getting better and better, and we have created a new hobby for many thousands of train fans. We know that given the right development budget we can continue to improve and expand our product range to meet the wide range of tastes from all types of train fan.
The challenge, however, is that our fan base needs to continue to grow, and even accelerate. Each of you, as a member of the Trainz community or as a new reader of this paper, can help to ensure the success of these new products by helping us to grow our customer base today. How? By simply employing the power of "word of mouth" testimonials to help spread the word about your favourite hobby.
Here are some things you can to help make Trainz even better:
Show the product to your friends to get them hooked:
With your support, Trainz will continue to grow and evolve for many years to come.
To finish off this trip down memory lane, here is a summary right from the end of 2004 showing the highlights of the year...
WOW! What a great year 2004 has turned out to be. Lance_Jago, Proby and Cafe joined the team, GardenGnome took a well earned extended leave of absence, and we saw the Content Creation Art Source CD and service packs galore for TRS2004. Let's take a quick look back at the Trainz year of 2004.
We hope you have enjoyed 2004 as much as we have. We are looking forward to sharing the journey that lies ahead of us in 2005 with you.
It is interesting looking back now. Tranzportation hasn't happened (yet) and Railroad Professional also never eventuated. What has happened is that Trainz has continued to improve and expand with new features, optimisations and free updates created for each release. And just as importantly, our Content Creator community have continued to play an enormous role in Trainz expanding the range of content and improving year upon year.