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Community Profile - Gary Hartmann

By Tony_Hilliam, August 20 2018

What was your involvement with trains prior to discovering Trainz?

My father was a big train enthusiast.  I grew up around the Philadelphia – Wilmington DE area, and my father would take us kids down to what is now the Northeast Corridor to watch trains racing by.  It was such a thrill seeing the PRR engines racing past. Other than steam engines, the engine that caught my eye every time was the GG1. Such a fantastic engine, beautiful lines.  In contrast, the GE E44s had no lines to them at all, and resembled a giant brick, racing past pulling endless lines of tank cars destined for Marcus Hook, the nearby refinery.

There was always a train set up at Christmas.  My first set was a TYCO brand HO set, with a CB&Q Gp 20 engine in grey and red livery.  It was on the ping pong table every Christmas – isn’t that really what ping pong tables are for?  Of course, I was a big HO train modeler after that.

Would you tell us a little about your Trainz background?

For years I saw advertisements for Trainz versions along with that competitor version, but in the back of my mind I had always dreamed of a real HO layout – came close too.  Did the usual 4 by 8 table, laid down track for a layout, and had to put it in my son’s bedroom because there was no room elsewhere. The table legs were tall enough so his bed fit right underneath it.  Crazy, eh? No…it didn’t get finished.

I figured if I ever got into virtual trains, I’d probably never end up with the HO layout.  Finally, I came to the realization that the HO layout was going to be too expensive to build, I’d never have the room, and I’d never be able to afford all the engines I dreamed about owning.

I snapped up TANE, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since because I should have done the Trainz thing many years ago.  It is just amazing, the variety, the engines I can collect for all the various railroads I’ve always liked, the routes from the game from all over the world, and the talent in the community.

I am, judging from the Trainz lines next to many of the signatures I see on the forum, very late to the party, but I am enjoying every minute of this simulation.  There is a learning curve, but that is part of the fun.

Having been invited to be a beta tester for the new version of Trainz, what are your first impressions?

I had been working closely with the content group, trying to iron out some problems I was having with the Mojave Subdivision payware.  It is a great route, but some parts were not working right. The group liked my testing and the invite came out for the new version. I jumped at the opportunity, because I enjoyed TANE so much, and figured TRS2019 was going to be even better.

I was right in many respects about that.  My first impressions of the new version are very positive.

The realistic portrayal of lighting is what catches one’s eye first, along with the detail to scenery.  This adds greatly to the immersion effect, which is, after all, what we all are hoping for. I love the feeling, being inside the cab of an engine, rocking on the rails, seeing a very closely accurate depiction of scenery rolling past the windows – I’d always wondered what it looked like from the cab of my HO engines, and I’d get low to the rails to look down the track, pretending I was seeing the view from that CB&Q Gp 20.  

Now, with Trainz, I am actually looking from the cab of the engine.  I don’t have to imagine it any more. I am seeing it! And what I see from the engine in the new release is the best I’ve seen yet.  I think TRS2019 is going to be an amazing experience.

What is your most memorable Trainz experience?

I’d have to say there are two that come to mind immediately.

My first memorable Trainz experience was running a PRR GG1 pulling passenger cars out of the 30th Street Station in Philly on a route I downloaded from the DLS.  I was heading south to Wilmington DE and I stopped at all those passenger stations I remembered stopping at as a child.  It was a true trip back in memory lane, and I was reliving it, thanks to this simulation. Just simply amazing.

The second memorable Trainz experience was while doing beta testing for the upcoming release.  There was a route we tested, and it involved running multiple trains on multiple tasks, acting as the dispatcher, but also having the option to ride in the trains as well.  While not really familiar with how to do this, I managed to figure out what to do, and it was just crazy amazing, running all those trains at the same time, assigning them tasks, and seeing the AI engineers completing the assigned tasks.  There was a rush seeing this all happening at the same time, and then a really strong feeling of accomplishment when the session ended. I had been completely caught up in the action and lost track of all time. It was such fun.

Anything else you’d like to share about your Trainz experience?

We all come together in Trainz for different passions, I think.  I love seeing all the artistry that goes into the creation of this simulation, and then there is the freedom to create more to enhance the initial experience.  I am amazed at how realistic the routes, buildings, rolling stock, and engines look in Trainz, thanks to the game creators and the community.

I just love running the engines and consists for now, immersing myself in the games routes and tasks, but I can see the Surveyor thing beckoning me too.  I’ve tried my hand at some route creation and it is addicting as well. And I can go back in time, relive memories, and drive steam engines that used to dominate the rails.  I enjoy Trainz every time I open the simulation, and I believe the new release will be even more enjoyable.