Trainz “MPS” Buildathon

By Tony_Hilliam, November 13 2020

To celebrate the official release of the latest Trainz Plus update and the new "Multiplayer Surveyor" feature, we're running a new online event - the first ever Trainz Online "Buildathon".

What's a Buildathon?

A Buildathon is a fun event where teams of people collaborate to build a Trainz Route from scratch in a limited time frame.

For this first event, we're allowing one full week to plan things and get organized, then one week where you and your group of like-minded Trainzers create a masterpiece Route based upon a simple set of rules. 

Of course this is all done using the new Trainz Plus "Multiplayer Surveyor" feature, and everyone is invited to participate or just attend by becoming a spectator.

To take part, you'll need to have the latest official Trainz Plus build installed and have an active Trainz Plus or Gold Class membership. 

If you're not currently a member, there's a one month free trial option available (see below for more details).

Buildathon Rules

  • Routes are limited to a maximum of 30 baseboards and can be made in any shape (e.g. 30 x 1, 15 x 2, 5 x 6, etc)
  • We suggest starting out much smaller than 30 boards and expanding so that you can complete everything in the time allocated
  • Content is limited to the current MPS content set (this set will be expanded in future updates) 
  • Each Route has one Team Leader who must register their Route Name and Team Members using this Registration Form
  • Teams can have from 2 to 6 members (i.e. 1 x Team Leader + up to 5 additional team members)
  • Once a team is registered, Buildathon Routes will be created by N3V Games and locked for editing until the competition start time
  • All team members will have full edit access to their team Routes (except Permissions which will be locked by N3V Games)
  • You can only participate in one Route during the Buildathon and cannot change Routes or teams during the event
  • You can change team members prior to closing of registrations
  • Routes will have Guest Access enabled, with Guest Edit Permissions set to Disabled
  • Only team members can edit, but anyone with the latest Trainz Plus build may observe or login to check out other Routes in the competition
  • At the end of the event Edit permissions will be temporarily locked while voting takes place
  • N3V retain the right to use all Buildathon Routes in promotion materials
  • N3V reserve the right to amend and clarify the rules prior to the start of the competition
  • N3V reserve the right to disqualify any team for any Code of Conduct or other serious "fair play" violations
  • Key dates and times for the event are listed below

Note that after the event is complete, N3V will create a cloned version of each Route that is then made publicly editable. Ownership of the original Route will be transferred to the Team Leader.

Buildathon Times and Dates

All times and dates mentioned here are Australian Standard Time - AEST (GMT +10). 
Please check your local times (5pm AEST is morning in Europe and very early morning in USA) 

  • November 13 - 2 p.m. - Official Announcement 
  • November 13 - 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Developer Q&A Session #1
  • November 13 to November 19 - Registration is open
  • November 13 to November 27 - "Just for fun" practice Routes available (see below for details)
  • November 16 - 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. - Developer Q&A Session #2
  • November 16 - 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Developer Q&A Session #3
  • November 19 - 5 p.m. - Registration Closes
  • November 20 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Discord Channel Chat
  • November 20 - 5 p.m. - Buildathon Routes become Editable
  • November 20 - 5 p.m. - Buildathon Event Commences 
  • November 27 - 4:59 p.m. - Buildathon Event Ends 
  • November 27 - 5 p.m. - Buildathon Routes are Edit locked
  • November 27 - 5 p.m. - Voting Period + Survey Starts 
  • November 29 - 5 p.m. - Voting Period + Survey Ends

Competition Prizes

The main aim of this first Buildathon is to introduce people to the idea of building Routes as a team with the new MPS tools give people the opportunity to discover the power of collaborative route building.

To encourage participation, everyone who enters officially through our Registration Form and then completes our "Buildathon Survey" will receive one month free access to Trainz Plus. Existing Gold Class and Trainz Plus members who meet these requirements will receive a free one month extension to their current membership.

Buildathon Survey:

To qualify for your reward, you need to complete our exit survey which includes voting for your top 3 Routes. The link to this Buildathon Survey will be provided once the route building stage ends on Nov 27.

The survey will consist of:

  • Answering 10 short questions
  • Submitting 3 unique screenshots of your completed Route (i.e. you must take and submit your own screenshots)
  • Voting for your Top 3 Buildathon Routes (excluding your own of course)

Guest Voting

Guests who have accessed the competition routes will also be able to vote on their favorite Route. Voting is limited to one vote per MyTrainz account created prior to November 13, and with Trainz Plus access (trial or paid).

The link to the voting form will be provided once the competition closes. 

Overall Winners:

In addition to our "participation reward" and to ensure some friendly rivalry, we want to provide an extra incentive to build some top quality Routes. Therefore we'll also be awarding a "Best Route" prize to the winning team.

The winner will be decided by way of counting the votes submitted by all entrants in the Buildathon Survey. Each member of the winning team will receive a $50 voucher to spend on the Trainz membership of their choice. 

Judges decision is final.

Choosing a Winner:

Every team will be using the same tools, and same content set, and then votes will be cast by people who participated. (To earn your reward for participating, you need to complete your vote).

Here are a few suggestions on what to look for when voting:

  • How does the overall quality compare to other Routes?
  • Is the Route complete?
  • How unique is the Route?
  • Are there interesting uses of the content set?

Of course you can choose any other criteria to help you decide your favorite Routes to vote for.

Developer Q&A sessions

There will be a number of Q&A sessions where you can chat with the developers and get all your MPS questions answered.

Join us either on Discord, or in-game in the "Just for Fun" MPS Route at the times listed below

  • November 13 - 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Developer Q&A Session #1
  • November 16 - 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. - Developer Q&A Session #2
  • November 16 - 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Developer Q&A Session #3

Also, we will be online on our Discord Channel to answer any final questions and sort out any other issues on November 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Trainz Plus Free Trial 

If you have not tried out any of the Trainz membership options, then now is the time. Simply go to MyTrainz > MyMemberships to start your free trial (this requires a credit card but you can cancel at any time prior to the end of the 30 day trial period).

If you have previously cancelled your Trainz membership (and no longer have a membership), please email [email protected] and we'll provide you with complimentary Trainz Plus access for the duration of the Buildathon.

Preparing for the Buildathon

The more preparation the better, so here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • Firstly, decide if you want to lead a team or become part of another team
    • If you have a strong idea of what you want to build, then you should probably be the leader.
    • If you're more interested in helping out, check out the forums and Discord chat to find a team to join.
  • Team leaders are encouraged to put together a team by creating a new thread using this Multiplayer forum link
    • Create a new forum thread, explain your goals and expectations and work out your plans before the Buildathon event commences
    • You can also use the official Trainz Discord Channel to discuss your plans.
  • Want to join a team? Post in our "Buildathon - Looking for a Team" thread and try to find like-minded people in your time zone
  • N3V Games will assist where possible to create teams for those having trouble
  • Got other questions?  Please ask them in our "Buildathon Official Thread" here.
  • Note that all Routes will be open to guest access during the competition, so guests will be able to watch progress but will not be able to edit
  • Check out the "Just for Fun" MPS Route to find other people who are online in your time zone (see below for more information)
  • We suggest you read the MPS FAQs here to become familiar with the functionality

Registering a Route and Team

This first Buildathon is a team event with teams comprised of 2 to 6 members total.

Team Leaders must register their full team using our online Registration form

Team members do not need to register separately. 

We will regularly update the main Buildathon forum thread with team lists.

Planning your Route

  • Prior to the official event start, you are free to create your own Route for practice and planning purposes
  • To do this just create a new Route and use the Share option (Go here for more help)
  • You can make the Route open to guests or not, and determine who to invite
  • We suggest you work out how much time you will each have during the competition week
  • Then work out how long it takes you to create one baseboard
  • From there you can work out how many baseboards to add
  • You can also work out who is good at which aspects such as texturing, laying track, etc
  • You can then use the practice Route as inspiration to improve upon in the competition proper
  • We also suggest all team members check they can log in to their competition Route

Building your Route

  • N3V Games will create one Buildathon Route for each team that registers
  • These Routes will be visible in the normal MPS Route listing (but not editable until the event starts)
  • Team leaders will be given Admin permission and team members Edit permissions
  • Remember you can add up to 30 baseboards maximum (in any direction or pattern)
  • Don't forget that you can also place and drive trains (but don't get too sidetracked by driving while you could be building! There will be plenty of time later for that)

"Just for Fun" Route

If you're not sure about joining a team and registering in the Buildathon, then we've prepared a special Route for you to enjoy and check out the MPS tools and systems.

We've created a Route named "Buildathon - Just for Fun" which will be the meeting point for our Developer Chats and for finding other interested particpants to join you in the Buildathon.

This Route has full edit access enabled for guests, so you can load in, look around, and help out as little or as much as you like. 

This Route isn't part of the official competition, but will give you a good feel for how things are done. The Route will remain open throughout the competition for anyone to contribute to, but will not be part of the official voting.

Guest Behaviour

You can search on "Buildathon" to find all the official Routes that are entered and click on "Edit Route" to join. (We will remove any non-official Routes named Buildathon).

As a guest in a Route, you are expected to behave in a polite and non-intrusive manner.

You are unable to edit the Route, but you can use the chat function and you are able to drive trains that are placed on the Route. (Go here for more help)

Team Leaders have the ability to ban problematic users from their route.

Test Run - 2 Hour Buildathon

We gave half a dozen beta testers 2 hours to test out the Buildathon concept. Starting with the original "British Midlands" route (quickly converted to use the MPS content set), a handful of people transformed and expanded the route in just two hours. 

Here are some screenshots of the progress made in this very short time frame:

Firstly, by growing from a 5 x 4 layout to 7 x 5 layout

Starting from the sparse 2001-style sparsely populated landscape (with speedtree replacements of course).

Plantation forests were grown and harvested.

A new seaside lumber industry was brought into operation.

At times, it was time to take a rest in the shade and admire the view.

Fields were sown. 

Industries became active.

New neighbours moved in.

And and soon as the 2 hour route building period ending, trains began rolling.

We can't wait to see the results of a week long effort with organised teams working toward a common goal!