For a while I have been unhappy with the quality of the environments in Flight Sim compared to other flight simulators available for the mobile platforms. Many of my competitors used real arial photos to build their terrains. Even though Flight Sim offered 20 free airplanes while my competitors offered only 1-2 free airplanes (with others costing $2-$3 each), Flight Sim was failing to capture market share. I believed that the quality of the terrains (and some other bugs) was the major reason for the poor reviews that Flight Sim was getting. So over the last few months I have been working on a major update to Flight Sim, more of a redesign that improved the quality & realism of the environments available in the game.
Prior to posting any preview videos on my progress I had to first figure out how to use real arial shots of terrains in a game, without crashing the average phone. That process took a month on its own with many failed experiments and wasted hours.
However at the end I was able to create a fairly realist environment that will work on the majority of mobile devices. Since July 18th I have been posting these preview videos on Youtube documenting my progress.
Today I am happy to announce that Flight Sim for Android is now live! The iPhone/iPad version has already been submitted to the store and should be live within a few days.
As always I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Feel free to post them on my Twitter or Facebook Page.
After my trip to Europe I was inspired to add a train from Poland the ST44-700 which is a version of the Soviet Built M62 diesel locomotive. These trains were to the work horse of the Eastern Block countries as well as Cuba and North Korea. Although past their prime ST44-700 can still be seen in Poland and in other countries under various names.
Also in this update Custom Environment – Terrains. You asked for it and here it is, the ability to raise & lower terrains in Custom Environments. Also if you lower the Terrains far enough you can expose water. This will allow you to create truly unique environments for your trains.
Also in this update there have been many suggestions about how to improve Rail Signals in Train Sim. From now on Rail Signals will turn red once a train passes them, increasing their realism.
Train Sim update has now been updated for all platforms (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 10 & Amazon)
I am a little behind on posting blog updates so today I am catching up. Since my last post there have been two updates to Train Sim. Both were very exciting and addressed several popular user requests.
The first update introduced a new Achievement system to replace the older score system that just gave you points for driving & crashing trains. Most players agreed that it was very boring.
The new system allows players to earn various Achievements that range from simple (Decoupling a Train) to more complicated (Completing a track on every scene with a Diesel Train). You can access the new achievement system by clicking on the trophy icon on the menu screen. On Android you can also share your achievement points and compete with your friends or other players. Since this is a new system please feel free to send me feedback and suggestions on improvements.
One of the other complaints I often get is related to Train Drivers. The trains do not look as real when they are driving empty. So in the last 2 updates I introduced drivers for all freight and steam trains. (next update will introduce a subway/passenger train driver)
Lastly the new version of Train Sim also added a new Class 66 train (very requested by users) This new train turned out very well and has an awesome 3D Cab.
This brings the total of 50 Trains to a mobile game that is still less then 100 MB on Android! At this point I don’t think there is another mobile Train Simulator offers more quantity & variety of Trains from around the world.
If that was not enough, the last update also added new Custom Environment items as well as 2 new car variations, including a pressure tank car & new double stack car with random container colours.
If you read my Twitter & Facebook posts it may feel like I only work on Train Sim. While Train Sim is my most popular game with very active & vocal fans, I have 22 other games I made that are also quite popular. So after my last Train Sim release I decided to focus on updating all my other games. Here are some of the highlights of the awesome new features now available.
Kids Train Sim
Kids Train Sim received a much needed overhaul. I actually deleted all the scripts/code from this game and replaced them with them with code from Train Sim. This I was able to provide all the updates, fixes & features of Train Sim but in a more kid friendly package. Features like train decoupling, improved passengers, manual door control, custom environments & new user interface are now available in Kids Train Sim. While I was there, I also added a new City Scene & New Trains. All of this took a while to implement but I think the end result was worth it.
3 Jewels Sequel
Because every game company should have a Match 3 Game! As some of you may know I have a very popular Match 3 game called 3 Jewels. I have been secretly working on a sequel called 3 Jewels 2 with 300 new challenge levels, new graphics and awesome new effects and game mechanics. 3 Jewels 2 is currently available on Google Play and so far the reviews are 5 stars!
Aquarium Sim is one of my newer games that I am trying to promote. So far its launch was a bit bumpy but it is improving. On this latest update I improved the Custom Environment Feature. Just like in Train Sim you can now move items around after they are placed. I also fixed a few bugs that Improved the overall experience. I am happy to report that after this new update the average rating on Google Play has improved to 4.0.
Kids Car Racers
I was watching my son Play Mario Kart and noticed that the karts in that game can launch things (mostly shells) at each other. I decided that this would be a fun feature in Kids Car Racers. So the new version of Kids Car Racers now allows players to launch Barrels at the other cars. I also added a new Alternate Reality Scene which allows players to race cars, well in their living room and wherever they are. The scenery from their environment comes directly from the camera just like in Pokemon Go. The effect is quite cool.
The main feature of this update was the new Santa Fe EMC E1 Train which I think turned out really great. I am especially happy with the observation car that just looks awesome during rain.
Another great addition in this version is the Double Stack Car which was requested by many Train Sim fans. The actual Box cars are separate from their base so in the future I am going to add different colours and maybe even allow them to be unloaded from the train.
In addition to the new Train & Cars I also added 20 new items to place in Custom Environments & implemented the ability to move previously placed items. I think the Custom Environment feature is coming along very nicely. There are a couple of things I would still like to add in the near future, such as deleting items & modifying train tracks by dragging their spline control points. However I have not yet figured out how to implement these 2 features yet so stay tuned for more news.
Finally I have been spending allot of time over the last few months trying to chase down some Train Sim performance issues on older devices. This was very apparent on any devices that have less then 1GB of RAM Memory. Although most devices sold over the last few years meet that requirement, I know there were many people that played Train Sim on older tablets & phones that were experiencing crashes. I have probably spent 60 hours trying to figure out how to lower the memory usage while not reducing the overall quality of the game. I am happy to report that I finally figured it out.
The issue was actually caused by break sparks. I am not going to go into technical issues but basically each of the spark effects on each of the wheels was kept in memory even if they were not shown/used. The actual fix was quite simple and involved creating the sparks only for the currently shown train and deleting them immediately after the train was changed. The result is that Train Sim now uses 40% less memory then before. This means it will now work on much wider range of devices then before.
In the future I can’t guarantee that Train Sim will run on that (5 year old) 2011 Samsung Galaxy Nexus or iPad Mini Generation 1. But as of today it does, so download future updates with caution 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this new update as much as I enjoyed making it. I have allot planned for future Train Sim releases, so keep checking back here as well as my Twitter & Facebook pages for daily updates on what I am working on.
Currently I am working on improving the Custom Environment feature in Train Sim. First I started with adding 20 new items you can place in your custom environments. These new items include new Trees, Bushes, additional Farm Textures Grain Silos, Tractor & Cow plus more. If you have any suggestions on what other items you would like to see feel free to contact me.
I also worked on adding a way to move previously placed items by simply clicking on them. I would like to also let people delete previously placed items, but I am not sure how to actually implement this in the interface. Here is a video preview of some of the new items and the ability to move items around, coming soon to Train Sim.
I am happy to announce that another Train Sim update is now live on Google Play! This time I was able to include 3 of the most requested features:
Improved Track Connections
Allowing users to build their own custom environments, is something I always wanted to add to Train Sim. It is obviously something not easy to implement and previously I never had the time to focus on it.
However recently I added a similar feature to my other game Aquarium Sim and I thought, maybe this could be adapted to Train Sim. After a few hours of effort moving the code over from one project to another I was surprised that it worked. I was able to place objects on a Terrain on a predefined track. I quickly posted a preview video on my Twitter feed and happy with my progress I went to sleep.
Next day I started the real work which would continue over the next 2 weeks. First I needed to add 50 predefined objects to the custom environment editor. This was easy but repetitive work as for each object I needed to create a small preview icon. This involves taking a screenshot of the 3D object, opening it in Photoshop, cutting out a transparent background and saving the result as a PNG image file. 50 times.
I also had to build 2 separate tracks layouts and allow the environments to switch depending on the user choice. This turned out to actually be that hardest part as none of the other scenes in Train Sim support multiple track layouts, and things were constantly breaking.
Add to that object rotation, Terrain Texture selector & the massive amount of testing around this feature, and I would estimate 100+ hours of total effort. However I think it was worth it. Here is one of the later preview videos of the Custom Environment feature (still only had 1 track to choose from)
The other major feature I focused on this release was Train De-Coupling/Coupling. This was also a much requested feature from many users. The actual de-coupling implementation was simple. The tricky part coupling the Train again when it is backing up & from behind the train. Each engine has a different size which means I had to adjust and test each of the engines plus double engines, plus tenders. If that was not enough I also had to make sure I can de-couple go around the track and push the train from the back. Again accounting for the variable engine size, testing each one. I even build a small track for testing this feature that allowed me to go around and push the train from behind faster. 48 times …
Here is one of the final video previews I shared on my YouTube channel.
In the future I hope to expand this by allowing users to drop off and pick up cars from the rail yard.
Finally one of my personal pet peeves in Train Sim were always the Track Connections. Not only were they buggy, they also looked terrible as the tracks would visually just overlap with the main track always on top of the connection.
This new version of Train Sim fixes both this issues as Track connections now work much better and look much better. The actual solution to this was very simple and I can’t believe I have not through of this in the past.
As always this new version of Train Sim is available on Google Play first with the other platforms coming soon after.
One of the things that always bothered me about Train Sim was the User Interface (Buttons). I never liked the look but more practicaly I did not like the fact that it used words. Even when I translated the button labels into 7 other languages that meant there were still millions of users that did not have a translated user interface.
Furthermore there are lots of kids that are younger then 6 years old that enjoy playing Train Sim but do not yet know how to read. My son was amongst those for many years.
So I decided that in this update I will focus on an improved user interface. I have been posting in progress screenshots on my Twitter Account but finally I settled on the above look which is now live on the Google Play Store (Android). Thanks to my Twitter followers I also learned that some people simply like the old interface. So the Old Interface will still be available in Options.
In this update I also added a new (much reqested) Open & Close Doors Button that will show up when the train is stopped. From now on that button will need to be pressed when the train is stopped at a station to let the passengers out. It will no longer be automatic.
I am excited to announce that the new version of Dinosaur Sim is now live on the Google Play Store. This update includes a new Winter Scene for players to explore as well as a new feature that allows players to share their high scores with other players via the Google Play Leaderboard system. See you in the Jurrasic!