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Archives for April, 2010

Train Game 0.2

April 18th, 2010

I feel it’s about time I released another version of Train Game: so here it is, version 0.2! Like it’s predecessor this version isn’t really playable in any sense, but you can drive the train around a bit. Here’s a screenshot showing the two major new features: trees and uphill track:

Building and Playing

This version is source-only and will only work on Linux/*BSD without significant tweaking, although I do plan a Windows version at some point.

First, download and unpack TrainGame-0.2.0.tar.gz.

In the TrainGame-0.2.0 directory, run:

cmake .

You will be notified of any missing dependencies. Note that FLTK is no longer required. Do not run make install! It’s currently designed to run in-place.

To play:

./bin/TrainGame play demo

You can substitute “demo” for anything in the maps directory such as “figure8” or “uphill”. If you want to create or edit a map do:

./bin/TrainGame edit mymap --width 32 --height 64

The controls are quite simple:

  • The up and down arrow keys control speed.
  • The “b” key toggles the brake.
  • The “r” key toggles reverse but only when there is no power applied.
  • The left and right arrow keys change the direction of points when you are near some.
  • The tab key switches between bird’s-eye, floating, and fixed camera modes. Use the mouse to move the camera in floating mode, then hit tab to lock it in fixed mode.


So, I’m thinking of where to go with Train Game now since the project seems a bit direction-less and perhaps that explains the slow progress.

My current thinking is that there will be two game modes: “challenge” and “trading”.

Challenge mode involves you completing various train based tasks. There are two sub-modes:

  • Timetable – drive a passenger train along a route trying to stop at stations at the correct times and also make the passengers’ journey as comfortable as possible (i.e. no sudden starts/stops). This style of game seems very popular in Japan.
  • Delivery – you are given a series of increasingly difficult delivery tasks to perform with a strict time limit. E.g. “collect 10 units of wood from X and deliver them to Y in 1 minute” or something like that.

Trading mode is a bit more open-ended and also has two sub-modes:

  • Capitalism – you buy and sell goods at different stations. There’s a simple market economy which fluctuates with your actions. It’s a bit like a train-based Elite. With the money you earn you can buy new trucks, upgrade your train, etc.
  • Socialism – there’s no market but you score points for heroic actions such as transporting goods over long distances at high speeds. There are also randomly generated “quotas” that work a bit like an extended challenge mode. The details still need to be worked out…

In both these sub-modes you compete against other AI controlled trains, or maybe even other human controlled trains.

I’m also considering renaming it DoofTrains to make it sound a bit less generic.

What do you think, readers?

Shepperton Lock: a hive of terrorism?

April 18th, 2010

Yesterday I went on a walk from Staines to Twickenham along the Thames. It’s not the most interesting part of the river Thames by any means so I don’t have many photos to share. However, when I came to Shepperton Lock near Weybridge, Surrey I see that the local police force have collected the full range of anti-terrorism posters:

I wondered why Shepperton Lock was such a terrorist hotspot. But then I did remember that this part of England was once overrun by hordes of martian invaders so maybe the residents are rightly scared of outsiders. In fact, I believe the ferry crossing at Weybridge was the site where the first martian was destroyed by cannon?

Speaking of ferry crossings, as excited as I was by taking a small boat across the Thames, £2 is a bit steep for 30s of boat-riding.

Anyway, I’m 16 miles closer to having walked the full length of the Thames! :D

So, farewell then, Slough bus station

April 6th, 2010

If you live in the Slough area it can’t have escaped your notice that Slough bus station is currently being demolished under the guise of the Heart of Slough regeneration project and replaced with a strange hybrid of a crustacean and a fan heater that changes colour with the weather (I’m not joking). The library is also suffering a similar fate.

This is all very reminiscent of the post-war flurry of destruction and redevelopment that built modern Slough, bus station included, that is now so derided. Still, out of a survey of one life-long Slough resident I’ve found 100% in favour of it’s obliteration so maybe it’s for the best.

I’d rather hoped there would be some grand destruction ceremony involving explosives that I could witness but the actual demolition is, fittingly, not very glamorous:

Apparently you can judge the prosperity of a town by counting the number of cranes on the horizon. By that measure Slough is second only to Dubai!

New bus station opens January 2011. I’m sure you’ll all be anxious for updates.

Hooray for the funicular railway

April 4th, 2010

It’s Easter today but even more importantly the East Hill funicular railway in Hastings has reopened! Hastings has not one but two funicular railways, the other one is longer but shallower and appropriately positioned on the West Hill. The East Hill lift has been closed for several years due to an unfortunate accident but is now operating again and has reclaimed its place as the steepest funicular railway in the UK. I have taken some pictures to celebrate this happy occasion which you can see below.

After years of deriding my home town I’ve recently decided I quite like the place. I don’t know whether this is due to my recent move to the Slough/Maidenhead area having been spoiled living in York and Winchester, or because Hastings really has improved under the benevolent rule of Michael Foster.

Still, the town is certainly a trendy place to be now considering all the fancy designer outlets displacing the charity shops in the old town and the influx of the middle classes.

Unfortunately not everything is happy in Hastings today. For what do the incoming middle classes demand above all else? Art galleries! And what do they not want? Wooden huts selling ice cream! Thus Tom’s Cabin on the Stade is to be demolished and replaced with an art gallery despite local opposition. Today was Tom’s Cabin’s last day of trading and the local media had turned out to record the event. I remember visiting the outlet as a sprog but alas it will vend no more. Nevermind. Maybe the art gallery will have some good pictures. Will report back later.