(no) update

I’ve been getting increasingly more requests for news on the sim, and that’s totally justifiable because the last news was over a year ago! The simple answer to why there’s been no news is because: there’s no news.

I haven’t worked on the sim since last year, and honestly, I don’t even have the development computer at the moment. The research of the historical Disneyland is daunting, as well as not having any free time, basically leaves the sim as is. I’ve looked into hiring outside help for modeling, but there really is no interests.

Sorry for the not so exciting news, but as it is, please do not expect anything new for the foreseeable future.

I’m glad to say though that I’m happy with the current state of the sim. The last update with the virtual fireman was the one feature I really wanted to have, and I’m happy it got released. I think the mechanics of the live steam operations as is are solid. Any future updates would be mostly cosmetic (like that map).

Meanwhile, I’m planning on one more video over the Christmas break just to revisit the sim, and talk trains. Stand by.


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Interactive fireman demo

We demo the new fireman feature, both the expert and the novice guys, by taking a quick trip between the roundhouse and Main Street Station. We also cover tips and tricks, such as when to order commands, and why you might want to use the override commands:


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Interactive fireman configuration

Enjoy listening to me ramble on about configuring the new interactive fireman!

In the next video, we’ll actually take a quick trip with the fireman and see how well we do!

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1.0.2a patch released

This is a non-mandatory update 1.0.2a to fix minor issues found in the 1.0.2 release:

  • Fixed conductor and cab bell not resetting
  • Fixed heat effect setting not being applied on ranch map
  • Moved animated people away from tracks on ranch map

The update is now available, and you can get the latest version by re-downloading the Simulator as always.


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Update 1.0.2 released!

The Simulator’s 1.0.2 update has been released! You can get it by re-downloading the program using the same link found in your original purchase email. For Windows, the installer will replace and update all the files necessary. For macOS, simply replace the old version with the new one.

Take a look at the release notes here for a list of updates and changes (there’s also been a couple of additions to the list since the original post).

Don’t forget that the manual has been updated as well to address the new features. From today, if you order the printed Sim manual, it will be based on this version.

Have fun running the engine with your new fireman! Remember to press the F4 key to activate the fireman menu.

James spent many Saturday mornings running the sim and helping me find bugs. Here he is at one year old running the Holliday
…and here he is at almost three years old

This project started even before he was born, and here he is still pulling on the whistle on the weekends. It’s been quite a journey!


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update 1.0.2 release notes

The test builds of update 1.0.2 are running well so far. Only one or two bugs were identified and are being hunted down this weekend. I’m finishing up with the packaging of both Windows installer and macOS images, and updating the manual, then we’re good to go!

When the update is uploaded and live, it will be announced here on this blog.

So now that we’re code freezing the update, here’s the final list of new features and changes:

VERSION 1.0.2, released 2019-06

  • NEW! Added interactive fireman feature. Active by pressing the F4 key
  • NEW! Added hydrostatic lubricator oil metering droplet effect
  • NEW! Added camera motion blur effect
  • NEW! Added smoke stack exhaust heat blur effect
  • NEW! Added people and background sound effects through out the parks
  • Changed out “auto firing” to interactive fireman
  • Rolled “auto inject water” into interactive fireman
  • Added clamp to smoke texture alpha
  • Added texturing details at park main entrance tunnels
  • Added a configuration option to allow user to reduce the texture resolution size for performance tuning/improvement
  • Slightly tweaked the blue sky color (more saturation). Blue sky color is now also user editable.
  • Updated/slightly tweaked the color grading profiles (less blue tone through out)
  • Fixed the hydrostatic lubricator metering valve not outputting correctly
  • Fixed target FPS setting not saving in Windows version
  • Fixed bell cradle “drifting” off the yoke
  • Fixed 1956 map crashing and mouse sensitivity setting not taking effect
  • Tweaked many 3D sound effects (should now be slightly more immersive and space-correct)
  • Fixed steam cloud exhaust bug in cold weather
  • Fixed texturing issues on Frontierland Station
  • Fixed inconsistent GUI (menu) fonts and minor GUI/menu improvements
  • Numerous night lighting tweaks to DL 55-56 scenery
  • Updated the manual

Some pictures from 1.0.2:

This is the final menu of the interactive fireman
Updated/improved night lighting on the park sceneries including the Mark Twain


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the real deal

Drawings of the real steam locomotives are hard to come by. They are usually old, or have been lost, or incomplete, inaccurate, or over simplified. Whatever drawings that exist are usually guarded and “proprietary”, so there’s very little luck that you can get your hands on a complete set without knowing someone on the inside.

Perhaps a big attraction to the CK Holliday Plan Book is that you can get your hands on a fairly complete set of plans, based on a very popular engine, made in the same style as the “real deal” drawings.

So, once a complete set is up for grabs, I think it’s a pretty big deal, and I definitely want to let you know about it. This is a complete set of the Promontory locomotives. They are made available because these drawings were produced with public funds to construct the full-size replicas. So, indeed, this set is the real deal.

The full size replica of Jupiter… it has a similar Victorian American feel to a certain little engine, doesn’t it?…

You can head over to the International Brotherhood of Live Steamers’ page to download your own copy. It comes in two parts, covering a staggering 786 sheets! In comparison, the CK Holliday Plan Book has about 100 sheets but some of them are text. And of course, that’s without the tender. (According to me, my Holliday model had about 3500 parts with 676 of them unique—again, without tender).

Sheet 104 of 786

PS: The coding for the sim 1.0.2 update was 100% Unfortunately, during the update some bugs were introduced and prevented the sim from building/compiling, so it’s going to be a bit of a tedious work bug hunting/fixing some dependencies. But, yes. the good news is that the coding of new features is done and we’re almost ready to release the update!

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almost there…

Just a quick update to say that I’m still alive and 1.0.2 is almost done. The menu, commands, and coding are all in place and now it will just need to be propagated to all three tracks.

In addition to the sim update, the manual needs to be updated as well to include this new feature, along with minor updates and corrections of the manual through out.

Right now, the sim side of the update is about 90% and the manual update is about 80%. I am also planning on releasing another video at same time or just prior to making the update live.

Then, we can finally start the work on Disneyland 1963!


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Dynamic fireman and other updates

The next update, version 1.0.2 is still cooking, but I think now is a good time to showcase some of the new features that are coming. One of the biggest feature is a more dynamic fireman.

Since the first version, there was an “auto fireman” option. In this version, the pressure needle is always pegged at about 130 psi and never moves… no matter if the train is pulling or stopping, or if you’re adding cold water into the boiler… it’s always 130 psi… no matter what (the fireman is just that good!). It sure made your life as an engineer easy, because you always had that same pressure to use.

In the second version, 1.0.1, you’ll see the pressure dip and climb a little (depending on the fireman’s experience). But the fireman still does not “reaction” realistically. The pressure dips and climbs are kind of random, but it does bring a little bit of flavor to your life as an engineer. Trying to start a heavy train with only 120 psi is probably not a good idea.

In these versions, the sim cheats a little bit behind the scene. The sim doesn’t really attempt to “fire” the engine, but it manipulates the water temperature directly to achieve the desired boiler pressure. This will all change with the next version: your new fireman will now fire the engine by manipulating the fuel, atomizer steam, and blower.

This means that if you’re using a lot of steam, like pulling out, you’ll accordingly see the fire gets bigger and hotter, and the atomizer steam sounds louder as the fireman turns up the controls to keep up. And when you’re stopped or coasting, the fire will be tamed down appropriately. 

Sounds easy? It gets a bit more complicated! You, as the engineer, will now have to work with your fireman to efficiently manage the steam. This means that pulling the throttle wide open when you’re at a low pressure means you’ll make the fireman work harder to catch up, which in turn means that your fireman will be using more water, steam, and fuel because of your pulling (you’ll also make him mad).

If you’re the kind of engineer that’s not easy on the throttle, jerking it open and close often, you’ll subsequently see and hear the fire and steam getting louder and quieter all the time as the fireman tries to hold a fluctuating pressure. 

Basically, you’ll have to work and coordinate your pulling with what the fireman is doing! In the real cab, the fireman and the engineer communicate with each other constantly, and you’ll be able to do this in the sim as well through the new fireman command menu.

Through this menu, you can tell the fireman to get ready to depart (he’ll build a hot fire and over build the pressure to give you a steam reserve), or that you’ll be coasting or coming to a stop (he’ll back off the fire). Even if you don’t talk to the fireman, he’ll try to follow your throttle use: firing up when you open the throttle, and backing off when you close it, but he’ll lag behind a little because he’s just reacting to your pulling, and it will show in the steam pressure and firing quality. The fireman’s experience will still be selectable, and it will basically comes down to how well he’ll anticipate or keep up with you.

The core of the fireman logic is still being refined. As it is, the fireman is just “too dumb”, and doesn’t really fire or behave the way a real person would. Using a car cruise control analogy, he’ll step on the gas until he gets to the speed and then back off, and then step on the gas again when the car’s speed is under the target. This creates a hunting behavior. It’s an oversimplification, but that’s basically why this feature is not ready yet. You’d think a computer would be really good at firing because it’s logical, but trying to code this feature really shows me that firing the engine well is actually more of an art, and computers are terrible at that.

In addition to finishing the logic, I am hoping to add in voice responses to commands, and selectable male and female fireman.

On the other buttons, you’ll be able to tell the fireman to set the fire directly, instead of turning the fuel and atomizer steam valves yourself. He won’t try to hold any particular pressure with these commands.

Any finally, the fireman will now ring the bell! He’ll ring it at a crossing and when coming into a station. You can just focus on stopping on the platform. 

Another feature coming in 1.0.2: you won’t be lonely in the park anymore!

In addition to seeing a populated park, you’ll see and hear crowds at the station, the marching band on Main Street, the tropical birds at Jungle Cruise, a country band at Frontierland, and other background sounds. The clothes seen on the models in the two pictures above are generic. In the release, they’ll be wearing something more period appropriate. (Sorry, no Main Street Station announcement at this time).


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some bugs in 1.0.1

Numerous reports have pointed me to a couple of bugs that managed to get in to the 1.0.1 update. They are:

  • Autofire crashing within 1956 map
  • Valve sensitivity not taking effect within 1956 map
  • FPS settings not saving (this affects the Windows version only, according to my tests)

The root cause of these bugs have been found and another update is coming.

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