thank you very much for replying - it is appreciated. I know that you are all no doubt very busy at present.
In an attempt to summarise an answer, here are some pointers:
• We accept that there has been a lack of early documentation on signalling which has lead the community to misjudge Rail Simulator, when clearly so little is known and understood about how things work under the hood.
• We admit that some important signalling operations were not included in the default routes, this is not because we did not know about them it was a choice, just because something isn’t present, don’t assume it is not achievable.
People can only judge Rail Simulator on the information that they have available to them at the time of making the judgment: if a feature is neither implemented in the default content, nor documented, nor accessible until later downloads become available, people can hardly be blamed for coming to the conclusion that there is no such feature available. If it turns out that the important features are present in the signalling API after all, just waiting to be uncovered by documentation, then that will be very good news indeed. However, if that is so, it would have saved a great deal of anxiety from the community (and bad PR for you) if more information about just what one will be able to achieve with the developer tools was made available at the time of release of Rail Simulator itself.
• It would also appear that we mis-judged how much of the basics we needed to implement and how much should be left for the community to play around and come up with. After all we wanted a simulation that will grow, not just by us at RSDL but by you guys too.
One thing that is still not clear is why, if the features are already present in the signalling API for vital functions such as direct, rather than deduced, detection of the presence of trains in track sections (track circuits) and route locking/interlocking, those were not included in the default routes. Indeed, this is one of the principal reasons why people have come to the conclusion that such features do not exist: if they did, it makes no sense at all not to implement them in the default signal scripts and have them available on the default routes. If the features are implemented properly, it should be much easier
to design the signalling with those features than without them, so the natural conclusion to draw from that is either that the features are not present, or, if they are, they are so badly designed that they are so difficult to implement that it actually takes significantly less
time to set up the kludged system present in the default routes than to do it properly, which would be almost as bad.
Of course, another possibility is that the signal scripts and routes were made before the critical features were implemented, such that there was not time to upgrade them in time for release, and no doubt there are other possibilities, too, that are beyond my ability to guess at. If that is the case, then it would be a great pity for the default routes to be stuck with such second rate signalling when they are so good in other respects: indeed, many of the features included in the routes themselves (the intricately set up destination/platform/siding markers, portals, the sheds and fuelling points) cannot have anything near full advantage taken of them unless and until the signalling is upgraded.
• There is wide spread confusion over which systems govern what operations in Rail Simulator, which again is not due to the software, but due to the lack of time that the community has had to understand just how things work. Thus more time, interaction with the development team, and documentation about these systems when they are released will resolve most of the problems people are concerned about.
I certainly hope so. However, one concern that that point raises in itself is the possibility that certain vital aspects of signalling are designed to be worked, not through the signalling system itself, but by scenario scripting. There is no point in writing in detail about how truly awful that this would be without knowing that that is how things will be done, so I shall not write more until I see the developer tools to-morrow. I very much hope that I will not have to write any more on this subject.
Since release of Rail Simulator we have had meetings in person with people from this forum who were concerned about the state of signalling, and every one of them has been pleasantly surprised about the state of things once the full picture could be realised and understood. We only wish more people would give us the benefit of the doubt as we simply could not cope with getting everyone of you down to Guildford to chat with us personally.
I certainly appreciate that that would be impractical! However, wouldn't it be much easier for everybody if far more information about how the signalling (and other) system(s) worked was available officially from the start? Surely that'd take far less time than telling lots of people individually? It seems to have been an error either on RSDL's part (or EA's part, if it forced this to occur) not to release more detailed information about the workings of Rail Simulator earlier in the process.
As to giving the benefit of the doubt, whilst it would be wrong to make final conclusions (whether adverse or positive) in cases of doubt, wherever there is cause for doubt there is equally cause for concern, which concerns are presently being ventilated in respect of signalling because that is the area about which there is most doubt.
Compare signalling, for instance, to 3d modelling. In respect of the latter, we have no way of importing any models, and we will not get any way of importing models with the development tools, either. However, although some people have expressed their frustration about this, we know that this is not a real problem for the long-term, because we know specifically that there is a plugin for 3dCanvas in the works presently, and that serious consideration is also being given to developing one for Blender, too. Indeed, there have been very detailed discussions with Derek about precisely what 3d modelling programs might or might not be supported, why the 3d Studio Max exporter will not be in the developer tools, and so forth.
In respect of signalling and operations, conversely, there has been very little information on what will be possible with the developer tools in respect of both signalling and pathing: just as with model exporting, we know that there are presently no timetabled scenarios, and no possibility of making timetabled scenarios with the first release of the developer tools, but we do not have any information on why they are not included, what further steps are needed to "activate" the feature, whether any work is being done or planned to make them available, any idea as to the time-scale within which they will be made available, or, indeed, whether they will ever be made available. It is from that lack of information that doubt accumulates, and from that doubt comes concern that the more adverse of the range of possibilities within the spectrum of doubt is true - after all, what possible reason would there be not to give us good
news as soon as possible?
As Shakespeare once titled a play, all's well that ends well: if, with the release of the developer tools, or shortly thereafter, it becomes apparent that all of the important issues regarding signalling and operations are solved (and solved in a way that does not create more serious problems), and that timetabled scenarios are or will be within a reasonable time-scale eminently possible to create, then the troubles of the first month of Rail Simulator's life will soon be forgotten, and the forums will be teaming with discussions about the creation of content or railway practice or documenting the wonderful things that one can do with the product, rather than concerns and criticisms about the implementation or absence of crucial features. I very much look forward to the release of the developer tools to-morrow, and very much hope that, with them, and their associated documentation, is cause for happiness, not cause for further concern.