Microsoft Train Simulator

 

The Overview

May 12, 2009 16:40 EDT

Microsoft Train Simulator is the 2001 creation of Microsoft's ACES Studio and a Japanese company by the name of Kuju. This 'game' is my opinion, the best thing to come from Microsoft since Windows. Although the stock/default locomotives and rolling stock are not that terribly great, it was better that nothing, given the fact that the computer I had at the time could barely run it (233mHz Pentium II MMX, with 256MB of RAM, and an uncooperative video card [MSTS would work about 10% of the times I tried]). As soon as I got a new computer (2.66gHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, and a great video card [but it's a little behind again; it needs more RAM]), and I figured out how to download add-ons from here, my use exploded. With the use of add-on programs, such as AceIt and TGATools (both are available at Train-sim.com), one can change any piece of rolling stock to any paint scheme you can dream up, with the help of a decent graphics editing program, such as Paint (I'm being sarcastic, but Paint is powerful and idiotically simple to use).

Top 10 Downloads

July 31, 2009 21:34 EDT

There are plenty of tips, tricks, and interesting add-ons I've found (thing is, I've had to clean out some of the ones I've downloaded because I was running out of room, and there were errors cropping up from misnamed files and such); here are just a few:

1. MSTS 1.2/1.4 Patch (if you can find it; as it turns out, just downloading the BNSF SD40-2 pack is not the 1.2 upgrade)

2. NALW Union Pacific Steam Mega-Pack, with updates

3. ChrisTrains Jet Test Vehicle (the perfect time to learn how to edit .eng files)

4. Powder River Basin Route, with update (I don't care for the included locomotives and rolling stock, but the route is good.)

5. NALW Berskire/Kanawha 2-8-4, with Pere Marquette 1225 skin

6. CSX Bethgons (Grey and Black/NYC)

7. BNSF C44-9W Upgrade (not on Train-Sim.com, but here)

8. BNSF C44-9W №4773 (for more than one in a consist)

9. Amtrak Autotrain P40's with Superliners and Autotrain Auto Racks (the P40's need new skins, they're low resolution compared to most)

10. Conrail SD80MAC and CSX C40-8 from Streamlines (these are incredible models, but there are a few glitches, mainly with the lights)

Note that I have zero pay-ware, mainly because I don't use it enought to warrent paying for something as trivial as a well rendered SD70ACe. But, if I had to buy payware, I'd go to Maple Leaf Tracks or Streamlines.

Another highly recommended download would be MSTSbin. This is a set of modifications to MSTS to make it play a lot nicer. The one feature that hit me right from the top was now MU locomotives make revving sounds, too, unlike before when they would stay in idle.

Screen Size

May 16, 2009 11:29 EDT

For those of you who use 16:10 monitors (i.e. Widescreen), you may have noticed that MSTS gets distorted when it's played on a widescreen because there are no widescreen settings built in. Here is how you can fix it: right-click on your MSTS shortcut (or create one), go to properties, then at the end of the target box put a space and then "-vm:w,1024,768,32" (without quotations). This will run MSTS is a 1024x768 window at 32bit color. You can change the size if you want, but 1024x768 is plenty for me.