Dove­tail Games, de­vel­oper of TrainSimWorld, on build­ing sims


You prob­a­bly don’t know it, but train sim­u­la­tors are enor­mously suc­cess­ful on PC. While you might have played one your­self out of cu­rios­ity, there are oth­ers who are wildly pas­sion­ate about them. In the same way Mi­crosoft Flight Sim­u­la­tor at­tracts peo­ple in­ter­ested in avi­a­tion who oth­er­wise don’t play games, train sim­u­la­tors are en­joyed by rail en­thu­si­asts who want to get closer to their hobby. “It’s a re­lax­ing and calm­ing way to spend time,” says Red­dit user ‘Cana­dave’ in a thread dis­cussing why peo­ple are so into the genre. “There [are] some vague el­e­ments of a spa­tial puz­zle to it,” they add. “You have to plan out your ac­tions and fig­ure out the best way of get­ting ev­ery­thing where you need it to be.”

“The best part about Train Sim for me is get­ting to drive trains I’ve seen be­fore,” says ‘my­gawd’, while ‘tp­piel’ notes: “[It’s] the same rea­son peo­ple play Foot­ball Man­ager, and Arma … you are not a man­ager/pi­lot/sol­dier in real life, but you are in­ter­ested enough in the role.”

On rails

Train Sim World, a new sim­u­la­tor from Dove­tail Games, is the lat­est in a long line of hard­core sims with a fo­cus on re­al­ism. PC Gamer writes about sim­u­la­tors more than most out­lets, but rarely about the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally make them. So I thought this was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to talk to Dove­tail about what it’s like work­ing in such an ul­tra-spe­cific genre and how you even go about trans­lat­ing driv­ing a train in the real world into a sim­u­la­tion.

“We have around 50 de­vel­op­ers work­ing on Train Sim World across all dis­ci­plines,” says Dar­ren Pot­ter, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer at Dove­tail Games. “I started my career in game de­vel­op­ment as a tester for Elec­tronic Arts. I spent roughly 15 years work­ing with them on Bull­frog, Maxis, and EA Sports ti­tles. Then I tran­si­tioned into de­vel­op­ment, work­ing with SCi Games, Lego Me­dia, and Square Enix, where I worked with Avalanche on Just Cause 3, be­fore join­ing Dove­tail in 2014.”

Pot­ter says mak­ing games in a genre like this is en­joy­able be­cause he gets to work with a group of peo­ple who are in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate about the sub­ject mat­ter, mak­ing games for peo­ple who are equally pas­sion­ate. “I also like the chal­lenge of break­ing down some­thing that ex­ists in real life, and then us­ing our col­lec­tive knowl­edge to work out how to sim­u­late that within the hard­ware con­straints we work to.”

When it comes to de­ter­min­ing how the game’s trains feel when the player gets their hands on the con­trols, Dove­tail uses a sys­tem called SimuGraph. “Firstly, the feel must tally with our com­bined un­der­stand­ing of what it’s

You can drive a train through up­state New York in the North­east Cor­ri­dor DLC.

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