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An Interview with BluearrowTS
Developers of 'Severn Valley Railway'
An Add-on for Microsoft Train Simulator
Interviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 16th October 2004

First off, Id like to thank you all for taking part in this Interview. Its been a very busy 18 months for you and I imagine there are huge sighs of relief now that the first copies are starting to appear on store shelves (or will be any day now!), congratulations to the team on producing an outstanding product.

Mike Hambly
Hi Matt, first of all thanks for the congratulations. I agree, we do have an outstanding product, and await the rush of posts in the forum when it finally hits the stores on the 15th of October.

Can we have a role call please, names and what your contribution was to the product?
[The username you'll find them using on UKTrainSim is in square brackets]

Mike Hambly [bluearrow]
Photography, liaison between the team and the SVR, overall project coordination, sounds.

Terry Thornton [duckweed]
Steam locomotives, wagons/vans including brake vans, stations, halts and signal boxes, old carriage works at Kidderminster, various other workshop buildings, viaducts and bridges, signals, animals, people, vegetation including station baskets and planters, animated water towers, coaling and diesel loading points, all the other animated items which I won't name so as not to spoil the surprise of finding them, plus various other buildings and scenery items.

Richard Gibb [1crick14a]
All of the engine physics files.

Tim Court [timcourt1]
Route Planner/Builder/ Half of the static scenery building team and general Glue things together person.

Michael Davis [mickoo]
Mike Davies, Diesels and coaches + a tiny little bit of scenery.

Kim Durose [kimdurose]
Kim Durose. I did all of the footplate and cab views for SVR, a few cars, a few bits of clutter, and had a go at file co-ordination :)

What is your favourite part of the product that you did?

Terry Thornton
BR locomotive 1501, lots of polys in that one but I think it deserves them.

Tim Court
Had to be recreating Bewdley town Centre, hard work when you have never been there and have to rely on someone else to take digital pics and to be "Your Eyes" - Late nights, hard work but well worth it.

Michael Davis
Western Ranger

Kim Durose
Its a tie between the 08 cabview and the Western cabview. These were my first diesel cabs and I really enjoyed doing them.

Mike Hambly
Well, all of it really, I found the photography very enjoyable, plus getting all the sound recordings was just terrific.

What is your favourite part of the product overall?

Everybody fairly unanimously agreed at this point that it was very hard to pick out a favourite part of the product!

Terry Thornton
To date, seeing a young lad who works as volunteer for the SVR, tightly clutching his newly purchased copy of the route, and smiling as though he had just won a million pounds.

Tim Court
Overall its Terrys Black 5, just something about this loco that does it for me!

Kim Durose
All of it. Looking at the pack as one unit rather than a box of parts, I think it gels together really well. Theres nothing in there that lets the rest of it down.

What was the most difficult thing that you did for the product?

Terry Thornton
The crows and seagulls following the tractor 672 frames of animation in some of those little so-and-so's.

Tim Court
The whole thing really, Imagine being a route builder, you have never been on the route before, you live 3000 miles away from it, and as you build you are having everything Critiqued, not just at the direction of the team but also under critique from the very people who run the railway. Highlights had to be making up the night textures and setting the track so it was at the right height at the right place on the side of a winding river valley- AND to make this all look convincing.

Michael Davis
Multi layer Alpha transparencies for Mk1 stock, independant loco vac brake, chain coupling and buffing.

Kim Durose
I was really pleased with the way the 08 cab came out as it was quite difficult to squeeze it all in. The fuel gauge on the 08 is way up high and the gauges are at waist height. That proved a challenge as the field of view needed to get it all in shot meant the camera was outside the cab! In the end I had to chop away the rear cab sheet and stand outside :)

Mike Hambly
The walking to and from a location, and getting cab images, it isnt easy when you're a big fellow!

What were you doing when you became involved in this project?

Richard Gibb
Enjoying myself altering eng files, been a bit of a hobby!

Tim Court
Had just been learning to build stock/loco's after getting Mideast finished off, was about to start another big project when I got asked to do the route, I wasn't sure at first but mike convinced me by offering me full support and any information I needed - needless to say he did fulfill the promise too!

Michael Davis
Payware aircraft

Kim Durose
I was building a set of Bulleid pacifics, which I still haven't finished.

Mike Hambly
I had just finished " Dambusters" for Justflight.

Roughly how many hours do you think you put in to it?

Terry Thornton
Over 2500 to date and that doesn't include any research time.

Richard Gibb
Don't ask so many I spend hours at this Sim!!

Tim Court
Just over 1000.

Kim Durose
Crikey, it would be a rough estimate and probably a very conservative one, but over 1000 hours.

Mike Hambly
To date as its still ongoing, coming up to 3000 hours PC time.

Had you ever visited the Severn Valley Railway prior to getting involved in the project?

Terry Thornton
Never been there, and what a strange experience it was when I first stepped out into the real Kidderminster station having "lived" there for months but never seen it. My wife Christine needed the loo and I knew just where it was.

Richard Gibb
Yes 14a men have reunions there, drinking far too much alcohol on the train and pubs along the route!

Tim Court
Went to Bridgnorth as a child but apart from that - Never.

Michael Davis
Much like the rest, I had never visted it, no.

Kim Durose
Yes, a couple of times. The last time was in 1993 I think, when a group of us went to the Steam Gala and spent the whole day in the Bar Car. As a result I couldn't remember much about it!

Mike Hambly
Yes, for many years as I live just 7 miles from it.

I think for many of you this is your first commercial product on the shelf, how does it feel to look up on the shelf and see your own work?

Terry Thornton
Too numb after two years of work to feel anything. Seriously the buzz is not from seeing it on the shelf, but from the warm reception it's getting, that's what makes it all worthwhile.

Tim Court
One of those "we actually did it" moments, I think all of the team would agree that none of us could have pulled this off single handedly.

Kim Durose
I've done small items for a couple of other packs but this is my first proper project. I still haven't seen it on the shelves, but when I saw it on UKTS's projector screens at SVR a couple of weeks ago it made me feel very proud to have contributed. Seeing it in the DVD packaging with the manual for the first time on Sunday was a great moment too.

Mike Hambly
The look on the chaps faces when they saw it on sale at SVR on Sunday said it all, it was the same for me when I saw my first flightsim product in PC World.

How did you first get involved in Microsoft Train Simulator?

Terry Thornton
I persuaded my wife to buy it for me for my Birthday, then of course I discovered Tim Booths trainsim site and downloaded his 57xx Pannier Tank in GWR green. I was keen to have something in black and BR as my memories of trains are made up of big mucky black monsters spewing out smoke and steam. When we were kids we used to hide in the bushes near a local line that served a colliery, and feel the ground shake as an 8F or Black 5 rumbled past with a loaded coal train. Well Tim gave me permission to re-skin his loco and kindly sent me the texture files. No TGA tools to hack the ace files at that time. :) Next I discovered this program called 3D Canvas and Ian Morgans tutorials for a simple shed and an open wagon, and the rest as they say is

Tim Court
Had not been in the USA long, it came out, I bought it, was homesick, drove the S and C once I think then decided to kill the homesickness bug by building a piece of the UK in MSTS (ended up as the fictional ECML then Mideast).

Michael Davis
Saw it at NEC model exhibition, thought it was a good payware outlet and diversification from planes

Kim Durose
I bought it specifically to develop models for it. I bought it on the day of release. I was one of those that had a list of things to do for it, even six months before it had been released! I had just about given up on 4mm scale modelling and was looking for another cheaper and cleaner outlet to "build trains".

Mike Hambly
About the time when TGV and Euroloco Pack was being developed as I made the sounds for both products.

What are your railway interests, for example, are you a short haul freight steam 0-6-0 type with lots of shunting or a long haul passenger express person? Do you have a preference for Steam, Diesel, Electric, Multiple units etc? Any particular era? Location around the country (or world) ?

Terry Thornton
My own preference is for hauling heavy freight together with a smattering of shunting. having said that double heading a fast passenger train takes some beating. My favourite era is the one I remember, late 50's early 60's at the transition from steam to the early diesels. However I am fast becoming hooked on the 20's and 30's with their elegant locos and period styles.

Richard Gibb
Steams my thing can't seem to loose the interest in them, been with me all my life, I was around 4 years of age when my Dad had me up on the footplate.

Tim Court
Eastern (ECML) region naturally and also the WCML funnily enough, I used to marvel at the AL's whenever we went anywhere, I remember my dad taking us down the M1 and trying to race an AL3 in a Morris Oxford! Like souther Bulleid steam and 9F's.

Michael Davis
All forms of traction, UK Steam Diesel Electric 1955-1980, some earlier stuff Gresley pacifics etc, mostly main line but like docks and marshling yards. Continental, anything Danish absolutely anything !! ( half Danish so that may explain why :) ), Anything modern Belgium +1950, modern French but esp Nord Pacifics and anything Chapelon, Germany, all locos war and post war epochs, Swiss all regions and traction. World, South African steam, New Zealand modern, Australia Diesel and Electric, USA, steam diesel, electric, PRR, UP, SP, Virginian, N&W.

Kim Durose
I have an interest in just about anything related to the UK railway from 1930 right up until the mid-80s. I'm a fan of anything to do with the Southern Railway, and in particular anything designed by OVS Bulleid. He was a great visionary, had some fantastic ideas, but unfortuneately didn't have the backup he deserved and needed in my opinion. The BR "transitional period" is my biggest interest, when steam was bowing out gracefully and the early diesels and electrics were arriving. I can imagine that was a great time for a boy interested in the railway.

Mike Hambly
Short Haul Passenger Steam, anything steam really!

What advice do you have for the many newcomers to the community wanting to contribute their work to both freeware and commercial arenas?

Terry Thornton
Stick with it and strive to make at least one improvement over your previous effort.

Richard Gibb
This is as yet the best simulation as yet for rail enthusiasts. I've had them all get stuck into route building modelling whatever. I need the Midland Main line usless at building so help us out :)

Tim Court
Do the freeware, listen to what people say, if you keep at it and if anyone asks you to do a payware project then always say yes, its a compliment that there are people out there who think your stuff is good enough, stick at it and it will happen sooner or later.

Michael Davis
Keep at it, ignore inane critics, most cant even build a 45 gallon drum, read, read, read, read tutorials / forums, try everything once, if you fail, try again, be happy with your final product, you will get better :)

Kim Durose
Buy lots of old model railway magazines and books for scale drawings.
Build what you want and take your time. Its best to spend 2 months building one model right than banging out lots of models and not getting any better at it.
Only listen to your critics if they have something useful to say.
Invest in some good 3D software. I personally recommend TurboCAD Professional and 3D Canvas.
Join UKTrainsim. [Your cheque is in the post Kim :-)]
Upgrade to Windows XP.

Mike Hambly
Do which ever you're suited to, first and foremost you have to want to do it, and enjoy what you're doing. Never forget your roots, if you started in freeware keep doing some if you go commercial.

What are your plans for the future?

Terry Thornton
To stick with it and make at least one improvement over my previous effort.

Tim Court
More stuff for Bluearrow (if they still want me!) and a few other projects, exciting times ahead with MSTS2 methinks - when we get to do it all over again. Oh and some good stuff from RailDriver that will please everyone!

Michael Davis
25Kv units, DC units, some BR steam, plenty of diesels, plug some freeware holes, might not be popular but theres too much history missed by the masses who only want HST's and Black fives ( example ).

Kim Durose
To enjoy life, bring up my first child, learn GMax, play golf, and continue to build trains.
To find more time to do the above!
To finish the website for Blue Arrow TS.
Oh, and finish those Bulleid pacifics.

Mike Hambly
That's a secret!! I can say we will continue to give customers the very best in MSTS add-ons. We shall continue to work closely with the Real Severn Valley Railway.

Do you have any special tool recommendation(s) that youd like to give a mention to?

Terry Thornton
Paint Shop Pro and 3D Canvas are my main tools and I would be lost without them. PSP is a little tricky at first but a wonderful and intuitive program once you have spent some time with it. 3D Canvas is my first venture into 3D work, although I have a lifetime of 2D draughting behind me. I find that working with actual shapes rather than drawing lines to be a more natural pproach when it comes to working in three dimensions.

Tim Court
TStools - a good package which allows you to get much more done before you actually start building the route.

Michael Davis
Patience, Common sense, TGATool!

Kim Durose
IMSI TurboCAD Professional v8 is great for building 3D Cabs and rendering.
3D Canvas, well what can you say about 3D Canvas? Its affordable and very good at what it does. Runs a dream under Win XP too.
Clickteam InstallMaker. Takes all the pain out of installations.

Mike Hambly
Yes, Cool Edit, a great tool for sound design, also Paint Shop Pro.

Do you have any individual(s) or group(s) that you would like to give a mention to here?

There were also very unanimous agreements that the single biggest group that deserved big Thank You was of course the Severn Valley Railway itself who went above and beyond the call to help out and provide as much information and assistance (as well as access to locomotives, stock and the route) as they could. It certainly shows in the finished product!

Terry Thornton
I could spend a lot of time naming names, but even then I'm sure I would miss out some of the wonderful simmers who have helped me in the past and continue to do so today. So can I just say a big thank you to all at uktrainsim for your help and encouragement over the past few years, and let's all work together to continue to push the boundaries.

Tim Court
Rich Garber for keeping me company when building on a Sunday afternoon, we shared many idea's (he was building Canton at the same time) we both benefited enormously from those brainstorming sessions!

Kim Durose
-The beta testers; Iain White, David Duncan, and James Batson, who slaved tirelessly up and down the length of SVR day after day. Thanks guys!
-Rickard King, for loaning me lots of items from his own locomotives to assist with the 08 cab.
-My wife, for not moaning about the state of the computer desk and for her patience and support.
-To Matt and his team from UkTrainSim for all their support and hard work promoting SVR.
-Dave Roles, Pat Dalton, Mike Hambly, Mike Davies, Tim Court, Terry Thornton, Rick Gibb, Mike Ellis, and John Paxton for never-ending help and support, encouragement and friendship.

Mike Hambly
Sure thing, our Beta Testers Matt. They gave hundreds of hours of their free time to test the SVR product. I would like to thank "DCDuncan" "Fodda" Hymek, Chalkster, Mike Ellis, also I would like to mention all the chaps that visit our forum, they have been brilliant with their support. And a special thanks to SVR and UKTS for above and beyond help with the project, and lastly to my team who made a dream come true for me, by giving me SVR for MSTS.

Thanks very much for participating in this interview guys, it's been a pleasure talking with you.

Good luck on your future projects!


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