Friday, February 8, 2008

The New Obsession Begins

My four year old son and I share a passion for trains which was probably all caused by living just a quarter of a mile across a field from the local station. From our cottage we can hear the trains coming and going. On a clear day with the wind in the right direction the alarm can be heard on the crossing. On very special occasions even real steam engines come through.

This passion has inevitably led to an interest in model trains. My Dad built me a simple Hornby layout when I was a child and now that my son is old enough he is moving from simple Brio wooden trains and Tomy Motor Road & Rail into the world of Hornby with Thomas & Friends.

Being a software engineer and web developer means there are plenty of computers in the house and we all enjoy spending time playing Lemmings, having fun at the CBeebies website and chatting with friends on Windows Live Messenger.

A while ago I picked up a second-hand copy of Hornby Virtual Railway on a charity stall. Although this kept us entertained for several months it is definately showing the signs of age. My son finds it fiddly to build new tracks and the 3D rendering engine is nearly a decade old.

Then, on a recent trip to Woolworths, we found Create Your Own MODEL RAILWAY Deluxe (Simply Trains gave it 9/10) in the bargain software bin. My son nearly wet himself with excitement when he saw it action for the first time! I was going to upgrade to HVR2 but it doesn't stand a chance now.

After a while though I started to wonder about the inner-workings of CyoMR and started poking around the installation directory. A quick search on Google turned up Having Fun with RTR and this is where I found out that CyoMR is a re-branded version of Rule the Rail! by Brainbombers. It wasn't long before I'd downloaded the free trial. Then I had to have the expansion packs - all 11 even of them - which meant I paid for registration even though I had a full working copy of CyoMR. In fact my son and I like it so much and the USD $15.00 price is so reasonable I registered another copy for each of us.

But my lust for all things code-based and a desire to know how stuff works has driven me to the Dark Side of virtual model railwaying...

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