Some potentially useful tools...

Posted by Sarepava on 12 April 2017 in English (English).

Hi fellow mappers!

In the last couple of days I’ve mostly busied myself with building the Philipsson tram - see my bliki - but have also stumbled across several things on the wider web that may be of use to us all.

The first is an open-source program called Makehuman. As the name suggests, it is a 3D CAD software for creating models of people. There have been several discussions about the issues around using photos of real people on the wiki, and I think this may be an answer, as it allows the user to create quite realistic virtual people with great freedom over features, pose and other aspects. The program is also quite easy to use, and more experienced users can export the models into Blender for advanced editing. I will put up some examples on my bliki in due course.

The second is a (propitiatory) video game called Cities: Skylines. This is a detailed and seemingly highly realistic city simulator that can create very large metropolis areas with all the infrastructure, growth and economic issues town planners have to face. I am not suggesting that you all rush out and download the game, but watching some gameplay videos on YouTube might be a good introduction to the way physical map features massively affect how a city works. There was one where a user redid all his bus lines to make them serve the rail stations and his economy grew by a whopping amount because ti cut commuting times. Anyway, I’ve bought the game and intend to try and recreate some Karolian cities to see if they really ‘work’.

There are also some very informative YouTube videos on transport topics, such as ‘why are trains so expensive?’ (the answer is a surprisingly good one).

Stay tuned for an update on the tram model build.


Comment from Leowezy on 12 April 2017 at 19:39

Thanks for the tips! Especially the makehuman tool seems pretty useful.

As someone who (has) play(ed) C:S for quite some time, let me tell you it’s indeed a fascinating game, definitely has addiction-potential. But it’s pretty much useless (IMO) for mirroring anything like we are doing on OGF. Firstly, the game is pretty much a traffic-management game, and therefore the amount of traffic is completely over the top for any similarly sized real world equivalent. Most importantly (especially since this aspect is often neglected in OGF already) you won’t end up with cities that look like they’ve had a history behind them. I could go into depths about this, but I’m sure when you get to know the mechanics and “feel” of the game, you’ll understand it much better ;) Still a great game though.

As for the “Why are trains so expensive?”; I’ve watched several videos on that channel (Wendover Productions), and I think that indeed there are many important and correct thoughts about transportation systems in them. However I also find that while the videos may look pretty professional, the actual “academic depth” (sorry for sounding a bit snooty here) is rather flat, to the degree that many conclusions he presents are simply not true, and in the best case evoke the wrong impression, while also missing out on much more crucial points for the discussion; at least I noticed this in areas where I feel like I have some small degree of background knowledge.

To illustrate this; from my very limited knowledge about traffic economy, he explains the ticketing scheme of railway companies and the driving forces behind it rather well. But when talking about airlines and airfare in general (not only in this video), he speaks of airlines as highly profitable, this marking the airline industry as “more economically sound” than railways; however it’s important to note that airport infrastructure etc. is highly subsidised by local governments, while least long-distance railways (at least in Germany and most other countries I know about) don’t benefit from much or even any subsidies.

But most importantly, he completely ignores that there simply are historical, cultural and political differences which have a much bigger impact on the different modes of transport than the fact that Amtrak has to pay compensation to the families of suicide victims… starting with car-centric settlement patterns which render high-speed rail much less effective than when you have a European-style dense inner city and ending with political agendas that are simply not based on the common interest, but rather clientele policy or in worst cases lobbying activities and bribery.

This reply is far to negative really; but you just managed to hit two internet-things of mine that really go against my personal understanding of how transit works xD So while I’d of course encourage everyone to check out the content and thank you for sharing your discoveries with us, I just needed to type out my worries about applying it to how stuff actually works in the real world and to OGF. But please don’t take this as an unfavourable comment against you posting that stuff here, I really only meant to target the content itself.

Comment from Gubble on 12 April 2017 at 19:39

I must warn you though, cities skylines takes a long time to play, it is not a very accurate representation of traffic or population and it is practically impossible to get anymore than 200,000 people. It is a great game though.

Comment from Sarepava on 12 April 2017 at 20:11

Leowezy: I was a little surprised by the oversimplified section on UK railways, which failed to mention that the railways are privatised in such a way that the government pays operators to run the trains and that fares are heavily regulated. Also, it was discovered after the ‘Beeching Axe’ that the unprofitable branch lines made huge profits for the mainlines which they fed. It ignored the fact that most UK train journeys are made over distances at which air travel could never be competitive, meaning that London-Edinburgh is an exceptional route.

Comment from ilikemaps on 12 April 2017 at 22:33

Intercity train travel in Australia has been dead since the 1960s when planes became more commonplace. Its logical though as with the trains having a maximum speed of about 60kph and so takes weeks to get from Perth to Sydney, whereas the plane takes a few hours and the car takes a few days

Comment from tule00 on 16 April 2017 at 21:39

Cities Skylines is a fun game to play, as well as other city-building games, such as SimCity 4. However, neither of them are realistic enough to simulate an actual city.

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