The Flare Path: In Wuppertal

By Tim Stone on March 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

In Wuppertal black cats are cancelled out by white cats. Ladders are considered slovenly. The Umbrella Museum only opens when it rains. Chimney-sweeps double as gastroenterologists. Gastroenterologists triple as tripe inspectors. The word for school is also the word for kiln. Loneliness is next to godliness. Trees ache. Trams dangle.

Strange how things turn out. If Target For Tonight, a, literally, groundbreaking RAF night bombing sim, hadn’t collided with a developmental church tower circa 2003, my first glimpse of the pretty North Rhine-Westphalian city of Wuppertal might well have been through the lens of a Mk XIV bomb sight rather than the windscreen of a sloth-impersonating two-car EMU.

Schwebebahn Simulator 2013 is the German sim industry at its most eccentric and parochial. Modelling all eight miles and twenty stations of the world’s oldest suspended railway is certainly a novel idea. Whether it’s a commercially rational one only time will tell.

After half an hour with the German-language demo (ten minutes of which were spent shouting ‘Schnell! Schnell!’ at my stationary steed) I have serious doubts. Once you’ve a) nodded approvingly at the cab functionality and sounds b) marvelled at the disorientating absence of rails, sleepers and ballast and c) realised that however fast you corner you can’t shake yourself loose and and plunge through the roof of a deserted doll warehouse, the misgivings begin arriving thick and fast.

Obviously, there’s no potential for freight movements. Without branches, points, or sidings, varied passenger operations also seem unlikely. It’s hard to imagine where Schwebebahn Simulator 2015 will be set. Once Joindots have modelled Germany’s other two, far less charismatic H-Bahns, and released the inevitable Thunderbirds…

and Bennie Railplane

expansions, there’ll be few places left to go.

The proximity of apartments to Wuppertal’s steel skyroad could be the basis of an interesting Rear Window-meets-4.50-From-Paddington interactive whodunnit, but something tells me schwein will fly – or at least schwing from girders – before we see the Schwebebahn Sim engine adapted for that purpose.

 

A Javelin Through The Heart

Of London.

The fact that Joindots are based a forty-minute drive from the Wuppertal Schwebebahn might explain their quirky choice of theme. Not having to jump on a plane or scour the Web every time you need to check a bridge design, record an engine note, or source a plausible piece of graffiti, is obviously a major advantage when it comes to sim development. Even large outfits like RailSimulator.com can give into shameless localism on occasion.

Some of the research for RSC’s latest Train Simulator 2013 expansion was done by staff during their daily commute. Glance left as you belt through Chatham in your horrifically modern Hitachi high-speed train and you might just glimpse the gold-plated Mallard-shaped HQ of the World’s most industrious/business savvy rail sim studio.

Don’t gawp for too long though. At Javelin velocities, signals rush towards you at a terrific lick. A unique, in Britain at least, TVM signalling system means you’re always aware of current and approaching speed limits, but it’s still dashed easy to break the rules.

With its lengthy tunnel sections, limited potential for freight scenarios, and excruciatingly scratchy windscreen wiper sounds this pack won’t be to everyone’s taste. That said, when the rain stops and concrete does eventually subside, the audio and scenery is really rather good.

Box quote:

“Yours for the price of a London to Faversham single (£25), London to Faversham features peerless simulations of both the Class 395 and the unbranded digestive biscuit” (www.rockpapershotgun.com)

 

Team Fewsion

1C might have washed their hands of Cliffs of Dover but a band of never-say-die MP pilots are determined IL-2′s shambolic sequel won’t be pushed from the plotting table just yet.

With the exception of the rather silly Hurricane wing break at 2.38 (Sydney Camm is barrel-rolling in his grave) all the enhancements look and sound promising. Team Fusion are obviously concentrating on buffing visuals and correcting flight and engine models initially, but hints in this SimHQ forum thread suggest future work may lead to buried features being disinterred. Is there a BoB2-standard dynamic campaign engine and AI manoeuvre library lurking unused in some gloomy corner of the code hangar? Probably not. Still, don’t sell that copy of CloD just yet.

 

Speed Dreamer

Espeedrilles™, the first product from Flare Path’s new hardware division, aren’t selling too well, to be honest. Kunos Simulazioni, ISI, iRacing.com… all of the big motorsport sim devs have refused to be associated with my revolutionary pedal-incorporating deck shoes. Bastards. Being a spiteful sort of chap I intend to get my revenge by never mentioning them or their creations ever again.

From now on Speed Dreams will be the only motorsport software acknowledged by this column. Underneath the vintage visuals and fishy crash physics, is a free race sim I’ve found myself firing-up almost every day lately. Download the 132 MB installer then grab the two HQ car-and-track packs and you’ve got yourself the perfect small-footprint carwotgoesfast diversion. For quick bursts of wheel-to wheel circuit thrills it really can’t be beat. Mouse and gamepad control is totally practical, but for the ultimate Speed Dreams experience, I strongly recommend a pair of comfy and stylish Espeedrilles™ (Now available in Lemon and Puce as well as Cerise!).

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Last week’s Edelweiss-garlanded Gebirgsjäger were zabzonk, skink74, and JabbleWok. They found 12 vertiginous VLs amongst the alphabet scree.

FP’s favourite TV quiz show is Pointless. Every night he watches it hoping ‘Fleet Air Arm fighters’, ‘Anti-tank weaponry of WW2′ or ‘The works of Jane Austen’ will be amongst the categories. The average Pointless contestant would struggle to find the theme binding together the seven collage elements below. The sort of coves that hang out round here, on the other strand, are shore to winkle it out.*

*And quickly see though mischievous attempts at seaside-themed misdirection.

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21 Comments »

  1. dE says:

    Thanks for the weird moment of the day.
    Born in Wuppertal, I can only gasp at the idea that anyone would find the idea of driving the cranky, rusty stop and go schwebebahn. The only upside are the industrial ruins on either side of the water, the depressed faces at the Landgericht and the endless chemical moloch of the Bayer Compound. I doubt they modelled that in enough detail though. The streets look faaaaar to bloody clean.

    In general, it’s about as boring and dull as trains get and leads to people doing stuff like that.

    So you tell me, people really thought it’d be a great idea to sim that? I’m bewildered.

    • Aethelwulf says:

      Used to live not far from Wuppertal in Duisburg, stationed there with the forces. A couple of years later back in the UK, my then but now ex girlfriends family were born and raised there and told me the wonderful ditty about the elephant Tuffi and the schwebebahn.

      For those who don’t know it basically goes a little something like this. Some genius from a local circus thought it would be a great idea to take a baby elephant onto the suspended monorail for the purposes of advertising and making loadsa dosh. The sole ambition of every man.

      However Tuffi didn’t agree to this venture and proceed to rampage around the carriage, trumpeting and doing whatever it is elephants do in a rage and finally she ran headlong through a window and plummeted the 40ft or whatever it is in to the river below.

      Naturally like all elephants she extended her wings and flew to safety. I even believe there is a lovely photoshop of the event.

      • dE says:

        Oh gosh, that story. Yeah.
        The funny part being, despite numerous journalists on board – it was a press event after all – none actually photographed the elephant during the rampage and its fall. I can only imagine the kinda panic when everyone instantly realised what a shitty idea it was, to put a huge elephant into a suspended railway with tight corridors, that goes screeeaaaaccccch at every corner.

  2. tigerfort says:

    Well, the three at the top are all flying things, and underneath them you’ve got two weapony things and two different types of enginey thing. So the link is clearly that these are all things.

  3. wrshamilton says:

    I am also bewildered but it is only because I have no idea what’s happening and am experiencing a vague sense of dread related to that like of ideas.

  4. Matchstick says:

    Big(ish) Cats ?

    I’ve got Jaguar, top left, Lynx top right, and possibly Lion bottom right.

    I’m stumped on a cat reference for the Mauser C96 though (and the rest – the anti-material rifle looks a little like the PGM Hecate II)

    • Smion says:

      Well, I think I once heard the (german) term ‘Mauser’ referring to a cat whose main job (function? Why it was bought) is to hunt rodents (Maus=german for Mouse). However, a quick Google search turned up nothing…
      Edit: Apparently it’s more commonly used in Switzerland and generally refers to people and animals that catch mice for a living.

    • skink74 says:

      Top left is not a Jaguar, the trailing edge is all wrong. I’m pretty sure it’s an F-101 Voodoo, and that we’re dealing with magic/witchcraft.
      Hecate fits right in, the C96 is nicknamed the “Broomhandle”, that’s a Merlin engine bottom left, and the Locomotive looks like the Lancashire Witch. The Lynx I think is one of the Royal Navy Helicopter Display team – the Black Cats.
      I’m not sure about the top centre aircraft though…

  5. Guvornator says:

    I have to say, seeing my home town on the front of a computer game was frankly unexpected – is there an virtual Bod Geldoff getting on the train? Will there be chavs drinking White Lightning on the platform? Will the fury you get when you realize you could have caught the train to Victoria for cheaper and that, despite the train company’s claims, you won’t be getting to London in “half an hour” be accurately modelled?

  6. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Aw, I want to ride the Schwebebahn! I’ll have a fiddle with the demo, although as admirable an effort as it looks I can’t imagine I’ll shell out for the full version. What’s the best option out there for multiplayer train simulators? I’m one of the legions of vaguely curious who would have thrown money at the screen for TS’13 during the Steam sale if it had MP in. MP train sim and an MP vehicle sim where the vehicle doesn’t feel like an empty egg-box on plastic wheels (that I can convince people to play, unlike Rigs of Rods). And yes ETS2 feels like that too.

    I’ll go get Speed Dreams but Mr. Stone you are remiss to bring up old racing cars and not mention Grand Prix Legends and the spectacular work modders have done on it to make it every bit the equal of a modern race sim with awesome, awesome cars.

    Oh, and if you won’t mention Kunos I will! The Assetto Corsa tech preview’s out for nK Pro owners and it feels good. Unfortunately the car (Lotus Elise) is a bit soft, safe and squishy by nK’s standards of nimble, pram-wheeled single seaters, but it seems like it’s all there.

    Edit – reporting back on Speed Dreams. It’s a good laugh, especially with a gamepad. It does have a physics engine and it’s slightly baffling as to what exactly it is or isn’t modelling and what set of rules the cars are going around according to (my best bet’s cars with completely solid suspension and incredibly sticky tyres), but the game’s easy enough with a little practice. Looking forward to badgering some of the RPS Steam chat lot into some MP test sessions. With those 1936 GP cars.

    • Hydrogene says:

      As much as I love and cherish Grand Prix Legends (no I won’t tell you my GPL rank!), it’s far from a simple “download, install and drive” kind of game, which seems to be the main interest of Speed Dreams. The modding is so extensive that’s it’s very tricky to know what to install to make GPL as nice and wonderfull as it can be.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Ah – protracted yes, but I’m not sure about tricky. There’s a community made install guide which is step-by-step instructions for everything you need to do with links to downloads. Theoretically, you can’t go wrong.

        What’s tricky is when it stops working for no apparent reason like, uhm, mine has. :D

        You’re right, it’s clearly not supposed to be the same thing as Speed Dreams (downloading as we speak) but any opportunity to give it a mention.

  7. jonfitt says:

    Do they also model the multitude of deadly diseases that would be caught if you ate a digestive biscuit that had at any point come into bare contact with a train table?
    .
    Makes my stomach turn just looking at it.

  8. Bluerps says:

    As a German, I approve of the use of the German language in this article.
    (Though it would be “Schweine” that fly, Mr Stone, unless you had a specific pig in mind)

  9. WeeMadAndo says:

    I once ended up in Wuppertal by accident. True story. Sadly, due to this being an accident and having other events planned I couldn’t spare the time to ride the famous railway.

  10. Phoibos Delphi says:

    An article about my place of birth on RPS and I miss it? Is there no Justice?

    Funny Trivia: There is the legend that they crammed an elephant (named Tuffi) into the Schwebebahn to promote a travelling circus that was in town. The elephant panicked and broke through the hull and fell into the River. There is no evidence of the event, the only existing photo was found to be old-day-photoshopped and everybody that claims to remember the incident tells a different story. Somebody even made a TV documentary about all the contradictions in the story.

    Edit: I just saw that I have been beaten by about two weeks…. Greetings to dE for being a fellow Wuppertaler!

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