Hewson’s simulation expert Mike Male, an air traffic controller, began his career in programming when he returned to his home office; Heathrow Air Traffic Control is still in business the product today. After a brief period that involved airborne simulating, Mike went back to basics working with a railway fanatic to create the first computer-generated steam train simulation, Southern Belle. Today, Mike and his colleague Bob Hillyer have completed the second steam train simulation in the world: Evening Star.
It is a given that lovers of Southern Belle will enjoy taking the controls of a class BR9F locomotive that runs between Bath as well as Bournemouth. Again, you can sit on the footplate of a vintage locomotive and observe what you could have done the grade as an engine operator and fireman.
Programmer Mike considers the new game as an improvement to Southern Belle – have found ways to pack more in the computer. He has not only been able to increase the length of the track but also improved the graphics display, played with the control techniques to make them more precise and has added the capability to carry on the run even following a derailment. Southern Belle, you had to begin again in the event of a significant issue.
The track at Evening Star has a variety of hazards that aren’t present in Southern Belle and includes sections with single tracks due to the longer length of the track.
There’s a broader range of speed limits and gradients to navigate.
Seven play modes are available, ranging beginning with a computer-controlled demonstration to a training mode, where the purpose is simplified, and some control is delegated to the micro. Then there are timetabled runs which may require stopping at stations or rushing through on an express route—the view at the footplate and features wire-frame images that create the illusion of motion. Panels surrounding the main display offer details on the condition of the train, augmented by gauges inside the cab. The engine’s controls can be made using the keyboard.
In Southern Belle, you don’t have to win in the sense that at the end of the run, you’re awarded a percentage point that considers how close you were to reaching the specific goal of the race just completed as well as the ability to operate the train’s controls to ensure maximal efficiency and efficiency.
The whole journey could be more than two hours long to complete in real-time. There are two options that are provided: the game’s time can be increased, or a portion of a completed course can be saved to tape or disk for resumption at a later time. The ability to save and reload (not offered on Electron) can add a lot to the ease of driving trains.
Mike Male points out that the idea for Evening Star was to develop methods for simulation that were employed to create the simulation techniques used in Southern Belle: “We wanted to add more flexibility, by offering the option to complete smaller runs and the line was chosen because it is more primitive, containing more single track sections and more gradient differentials. The basic principle is the same as Southern Belle, however. We hope people who didn’t play Southern Belle will be attracted to this new, improved simulation – which is why we’re releasing it on disk as well as cassette.”