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All Spittler Engineering products are currently available free of charge.  We invite you to look through our product line and select those offerings you believe will add the most to your simulation experience.  Any of our product offerings listed below may be downloaded at no cost from our Downloads & Support area.

Current Product Line:

"Real Track", BNSF-type Track and Ballast Replacement (more information)

"CNW 4701", Chicago & Northwestern GP38-2 Textures (more information)

"CNW 4701" Full-Page Magazine Ad (more information)

"Real Pines", Marias Pass Fir Tree Replacements (more information)

"Real Grass",  Marias Pass Grass Replacement (more information)

"BNSF 2098", Replacement Textures for the Default GP38-2 (more information)



Real Track:

Spittler Engineering Releases "Real Track":
BNSF-type Track and Ballast Replacement

Spittler Engineering has announced the release of "Real Track", a replacement for the default Marias Pass track textures in Microsoft® Train Simulator.  "Real Track" is a free add-on, designed to increase the realism experienced when working the rails on Marias Pass, or any other route using concrete ties and BNSF-type ballast.

   
 

Much of the development time for Real Track was spent addressing the problem of how to avoid the annoying moiré pattern which occurs with many track textures.

 

Much of the Real Track development time involved eliminating the annoying strobing or moiré effect that occurs with many of the replacement track textures developed for MSTS.  Simulators such as MSTS don't use the full-sized texture when representing objects that appear at a distance.  Instead, they use a series of images, each of which is one quarter the size of the next larger image.  This process is called MIP mapping.  The problem with many track textures occurs because of how the reduced-size images are created from the original (full-sized) image in MSTS.

Each successively smaller MIP image takes each 2x2 group of pixels and replaces it with a single pixel.   In MSTS, MIP level images are created with a utility that packs them together with the full-sized image. This utility uses only a single pixel from each 2x2 group to determine the color of the replacement pixel in the smaller MIP image.  "It seemed logical to me to average the four pixels being represented by a single pixel in the next smaller MIP level, instead of just picking one", according to Judd Spittler, founder of Spittler Engineering.

Spittler's approach does not modify the MIP image generating algorithm, but rather locates the pixels used for MIP level generation in an image, and replaces them with pixels that are the desired color for a specific pixel in a selected MIP level.  In this way, the desired MIP-map results can be obtained even while using the MSTS "makeace" MIP-mapping algorithm.  If you look at the track texture carefully, it is possible to see certain pixels that appear to be "out of place".  "When viewed at normal distance, however, these pixels do not interfere with the visual experience", according to Spittler.

Screenshots may be viewed in the CNW 4701 & Real Track section of the Screenshot Gallery.


CNW 4701:

Just When You Thought You Were Safe From Re-skinned Default Locomotives:
"CNW 4701": A GP38-2 Based on the Default MSTS Shape Files

In a move certain to stun supporters and critics alike, Spittler Engineering has released "CNW 4701", a GP38-2 based on the default MSTS GP38-2 shape files.  The locomotive features highly detailed artwork designed to create the appearance of a much more detailed model than what was used.

   
 

CNW 4701 is perhaps the highest quality locomotive based on the default GP38-2.

 

A bit of history is probably warranted in order to help explain why this locomotive skin was created using the default GP38-2 model.  It all began shortly after Spittler Engineering's first project, "BNSF 2098" was completed.  The CNW locomotive began as a "quick" experiment to see how fast the BNSF locomotive could be adapted to another railroad's livery.  As work progressed, more details and realism were added.

At each step in the design, "CNW 4701" was considered to be "almost finished".  As a result, starting over with a different model was never really considered an option.  This project, along with the "Real Track" project were very close to completion in April of 2002.  Both projects were put on the shelf to work on the Real Grass and Real Pines projects instead.  Only now, over a year later, have both projects been resurrected and completed.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the project was the development of the chain texture on the front and rear of the unit.  The default chain needed to be replaced, and so an actual chain was purchased at Home Depot, and photographed at the Spittler Engineering facilities.

Chicago and Northwestern fans may notice that certain aspects of the paintjob, such as the battery boxes, are not painted the correct color.  Unfortunately, this was necessary due to the way mapping of the default model was defined.  Hopefully the compromises made in creating CNW 4701 will not be too distracting for most people.

Screenshots may be viewed in the CNW 4701 & Real Track section of the Screenshot Gallery.


CNW 4701 Magazine Ad:

Full-Paged Magazine Ad Created to Promote CNW 4701:
...It Won't be Published, but is Available for Download

The Spittler Engineering released their first full-paged magazine ad recently.  The ad was created to promote CNW 4701, the latest re-texturing of the default MSTS GP38−2.

   
 

Spittler Engineering's first full-page magazine ad: You won't see it at your newsstand.

 

The goal of the ad is to publicize the CNW 4701 release, but also to draw attention to the level of detail that goes into all Spittler Engineering projects.  The ad features a shot of the locomotive emerging from a stylized blueprint rendering..  An actual screenshot of 4701 was used for the ad.

The ad was inspired over a year and a half ago when a screenshot taken for an unrelated purpose was processed to remove the background.  It became apparent that the reason many screenshots of high quality rolling stock do not look realistic is not because of the quality of the rolling stock itself, but because background and other elements detract from the train.

This observation also set into motion other projects at Spittler Engineering, such as the goal to create more realistic looking grass, trees, and track.  The "Real Grass" and "Real Pines" project have been enjoyed by MSTS users for over a year.  The "Real Track" textures are being co-released with CNW 4701.

The Spittler Engineering ad won't actually appear in any magazines.  It is, however, available for visitors to this site.

A full-sized PDF version of the ad may be downloaded at the Downloads & Support section.


Real Pines:

Spittler Engineering Releases "Real Pines":
Replacement Textures for the Default Marias Pass "Fir Trees"

Spittler Engineering has announced the release of "Real Pines", a replacement for the default "fir tree" textures in Microsoft® Train Simulator.  "Real Pines" is a free add-on, designed to greatly increase the realism experienced when working the rails on the Marias Pass route, or any other route which uses the Marias Pass fir trees.

   
 

"Real Pines" are based on images of actual conifers.  Realism was the main goal.

 

The "Real Pines" package replaces not just one, but eight different fir tree textures within the route, including the "tree blocks" used to represent large groups or walls of trees at a distance.

Despite the dramatically different appearance when compared to the default fir trees, "Real Pines" are simply a re-texturing of the default trees, and use the default 3­D models.  Since the texture file sizes contained within the "Real Pines" upgrade are the same as those being replaced, no memory or frame rate issues are anticipated.

Development of "Real Pines" was lead by Judd Spittler, founder of Spittler Engineering, and director of the Conifer Design Department within the organization.  "This was an interesting project," according to Spittler.  "The challenge was creating a realistic looking tree, within the constraints imposed by the default 3D model."

Much of the effort involved portraying lighting and depth in a realistic way.  A great deal of thought also went into determining how much light should be allowed to pass between the tree branches.  "This openness between tree branches really contributes to the feeling of realism", noted Spittler.  "As on most Spittler Engineering projects so far, everything comes down to artistic compromise."

Screenshots may be viewed in the Real Pines section of the Screenshot Gallery.


Real Grass:

Spittler Engineering Releases "Real Grass":
A Replacement for the Default Marias Pass Grass Texture

Spittler Engineering has announced the release of "Real Grass", its first terrain product for Microsoft® Train Simulator.  The free add-on is intended to add realism to the MSTS experience when compared to the default grass texture included with the simulation.  Based on an actual photograph taken of wild grasslands, the texture is the result of hours of manipulation in Paint Shop Pro 7, as well as extensive evaluation from within the simulation itself.

   
 

"Real Grass" is based on an image of actual grasslands.  Increased realism was the main goal.

 

The trick was in capturing a photograph which would provide a good baseline for the terrain texture, according to Judd Spittler, photo expedition team leader and founder of Spittler Engineering.  "Unfortunately, most grassland photography opportunities are at or near the ground level", according to Spittler.  "This imparts a severe 'perspective skew' problem to the image, making it unsuitable for use in a texture which is by necessity uniform and of relatively neutral perspective throughout." 

Spittler was able to solve the problem by taking the "baseline" photograph from near the top of one hill, into the side of another.  According to Spittler, the baseline image was taken of a cow pasture located near the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways in the Southern California city of Diamond Bar.  "We set up our photographic equipment on one side of the freeway to shoot images of the cow pasture on the other," said Spittler.  "That seemed somewhat ironic for a terrain texture intended to convey a tranquil, rural setting," he added.

Many members of the MSTS community have already seen an early version of  "Real Grass", which was included as an update for Rich Garber's "Ohio and West Virginia Railroading" territory.  The texture has since been modified with the intent of increasing the realism further.

Since the texture file sizes contained within the Real Grass upgrade are the same as the files being replaced, no memory or frame rate issues are anticipated.


BNSF 2098:

Spittler Engineering Releases "BNSF 2098":
Detailed Replacement Textures for the Default GP38-2

Spittler Engineering has announced the release of "BNSF 2098", its first product for Microsoft® Train Simulator.  "'BNSF 2098' was conceived as a replacement for the default GP38-2 textures included with the simulator, and addresses many of it's shortcomings", according to Judd Spittler, president of Spittler Engineering, and lead engineer for the BNSF 2098 project.

   
 

BNSF 2098 takes the siding at Coram.  Realism was the number one goal for this GP38-2 re-skin.

 

Improvements were made to all areas of the design, but Spittler's team is most proud of their work on the windows, the truck/wheel assembly, and also for their creative use of the 'lighting' features provided for in the ".eng" file.

Lighting techniques were used to create the illusion of reflections on shiny areas such as the wheels and hand railings.  "Glow" lights within the ".eng" file were used to accomplish this.  Another lighting trick was to adjust the color of the headlights in order to more closely simulate an "incandescent" look.  "The pure white color I have seen on almost all the other locomotives just doesn't look real to me," Spittler added.

Visit our press release area to view the press release in its entirety.

BNSF 2098 - Original Features:

   
 

Window and headlight refinements are especially visible in this shot, taken in light flurries near Browning, MT.

 
  • Windows are larger and more realistically shaped.

  • Window effects include dirt and wiper marks, simulated reflection and darkened interior.

  • Extensive detail has been added, including realistic highlights and shadows.

  • Wheels and trucks have been completely redone.

  • Headlights are a natural incandescent color.

  • Reflective glint: wheels, hand railings, lights, and certain other “shiny” objects have reflective highlights, using the lighting features within the “.eng” file.

  • Realistic flashing ditch lights (optional): Slower, more gradual transition between on and off states. This adds a great deal of realism for those who prefer flashing ditch lights.

  • Also incorporates many other features developed by others in the Train-sim community, such as: lighted number boards, head-out view, compressor and dynamic brake noise fix, smoke corrections  and physics updates.

 

Questions regarding any of the above products should be directed to judd2@juddspittler.com.
 


 © 2001-2003
 Judd Spittler
 


Questions?  Comments?  We are always interested in hearing from you.
judd2@juddspittler.com