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"Real Pines" addresses the unrealistic look of the default conifers in MSTS.

to Reality

Simulation is the art and science of modeling reality.  In science and technology, realistic simulations are critical for their value in solving technical problems.  For recreational simulation, realism is the end goal.

At Spittler Engineering, we understand that realism is the reason for using simulators such as Microsoft® Train Simulator.  Our products reflect this philosophy.  We take detail and realism very seriously.

We invite you to explore our pages and evaluate our products.  We especially recommend visiting our screenshot gallery.

If you are a developer, we would like to encourage you to visit our developer area, where we highlight a number of innovations and ideas refined during product development.  You are invited to study our techniques and adapt them to your own projects.

Latest Product Announcements:

(August 15, 2003)

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.

(August 15, 2003)

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.

(August 15, 2003)

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 .

Rail Photography Site at JuddSpittler.com


A train of empty coal cars nears Summit at Cajon Pass.


"A Distant Signal" is a website that features the railroad photography of Judd Spittler, founder of Spittler Engineering.  "The site was designed to emphasize the artistic beauty of railroading," noted Spittler.  "It is my hope that the photography will have the power to impact both railfan and non-railfan, alike," he added.

Currently, most of the photography on display at the site was captured at Southern California's legendary Cajon Pass.

Also, be sure to check out the juddspittler.com home page for other interesting web content.


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 Judd Spittler

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