17. Developing OR Content

Open Rails already has some own development tools and is defining and developing other ones. A path editor is available within TrackViewer under the Tools button in the main menu window. An editor for timetable mode is also available under the Tools button. Route editor and consist editor are in an advanced stage of development and may already be tested. You can read about and download the consist editor here . You can read about and download the TSRE5 route editor at this link

IT is of course already possible to develop OR content (rolling stock, routes, 3D objects, activities) using the tools used to develop MSTS content, thanks to the high compatibility that OR has with MSTS. Below, some of the advantages of OR-specific content are described.

17.1. Rolling Stock

  • OR is able to display shapes with many more polygons than MSTS. Shapes with more than 100.000 polys have been developed and displayed without problems.

  • Thanks to the additional physics description parameters, a much more realistic behavior of the rolling stock is achieved.

  • 3D cabs add realism.

  • OR graphics renders the results of the rolling stock developers at higher resolution.

  • Rolling stock running on super-elevated track improves gaming experience.

17.2. Routes

  • Routes are displayed in higher resolution.

  • Extended viewing distance yields much more realism.

  • Double overhead wire increases the realism of electrified routes.

  • Built-in triphase overhead electric line.

  • Extended signaling features provide more realistic signal behavior.

  • Widescreen and hi-res loading screen.

17.3. Activities

  • Timetable mode is a new activity type available only in Open Rails that allows for development of timetable based gaming sessions.

  • By using the dispatcher monitor window, the dispatcher HUD, and the ability to switch the camera to any AI train, the player can more closely monitor and control the execution of conventional activities.

  • Extended AI shunting greatly increases the interactions between trains.

  • New OR-specific additions to activity (.act) files enhance activities.

17.4. Parameters and Tokens

The parameters used in content files have been mentioned throughout this manual for:

Content Type

File Extension



wagon or non-powered vehicle




cab view




train service


train traffic


signal configuration


signal scripts


sound management


train timetable


The complete list is very extensive and is documented in an online spreadsheet at tinyurl.com/or-parameters-excel.

Since this is a spreadsheet with many rows, you can restrict your view to relevant rows using the filters at the top of each column.

17.5. Testing and Debugging Tools

As listed here, a rich and powerful set of analysis tools eases the testing and debugging of content under development.

17.6. Open Rails Best Practices

17.6.1. Polys vs. Draw Calls – What’s Important

Poly counts are still important in Open Rails software, but with newer video cards they’re much less important than in the early days of MSTS. What does remain important to both environments are Draw Calls.

A Draw Call occurs when the CPU sends a block of data to the Video Card. Each model in view, plus terrain, will evoke one or more Draw Calls per frame (i.e., a frame rate of 60/second means all of the draw calls needed to display a scene are repeated 60 times a second). Given the large number of models displayed in any scene and a reasonable frame rate, the total number of Draw Calls per second creates a very large demand on the CPU. Open Rails software will adjust the frame rate according to the number of required Draw Calls. For example, if your CPU can handle 60,000 Draw Calls per second and the scene in view requires 1000 Draw Calls, your frame rate per second will be 60. For the same CPU, if the scene requires 2000 Draw Calls, your frame rate per second will be 30. Newer design / faster CPU’s can do more Draw Calls per second than older design / slower CPU’s.

Generally speaking, each Draw Call sends one or more polygon meshes for each occurrence of a texture file for a model (and usually more when there are multiple material types). What this means in practice is if you have a model that uses two texture files and there are three instances of that model in view there will be six draw calls – once for each of the models (3 in view) times once for each texture file (2 files used), results in six Draw Calls. As an aid to performance Open Rails will examine a scene and will issue Draw Calls for only the models that are visible. As you rotate the camera, other models will come into view and some that were in view will leave the scene, resulting in a variable number of Draw Calls, all of which will affect the frame rate.

Model builders are advised that the best performance will result by not mixing different material types in a texture file as well as using the fewest number of texture files as is practical.

17.7. Support

Support can be requested on the OR forum on http://www.elvastower.com/forums.

The OR development team, within the limits of its possibilities, is willing to support contents developers.