The history of the RailWorks series and technology can be traced back to 2001 when Kuju developed Microsoft Train Simulator, an ambitious but profoundly boring train simulation game with an active modding community to this day. Eventually, they developed the successor called Rail Simulator. The graphics were not a vast improvement over MSTS, but the physics improvements were a major focus. By utilizing the PhysX middleware, Rail Simulator offered much more advanced physics simulations such as individual wheels slipping on the rails. The game came with a world editor to build your own routes.
After some corporate shuffling and an uncertain future, a subsidiary of Kuju was created and named RailSimulator.com. Due to the difficulty in offering a consistent and updated experience across players with retail games, as well as acquiring the maximum amount of money by charging for said updates, it was decided that Rail Simulator would turn into a Steam exclusive title and thus RailWorks was born. The Steam platform allowed the developers to issue timely updates to every player and to utilize the DLC system to nickel-and-dime their users for additional content such as routes, locomotives, and scenery assets. This system also allowed third party expansion makers to develop and release DLCs to a single centralized store and for users to know that the content is officially supported by RailSimulator.com.
In 2010, a significant free update to RailWorks was released and the name of the game was curiously changed to RailWorks 2. It contained a new driving interface that was easier to use, Steam Achievements, and a "Career System" that is basically leaderboards of the game.
Similar to RailWorks 2, Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012 (originally renamed just Train Simulator 2012) is a free update for all existing RailWorks owners. New purchasers currently get upgraded to the "Deluxe Edition" that contains the Horseshoe Curve Expansion, which is designed as a showcase of the enhancements made to the RailWorks engine.
- Various real-life and fictional routes in Europe and North America
- Over 70 scenarios, which contain specific goals based on a schedule similar to real world situations
- Steam, diesel, and electric locomotives
- Other train cars such as passenger cabs or shipping cars
- World Editor to create or modify routes and scenarios
- Lots of paid and free additional content
- Steam achievements and leaderboards
New Features In Train Simulator 2012
- New, clean user interface
- New action-oriented loading screens
Realistic presentation of driving environments
- Extended Terrain Draw Distance
- New terrain shadowing
- Particle effects on train windows
- Working wipers
- Improved clouds & sky
- Multiple Source Dynamic Lighting
- Depth of field
- Soft shadows
- Weather effects on windows
Gameplay and Realism
- Multiple headed consists to allow consists to be powered by different types of traction
- Superelevation to allow accurate simulation of curved tracks
- Improved track unevenness and cab camera movement
- Smoothing of vertical curves on tracks.
- Improved browser list and functionality
- New stopping point feature to simplify scenario creation
- New way of simplifying display of editor features
- New way of authoring Marshalling of AI trains – particularly useful in yards
- New route – Horseshoe Curve* (included with new buyers of the Steam version)
- New concept train (IEP)
- New Warbonnet F7 locomotive
- Improved sounds for North American content
- Refreshed Class 166
- Refreshed Class SD40
- Hundreds of dollars of DLC available for purchase in the Steam store, including the popular Halloween themed "Trains vs. Zombies" level pack
The new graphics engine can be toggled on or off in order to provide compatibility for existing content or users with older hardware.
The developer is working on adding online multiplayer support in the future.
- OS: Windows XP / Vista/ Windows 7
- Processor: 2.8 GHz or faster* (relative to Pentium 4, modern CPUs are faster than this at less GHz)
- Memory: 2.0 GB RAM
- Graphics: Video 256 MB with Pixel Shader 3.0* (with the new graphics engine disabled, Shader 2.0 cards are capable of running the game)
- Hard Drive: At least 6 GB of free space + more for DLCs
- Sound: Direct X 9.0c compatible