Our goal is to enhance the railroad simulation hobby through a new platform, designed and supported by the community and built to provide a lasting foundation for accurate and immersive simulation experiences.
By making the entire source code of the project freely available, we ensure that Open Rails will continually evolve to meet the technical, operational, graphical and content-building needs of the community. Perhaps more importantly, we can anticipate that Open Rails will last for as long as it is needed. Unlike commercial simulators, we are immune from the economic pressures that can kill off a simulator product and suddenly abandon a large investment in building accurate routes and rolling stock.
We benefit from community expertise to deliver accuracy not just in appearance, but also operationally. It is mostly in this area that we find existing products lacking. We understand that operations differ greatly, not just between regions, but even from railroad to railroad.
For this reason we are working towards an open, extensible architecture that accommodates plug-ins, developed by specialized sub-teams, to reproduce the characteristic aspects of their favorite railroad.
One major technical objective has been to achieve backward compatibility with existing Microsoft Train Simulator content, extending the life of community and commercial content developed over the last decade and more. This has been a fascinating challenge; experimenting to discover how the authors of Microsoft Train Simulator solved design issues and working around some poor decisions and incomplete features. We have been largely successful and Microsoft Train Simulator content mostly runs without problems on the Open Rails platform. We try to provide this compatibility without limiting Open Rails and restricting what can be included in the future.
For example, we do not feel bound by the limitations of the Microsoft Train Simulator file formats. We are extending those formats to support new and better features and we are creating new file formats to make better use of current computers and graphics technology.
Looking into the future, we expect both amateur and professional content creators to develop their existing Microsoft Train Simulator content and to build new content specifically for Open Rails. This content will exploit the new features and capabilities offered by the Open Rails platform.
We encourage the commercial enterprises in our community to develop for Open Rails. We look forward to our platform supporting a mix of commercial and free content, add-ons and tools.
Open Rails lives up to its name - a railroad simulation platform that's open for inspection, open for continuous improvement, open to third parties and commercial enterprises, open to the community and, best of all, an open door to the future.