1 Specialities of the LOTUS Map-Editors
1.1 Generated Terrain
The classic method regarding the terrain is to create a terrain all over the place even there is something build upon it. Only at tunnel entries there are some invisible squares. Onto these squares other objects like streets, crossings and rails are placed to fill the gap.
This method is very simple, but has some handicaps:
- To dismantle clipping errors the streets and sidewalks should be slightly above the terrain, espacially when the street is lower than the sidewalks and may has grooved rails. So there is an ugly gap between the sidewalk and the terrain.
- Slopes and similar elements have to get adjusted to the terrain.
- Unique switches and rail crossings aren't possible, as lang as they aren't build in a 3D-modelling program.
- The building process of "handmade" rail crossing is enormous and the internal used rails may not match the 3D-modelled rails exactly.
So LOTUS uses an other system. By doing so the sidewalks, streets and so on are part of the terrain. The splines and polygons are set as you may already know. The premade terrain and these elements are getting combined to a single and final terrain. To do so the elements with a higher priority cut its dimension into elements with a lower priority. Also the edges of the low priority elements are getting adjusted to the edges of the high priority elements, if needed. The remaining "holes" are filled with the basic terrain.
The generation of the terrain may take a lot of time and has to be done when a relevant element gets modified (moving a house doesn't count ).
Because of the high amount of time this process will calculate while you are working on the map. There are some Specialties:
- When calculating the terrain it changes its visibility to the wireframe mode, so it won't be invisible while calculating. The calculation doesn't interrupt the possibility to work on the map.
- At the lower edge of the window a progress bar appears:
- While this progress bar is shown you can't save your map. To cancel the calculating simply press "X" next to this progress bar.
- If you cancel the process or the Map Editor fails, the process can be started manually. To control the calculation there are several buttons in the upper menu.
1.2 Street markings layer
To simplify the terrain calculation the street markings get rendered in a seperate layer. This layer doesn't refer to the terrain at all. Only the height of the terrain will influence the street markings layer. The advantage of this method is, that a change of the street markings won't let the terrain recalculate. Also the street markings can have an alpha channel which integrates the street markings smooth into the landscapes.
1.3 Special terrain object properties
Every terrain element has the following options considering the terrain calculation:
- Vertical adaption at cutting: If this options gets unchecked, the edges of this element won't snap vertically to the edges of the other elements:
Priorities have two core functions:
- When using subgrades the priority decides which terrain element is more important at a crossing
- When using terrain elements the priority define which element cuts the other element or which element gets cutted.
You shouldn't use consecutive numbers like 1, 2, 3... because ther may no "space" for another priority. It's recommended to use steps of ten. When changing the mode of elements a recommended value will be set by default.
Layer should define which elements are grounded (layer 0) or which elements belong to a bridge (layer 1, 2, 3...) or which elements belong to a tunnel (layer -1, -2, -3...). This function isn't implemented yet.
2 Left sidebar
The left sidebar has two core functions:
- Switching the different working modi, like reference lines or splines
- Preparation and beginning of a new element
Furthermore there are several unique functions in the lower areal too.
This mode contains all functions regarding the modification of the terrain. At the moment there are only subgrades.
A deformation of the terrain with the common tools would be very frustrating. You have to keep in mind, that the smooth placement of a rail track, polygon or spline on the terrain is key.
Because of this we created so called subgrades. These elements modify the terrai too, but you can set to following parameters to create an usual looking street or other type of routes:
- Flatten out align a chain of straight or curvy lines
- Width (also variable)
- Height and Slopes
On both sides of the subgrades an embankment or an indentation will be created. Also the height profile in crossing sections will be edited smoothly. To do so you need the layer parameter. The subgrade with a higher layer defines the height profile of the crossing section, meanwhile the subgrade with a lower layer adjusts the height smoothly towards the subgrade with the higher layer.
Furthermore it is planned to freeform the terrain in this mode and paint it with a texture.
2.2 Reference lines
Reference lines are simple lines: no mesh, no colour, no shape, no terrain parameter. Therefore they are invisible in the simulation. They are very useful when you want to measure a length, define a radius or in fact create a reference line to align terrain elements alongside.
2.3 Scenery objects
Because the word "object" is to common we define every mostly static and non movable object as ascenery object. This may be a building or a traffic sign or a trash bin.
A polygon is a flat surface with a indefinite shape, but the edges of a polygon are always straight. Curvy shapes consists of short and straight edges.
In general every visible surfaces are imported from a 3D-modlling program. The polygons are the only exception of this, so you can fit the polygons into every landscape. This may be asphalt on crossings or stuff like that.
To get the polygon in the map editor a good looking texture you can define materials with some special properties regarding the polygons. The list of current materials is located in the middle dropdown menu. After creating a new map there is only one asphalt material defined. One material has to be defined once per map. But if you created a material it can't be deleted afterwards. This is not very critical, because the textures and so on of this material aren't loaded when there is no tile visible with this material on it.
The material properties are nearly the same as the properties in the content tool. They are described in here: Material-Eigenschaften
Also there are some settings you should consider to use: Terrain-Material-Empfehlungen
In addition to the normal settings there are the following settings only for terrain materials:
- Size of texture: The default setting for the scaling of the texture(s) on the polygon
- street marking: The polygon will be catogorised as street marking layer
- Footprint type: Which type should the polygon have in the 2D map?
These options are always the default settings for every polygon. They can be adjusted for every single polygon. If you change the default settings, every unique setting will be overwritten.
2.4.2 Move the texture
The texture of the polygon can be moved or rotated as you wish. To do so right click on the polygon to choose the function.
Splines are 3D objects, which are created in a 3D modelling program and getting extruded alongside a user defined line. This implies, that the parts of the spline are looped, bent or sliced to reach the given length based on the parameter and configuration of the line.
There are three types within the spline category: Terrain splines, which affects the terrain, like sidewalks or curbstones, marking splines like halfway lines or stop lines and standard splines, which won't affect the terrain like fences or hedges.
2.6 Rail tracks
Rail tracks are similar to splines. But there are so called configurations of rail tracks, where a certain track type will be defined consisting of a rail track, ballast type, ties and some more parameters like quality or track gauge. Of course every rail trakc segment can be defined on its own.
Because of this system there are some more elements:
The upper two buttons lead o create new rail track segments. Underneath there is a list with the already given track track configurations, which can be found in the subfolder "Config\Railtracks". The buttons "New" and "Edit" lead to create or change a configuaration. Before choosing the button "New" you should select a valid configuration, which defines the base of the new configuration. A configuration can't be deleted within the Map Editor, but you can delete the file within the file system.
A configuration (currently) consists of the following parameters:
- Track type and track gauge are self explaining
- Ballast: An optional spline for the ballast, which is located underneath the rail track. Only splines with the filter kind "Rails" are shown in this menu
- Ties: you can choose between several types of ties, which are then used in a random order. Only scenery objects with the filter kind "Rails" are shown in this menu
- Tie weighting: This parameter decides about the frequency of the different types of ties
- Tie distance should be also self explaining
- Surface type: This value will be read by the vehicle, so the rolling noise will change, if the surface type changes.
- Rail quality: Will influence the sound and the quietness of the vehicle.
- Rail level: If a rail track with a ballast type is placed without this setting, it would be under the terrain, because the railhead is the height level. So if the rail level is "0", the ballast and so on isn't visible. To prevent additional settings to be set afterwards you can set this default value. Of course you can change the value for each segment.
At the bottom of the panel there is a calculator to match the length and radius of a switch. So you can create a prototypical railway crossing.
Switches will be generated automatically as soon as three tracks will be connected. To configurate the switch, you have to click with the right mouse button on the arrow pointing to the switch peak:
A dialog window will pop up, where you can configurate the switch:
- You can toggle the switch to set the initial position when the simulation starts.
- You can lock the switch so the user cannot change its position.
2.7 Ties within railway switches
Under a single rail track there are normal ties which can be generated by LOTUS. Regarding railway switches and railway crossing this isn't possible:
For this purpose there are so called "Switch ties", which have to be set manually. These ties will match the railtracks automatically.
Until you can place the switch ties you have to select a type of switch ties and you have to select both inflicted railway sections the other way by pressing [Ctrl] and [Shift].
In LOTUS only the energized catenaries are meant. So the other wires are just simple splines. Beside that they can be defined as energized and they only can placed in an angular way. When placing a doubled catenary the upper wire will placed straight forward while the chain is placed in Z-shape. On the right side there is a filter set which only allows you to select catenaries.
How to build catenaries you can see here: Oberleitungen verlegen
This panel and also the last panel doesn't contain elements to construct the 3D landscape. In this section there are the following settings possible:
- Show as wireframe: The whole scenery is shown as a wireframe to get an overwiew about the complexity of meshes or to inspect special polygons.
- Terrain texture: This is the setting which controls the type of texture on the terrain. There are the following choices:
- Map: Set the background image as an Openstreetmap.
- Texture: Shows the texture, which is visbile in the simulation.
- Aerial: If the aerial link in the settings of the Map Editor is set, the aerial view will be downloaded and shown.
- Show LOD: In Addition to the ("near") normal terrain there is always a simplified variant, which is shown only in a far distance. When clicking this checkbox the simplified terrain is shown. It may take a while till the terrain is loaded.
At the moment there is only the number of tiles, which are currently loaded.
3 Right sidebar
On the right side all possible scenery objects or splines are listed, which are currently installed. The elements match the category on the left side. So you can't select splines when the scenery objects category is selected.
There are also more filter you can choose in the dropdown menu above, so not every object is listed.
4 Upper section
In the upper section there are a plenty of elements, which are needed in mostly every mode.
4.1 "File" section
- : Save and pack the map (export to the simulation)
- : Saves the map only (faster, but no export to the simulation)
- : Change map properties (name, description etc.).
- : Pack all needed map files into a zip archive.
- : Change tile reservations.
- : Select an image to display while loading the map.
- : Select a preview image.
- : Go to a new position. It's very helpful, when the new position is far away from the actual position.
- : Map Editor settings.
4.2 "Internal" section
- : Start the performance analysis window.
- : Shows the debug list. There are several information shown, which are needed to debug the map.
4.3 "Line edit" section
- : Cut an existing line into two parts
- : Combine two separat lines, which look like to be connected, logically
4.4 "Line construction" section
- : If the current line/spline segment is supposed to be connected to another end of an segment, then the last segment will be shortened or extended to ensure a smooth connection
- : Transition curves mode. In this mode, transition curves can and must be constructed between lines with different radii. Some steps will change when place the splines or lines
- : Break mode. You only can construct straight lines in this mode, the transition are realized by kinks.
: Cant will be calculated automatically based on the parameter on the right.
- km/h: The velocity to calculate the cant. If the velocity is high, the cant has also a higher value.
- max (%): The maximal value when using the cant.
- Width subgrade: When a new subgrade gets created, the width can be defined in the textfield.
4.5 "Gen construction" section
- : Opens the properties window of the object, which is currently selected.
- Priority: The priority can be set in this textfield and will be applied on the upcomming objects. Also the priority of the currently selected object can be changed when accepting the modal dialog afterwards.
- Layer: The layer can be set in this textfield and will be applied on the upcomming objects. Also the layer of the currently selected object can be changed when accepting the modal dialog afterwards.
- Z: The height value can be set in this textfield and will be applied on the upcomming objects. Also the height value of the currently selected object can be changed when accepting the modal dialog afterwards.
- : Decides if the height is absolute or relative to the terrain. If this button is set the height will be relative to the terrain. This option is set by default.
- : Should the cutting edges of the terrain element to be created be adjusted in height to the cutting terrain element of higher priority? (see also "Special terrain object properties"). This option is set by default.
- : Should the next spline/polygone cut other splines/polygons with lower priority?
- : Should the next spline/polygone be cut by other splines/polygons with higher priority?
- : Should the height be adjusted to the target point height in case of snapping or should only "2D, seen from above, be snapped. This option is set by default.
- : The terrain is automatically recreated when a surface spline, ploygone, etc.is created, edited or deleted. Otherwise the terrain has to be refreshed manually. This option is set by default.
- : Forces the recreation of the terrain only around the selected spline/polygone.
- : All switch blades and frogs in the centered tile should be recalculated. Normally the calculation will be made automatically, but it may happen that the Map Editor won't calculate correctly, so you can start the calculation manually. Note: This process may take a while and the Map Editor may look like its frozen.
- : Forces the recreation of the terrain of the center tile.
- : Forces recalculation of spline and polygon heights, followed by recreation of the terrain of the center tile.
- : Manuelles Neuberechnen des Terrains nur im Umfeld des markierten Objektes.
- : Sets all flags "cuts lower priority" and "be cut by higher priority" to "on" in all splines and polygones of the currently centered tile.
5 Lower section
In the lower section are some selections for the visibility and selectability of the different elements on this map. Underneath these buttons are some helpers and on the right side there occure a progress bar. The status bar at the bottom of the Map Editor contains useful information about the map, the current mouse position, some information about the currently slected object and maybe the current editing progress.