Our Plan For Cross-compatibility
Recently, we were asked about our plan for cross-compatibility of our content. It’s something with an answer too long to write on Twitter so we thought we’d respond here instead. This one is best off being split into two short sections. For those of you who build BVE routes, you probably already know why cross compatibility is such a tricky subject. For those of you who just enjoy the routes we’ll start with our London Underground content.
"Can I use a 73 stock on your Jubilee Line?"
Those who know the tube will already realise what is wrong with that statement. The 1973 stock has never been anywhere near the Jubilee Line for starters. Generally speaking, London Underground will only use one type of rolling stock for a line. Of course there have been exceptions over the years, but none of our routes are set during these eras.
Our London Underground routes include the specific train that was used during the era in which it is set. With this in mind, there are no plans to include any sort of cross-compatibility. This isn’t just us being awkward. There is a lot of extras we add to our train plug-ins that aren’t included by default in BVE. As such, there are certain beacons added to our routes to bring these features to life. Therefore, using one of our trains on a route not set up correctly would result in a less immersive experience.
Likewise, there is nothing to stop you using another person’s train on one of our London Underground routes. However, there are certain elements such as the signalling (and Platform Edge Doors in the case of the Jubilee Line) that are directly controlled by the plug-in. This would mean certain features of a route would cease to function without the plug-in controlling it.
In short, our London Underground routes are designed for a specific train. This train is included with this route. To make it cross-compatible doesn’t seem necessary.
Examples of features that wouldn't work when loading a train incompatible with one of our tube routes:
What about the North London Line?
This is where the good news comes in. It doesn’t currently support it, but we do have some plans for cross-compatibility with the North London Line. For the reasons we just mentioned, opening up the Class 313, while not impossible, isn’t as straight forward as you’d expect.
Without going too much into the finer detail, the plug-in for this train was built entirely from scratch. We had originally planned to build this out of one of the legacy plug-ins but this ultimately didn’t happen.
In true BVE Western Region fashion… this meant we ended up going further than the original had. The AWS for example is able to handle repeater signals. Legacy recreations of AWS could not. While the North London Line may not have many repeater signals, the point is, ours has support for them already – besides, Custom House used to have one on the westbound road. It also had a SPAD signal as well that was rather cool, but we digress.
"Does this mean we can't use the Class 313 on other routes?"
In summary, with regards to the Class 313, additional beacons would need to be added to a route in order to support the extra functionality. However, with the North London Line, making it compatible with other mainline stock from other developers is a fairly simple affair. The next release of the line will include the necessary code to facilitate this. This will mean that AWS and TPWS should work, as per most of the typical plug-ins included with British mainline stock.
The only thing that may not work will be neutral sections. Not the end of the world though, given the only one is near Camden Road. Another one was added near Hackney Wick but this would appear to be after the platforms at Stratford were transferred to the high level.
Examples of Class 313 features which will not work when loaded on other routes
When the train is first loaded, it needs to be told which power supply to use. Without this it’ll assume there is no power and therefore will not move – which is a bit of a problem!
What about freight workings?
There are plans to add freight workings to the North London Line. An example loco required for this would be a Class 66. This is where the compatibility will be added. Being honest, this is something we’re looking forward to adding once the route is complete. Most mainline (especially diesel powered) British rolling stock should be supported at this point.
We hope this answers your question. In short, cross-compatibility for any of our London Underground content is a simple no. Mainline routes however will ultimately include compatibility with other trains outside of the one included.