INTRODUCTION - RAILROAD SWITCH CHALLENGE is a PC program designed to challenge the best of the armchair way freight train crews. The game objective of RRSWITCH is to move railroad freight cars along simulated tracks to industry locations and subsequently assemble a departing freight train on the mainline track.
RRSWITCH, originally written in 1982, has undergone a number of changes and improvements including progressively better graphics, color, optional mouse controls etc. This version features great VGA colors and graphics and runs on Microsoft Windows 9x based PCs, and optionally makes full use of a Microsoft Compatible Mouse. The program requires a machine with at least 400K base memory and 4 Meg for Windows applications. The system with all it's supporting files will reside on 1.2 meg of hard disk storage. RRSWITCH is distributed on an auto load CDROM.
OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS - Operating instructions are available in the "on-screen" help feature. A full printed Operations Manual is distributed with Version 8 of RRSWITCH. The manual includes pictorials of all graphical features of this new version, including schematics of the nine track layouts. RRSWITCH V8 is operated with a brand new BUTTON-BAR. All train, switch and coupler action can be initiated through the BUTTON-BAR using either the Mouse or keyboard. A number of other program functions, including HELP, are also initiated from the BUTTON-BAR.
TRAIN OPERATIONS - After starting RRSWITCH from the Windows ICON (or the DOS command line) a randomly selected and configured layout will be loaded and cars placed. And then the Challenge Begins! Switching assignments must be accomplished in a minimum of moves and with a minimum of demerits within a prescribed time limit. These assignments are generated in a random fashion usually not repeating for many, many runs. Moves are counted for each change in direction of the engine. Demerits are accumulated by running off the end of a track or by running a track switch not appropriately set to the train route. New (or repeated) switching assignments are generated and displayed in the upper portion of the screen. Running totals of moves and demerits are displayed in the upper right screen. The time remaining, if the timer is activated, is displayed at the top of the screen.
ORDERS AND CAR ASSIGNMENTS - Many approaches in the generation of new switching assignments are possible including: (1) a completely random car placement; (2) replay previous assignments; (3) or manual car placement. Whichever assignment approach is used, the car placement can be immediately regenerated. The results of each switching assignment can be saved to a file and subsequently displayed or recalled.
MECHANICS OF MOVING THE TRAIN - Train movement functions are accessed from the BUTTON-BAR using the keyboard or mouse. Buttons are provided to: (1) move the engine and coupled cars EAST or WEST; (2) select a track switch, to subsequently...;(3) l change the switch to the desired routing; (4) l select a valid coupling opportunity, to subsequently...; (5) couple or uncouple between cars. The numeric keypad can be used as an alternate to the Mouse or BUTTON-BAR for control of all train action. One hand touch control becomes second nature after a few trial runs. The easiest operation, however is with a Microsoft compatible Mouse. A RR Crossing Symbol is used as the mouse pointer. The mouse can be used to select and change switch settings and couplers right on the track layout. The train can be kept in motion by pointing to EAST-WEST buttons on the BUTTON-BAR and holding down the Mouse button.
OTHER OPERATIONS WITH THE BUTTON-BAR - A number of other functions are also supported by the BUTTON-BAR. The selections include: (1) learn from an on-screen abbreviated version of the instructions; (2) begin a fully automated demonstration of a switching challenge on Layout No. 1; (3) restarting the same assignment from the beginning; (4) pause the timer on the current assignment; (5) manually position cars on the layout to set up a specific assignment; (6) list previously saved scores and optionally select a previously recorded assignment to rerun; (7) change engineer's identification; (8) display scoring goals set for current assignment; (9) select a different Layout; (10) quit the challenge and return to the main menu.
SETTING PROGRAM OPTIONS - Program operating characteristics can also be set using the OPTIONS Function accessed from the BUTTON-BAR. The available options include: (1) l cycling switch & coupler sound effects and musical emphasis on or off; (2) establishing timer and mouse functionality; (3) setting maximum number of cars to assign; (4) enable/disable automatic game score saving. Many of these options can also be set from the DOS command line at program startup.
Version 8 of RRSWITCH now includes a drawing program which lets the user create or modify track layouts and then operate them in RRSWITCH. Up to 99 layouts can be developed or modified including the nine provided with the system.
PROGRAM AVAILABILITY AND ORDERING -Version 8.1 is currently available and includes nine layouts: One similar to the John Allen TIMESAVER; another similar to that published in Model Railroader Magazine, January 1991, by Gordon Odegard called Portage Potpourri; a contest switching practice layout developed with Bob Fink for NMRA switching contest support; a simple one-directional switching yard (a good starter for beginners to get the feel of RRSWITCH without the difficulties of run-arounds); and a complex Yard switching layout which really challenges the local yard switching crew; and four additional mainline switching configurations offering simple to complex challenges, including an interchange yard.
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View Sample RRSWITCH Screen
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