In multiplayer WW2 DCS trains do not work. They do not appear correctly for all clients. They do not run correctly. In some cases, they simply do not appear at all. This is a MAJOR deficiency of the simulator, which has existed for year, and had led to a lot of frustrated customers. In this article we look at why trains are so important and the impact of their absence on our Storm of War pilots.
History and importance
The German railway network (Deutsche Reichsbahn) was the national railway system created at the end of the First World War. During its expansion in the 20s and 30s, it was considered one of the biggest industrial expansion programmes in the world, and one of critical importance to the infrastructure of the Reich: from food distribution, to industrial interconnectivity, and supplying the front line. When war broke out, these railways were hard-pressed to supply Germany’s war needs and, in many ways, they never were able to.
After the defeat of the Jagdwaffe in early 1944, American fighters were allowed to attack targets of opportunity after completing their escort duties. With the ease of finding those long silver lines and smoke and steam giving away their presence, trains were a primary target. With over 40 trains per day being destroyed, the loss rate outstripped production of locomotives and rolling stock (an experienced train crews), which was already in decline. The occupied countries had it even worse. In France, the railways were severely damaged during the Allied air-offensives in the lead-up to the D-Day invasion, and the subsequent Normandy breakout.
The railways operated right to the collapse of the Third Reich. Yet by the end, they were barely functioning, despite the heroic efforts of the railway repair teams, maintenance staff and train crews. The inability to have adequate supply exacerbated the chaos of the relentless and overwhelming Allied advances. With the flow of spare parts, replacement troops, fuel, munitions and rations slowed to a trickle by the collapse of the railways the effectiveness of German forces decreased dramatically.
For Germany, trains are a vital part of the logistics. While the Allied logistics was dominated by ships and trucks, the Germans had trains and horses. With Axis oil being in such short supply (and desperately needed for other areas), the coal and steel railways provided the only viable solution for mass-mechanised transport logistics. Without an adequate supply chain, no nation can wage war.
Trains in DCS
Within the DCS WW2 assets pack, there are some very special units. The DRG Class 86 locomotive, plus the G10 covered wagon,the DR 50-tonne flat type transport and others. These have been created in stunning detail. They are truly beautiful models.
In the Mission Editor, there are two types of trains.
- “Civilian traffic” trains. These are arbitrary and do not function well. If you are simply going to ignore trains, use them as environment-only, and fly single-player, then these are fine.
- “Placeable unit” trains. These “snap” to the rail lines and should spawn-in and move about on waypoints just like road vehicle units. For targets and a controlled multiplayer environment, this second type is essential.
And this is where it starts to hurt the players.
Currently, trains a dysfunctional. The railway key in the Mission Editor does not work. The levels-of-detail on the map are flawed. The logic by which they follow railways is indecipherable. The trains can only be placed in certain positions. They do not always render or appear correctly. They are often merely shadows on the ground.
But it gets worse…
Storm of War has always strived to create an immersive environment for World War 2 air combat operations. As far as possible within the limitations of the DCS simulator, we use extensive research and historical sources to create a set of historically minded and compelling scenarios. Part of that is the logistics. It is critically important to us to convey this aspect of the war to our vitual pilots. Not only does it provide vital context, but it also makes the ecosystem richer and our virtual battlefield less sterile.
Trains are also a critical target for the P-47D and the DH.98 Mosquito. It is difficult to justify the inclusion of these aircraft (particularly the Mosquito) in the absence of the provision of valid targets.
However, there is a more fundamental problem. Trains do not work across multiplayer DCS. What we mean here is that any train placed in the mission editor only appears on the server-instance of DCS. It does not appear in the clients. This affects not just persistent, multiplayer servers like Storm of War, but even just a couple of players wanting to carry out their own co-op mission.
Trains do not work across multiplayer DCS.
The fact that trains do not render in different clients, much less are actually synchronised between them, is not new.
This bug was reported back in 2017. Yes, twenty-seventeen. It comes up repeatedly on the forums. Numerous threads have pointed this out.
So this is not just Storm of War, but a much larger swathe of the community.
Yet for us, trying to run the Normandy Campaign without trains, is like trying have the Battle of the Atlantic without convoys. Logistics is a vital part of warfare. And working locomotives and their rolling stock are a critical part of the defending logistics, an important target and essential to the historical landscape.