Transport based modelling has a firm founding in academia, yet it is the games industry that leads the way in terms of visualisation. It is interesting that although working in the field of visualisation the use of game engines is still viewed as a slightly amusing sideline. An example of this is highlighted by the case that when talking to a colleague in architecture, before my talk at IMAGINA in Monaco entitled ‘When Games and Architecture Collide’, the person in question could barely conceal their mirth at the topic.
In truth you only get peoples attention when you show the output and the realtime visualisation you can achive with software costing less than £20 ($35). See our posts on Game Engines for examples.
If the use of the word ‘Game’ gets laughter from people inside the industry, let alone fellow academics, our proposal three years ago to the ‘Cross Rail’ Board to visualise the Cross Rail route through London using a game known as Trainz suffered a similar fate. The following demo of Trainz highlights its potential:
Trainz is a very accomplished piece of software, not only allowing complex transport simulations but also the ability to import 3D models from other packages. As such we had a functioning demo, with fully texture mapped models and a series of UK rolling stock, operating through parts of the City of London.
It would of been a small jump to visualise the proposed Cross Rail route – sadly the word ‘game’ meant looks of derision from the members sat around the table in the board room. A 3D visualisation of the Cross Rail route would have been a fantastic leap forward in informing the public on both its benefits and its impacts on the environment, sadly if you look at the Cross Rail website there is no such level of sophistication.
If we had used the term ‘Agent based Transport Simulation’ we would of probably got the go ahead, its all the same work just a change in wording and a sad indication of the way that games based visualisation is perceived…