Creating Activities - Tips For The Activity Writer



Hopefully you found the README.RTF and MAP.JPG files. They include an employee timetable, employee rulebook, a system map and some other useful information. Here are some other helpful tips. Check back here from time to time as I will update this page as questions emerge and ideas come to mind.

Important Note: Access the Activity Editor via the 'L&PS Tools' icon that was dropped on your desktop during SETUP.

  1. The flag stop signals can be raised in activity editor. Find the flag stop, it will appear as a green signal. Right click on it and set it to 'disabled signal' to raise the flag. You can go further and place a 'location event' to detect and report a failure to stop. Note that these flag stop signals are not actually on the mainline, but instead are on an adjacent stub of track, so they will not cause a 'Failed to stop for signal' error.
  2. There are a number of bugs in MSTS that make switching activities tricky. First, always start the activity with the locomotive pointing into a dead-end spur (as in activity X79 ). Do not attempt to trace the path for the player train. Just allow it to end in the spur. This prevents the 'trailing point switch' bug, where trains 'snap' to the adjacent track when entering a switch from the diverging route. Also, on all static consists, ensure the couplers are pointing the same way as the player locomotive. Look at the small circle that represents the 'back' coupler and be sure they all point the same way as the 'back' coupler on the player locomotive. This will eliminate most 'front coupler' bugs and will ensure the bogies and wheels turn the correct way.
  3. Preventing 'Activity Ended, Failed to Stop for Signal' error at Yarmouth - Note that, there is a signal on the southbound main at Yarmouth. This signal is hidden and is meant to control AI traffic to allow proper running meets to be setup. It is a nuisance for activity creating however. You must ensure there are no static consists on the main south of Yarmouth or you will get the error. The most likely culprit is something parked on the Customs Warehouse spur in Port Stanley. Follow the mainline down to Port Stanley and you will see it terminates at the Custom's Warehouse spur. Note that when the MSTS signal logic looks for something blocking the track, it doesn't follow the Player Path through turnouts but instead always traces the route through the straight path - this leads to the Customs Warehouse spur. Further complicating things is that in AE, the signal will show green - the signal logic in AE is different and doesn't see the static consists blocking the track.
  4. Pere Marquette Operations - The Pere Marquette had been long time friends of the L&PS ( they leased it prior to 1914 ). Their mainline arrived in St. Thomas from the west at the interchange north of Pinafore. In order to reach Buffalo, they ran north from the interchange on the L&PS tracks, across Mill Creek up to the MCR interchange where they continued east out of St. Thomas on the MCR tracks. Oddly, while traversing the L&PS tracks, they always used the West main - even if that meant travelling the against the prevailing direction of L&PS traffic. Plenty of coal moved from Port Stanley to the Pere Marquette interchange track along with the normal lot of interchange traffic.
  5. Pinafore Yard - this was one big coal storage yard. All summer the yard was filled with hoppers brought across the lake on M&B No 2. The last ferry sailed sometime in mid December and after that, the cities drew their fuel from the coal stored at Pinafore.
  6. The two spurs at Whites were used in doubling trains up the hill from Port Stanley. Half the train was left here, while the engineer ran back to get the rest of his consist left behind at the port.
  7. I have found it is nearly impossible to orchestrate an AI meet on the L&PS, except in the double track section at St. Thomas. Maybe the more experienced activity writers can work it out. Otherwise, I just use static consists waiting on the siding to simulate a meet.
  8. One thing to remember is TSUNPACK, the MSTS Activity Installer, won't work properly with the L&PS route because of its separate mini-install. I have written a special activity installer, called TsUnpackLPS to use when installing activities for the L&PS. You can download a copy here. I'll issue it to everyone with my next route update but to be sure there is no problem, you are welcome to include it in your activity zips.
  9. There is no connection between the L&PS tracks and the CN, Wabash, and MCR tracks. Note that in places, the tracks appear to connect, but if you look carefully, you will see that there is no switch. This is to ensure that player driven trains on the L&PS do not interfere with AI trains on the other railways.
  10. The interlocking signals at the Wabash and MCR crossings are actually a type of animal hazard. In your activity, set 'Animal Hazards' to 100% to ensure the signals appear properly in your activity. ( See for more info on my whistle activitated signals )
  11. Automatic vs Manual Switches. On the L&PS, almost all switches are of the 'manual' type. This limits what you can do with AI trains in activities. I'm not an expert in this so I will leave it to you to read the literature to understand the impact of manual vs automatic switches, but in simplest terms, AI trains cannot throw manual switches. For this reason you will have difficulty making activities where AI trains interact with your player train. You must simulate meets by having a static consist waiting on the main or siding for the player train. My reasons for selecting manual switches reflects my interest in switching. Automatic switches prevent ad-hoc switching - ie with automatic switches every move must be planned out in the player's path of the activity. I prefer ad-hoc switching where the player decides what moves are best. This unplanned switching requires manual switches ( See also Item 2 above). I actually like the manual switches better from a realism stand-point. The real L&PS had no automatic switches. At a meet, the engineer had to stop at the switch and the brakeman jumped out to move the points to the siding. With manual switches on the L&PS, you must do this also. And for the most realism, I actually stop my train at the switch just as the prototype had to. There are two exceptions - Yarmouth has no spurs so I decided there would be no need for ad-hoc switching and I therefore installed automatic switches there. You should be able to organize a running meet at Yarmouth if needed with the assistance of the hidden signal. There are also automatic switches at the ends of the double track section through St. Thomas ( near the Wabash diamond and at the south end of Pinafore yard. ) The prototype locations had 'spring' point switches that didn't require the train to stop and I simulate this with automatic switches at those locations.

Christian Schröder has kindly provided these schematic maps of the L&PS route to aid in building and running activities.