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If you are a member of the Friends of Darlington Railway Museum and have been intrigued by the review of Train Simulator 2016 you still have the chance to get it for free. Dovetail Games made twenty copies of the download version of Train Simulator available to members of the Friends. The Editor would like to say that this was the result of careful negotiations but really all I did was ask nicely.
This is the complete version of Train Simulator 2016 including the remarkable evocation of the '60s network centred on Bishop Auckland. Note that if you already have some version of Train Simulator but not the Weardale and Teesdale Network you can use this offer to acquire it.
If you take up this offer you will need to register with the Steam website to download and install the program. The game will be registered to you through your account so, once you have that, you can install and play Train Simulator on any computer you can access your account from presuming you have the necessary permissions and it is up to the job.
So what is the catch? Dovetail Games and Steam are both commercial enterprises and this offer might be thought of as a loss-leader. Dovetail no doubt hopes that you will buy some of the add-on routes or rolling-stock available for the game and when you start the Steam program it will show you advertisements for other products but will not bother you otherwise. There is no obligation to make any further purchases from either.
If you are not a member of the Friends and would like to take up this offer- well now you have a good reason to join. That, of course, is in addition to the already excellent reasons to join the Friends. If you join only to get a copy of Train Simulator your membership will be substantially cheaper than the recommended price of even the Weardale and Teesdale Network on its own.
Check to see if your PC meets the specifications (see below) and then ask for it by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org stating your interest and including your name and address.
There is a limited number of codes so, although demand may not have been terribly high as yet, please do not ask on the basis that you may one day have a suitable PC and fancy driving trains on it. Please do not ask on behalf of a non-member either- this offer is for the Friends after all.
The Editor would like to thank Dovetail Games for its generosity and particularly Head of Content Derek Siddle who made all the arrangements for this offer. Derek is from this area and the Weardale and Teesdale DLC was very much his baby.
A Windows PC that meets the minimum requirements. If you are not sure how your PC compares you can check by going to System Requirements Lab. Under Search for a game start typing "Train Simulator 2016" (you can probably just type "Train" then click on the full title from a list of options). Once that is selected click the blue "Can You Run It?" button. That will download a small program called Detector.exe- run that and it will assess your system for you. If everything passes you should be fine. You may be cautious about running unfamiliar downloads, in fact you should be, but System Requirements Lab does get a clean bill of health from Norton Internet Security.
As evinced in the page of technical notes there is some room for manoeuvre with regard to the minimum configuration- indeed none of the machines mentioned would do according Detector.exe. All use integrated graphics systems which meet the requirements but share some of the main RAM (memory) with the processor. Because of this the graphics system and processor get in each others way so to speak but systems are generally faster overall than they were when the minimum specification was laid down so, with newer processors and some compromises in the way Train Simulator is set up, all the machines cope with some caveats. You would be ill advised to try running TS on a system less capable than the Friends' laptop but if Detector.exe gives your PC the thumbs down you may still be able to make some use of it.
There is no room for compromise with regard to the RAM and hard-disk space. Indeed a system with integrated graphics will need more RAM so it can set some aside. When it comes to hard disk space you will actually require at least twice the 6GB stipulated firstly to download the file then to install the program from that file. You should also bear in mind that it is best to have about 10% of your hard drive space free for Windows' file system to work well as a rule of thumb.
If you have any concerns about your PC's suitability to run Train Simulator but hope to take advantage of the offer please e-mail preferably describing your system in as much detail as possible. I will be happy to offer advice where I can.
A broadband Internet connection. If you take up this offer you will get a code giving access to the download version of Train Simulator which comes as a six gigabyte file. Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second, there are eight megabits to a megabyte (plus a little change but not enough to worry about) and 1024 megabytes to a gigabyte. If you know your broadband speed you can do the maths.
Ordinarily you do not have to sit and watch the download (thank goodness- one of the machines mentioned in the review had to be left on overnight) but if you are thinking of taking your laptop to the library for the install you will need something to occupy your time not to mention epic battery life!
If your computer is connected to the Internet when Steam or Train Simulator are started they will check for updates and download any that are available. Naturally you will also have to be connected if you want to download any of the extra content so realistically you will still need use of a broadband connection at least occasionally but, once Train Simulator is installed, it is not necessary to be on line just to play the game.