I was a Kickstarter contributor, so I received the 1st version of TANE "free" when it was released.
Since then I have purchased the boxed version so that I could have a DRM Free copy - in case N3V servers suddenly disappear.
I have been quite a bit disappointed with the new sim, even after two SP's. For one, as you said a lot of the content is now payware. Sure, there is still so much free content available - a whole lot more than any other sim can offer, but my biggest "pet peeve" is that there is still so much older content on DLS. I suppose that this older content is still available to serve the needs of those who are running older versions of Traniz, but you have to agree that a lot of that content is pure junk.
I am not happy with the quality of ground textures. The most realistic textures I have found have "TS12" in their name, so I search for them. Some of the older textures are downright ugly, and impossible to get looking halfway decent, even using the [ and ] keys to rotate them as they are painted.
Then there is the issue with opacity. When you paint a texture, you have no control over its opacity, and therefore cannot blend textures as should be done.
all of this aside, I have seen some of the routes created by others using the same version of TANE I am running, and I have been impressed. So I guess you just have to be a bit of an artist to get things looking just right.
The addition of "procedural junctions", which are animated switches where the switches look and function realistically, was a great improvement. Before that there was a method to get animated junctions, but it was tedious and had its issues.
It seems to me that N3V is focused on creating new games for tablets, rather than improving their high-end PC based games. That is unfortunate, since it is the PC where all the power is, and will be to run the most complex games.