If The Road Doesn’t Get You… 2

…The AI most certainly will!

I’ve been enjoying, for want of a better word, the interaction in Euro and American Truck Sim with the AI vehicles. These denizens of cyberspace can be both frustrating and a key part of making these sim’s immersive. Sadly they continue to fall between the stools and do very silly things that break immersion.

In Euro Truck, I’m running vanilla AI. No mods, just what comes with the game. I keep a log of my trips and include a catalogue of fines against me whilst driving along with any other incidents of note so that I don’t have to rely too heavily on my ‘senior’ memory when I come to tell you the story here.

Trucks need fuel the same way as truck Drivers need Bacon Butties and Donuts. So we take the truck to a gas station to feed her. If possible we also try to arrange these feeding stops with driver bedtime to save stopping more than once on the trip. I’ve pulled into a small service station somewhere in Germany and filled up. Then I’ve moved into the truck parking and bedded down for the night. Come morning I fire up the engine and I check my mirrors, put on the hazards and start inching backwards in preparation for departing the station. Then… Bang! Police Sirens and a €1400 fine for a collision offence! There was nothing in my mirrors but somehow my trailer has collided with a car. I’ll put that down to me – grudgingly 😦

In an American Truck example, I’m moving across the gas station area towards the truck parking. I’ve checked and keep checking – nothing. Then suddenly… Bang! $1250 police fine for a collision. This one, I’ve immediately hopped out onto the overhead camera to see what is occurring. A car has left the pumps and just accelerated straight into my trailer at least 50yds from the pumps! How can he not have seen me? Are the AI drivers blind? As I watch, he reverses back and then drives into my trailer again!!! I’m totally stationary this time and no new fines from the police. Another car arrives and stops clear of the ongoing accidents as the first AI car rams me again. This one starts hooting! Definitely immersion breaking – unless you’re simulating very bad road rage 😉

These then are examples of Vanilla game AI issues. To complicate things further, I have a mod in American Truck that is intended to improve the realism of the AI traffic – the DP Realistic Traffic mod v0-2-4.  And, it works in that you get more realistic traffic flows in and out of town.   Traffic congests and then clears as you might expect in the real world. AI driving is also more aggressive – cars and trucks cut back into your lane more sharply some of the time. That’s generally ok – fools do that to trucks in the real world. Sadly though, there are issues that come from the ‘more aggressive’ style of driving which are, again, immersion breaking.

I’m driving along an open road and suddenly I’m hit from behind… $1250 police fine for a collision! How the hell is that my fault!!! I can’t even see the vehicle that I supposedly hit – imaginary vehicles in Nevada – Escapes from Roswell perhaps? I thought this was just my imagination but I’ve seen one of the American Truck Sim’s respected streamers, MisterMoose, suffer the same mystery hit from behind. I’ve also suffered the over-taker who bottles it and instead of dropping back just turns into my truck – see this sequence…
…You can see from the truck’s rev counter on the right that I’m maintaining a near constant speed so there’s no excuse around sudden changes of velocity. This is just one example of a collision plague that we are currently seeing. There is a suspicion in the community that the most recent upgrade had some changes to the AI and that this is exacerbated by the Realistic Traffic mod. We’re in a catch 22 – the mod definitely makes normal traffic more realistic but carries the burden of these collisions. It’s ok if you have lots of money coming in and the patience to handle it but it is a problem for any newbies out there looking for the most realistic experience.

To hammer home that point – last night whilst hauling a load of frozen fruit into Camp Verde near Kingman, a Coach came up the ramp to join the Interstate and just kept coming out without regard to the fact that I was beside him and travelling at 50mph. I was able to ease over into the fast lane sufficiently to avoid hitting him with the cab but as he kept coming he inevitably collided with my trailer – $932 dollars of damage  I get onto the route down to Camp Verde itself and a truck lines up to overtake before changing his mind but clips my trailer while pulling back in – that gets me a $1250 Police fine for a collision – he would have got 3 points from the stewards if he was an F1 racing driver! Then, after dropping my load off in Camp Verde I’m making my way back on the bridge across the Interstate to get fuel. I’m in the junction going straight ahead when a car going the other way indicates and turns left into me – inside my thinking distance and therefore no chance to avoid him.  Corner to corner collision; 12% damage to my truck and very high adrenaline level in the cab! No police fine because even the game knows that’s not my fault. There’s a reason why I haven’t loaded this mod in Euro Truck – Insurance! Repairs in American Truck came to $260. In Euro Truck that’s a €20,000 minimum repair bill!

This mod works fine a lot of the time but when it and the original in-game mechanics get in cahoots… It’s bad news baby! Keep it activated or drop it is the question? Like I said, it’s a Catch 22 – love the benefits but hate the collisions. Hopefully an update that resolves the issues will soon appear.  The observant among you will have spotted that I’m not in Rolled Gold or Purple Rain – more on that in another post. Keep on truckin’!

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