I could hear the muted sounds of gaming machines and the occasional elated cry. We were in a small room out back of a casino – I’d asked Carmel to organise and I shouldn’t have been surprised in her choice of a venue on Shoshone territory. It made sense for us to meet here in a company central location – a very important announcement to be made and I wanted as many of the lead drivers and dispatchers to be present. I noted that there were some missing – notably John from the Olympia office – but I was pleased to see that many had made it either with rides on company deliveries or in their personal cars.

It was a great to see that Frank was there – a spotty faced youth that we employed as an accountant 6 months back. He had all the tickets to be a fantastic accountant and then he goes and demonstrates a natural ability to be possibly the best dispatcher ever… We’re left looking for an accountant again while he has control of our Colorado operation!

I swept the room further and spied Rodriguez hiding in a shadowed corner – His reflective shades gave him away! He’s one of our characters and is the lead driver for New Mexico. He never takes off his shades or his Stetson and his boots are pure western – he also chews an unlit cigar! Most companies have a uniform policy that he would never fit in with, but we don’t. As a big company that retains its small company persona, it delivers dividends – Rodriguez is known and loved by his customers and they keep coming back to us, so why would I ask him to change?

Our longest serving driver, Mille, is here too and I’m pleased to see her. She hung up her gauntlets a year back and took on the dispatcher’s role for Northern California and South Oregon. I note that she’s glowing – a child on the way, so the change is going well for her. Of course, that means we’re going to have a maternity leave issue sometime soon, but that’s going to be Jed’s concern because I won’t be here…

…And that’s the reason for this meeting…

I’ve been getting stale of late and I need to have a fresh challenge. I broached the subject with Jed a couple of months back – time for me to sell out and go elsewhere. Jed, being the level-headed one, talked me through it over some beers. There’s no need to sell-up at all, just create a division in the company. Jed always has an answer for everything! After much debate – it’s amazing how much ground you can cover in a couple of beer fuelled evenings! – a plan was formulated. Jed would buy half the company from me and I would start the new division. That’s what I’m here to announce and it’s a lot easier than saying “I’m leaving”…

So I told them the story. Republik of Bakersfield is no more – long live the King – The company will become Republik General Haulage. We’ve spread too far to be ‘of Bakersfield’ anyway! So, it’s just a change in name and no change for any of the employees – things carry on as normal… with one caveat. I will be setting up Republik Plant and Supplies. Over time the lowboy trailers and possibly some of the trucks will be transferred across to the new subsidiary. But to start with I’m on my own, which is just how I like it to be šŸ™‚

The announcement went down pretty well – I guess it wasn’t too much of a shock and maybe some of our employees know me a lot better than I know myself! I called Carmel to one side as the meeting broke up… “Would you be willing to come across in a few months time to be my dispatcher?” I asked, “You see I’m setting up in Twin Falls and that’s northern Shoshone territory – I’d really appreciate your expertise.” “I’ll see…” – well that’s about the most positive I’m likely to get from the ever enigmatic Carmel šŸ˜‰

The next day I moved into a dilapidated shed in Twin Falls. It wasn’t like home but I guess I can make it one and I fired up the first truck in our new division – say hello to Motown Dog…

Post script – Let’s talk reality – This is a change in American Truck Simulator that came about as a result of my split profiles experience in Euro Truck. The benefits of running 2 profiles outweigh all the complications. But in ATS it’s a little bitter-sweet. Bakersfield has always been my home – now, for my main profile it won’t be. Unlike Euro Truck, the expansions have made California almost peripheral to where the action is. Additionally, as I am specialising in general cargo and refrigerated loads in Euro Truck, going for open cargoes and machinery as dedicated loads in American Truck makes for a good contrast in my gaming experience šŸ™‚ Republik General Haulage still exist in my other profile, so I haven’t really left šŸ˜‰ ps – In Euro Truck my non-company profile is based in Stuttgart while my Company remains in our Montpellier home – that won’t change šŸ™‚

It’s time to show my desktop once more for Clare. This is a nice simple challenge that doesn’t require a lot of work, so why not take part? You can catch Clare here and I know she’ll love your entry šŸ™‚

My desktop currently is a screenshot from American Truck Simulator. This truck drifting through the rugged landscape is an International LT and she’s called Kimberly. The LT is a new arrival to the game and represents what SCS Software do so well – providing free content alongside the paid expansions and often without any fanfare. But that’s not the whole story. This screenshot is taken in the Utah borderlands…

…and we’re on the Route 89 between Page and Kanab. Some of my US readers may actually recognise this as being a good representation of the area near Paria? When I say it’s not the whole story, I refer to the other things that go on unannounced. I drove along the I-80 through northern Nevada on Friday and that road has evolved in game to become so much more real – pure desert now has isolated areas of greenery and the road is no longer a flat run. That’s what happens in American Truck Sim – the geography changes as the dev’s update their skills. If you don’t drive a route for a couple of weeks, who knows what awaits you? šŸ™‚ Unlike so many other games companies, SCS don’t trumpet every improvement – we’re often left to discover for ourselves or be surprised by a new addition with minimal advance notification!

When I have one of my trucking shots on the screen, it’s a reminder of all the fun I’ve had in SCS Software’s trucking simulators. Tonight I’m parked up in Phoenix AZ and, in Europe, I’m in Nantes – not many people can be in two places at once;-)

More about gameplay in the 2021 edition of Car Mechanic Simulator. Lets start with fluids. Previously, the only fluid represented in the game was Oil. If you forgot to drain it before taking off the Oil Pan or the Oil Filter, then you had a spillage and had to pay a clean up fee. For newcomers to the game, the Oil Drain tool can be found next to the computer terminal…

…In CMS 2021 this has been expanded to include coolant, hydraulic fluids for power-steering and brakes, and washer fluid. There is a tool provided in the tools menu to drain these systems.

During testing I confirmed that if you accidentally remove the washer bottle without emptying it, you get the fine and the same applies for the water pump and dumping coolant on the floor. I’m not sure that it’s working for the steering pump, but if you don’t want a 50cr fine then I’d advise caution with all items that would have fluids in them. As there are no hoses implemented in the game, you’re ok to change brake callipers without draining the brake fluid.

As you play and obtain the skills to repair items, you will learn that some items can’t be repaired. Nothing with lower that 15% condition, for example. But there are also a lot of classes of item that you can’t fix anyway. Lights and windows in the bodywork area are one example. Wheel bearings, shock absorbers and tie bars for the chassis are another. A number of engine parts like pistons, push rods and rocker arms are also non-repairable. No exhaust parts can be repaired So when buying a car to rebuild you need to deduct the replacement cost of these items from your possible profit. One of the improvements in the 2021 edition of the game is giving control of the repair to the player with a simple ‘stop the pointer in the green’ minigame accessed from the workbench once you have one…

…It sure beats the RNG system it replaces šŸ™‚ Another improvement is a tool to re-skim brake discs if they’re over 15%…

…That saves buying quite a few new discs šŸ™‚

Lets go visit a barn and see what that’s all about šŸ™‚ Barn’s are one of the rewards you can receive for climbing the experience ladder and for the jobs you complete. They are delivered in cases with other rewards, here’s an example…

…Cases used to give you three items, a mix of car parts and the occasional barn map. Now you get 5 cards and can choose 2 – they give a mix of Barn maps, XP, credits and scrap (and sometimes another case). This means you no longer get a load of car parts that you might never use – definitely an improvement šŸ™‚ Barns are accessed from the top right corner of the main map and cost 100CR to get to.

Here’s what you might see when you enter a barn…

…Previously, barns were different sizes and might have 1, 2 or 3 cars present. Now they all seem to have 3 cars but unique layouts. The car on the left is an Edgewood Wildcat (Oldsmobile Cutlass)…

…and it’s a good example of a car that is overpriced…

…All of the cars in this barn were overpriced, so I didn’t buy any of them. However, there are parts to be found in barns too. As long as you remember which parts you can’t repair and the simple 15% and over rule, you can pick up some useful bits by checking the various collections of boxes and cupboards around the barn…

…Here’s an example of what might be available…

…And here’s what I left with…

…There’s always a case hidden in there somewhere too šŸ˜‰

I visited 2 more barns yesterday and bought 3 cars. Lets take a quick look at how I choose. Firstly, price is important…

…and that bought us a nice example of a ’65 Chevy Impala…

…Looks good but will need a lot of work! You can form a judgement on the amount of work by using examine mode. This will show the condition of most parts that are still fitted in the car…

…Of course, it can only show parts that are still there and usually many parts are missing šŸ˜‰ This is a Katagiri Tamago (Honda Civic). I came back with that car too and from that final barn I also bought an FMW Panther (BMW 3 series)…

…All at a good discount compared to their value šŸ™‚

That’s the joy of Barn visits – you never know what you’ll find. As long as you stick to the rules of car price checks and part condition, you should maximise your profits. The same process can be applied when visiting the Junkyard – the only difference is that you will be buying wrecks that will need a lot more work and new parts to complete the rebuild!

Hope that’s given more of an insight into Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 gameplay and some of the improvements over its predecessor šŸ™‚