Trucking Digest

After my brief moment of outrage midweek it’s time to relax into the calming purr of diesel – which is fortunately of the simulated variety and so does not affect the planet too much! Everything this week is Euro Truck and more specifically Baltic in its content. The new map area has produced a lot of fun and represents SCS Software’s greatest effort to date – although Oregon and New Mexico should rightly stand alongside for quality. When I travelled north in my MAN, I was assuming that 1, I’d probably change trucks quite early on and 2, I’d only be there a short while because of other priorities. It didn’t turn out that way and I only made my way back into the ‘Old Europe’ of Germany late Wednesday evening. And.. My business with the Baltic States is far from over!

The MAN proved to be an excellent choice for the trip because… The roads have some very weird speed limits and loads of junctions to negotiate. It’s fair to say that in the Baltics as represented in Euro Truck, the motorway system is in its infancy. So having the 540HP of the MAN was very helpful with keeping time on urgent jobs – she can fly when she wants 🙂 I’ll return to the subject of keeping time in a while. What I must say about this Baltic expansion is that it captures the essence of what I expect the Baltic states to be like based on what we see on the news or on travelogues. What makes it even better is when fellow truckers that live there praise the implementation – so hats off to the map creators at SCS for their work 🙂 Churches are a theme with ones of the orthodox Christian faith prevalent…

…and then there are the memorials to a war torn Europe that is still not that far in the past…
There are some new roads – in fact some so new that they haven’t been very well documented photographically yet. The Western Diameter around St. Petersburg required a lot of work by the SCS development team…
..and I haven’t touched on the subject of trams – some images of them on my next visit to the area!

The biggest issue on this map for us virtual truckers is the speed limits as mentioned before. In Russia this becomes a real trap. The limit is generally 70kmh on all roads except the ‘Diameter’. However, through towns it reduces to 60kmh. Almost everywhere in Europe there is a speed limit sign warning you to reduce speed but in Russia there isn’t – just a town name on a white board – pass that without reducing speed and you’ll get a fine… Now that’s really trolling the driver 😉 It takes a few runs to get used to that! It’s ironic that the normal EU 80kmh – 50kmh is less of an issue because it is clearly marked.

I mentioned the possibility of changing truck while in the Baltics and on my last intended day there I bought a souvenir – a SISU M-163. This is a Finnish truck dating back to the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, a bit like the Volvo F88 that I showed a couple of weeks back. The SISU company had quite a long term relationship with Leyland for their engines and also Rolls Royce. The truck as provided in a mod by XBS has two examples of the Rolls Royce Eagle engine along with the later Cummins engines sourced from the US. It is rugged in appearance and has a simple dash as one would expect for the period. I fitted the RR Eagle 320 engine that gives 315HP and a 12+2 speed gearbox. Here she is ready for a run from Rēzekne to Leipzig……The engine sounds are very different from modern engines – in some ways this was a real revelation compared with the old Volvo’s and Scania’s that I’ve used before in Euro Truck. The generally deeper note of the engine was there as expected and so was the heavy deceleration when I removed my foot from the gas. But this seemed very lacking in power. In fairness, I suspect that it wasn’t designed for hauling 21t but then neither was the Volvo F88. I found myself having to keep my foot in for ages as the truck wound up speed and as fast as we gained speed we hit another restriction or junction. This was trucking in the raw and fighting against the implacability of a deadline. The one positive was the retarder which also summoned the engine brake – a godsend – we could slow down far faster than we could accelerate! Here’s a nice night shot of us passing through Malta (not the island)……and here’s a view of that 40 year old dash…

The run from Rēzekne to Leipzig is a long one and that was good because when we hit the open roads in Poland and the German autobahns we were able to claw back a deficit to just achieve an on-time delivery. But on a shorter run it became very clear that the limited acceleration of this truck was a major handicap and finishing late for a job is both costly and embarrassing for the company. With much sadness I had to let her go – traded in for a modern Scania R450. But why was she a liability when the Volvo F88 was not? For that we have to look at the game and more specifically the types of job I’m doing. We’re back to the IRL time of World of Trucks jobs vs the in-game time of all the other types of job. When I was driving the Volvo F88 I was carrying loads for a community challenge and they were all World of Trucks jobs. So the impact of poor acceleration were mitigated. In the SISU I’m doing cargo market jobs and these are often tight for in-game time. Those times as set by SCS are aimed at the modern trucks in the game. Sadly, the SISU and, indeed, the F88 are going to struggle with completing those jobs on time. It’s an issue with using my own trailers and, with a company to run, sacrifices have to be made…

This is no reflection on the quality of those mods – in fact it demonstrates their accuracy. Sadly, both are likely to disappear from ETS due to plagiarism by unscrupulous individuals who will steal mods and publish them as their own or convert them for unintended use in American Truck. XBS has sadly had enough and will not update these any more 😦

Advertisements

Trucking Digest

In the last Digest I said I’d be writing about the New SCS Volvo VNL in this post, so without more ado that’s what I’m going to do 😉 That the Volvo VNL has been a long wanted addition to American Truck Sim was clearly evidenced by the plethora of tweeted shots within hours of SCS announcing the truck’s presence in the release. There has long been a mod of the 670 variant of this truck by Aradeth – one that I have tried and did a video of me diving some time back. But not every player wants to download mods, especially when they are from 3rd party sites, because of the risks involved. So an officially licensed version was greeted as a blessing from heaven – especially as SCS added it for free to everyone who owns the base game! As an aside, if any of you are thinking of giving American Truck Sim a go on your PC, now is a good time because the game is available in the Steam autumn sale for £3-74p or just under $5, as is Euro Truck Sim 2 should you prefer that option.

SCS have clearly had this truck waiting in the wings until they got License from Volvo North America and it’s probably best seen as a place marker for the future release of the 2018 model of the truck. They’ve stayed away from duplicating Aradeth’s version and released the 300 (day-cab), 730 and 780 (Sleeper) versions of the truck. The first immediate difference that owners of the Aradeth version will note is the lack of animation of the steering wheel and Satnav when starting the truck – if you’ve never owned that version then it’s an irrelevance. The texturing of the truck interior is relatively coarse compared with some private mods out there which means that if you get in really close to some of the cab fittings there is a degree of jaggedness but in normal driving you won’t notice and the good news is that lower textures help with frame-rates 🙂

I normally do a shakedown run in any new truck in case I’ve missed something when going through the purchase process – a short job with a moderate load. On this occasion though one of the new Special Transport jobs was there to take and I decided to give that a go. At least the run around San Francisco Bay to get to the collection point gave me a chance to get a basic feel of the truck. So here she is on that Special Transport run complete with the Police escort keeping the following traffic back…

The mod comes with a number of official paint colors and some of the special paint job options such as the Halloween or Operation Big Sur ones. I liked the Thunderbird scheme based on Native American art which I think works well on this truck……Though in the long term she will be painted in one of the stock Volvo colors because there doesn’t seem to be the same tradition of special paint jobs on US Volvos that there is on Peterbilt’s or Kenworth’s.

There were / are a couple of little niggles with this truck which SCS will no doubt rectify over the next couple of game releases. The first was a glare issue with the wind screen – something which was there in the Peterbilt 579 and Kenworth 680 trucks when the game first released in 2016. Perhaps that is an indication that this Volvo was originally intended to be available from the first if Licensing had not been an issue. SCS have already fixed that bug and the glare is gone. The other issue that I’m aware of is with the in-cab indication that the bears want you to pop-in and see them at the next weigh-station. This has red and green led lights that are usually off but light up to tell you to either come in or pass as you approach. Currently these are permanently on. Some people are finding the engine sounds and the way the automatic gearbox works a bit odd. To me, driving a European Volvo from time to time, the automatic gearbox seems to be behaving much as I would expect. The engine does seem a little loud compared with its European counterparts but I believe noise legislation differences may be a part of that – I do know that a number of people are waiting for prolific sounds modder Kreichbaum to produce a pack of engine sounds for this truck.

All in all I think this is a great addition to stock for the game. The truck drives well and the cab instruments are well presented making them very easy to read…

I’ll leave you with a shot of her climbing the grades south of Pendleton in Oregon with a load of Wood Shavings bound for Jackpot, Nevada……and one of her driving through hometown Bakersfield in the early morning, after she was repainted in metallic ‘Carolina Green’, with a mobile barrier…

I’m now going to pass her on to one of my fellow ‘Republik Trucking’ drivers and dig out the Peterbilt 389 ‘Night Train’ that I mentioned in a previous post before the major v1.32 game update. You’ve never met her so I’ll share some shots next time and also some more from Europe. Happy Trucking everyone 🙂

Trucking Digest

A day late this week because yesterday I had another football match to photograph. At this moment in time I’m wishing it would snow and give me a break 😉 However, I’m in a position this Friday morning to give an update on Euro and American Truck from both a personal and general game perspective.

Saturday 10th November saw the community complete the Trade Connections Germany event – I missed the last day because I was away at Tiverton with the football team. SCS extended the date deadline for any stragglers still trying to achieve their personal goal in the event until yesterday when it finally fully closed. For me the event had two positive results. It almost wiped out the time imbalance between American and Euro Truck. There’s now only about 20 hours playing time difference. The second positive was that it pushed me very close to the World of Trucks ‘the Longest Journey’ achievement of driving 1 million kilometres on WoT jobs. At the end of the event I only needed to drive another 6000 or so to complete. Witchy Woman took a huge slice out of that total when she shifted a 40T scraper from Coos Bay, Oregon to Tucson, Arizona – 2100km. Here she is driving down the 101 in Oregon……That was a difficult run in Oregon because of the bends and grades but relatively straight forward once we got into California and onto the I5. The FLB has 500 horses but is geared more for general traffic types rather than heavy machinery. The task of crossing the million kilometre line to complete the achievement was given to my favourite Euro truck – the MAN TGX. Here she is on the final 1000km run from our headquarters in Montpellier at a level crossing in Belgium……with a light load of Cars bound for Düsseldorf. And here is the notification of the achievement…
That completes all 26 current World of Trucks achievements until SCS have their next event – Which will probably be the annual Christmas ‘Help Santa’ event. It frees me up to do some more general driving and allows me to get back to hauling my own company’s trailers in Europe…

In ATS there are new roads still to explore and old roads that have changed. The map seems to undergo little tweaks with every release. I arrived in Flagstaff after the 1.32 release to find there are now traffic lights at the western end of the town which weren’t there before! The Arizona map now has a section of the 191 highway up through Clifton so I took the opportunity to explore that with a fuel delivery to Clifton. Here’s the SCS representation of the Gila River crossing……and the San Francisco River in Clifton…. One or two things aren’t quite right with the representations but as mentioned, the ATS map is almost a living, breathing, thing. I expect that next time I have reason to drive this way the railroad bridge, for example, will have changed to look like the real one!

Yesterday, SCS threw open the doors on a Beta test for the v1.33 game release. This will bring more changes to truck and trailer physics for improved realism and also some more ownable trailer types. No date for that release has been announced yet but we are promised the new European map extension into the Baltic states and western Russia for 29th November – Can’t wait for that. SCS have assured their fans in the Iberian peninsula that they haven’t forgotten them, which hints that the next map DLC for Europe after the Baltic’s might be Spain and Portugal though I’d be surprised if they produced the whole of those countries in one hit. Work on upgrading Germany continues and we may see some more map improvements in v1.33 – we are getting a couple of new ports which will be needed for the Baltic expansion. I’m guessing that after Germany has been upgraded the maps team will move on to Austria and Switzerland to improve the roads there. No further news on additions to the in-game Trucks for ATS or ETS2 though perhaps we will get something early next year? I have bought myself a Volvo VNL in ATS and I’ll give you a report on her next week. Drive safe – Best wishes to you all 🙂