Trucking Digest

Firstly, apologies – this is a day late. It’s been a busy week with family things (Alasdair starting a BTEC), football things (away game at Tonbridge) and testing the ETS2 Beta. The latter is the thing this post should be addressing and I’ll waste no more time on small talk πŸ˜‰

One of the joys of Beta testing is that you take an open view of the world and perhaps renew your acquaintance with some trucks that you might avoid normally. I took a look at the DAF again and yuck! I still can’t like that truck because of the dash. I know other truckers love them but they’re not for me 😦 After setting up the company with a MAN TGX – one of my favourites – I thought I’d give the Mercedes-Benz Actros another chance. It was a borderline decision not to use them last time. Since then we now have the New Actros with the Euro VI engines to buy. I’m currently trying out this truck with the Streamspace cab and a 476HP engine. It’s not a bad looking truck…… going well with the in-game trailer skin. Drives nicely too although the engine-noise is very well suppressed which makes for a comfortable office that lacks a bit of heart and soul πŸ˜‰ That said, the dash in my exclusive variant looks rather nice……Overall impressions are good and I’ll consider carefully adding the New Actros to my company once we get started in the new world of ETS2 after the game-changing trailer owner update. Expect the main company fleet to still be MAN and Volvo though.

Over in ATS I haven’t done much driving because of the ongoing testing of the changes in ETS2. I know there are a lot of fellow truckers Beta Testing there too but as explained in a previous post I’m dividing my approach to the game – testing in ETS and driving on in ATS. When both games go live in the new version then I’ll have to make a decision about where I am with my Cal Republic profile. With so much going on this week I only managed a single drive in ATS. I took a pressure tank from my home base in Bakersfield CA to Roswell NM. It was a first outing for Night Train…… and a fitting one as we left with dusk falling, drove through the night to Gallup NM and then slept through the day before driving the rest of the way to Roswell, passing through Albuquerque just after midnight…

It’s a lonely road out there in Arizona and New Mexico – nothing much to see at night except when passing through the occasional town! A good time to mention perhaps that pcgamer magazine placed Euro Truck Simulator 2 in the top 100 pc games to play in 2018 and ATS rightly got a mention – I quote “Phil: In many ways I prefer American Truck Simulator. That’s not because I love weigh stationsβ€”they’re fine, if that’s your thingβ€”but because America’s vast, terrifying emptiness feels more isolated, more epic, and, dare I say, more romantic. Euro Truck Simulator 2, on the other hand, is dense and busy, but also mutedβ€”it’s altogether greyer and more moodily atmospheric. Both games are fantastic, and which one you prefer is likely a matter of which style of road trip speaks more to your personality. How many simulation games can you say that of?” You can catch up with their 100 top games here.

Back to ETS2 and something special. One of the key changes is that we can now own trailers. That opens the door to us having our own virtual trucking companies πŸ™‚ In turn, that means that we can design our own virtual trucking company paintjobs for our new owned trailers. It’s not easy – at least for a skinning novice like me! It’s taken nearly 4 days to create it and then get it to work in game. Big thanks to RedneckRam and JohnnyBoy99 for video demonstration and sample code πŸ™‚ Here is the new Martin Transport et Logistique trailer seen on the run south from Clermont Ferrand to our home in Montpellier……front and rear……This is a new world for us truckers πŸ™‚

I hope that explains why this post was late πŸ˜‰

Advertisements

Bite Point

Almost all of us learn to drive at some point. Most people do it when they’re in their late teens or early twenties. I’m sure we all remember the instructor telling us to ease the clutch pedal upwards and feel for the biting point then to feed in some gas. It’s a muscle memory that stays with us through life as a result of the constant repetition of the actions in those early days of learning to drive. Everyone who learnt on a manual car will remember the day when the coordination wasn’t quite right and we kangaroo’d down the road alternating between stalling the engine and moving off.

My Son is still a couple of years away from the age when he will be eligible to learn to drive – He could learn to fly next year but that’s another story! At the moment his only experience of driving has been in computer games like Grand Theft Auto – which hardly sets a good example in terms of obeying the rules of the road πŸ˜‰ He and his friends have also tried Euro Truck Simulator using the keyboard and mouse to drive. It’s hardly realistic and not likely to be of benefit in real world driving terms. They also seemed to spend more time having to restart after wrecking their trucks, to the extent that they now rarely play. It sometimes seems to me that the simplest of games are the hardest to master when you have teenage levels of patience πŸ˜‰

Last year I offered Alasdair the chance to set up a profile on my computer for American Truck Simulator. This would give him the opportunity to try out driving with the sort of controls you have in a manual car – Wheel, pedals and gear lever. I gave him some fatherly advice. Choose one of the smaller trucks – Peterbilt 579 or Kenworth T680 – because the game gives you your first job with the truck you selected as your favourite and they will be easier to control. Of course, he went for the big boy; the Kenworth W900L……A typical teenage reaction πŸ˜‰ He’s seen me driving on the road and on the computer and I guess it looks easy so ignoring Dad’s advice would be a good idea. It wasn’t because, just to aggravate the situation, the game presented him with one of the tightest starting parked positions that you can get. He spent around 15 minutes trying to get the truck and trailer moving and turned but all he achieved was constant stalling. I offered advice, I offered sympathy, I even kept a straight face! In the end he threw in the towel and walked away never to be seen again.

A couple of weeks ago I finally convinced him to try again only this time he would be driving on my profile in a truck that is smaller and more suited to getting a basic idea of what it’s like to drive a real world car. For this exercise I sat him ‘metaphorically’ in the Mack R600. He’s two years older and a bit wiser so this time he was open to my ‘driving instruction’ πŸ™‚ The cab of the Mack is not dissimilar to the car I learnt on. The main difference is the rev counter on the left of the central display……I seem to recall there was a clock in that position back then. The other main difference is the gears – 4 speed on the car I learnt in and 10 speeds in the truck. I deliberately went for the 10 speed so that he could practice changing up and down the first 5 gears, which would give him a max speed of around 20mph, without the complications of a gear splitter and without having to change the range. So I sat him in the seat; Talked him through the controls and explained about looking for the Bite Point on the clutch. There’s one difference on the computer pedals compared with the real world ones – you don’t get the slight mechanical feel through your foot as the clutch plates mesh. But – as I explained to Alasdair – you do have that rather handy rev-counter on the dash and you can hear the engine note starting to change as the clutch bites. I was taught to change gears on speed – 1st to 10mph; 2nd to 20mph, etc. because there was no rev-counter. As we had one on the truck (and most modern cars have one too) I explained how to use the rev-counter to judge when to change up to the next gear – 1500 revs = ideal change up point for this engine.

As you can see from the image, we started out in my garage at Bakersfield. It took a couple of goes but Alasdair got it moving and changed up to second gear. Then he had to turn out of the doors and found how much work is involved in low speed steering. It won’t surprise you to hear that initially his steering inputs were often too great and once out on the road we followed a rather less than straight path down the carriageway. He also struggled with the concept of feeding the wheel through your hands – but it will come with practice πŸ™‚ We spent around 45 minutes driving in Bakersfield and by the end he’d got to the point where he wasn’t stalling very much and his steering was much more controlled, though he wasn’t getting beyond 4th gear and was revving the engine more than is desirable! He had one accident due to over-correcting his steering after turning at a junction, incurring a fine from those nice CHiP’s people and putting up my truck insurance slightly πŸ˜‰ All-in-all a fun Father-Son experience. I should add that pulling away in the Mack R600 with its 237HP engine, even without a trailer, requires a deft touch on the clutch and throttle so I think he did well πŸ™‚ I’m going to make his next driving lesson a bit easier – I have a 10 speed Peterbilt 567 set up for him with a 425HP engine – that will be a lot easier to get moving than the Mack!

To conclude, I would like to apologise to the good folks of Bakersfield for any concerns they may have about the standard of driving instruction taking place on their streets and also for the minor collision down by the Wally-Mart πŸ˜‰

Trucking Digest

SCS Software’s Truck Sim’s are about to undergo the biggest change in a very long time. Finally we will be able to own our own trailers as well as trucks. This is a fundamental change that will allow us to operate as a real trucking company does rather than as some form of owner operator collaboration which is how our companies currently function. The updated game will still need to cater for the driver for hire period that beginners go through and it will also still need to provide the current owner-operator option. So, the economy of the game will see a huge change. All the background screens where we select what we want to do in the game will have to be altered to accommodate the new options including, for example, access to a trailer dealer.

Not content with those changes, SCS are also delivering new map content to both games as well as updated physics for the trailers. American Truck Sim will see some new roads in Arizona including the missing section of Route 95 from Yuma to Blythe. There will also be the preparatory work for the coming map DLC of Oregon that is expected to release in the autumn. Meanwhile, Euro Truck will see the upgrade of northern Germany with all the roads brought up to the standard of the France and Italy DLC’s. The work to achieve that has resulted in several German cities being completely rebuilt. Again, there will also be preparatory work for the next map expansion, Beyond the Baltic Sea.

All of those changes require a lot of testing. The testing is being handled in a way that is almost unique to SCS – The whole community have been offered the chance to do Beta Testing in both games. It’s totally voluntary but quite a lot of the community will give it a go because that’s how the Truck Sim community is! We join together to do community events and what bigger community event is there than testing the future version of the game we love? πŸ™‚

So, for the past 10 days I’ve been driving around in Europe trying out the new features and experiencing some of the ongoing bugs and game crashes. And I’ve seen the improvements as each fix is dropped into the Beta. I think they finally nailed the game crashes when moving to drive from a selections screen on Wednesday. Today they lost my trailer for me though I eventually worked out how to get it back πŸ˜‰

I mentioned in the last Digest about the changes that had been made to the trailer physics which I tested by rolling a DAF πŸ™‚ Subsequent to that early testing I’ve started a company from scratch on two occasions and built up to trailer ownership. I’m now pushing on to expand my garage and get a second truck and trailer for an employee to drive. In my first company I based myself in Brussels – close enough to Germany to be able to drive into the new map section and see what it looks like. I did that testing with a Scania. Subsequently, in order to get rid of any residual mod code that might be loitering in the background I reinstalled the Beta and started out again with a slightly different plan of action based on what I had learned from the first experiments. This time I was back in my favourite MAN TGX and based in my preferred home of Montpellier. Here are some screenshots taken during testing…

Hamburg is one of the cities that have changed out of all recognition and this view from the autobahn is much closer to real life…

My first trailer – a curtainside suited to general dry cargoes. I also tried out a flatbed while driving this Scania Streamline…

This is how Berlin looks now from the ring road which skirts the industrial area…

And the power station at Rostock is no longer a blurry blob on a hill above the road…

My MAN TGX sitting at the loading dock with my current curtainside trailer. This time I’ve used one of the special paint schemes to give a bit of individuality…

It looks like the range of random events is increasing too. This is a new one with fire fighters attending a burnt out truck in France…

Not all random events are big. Bin bags dumped at the side of the road – one of those things from the dark side of real life (in Switzerland of all places!)…

I haven’t done much in American Truck but I will have a tale to tell from there in another post, probably on Sunday πŸ˜‰