Trucking Digest

As mentioned last week, v1.35 is now in open Beta test for both Euro Truck and American Truck.   This is a massive update affecting most areas of the game.   Firstly, we are getting new roads in both Europe and America – although ATS gets more of those mainly to fill in gaps in the Oregon road system.  To make up, Euro Truck is getting more updates to the core Germany map – looking forward to driving those!   There are changes to the controls to allow all players to easily adjust the stability and suspension settings – something only possible through the back end console before.   And that’s just the basics!

There are going to be lots of new ownable trailers in both versions of the game – and we’re going to be able to use our own trailers in World of trucks jobs!  I appreciate that means nothing to most of my readers but, trust me, it’s a huge thing for those of us playing the game!  Ok – lets take a short break and share a couple of images because I don’t want to bore you to tears 🙂  Here I am testing the new stability and suspension settings.  These are at their most realistic and now you really have to drive sensibly to avoid a roll-over

Pleased to report that I caught both of these incipient roll-overs 🙂  And – No! I don’t normally drive like this 😦

This update also paves the way for the next mapping DLC’s – Washington in the US and the Road to the Black Sea in Europe.  Biggest surprise though is the addition of Sardinia in the Italian DLC – another free upgrade!   As an aside – I see so much anger in the gamer community about the behaviour of the ‘Triple A’ games publishers.  Everything seems to be about making money by ripping off a captive audience.  It’s refreshing to see the SCS model where you buy DLC’s to increase the size of your map but upgrades later on come free.   There are no loot-boxes and all purchasable DLC’s are non-essential to the basic game.   Can you see any of the major publishing houses going back to 6 year old content and upgrading it to the latest standards for free?  I think not!

Now, the next change has cost me some cash (a personal choice).  This release brings the ability to connect the Tobii 4C Eyetracker into the game.  It does what it says on the tin – tracks your eyes to see where you are looking on the screen.  It also tracks your head.   This is potentially a significant improvement over the TrackIR head movement recognition software/hardware that many of us use – though it does have some issues of its own.  The first issue is getting the settings right – I have a stiff neck from working through that process over the last two days!  Once up and running well, it is generally a bit better than the TrackIR system but it can feel more twitchy because it follows your eyes as well as your head.   Where it loses out is being able to look back along your truck while parking – something that the TrackIR system can do – unless I’ve missed a setting?   I’ve surprised myself by finding that I can park on mirrors alone!  Anyway, the ability to look back is something that SCS and Tobii will need to address.   I also found that you can’t easily do a head-forward to see around window pillars and mirrors when at a junction, which is an issue though sitting a bit further back from the junction can negate this.   What the Tobii 4C does do is remove the need for me to wear either a hat with a reflective attachment or wear headphones with a set of LEDs attached, either of which are required for trackIR.  Effectively it frees me up to move easily.  With this type of tracker I can choose to drive without the headset which is a boon when I’m expecting a delivery, for example – though I’d normally prefer to wear the headset to avoid the rattling noise from the force feedback steering 😉

There are so many new things coming in this release that I’ve run out of words for this post.  All I can say is Thank You SCS Software – keep on Truckin’ 🙂

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Trucking Digest

With a lot fewer posts from me over the last couple of weeks, this forum seems the best place to explain what has been going on as the root cause is my love of simulation programs on my computer. The pc I am writing this on is a Hewlett Packard Envy. It came with an Intel i7-4770 CPU, an AMD R9-270 graphics card, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive. At the time of purchase it was a high-end office and mid-range gaming pc – ideal for a casual gamer and a serious photographer with lots of processing to do. For at least three years now the Truck Simulator programs by SCS Software have been the core of my relaxation. Before that I also enjoyed Railworks Train Simulator. Each of these ‘games’ relies heavily on the ability of the hardware to create the scenery through which you pass to a good level of detail in order to achieve the illusion of travelling through the real world and maintain a high degree of immersion. And there we come to an issue, one that I’ve lived with for quite some time.

The R9-270 is now quite an old graphics card and was in the middle of AMD’s R9 range which means it was ok for most things but you might have to settle for lower quality graphics than with a top of the range card. One of the issues I have experienced in my simulator games is random graphical glitches, especially after the pc has been in use for a while. I sometimes got them in Railworks and also in the Truck Sim’s. The other issue was micro-stuttering in the movement through the environment – occasional missing frames resulting in very tiny stop-go instances that my eye would see. These issues over time can be a bit frustrating. I did read a comment on the Euro Truck forum dating to three or four years ago where another gamer complained that his R9-270 made the game unplayable! That certainly was not my experience – otherwise I would not have persevered with playing for so long. In fact it would be wrong of me to suggest that I was in any way disappointed in the HP Envy’s performance as a whole. Perhaps I’m just too pragmatic to get agitated about this sort of thing. I knew I was pushing the graphics card and possibly also the CPU beyond their realistic ‘best performance’ areas by playing heavy-duty simulation games and I accepted the resulting glitches as an understandable consequence. As I have moved into more recent games, Fishing Planet would be a good example, it has become even more apparent that the R9-270 was being asked to work beyond what was realistic.

One of the key indicators of trouble is the noise from the cooling fans in your pc – mine have been getting very loud (Hoover-like loud) and are a sure indication that something in there is getting way too warm for comfort. One fan has taken to making knocking noises as it slows down after a game has closed. I have cleaned the system thoroughly to remove dust and checked the fans over but the issue persists. But there is more to the situation – let me explain a little further. Another issue is sharing hard drive space between photography requirements (RAW files can be very large) and game code/saves (which can also be very large!). When your hard drive is close to 3 quarters full it’s time to look at your storage solutions and options. So, you see, I had a bit of a problem to resolve. It’s been rattling around my head since late last year like the pea in a referee’s whistle. So what is the solution? Replace the HP Envy with a new machine that can run those games better? That won’t really solve my other problem as even now the preferred largest size hard drive is 2TB – yes you can get bigger but that seems to be the ideal max for most systems. Give up playing simulation games? – don’t even go there!!! 😦 No – my solution is to buy a high-end gaming pc that will work alongside the existing HP Envy. All games will be moved across to the new machine and the old machine will have more free space on its hard drive to process photos. Shifting the games from the current machine will significantly reduce the stress on the graphics card and CPU – possibly extending their lifespan. And the games will benefit from a more suitable environment to provide a glitch free experience and thus improved immersion when driving my trucks 🙂

I have spent 6 months looking at a number of options, not helped by the continual changes in the computing equipment market place. I did consider building my own but I probably need a couple more years of knowledge gaining before I’m ready to take that step – although Alasdair is quickly learning such skills on his BTEC course 🙂 In the end I opted to buy from CCL Computers after they were recommended by simulation guru Squirrel. I chose to balance cost against performance – which means that I chose to buy the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor. The graphics card is the Nvidia RTX2070 which is upper-mid-range in Nvidia terms but with performance way above the top of the current AMD range (at a price). Today was its first day in service and what a day – a delivery for an SCS Software event. We took a racing truck from Köln to Санкт-Петербу́рг (St.Petersburg) as part of the #OneTruckFamily event that SCS are currently running with the FIA European Truck Racing Competition. That was 2hrs:46mins of driving on the new rig with no glitches and no stutters 🙂 Alasdair asked me when I told him about my intended drive – “How long would that take in the real world?”. 67.5 hours or 2.8 days including rest stops – and I was tired after just 2hrs:46mins! Some images below of my MAN TGX on this run…


Have a good weekend everyone – drive safe – more info about the new pc in another post 🙂

Handling the Heat

With London and the Southeast bathed in sunshine since last Friday temperatures have soared into the low 30’s (Celsius). The mice have been getting at the machinery. Datacentres have been on high alert for cooling problems and component failures all week. I am aware that some failures did occur.

Rail services were affected between London and East Anglia with Greater Anglia deciding to introduce a system wide reduced speed limit to protect the overhead wires from damage and to mitigate against the rails buckling. Other operators with catenary didn’t feel the need to go quite that far.

Wednesday was a bad one for London Overground which usually has a good record of reliability. The morning saw a signal failure at Gospel Oak which caused major disruption. Then a track fault closed the section between Surrey Quays and New Cross. Finally, services on the Goblin Line were badly disrupted when a train failed at Gospel Oak in the afternoon.

At home it’s been too hot from mid morning onwards with the air giving a mild burning sensation in the nose. This morning the core temperature of the house is still 26.5 degrees and my office gets a lot hotter than that 😦 We all need to relax after the working day and computer gaming is one way of doing that. But my favourites are simulation games and most of these really make the graphics card and CPU work very hard. To avoid over heating my home pc I adopted a policy of doing some simple Excel spread sheet things I needed to do and playing SimSig – neither of which require intensive CPU / GPU use. The cooling fans have been reassuringly quiet and it’s been pleasantly relaxing controlling the flow of trains through Westbury 🙂

Westbury signalbox panel at 05:30. 2A02 is the 05:55 service for Yeovil Pen Mill (which will be late leaving as a broken window is being replaced). 5C08 is an empty stock working to Frome where it will become 2C08, the 06:18 service to Bristol. 6O68 waking the neighbours in the Warminster area (including my Cousin if she’s not working night shift) is a freight from Westbury to Eastleigh. The simulation is running a 1985 timetable which brings back some happy memories of visits to Westbury.
33205 arrives at Westbury with a Cardiff/Bristol to Portsmouth Harbour service in July 1986. 33205 is a ‘Slim Jim’ – one of a small batch of locomotives built to a narrow profile for the restricted clearances on the Tunbridge Wells to Hastings route.