In my closeout post for last year I suggested that I would be resetting my The Hunter – Call of the Wild profile and starting out again. I have now done that and set out on the trail anew with a couple of ideas of how I want to progress. I have decided that I will be using mainly the weapons that are free to me courtesy of the DLC’s I have bought plus those guns that are given free to everyone. The exceptions will be those that I need to purchase for certain tasks, ie the Coachmate 45-70 which I will need to complete one of Doc’s challenges in Layton Lakes. Another exception will be the Docent .223 which I will need for Fox and Coyote while reducing the weight I need to carry.

Although I will be using equipment that is not available to all beginners (depending on whether they own the basic game or a bundle including some of the DLC’s), Some of what I will be talking about will be beneficial to those who may have decided to give the game a try and are looking for advice. So let’s start there.

When you kick off, it’s normal to choose either Layton Lakes or Hirschfelden. If you bought a bundle and have other reserves available to you like Medved Taiga and Vurhonga Savannah, you can start there instead but I would suggest against that. Both have very challenging missions presented early on that require equipment and skills that the absolute beginner does not have.

I usually start in Hirschfelden. In each of the original reserves, the first mission is designed to give you your first kill with a small deer that is just standing around waiting for you to shoot it. You’re given some basic weapons – The .243 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and the .357 handgun. Also in your pack are three lures – Roe Deer, Bleat and JackRabbit callers (the latter being designed to call Fox and Coyote). You also get basic binoculars. My usual plan of action when starting (I’ve done it a few times for a variety of reasons) is to use a caller to bring the deer to me and then shoot it side on at close range with the shotgun. This will normally result in a quick kill.

Ok, That’s normally. Animals being contrary, don’t always respond to calls! This time my sacrificial Roe Deer stood firm at the bottom of the hill with her nose in the air and ignored me. Which at least gives me the opportunity to demonstrate the deficiencies of the .243 rifle when using soft point amunition (which you get a lot of in your starting pack and is always available for free)…

…Low powered soft point amunition doesn’t have the ability to penetrate muscle. You can see that the shot was on target to probably hit the animal’s heart and one of the lungs but the bullet just can’t get through the muscle at the front of the chest. The result is the deer runs off for a moderate distance before succumbing to blood loss and I loose some XP and cash. So, the first advice for any beginner is try to shoot all your early animals from close range and the side until you unlock access to Polymer Tipped amunition. Even then, side-on shots are generally a safer option as you have a larger target to hit with less muscle and bone in the way!

I made my way through the rest of the introductory missions to the first outpost. Often you will pick up another kill or two on the way there to boost your finances but on this occasion, no other animals crossed my path which limited my options – the weapons I was going to add might be free but the amunition certainly isn’t! Here’s my first loadout…

I have retained the .243 with its soft point ammo because it is still an effective option for Fox. My main rifle is the Solokhin which uses 7.62mm rounds. These are also soft point but any similarity with the .243 ends there. The 7.62mm is a military round and has plenty of power to give you the penetration needed. I’ve also got the Koter bow which is a very effective close range weapon. Finally, I have the Muertos .45 pistol – significantly more capable than the 357 because it has Hard Cast ammunition rather than soft point.

Hunting for Deer by the lake near the Rathenfeldt outpost gives an opportunity for enjoy the view through the binoculars as the Fallow come down to drink (usually mid-morning)…

…and that’s what I’m waiting for…

…a male Fallow has joined them. Another lesson for any beginner in this game – patience is a virtue. The male animal of most species is usually worth more in cash and xp than the female because of the trophy factor of those horns, so it’s worth the wait to see if a better animal appears. Let’s see how the 7.62 ammo does from a similar angle to our .243 shot…

…This time the bullet has penetrated the muscle at the front of the chest and hit the lung. The animal went down very quickly, which is what we want πŸ™‚

I also did some hunting with the bow earlier, bringing down a female Fallow…

…One of the advantages of bow hunting is that it is almost silent. Being unsure what had happened, the other females wandered back allowing me to shoot another. Another example of being patient paying dividends – don’t be in too much of a hurry to claim your kill or you may miss the opportunity of a follow-up! Until recently, the hunting pressure created by using a bow was the same as any of the noisier weapons but the developers have listened to the community and now using a bow creates much less ‘pressure’ than a rifle as shown by this map…

…The bright pink is my Fallow Deer male rifle kill while the dark shading to the left is where I had bow kills πŸ™‚ I wonder if a similar modification will be made for using an air rifle – might be too complicated to implement as it sits somewhere between the bow and a normal rifle for noise.

Finally, if you quickly check back to my loadout, you’ll see Scent Eliminator down the bottom – another thing that you get given when you start. I don’t use it – just haven’t got around to replacing it with the much more useful first aid kit! However, it serves to provide a reason to show this early hunter’s profile and talk about frightening animals…

…The way most animals are scared away is through sound. Noise is unavoidable when hunting but you can minimise it by crouching while moving through the undergrowth. So, if you’re going somewhere in a hurry – walk along the road or track – it makes less noise than walking through the undergrowth and therefore scares fewer animals πŸ™‚ You’ll notice that no animals have been scared by my scent – that’s partly because I do try to keep myself downwind of animals that I’m hunting and partly because the animals become aware of a presence through scent but it is not usually the deciding factor in them fleeing. Although I have experimented with the Scent Eliminator in the past and believe it does reduce the chances of an animal detecting you, it’s marginal. You can probably throw it in the bin for all the good it might do and save some weight πŸ˜‰

I’ll be back with another Birdshot in the future. No animals were harmed during the making of this post. Now I’m off to feed the birds in the garden πŸ™‚

Where to start – it’s been a while and ironically I’ve done a lot of driving in the past three weeks as a direct result of the troubles with Windows 10 that I wrote about in the previous post. Test driving you might say πŸ˜‰

I think we’ll talk American truck Simulator to start with. SCS Software had a big surprise planned for late September – a new truck. So new, in fact, that at the time of the first hints from SCS the real truck wasn’t available to buy yet! It was to be the NEXT Western Star – so a new manufacturer for the game. The real world truck was to be released on September 29th with a synchronised release of the virtual truck by SCS on the 30th – The first time this has happened! So, on the September 30th many of us were making our way to new Western Star dealerships in ATS to buy our first 49X as the truck is branded. You can read about the new truck and its release on SCS’s blog.

To synchronise the release must have taken a lot of planning and making the virtual truck ready on time required some compromise. The initial options are limited to a day cab version with just 6×2 and 6×4 chassis options. There are a few gearbox options – none of which have retarders. As the truck is marketed as ‘Vocational’, the day cab option makes sense – this truck will be ideally suited to heavy work in the forestry and plant hire sectors. I think we will be getting the sleeper cab and other chassis options as part of general game releases over the coming months. I spec’d my day cab with the 600HP Detroit Diesel engine and the Detroit auto 12speed box. Initially, I’ve tried the truck on a mix of jobs but In the long term I expect to use her solely on the types of work mentioned above, so there is a headache rack fitted too. I’ve named her Altair…

…She becomes only the second day cab in the current fleet. So lets have a quick mention of the other one, Ol’Dawg. The Dawg has had a makeover and now looks resplendent in an old-school Mack scheme…

…Posing outside our Elko depot.

Coming soon to ATS, we are expecting our second new state for the year – Colorado. In v1.39 release, currently in open beta, we’re getting lowboy trailers that we can own. I expect to attach one of those to Altair and get moving some plant soon after!

The Lowboy trailers will also be coming to Euro Truck Simulator 2. v1.39 for that game went into open beta testing yesterday, so it won’t be long. We’re also getting a rebuild of the area around Calais to bring that up to the latest mapping standards πŸ™‚ SCS have been giving a lot of sneak previews of the planned Iberia map dlc that is due to release although they’ve been rather coy about a possible date.

As a make-weight for a new truck in ATS, we got a new paint jobs pack in ETS2 called Super Stripes. I’ve used it to give my DAF XF105 a face lift…

…I’ve also finally given her a name – Madeleine – bringing her into line with my two Euro6 XF’s Lady Galadriel and Renzo. Until recently I’ve always struggled to give names to my European Trucks but I’m now on a bit of a roll πŸ™‚ The other truck to benefit from a Super Stripes repaint was my Euro6 MAN TGX …

…She’s been named too – Maria de MontpelhiΓ¨r or Maria for short. I was looking for some context and found a historical one! Maria de MontpelhiΓ¨r was the 12th century heiress to the Lordship of Montpellier and married the King of Aragon. So this name symbolises our planned expansion into northern Spain when the Iberia dlc releases.

I hope to share some more trucking with you next week – Keep the shiny side up! πŸ™‚

That’s what I think I have been going in for the last 3 weeks – which may explain my lack of blog posts. I could blame Microsoft at this point and they are certainly complicit in my absense. But that would be harsh as there are other players involved too. But Microsoft kicked it off, so lets start there…

Back in late September my gaming pc told me that there was a new ‘Important’ Windows update and I needed to restart to install it. We get Windows 10 updates regularly and, to be fair, most of them are non-events. They bring minor improvements or changes that have no visible impact on me at all. This one, however, was different.

In less than 20 minutes it turned my working pc into a total wreck. But, it did it very subtly – everything seemed to be working ok in the first few minutes. Then I started experiencing frame stutters while driving my truck… that grew to frame and audio. I tried watching streaming video – distracting dropouts. Then I found the mouse cursor staggering across the screen and the task bar moving up and down in jagged movements rather than scrolling smoothly.

When these things happen you initially panic… for a few seconds… then your past experience as a programmer kicks in. You start working through the many possible causes and checking on the internet for other people’s possible fixes for the issue you are experiencing. The message I got from doing the latter is that Windows 10 2004 update is a total can of worms – I’d like to call it something else but that would result in my blog becoming an ‘adults only’ experience.

So – first port of call after listening to the encyclopedia of issues with the 2004 update (yes, you could fill an encyclopedia with all the issues) – was to check and update my graphics card drivers. I do that regularly anyway but I still found one new update to load. I’ve loaded 2 more graphics card updates in the last 2 weeks too while seeking a fix for my issues – not that this has fixed anything.

I’ve tried a number of settings changes recommended to end stuttering. None of them achieved more than delaying the inevitable return to stuttering at a level that makes games unplayable and videos unwatchable. Back to square one – or should that be a squared circle? I’ve checked the well-being of my CPU and Graphics Card – neither is stressed and both have plenty of spare capacity.

I decided to rollback the update – back to version 1903. Immediately, there are no issues – everything is working fine. I’ve tried updating to 2004 three times now and each time I have worked through a planned course of action to resolve the issue but nothing seems to work.

Part of the problem is that asking Windows to confirm that the drivers for a particular sub-system on a pc are up to date is likely to result in a ‘latest drivers installed’ response when that may not be the case. I have a suspicion that the issue is relating to the RealTek sound chip drivers as these could certainly cause stuttering audio. However, finding the correct driver on the RealTek site is difficult – the translation from Chinese isn’t very clear. There is also a very serious risk that any ‘drivers’ downloaded from the internet may prove to be malware – so extreme caution is advised.

Is it all a negative experience? No – I found that a setting for my graphics card had been changed and restoring the factory default settings fixed a minor framedrop issue I’d been experiencing in Farming Simulator. I’m guessing that the person who built the pc may have changed it for test purposes and not restored it before shipping. I’ve also learned that turning off the shader cache on the graphics card can improve performance if you have a good CPU to handle processing.

I’m back on Windows 10 v1903 for now because that works. I’ve disabled Windows updates to prevent the level of disruption that I experienced happening until I’m ready to take it on again – a situation that can’t be a permanent solution as Microsoft will stop supporting some things and modify others so that they only work with the latest version of Windows. I’m currently testing games using the NVidia RTX2070’s audio output as an alternative to the RealTek. So far that has worked well and I’ve noticed that a minor sound glitch that I used to experience occasionally isn’t happening – it was rare, so a lot more testing is needed – suggesting that the problem is related to the audio software.

So, the plan going forward is to locate a good set of drivers for the RealTek chip. Continue testing to narrow down the cause before re-updating to build 2004. If the issue continues then I have already planned a full strip out of code from the pc and start from scratch for Christmas when my Son will be home from Uni – two heads are always better than one! If we can’t resolve it then it maybe time to bite the bullet and walk away from Windows 10 – I haven’t ruled out moving to Linux even though that would mean no longer playing a couple of my favourite games.

I’m annoyed with Microsoft for pushing out this Windows 10 update at a time when they were clearly aware that there were many issues. Doubly so because so many of us rely on our computers to keep us sane and maintain contact with the wider world while locked down by the pandemic. Insensitive at best 😦 Did I say my criticism was harsh? Maybe it wasn’t!