My posts in the last month have been somewhat sporadic. Some of them were pre-planned while others just happened. My regular response to Cee’s B&W Challenge dried up despite having some images that I intended to use for them. The reason for this hiatus is a change in my personal status. I finally took the decision in mid-May to retire from work and handed in my notice. My last day will be 31st August. This has not been an easy decision with over 40 year’s continuous employment behind me. In fact it’s probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. Anyway, the die is now cast and I can move forwards.

Truck simulator has been a stabilising factor during this period of stress. Firing up the engine and watching the scenery drift by whilst looking out for other vehicles doing silly things is a surprisingly engaging activity. In American Truck I have been looking to expand my fleet further with some more free mods from the internet. I’ve also upgraded the ai traffic vehicles by loading the latest versions of JazzyCat’s various mods (clearing an annoying textures issue in the process) and added in some new trailers.

The Kenworth K100 has made a return to the fleet and is painted in a ‘Red Baron’ colorscheme. Understandably she has received the name ‘Richthofen’. This is Cyrus the Virus’ updated version and he does seem to have ironed out a number of the truck’s issues – coupling to trailers now works correctly for example. The Mack Ultraliner finally got a name too – ‘Canis Majoris’ – fitting given that Mack’s emblem is a Bulldog. I sometimes refer to her as ‘The Dog’s Wotsits’ because she is so much fun to drive.Richthofen

The Freightliner Cascadia has also returned and sports a dark green metallic paintjob. She has picked up the name ‘Diana’ after the Green Goddess of breakfast TV workouts in the 1980’s. This is another truck that Cyrus’ has been updating – though I see the dash lights are still not working. But she drives well and adds a modern truck to the fleet. I’ll have to do a review at some point. There were four other trucks I wanted to add to the game. The Mack Pinnacle, Freightliner Argosy, Peterbilt 387 and Peterbilt 357. I will do a post about my experience with these soon.

However, all was not quite right with my game. I was experiencing freezes of 2–3 seconds from time to time. I expect a slight frame-rate drop when there are a lot of textures or a lot of ai to render but not freezes like these. An investigation was in order. Advice in the community is to check the game log file (not the crash log) for errors. Sure enough, an investigation revealed a number of errors. One batch was for the mirrors on the International 9900 – I had noticed a tendency to glitch-out. There were a number of others which are apparently minor and I was able to confirm that they were not causing the freezing issue. As a test I sold my International and deleted the mod from the game. The errors disappeared but the freezing issue did not. Cue some head-scratching. Then I looked closely at the Warnings in the log. Finally I spotted one for Buffer Overflow. It seemed that whenever the game needed to load a specific trailer skin for an ai vehicle the buffer was too small for the size of the skin. Other skins by the same mod maker for this trailer did not have the same issue – I guess they forgot to resize the file? I disabled the particular skin and hey-presto! The freezing issue was gone. Below – Rolled Gold hauls the offending ‘Amoco’ tanker on the intersection of I5 and I10 in Los Angeles…
Rolled Gold

I can’t believe that it was only 14th December that I was telling of buying my first truck in the newly rescaled map American Truck Sim. I made the foolish promise that I would share the growth of that truck over time. Time, it seems, is a very fluid thing and difficult to get a grip of. It just flows through your fingers especially when computer games are involved! In the 14 days from buying my Peterbilt 389 I have upgraded the home garage in Bakersfield and bought a new garage in Flagstaff. I’ve hired 4 employees and bought trucks for them. And I’ve bought myself another truck too! How is this happening?

The rescale of the map which brought ATS into line with its Euro Truck equivalent was something that just about everyone wanted – the 1:35 scaling lacked the depth and breadth of the grand scale of America. Driving 1500 Kilometres in Europe was taking two and 3/4 hours – a roughly equivalent 1000 miles distance in the US was around 1 hour’s driving in game. Junctions and cities used to flash by. The rescale banished that. The 1000 mile drive will now take – depending on the roads – close on two hours. An easy (All Interstates) 650 mile journey today took me 59mins. You are probably wondering what and where this fits with me making such swift progress in buying garages, trucks and hiring employees?

Simply put, SCS have altered the economics of the game. If I do a delivery from Bakersfield to Phoenix, I can expect to earn 1.5 – 2 times the amount I would have earned before the rescale. That’s quite an income bonus. What that means is that where I needed to do 20 jobs in the past to achieve a specific level of financial gain I probably will only need to do 10 – 12 jobs. But, the cost of the trucks hasn’t changed – so I need to do far fewer journeys to get the money to buy them though I will need to drive for longer-per-job.

I think I can understand why SCS did this – new game players need to feel that owning their own truck is easily within their grasp But for experienced players like me it is all too easy – perhaps a difficulty option should be introduced for the economics? To add to the standard financial changes in the game that have skewed the economy, there was a Christmas Challenge which required us to deliver gifts for Santa – every job was priced at almost double the normal rate! No wonder I was making money faster than the tax man could steal it! If the economic side of the game was flawed before, it is more so now… But given that most players just want to drive their trucks, is it a bad thing? Probably not – I just like to debate these anomalies 😉

So here I am with 2 garages, 4 employees with trucks and two personal trucks that I wish to show you. The first is Nightshade. You saw her briefly in my last game save before she was overtaken by events. You saw her again as my first owned truck this time around. Now she has had a chance to grow into what she can be. A Peterbilt 389, she is fitted out as a medium load shifter with a Cummins ISX15 505HP engine with a 13 speed Eaton-Fuller gearbox. My experience is that for medium loads 475-525HP is a good balance for fuel consumption and comfortable handling of the task – but I’m only playing a game so whether that applies in the real world requires input from operators of these trucks. Nightshade wears a traditional colorscheme but recent research suggests that this may be a Kenworth scheme so expect it to change! The jury is also out on the visor – should I have one of the deeper ones? No truck is ever fully finished – she may grow to get a 550hp engine too as per a lot of new 389’s I have found on sale on the internet. Anyway – here she is in her present configuration…

Nightshade dropping off Propane in Hornbrook
Nightshade dropping off Propane in Hornbrook
Drifting through the highlands above Tucson.
Drifting through the highlands above Tucson.

I had hoped to bring in the Freightliner FLB or the Peterbilt 351 – sadly not going to happen just yet. As I reported, the FLB has broken mirrors and I found that the 351 crashes the game when you pause with the esc key – possibly a missing file issue. But I only found that after I bought one! Before I discovered the crash issue I did get to play with a metallic red livery which I then tried out on the Kenworth W900 when I bought her – A deep claret, it looked really cool…

Deep Red Metallic on my new Kenworth W900
Deep Red Metallic on my new Kenworth W900

But that color will be for another truck (it was going to be used on the 351). So here is where I am with this truck…

Resurrected - Rolled Gold Rides Again!
Resurrected – Rolled Gold Rides Again!

…As you can see, Rolled Gold has been resurrected complete with her sunset mural. She has the 600HP Detroit Series 60 engine with an 18speed Eaton-Fuller box and retarder. That means she sounds really great and will be the heavy shifter of my fleet 🙂 Only one change to her previous spec – she has wing mirrors. I found these such a useful addition on Nightshade, that I added them to Rolled Gold too 🙂