Beep, Beep

So, SCS have broken with tradition! Last Thursday they announced that the New Mexico map expansion for American Truck Simulator will be released to an expectant computer truckers community this coming Thursday. I can’t remember SCS ever giving an actual release date for an expansion – at least, not in recent times. Usually we get teaser posts on the SCS blog and then one day we see a game update downloading on Steam and the new DLC is available in the store. You get in the habit of estimating how long the open beta testing will take based on previous experience 😉 To be actually told when an expansion will be available??? Never in a month of Sundays – at least until now!

New Mexico will bring some important changes with it. Perhaps the stand out change will be the arrival of Random Events in the game. Until now things like road works and broken down trucks have been hard coded so you know where they are. If this new feature works the way I hope then we will see such things appear from time to time at random locations. Quite how random remains to be seen but it will make each trip a little less predictable which is a good thing. We’re also going to see potholes and the like as we drive along – I wonder if they will cause damage if you bounce through them?

Not content with bringing a new state and random events into the game, SCS are also revisiting some of the existing states and adding sections of road that were missing from the original rescale of the map. We’re going to get CA-190 through Death Valley! US93 is getting extended south from Kingman down to Phoenix. All-in-all a total of over 600 miles of new road are going to be added to the existing states when version 1.29 drops in on Thursday! The AI is also getting ‘improved’ – which could mean all sorts of things. I do know that we will see cars parking at service stations. But out on the road, I think I’ll wait and see what the experience with the programmed nutters is once we start driving 😉

All these improvements will mean that certain mods will stop working pending updates by their authors. Cyrus’ Kenworth K100 will almost certainly need a new download as the author usually ties his versions to the game versions. Whether Viper2’s Peterbilt 379/389 will be affected I don’t know but I anticipate problems in the first couple of weeks. Much of my driving in that period will probably be in my main profile with the official SCS trucks as they should have been tested by the developers.

And once we’re driving in New Mexico, I wonder if we’ll see aliens around Roswell? And will we meet Road Runner and Wile E Coyote going about their cartoon capers? Beep, Beep…

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Doubling Up

The recent upgrades of Euro and American Truck Sim to version 1.28 introduced double trailers.   The fans have wanted these for a long time 🙂   Because of regulations varying from one country to another, the European doubles can only be found in Scandinavia.   The US doubles appear everywhere.   Triples are also in the American game now, being available to haul in Nevada where they are legal.

Tug hauling a load of Almonds between Vaxjö and Oslo.

 

Nightshade runs into Tucson with a load of Office Supplies.

Points Mean Prizes

That’s one of the catch-phrases of the great entertainer Bruce Forsyth – sadly recently departed. In truck sim, experience points (XP) lead you towards increased skill levels which ultimately reward you with better opportunities to earn money and haul more interesting cargoes. So XP are crucial to your progression in the game.

If you recall my Driver for Hire post in this tutorial series I spent my first skill point after levelling up on distance. Generally, that is seen as being the best choice for your first skill upgrade. As you do more jobs the XP will mount up and you will regularly level up at which point you choose a new skill. In this early part of the game you should be looking to improves all skill areas except for the eco one. To explain why is to go into game mechanics, perceptions of game mechanics and probably why ducks can float too… But I will try explain shortly.

If you’ve read the information pop-ups for each of the non-eco skills you can see the benefits they give which will give an immediate boost to your earnings. When you’re unlocking fragile or high value cargoes, each will give significant improvements to your earnings dependent upon the jobs you take. Be aware of the ADR skills too – these don’t appear to pay extra money and it may seem that all they give is the ability to haul tankers… That’s a wrong assumption – dangerous cargoes pay well! ADR jobs also have bonus XP too. So it’s well worth investing some of some of your skill points in ADR’s. And what trucker doesn’t love the look of a rig and tanker combo?

OK – Eco Points. This is how I believe they work. Remember the settings screen? You could choose the option of Realistic fuel consumption. If you don’t check the option your fuel consumption will be very similar on every journey regardless of cargo weight, engine size and road conditions. In Euro truck I tested this some time back and found that the figure was consistently around 36 litres per 100km. Now the (untested) assumption is that the more Eco Points you have the fewer litres your truck will burn. What happens when you have opted for realistic fuel consumption? On some recent runs with the Renault Magnum using the 480HP Euro 5 engine the consumption varied between 24.9 and 37.5 Litres per 100km and was clearly affected by a mix of cargo weight and the road conditions (and my driving!). I think it’s safe to assume that turning on realistic fuel consumption removes the effect of the Eco Points because logically, if they still have an effect then the fuel consumption is not realistic! Therefore, if you are on the realistic setting, Eco Points are useless to you. Hence my suggestion that you should be selecting other skill areas to spend you points.

That, however, is not the end of the story. In release 1.26 – possibly recognising that most players will be on realistic settings – SCS made the Eco Points apply to any drivers you hire. Now quite how that works I’m not sure since those drivers will build up their own Eco Points over time too! But I guess that if we are going to build a company we’ll need to take that into account and start adding in Eco Points at an appropriate time – possibly from around the point when you buy your first truck as from then you’ll be working towards getting your fleet started.

A final note on XP and Skills.   Each level requires more XP to achieve so your progress will slow a little after the initial rush of levelling-up in the early stages of the game.   The amount of XP you get does increase as a result of your earned skills which mitigates against this to a certain extent but don’t get downhearted when new skills are taking longer to get.   Below is a screenshot of my skills page after the period of driving for hire and the first drive in the new truck I have bought for our nascent company.   I’ll tell you about ‘our’ first truck in the next post of this series.