It hardly seems like a month ago since we last looked at desktops courtesy of Clare’s challenge. Mine changed back on Jan 28th.

A couple of years back I made a ‘skin’ for trailers in Euro Truck Simulator. This allowed me to have owned trailers painted in our company colours. For those new to my involvement in Truck Simulation, my European company is Martin Transport et Logistique based in Montpellier, France. At the time, I made them in a hands on manner. They worked fine for a year or so and then an update broke them – mods in games often stop working after updates to the main game code. I made a number of attempts to get them working again but couldn’t and, quite often, found myself diverted from that task by wishing to get on with driving – especially when there was an event on that required helping the in-game community.

SCS Software – makers of Euro Truck Simulator 2, and its companion game American Truck Simulator, claim to have the best community ever. It’s fair to say that we often help each other out either with encouragement in events or helping new players with advice (even on things way outside of the games we play!). There is a newer method of adding skins into the game called Mods Studio (created by another member of the playing community) and I had hoped that this would resolve my issue. But I couldn’t get it to work on the pc I use for doing artwork and photography. I mentioned this in passing to one of my fellow drivers and he offered to help. Actually, he said they’d take a look – meaning he was going to get his Good Lady to take a look as she has got Mods Studio working on her pc. All I had to do was send my original artwork. A day or so later and.. Voila!..

…That’s an example of the Best Community Ever at work. This is one of my general haulage fleet, ‘Lady Galadriel’, parked up in my yard at Limoges with one of my company’s curtainside trailers. Come the dawn it will be time to head out on a new day’s work. With the trailer’s now back to displaying the company identity, I’m going to have to review the liveries of all my trucks… But, there’s lots of hauling to be done too 🙂

Another week driving in the Beta Test environment for Euro Truck. There have been lots of new code drops over the past week and sometimes it’s very difficult to see what change was made. The game now seems to be very stable so that’s good. In the circumstances I have been concentrating on trying out the playability of the new truck and trailer company owning role.

A further week down the road of testing this and I have a clearer idea of the impact of this change on the game. Everything takes much longer despite the fact that you earn a little more using your own trailers. This is because your have to buy both truck and trailer to benefit. So an initial expenditure of around €130k becomes closer to €170k if you go for a basic curtainside trailer. Don’t take this as a negative – this is much closer to reality and therefore to be welcomed. Growing a company becomes much more of a slog despite the relatively well paying jobs in the game. Now you need to look closely at when you buy the second truck and when you get another trailer. Your drivers can still take other work without using an owned trailer as can you, but it’s better (more realistic?)if you can each use your own trailer to handle the majority of jobs.

This raises an interesting dilemma – what is the ideal trailer type and what should your ratio of trailers to trucks/drivers be. So far it looks like there should ideally be 4 trailers to 3 trucks/drivers to allow flexibility in operations. Even then some of the work that your drivers do will be freight market using other peoples trailers rather than your own. The best general trailer is the Curtainside – handling a wide range of general dry goods. For a small garage with three drivers I’d recommend having 2 of these. Then the trailer compliment should be completed by 1 flatbed for things like pressure tanks, etc. And a cool-box on wheels – a reefer or an insulated box van. This seems to give the drivers the necessary options to use your own trailers most of the time. From a personal driving point of view, don’t spend too long with a flatbed trailer in tow. There are very few cargoes so you’ll soon get fed up with the lack of choice. Fortunately, your ai drivers don’t give in to boredom 😉

In the last Digest I showed a shot of our new trailer skin. That was while driving the Mercedes-Benz New Actros. Very pleased with that truck and I’ll be looking to buy a couple more for the staff and myself in future. When looking to employ my 3rd new driver I passed the Merc onto Danny and set out to buy a new truck in the MAN TGX with the 400HP engine. This time I had intended to part exchange the MAN for a new truck but I decided instead that it was time to expand the company. I paid off the original €100k loan and took out a new €400k loan. This allowed me to buy myself a new truck – a Scania R with a 500HP engine – and pass the TGX on to new employee Izabella. She promptly nicked the refrigerated trailer and I haven’t seen any sign of her since – except for the money she’s making me 😉

My new Scania R has a lot of extra’s and set me back €280k but she’s a lovely truck that I will enjoy driving for a long time. Then it was time to pursue buying the second garage. I had decided that Clermont Ferrand was the right choice for the amount of different cargo opportunities around that city. So that garage was purchased. Subsequently I’ve moved 2 older trailers there in readiness for use and added 2 more to our Montpellier fleet. Now I just need to buy a new truck… So much planned spending to do 😉 Here’s a couple of shots from this week’s action…

Before passing the Merc on to Danny – Here I was minding my own business, driving within the speed limit with a sneaky Gendarme hiding in my blind-spot. They’ll do anything to get an arrest!

I took this shot as I blasted through Belgium with an urgent job in the new Scania R while using the flatbed for yet another Ventilation Shaft delivery. It has been modified using tonemapping for effect…

Now we can own our trailers it makes sense to have our own skins. You’ve seen my Martin Transport et Logistique skin. I thought I’d do a special skin for my local football club. I shared it on Twitter and it seems to be popular with the supporters and club chairman :-)…

I have a skin for a refrigerated trailer in the design stage and I will probably do a special one for Remembrance Day and Christmas too. Watch this space 😉

I hinted in my previous post about American Truck Simulator that this next post would be about skinning. Whatever you were expecting, I’m not about to show you a newly made Davy Crockett hat or an Alligator handbag 😉

In a number of sims and games you get the chance to change how your vehicle or character looks. How much depends on the amount of freedom the game’s developers want to give you and is usually ruled by the potential impact on profits should players be given too much leeway. One regularly voiced complaint on the forums of Elite is the lack of ability to custom paint your ship to your own design. Instead, new paint schemes are offered via the game’s shop for a fee, as are some modifications which do not affect your ship’s capabilities and therefore are not ‘pay to win’. I can understand this approach – generation of additional revenue and control over content (preventing inappropriate images in a multiplayer game with a target age range of 7 to ancient). Other game developers have taken an approach where allowing the game community to create additional content is actively encouraged. This is true of the train simulator games and SCS’s Truck sims – ‘niche market’ games with a small but enthusiastic community. The upshot is that the means to create new trucks, trailers and other in-game items is freely available for anyone wishing to modify Euro Truck or American Truck simulator. Additionally, those modifications can be shared with the community which is why I was able to show some trucks not available in the game as supplied a few posts back.

The simplest form of modification you can make is to create a skin for an existing vehicle. The means to do this are freely available and there are tutorial videos on YouTube. Ones I found helpful are: –

MisterMoose video
Benji Video

Both contain links that will get you the mechanical pieces you need to carry out the skinning process. The reason I wanted to do this was to make my fleet of trucks my own. However, that did raise a problem – I wasn’t sure how I was going to create a ‘corporate’ Chisum Trucking image. I had thought about utilising some graphics from the John Wayne film (which was in my line of sight when choosing the company name initially). But it all looked rather complicated – I wanted something simple for a first attempt.

Lateral thinking time – how about I start a new company? In game terms that’s just another profile. This time, the company is called Martin’s. I originally was going for Martin Logistics but I see there’s a company with that name already and they’re involved in government work (were they once part of Lockheed-Martin I wonder?). Anyway, plain old Martin’s will do and that gives me the chance to introduce a simple logo as our brand. So, here’s the first attempt as seen in the Upgrades screen of the game after I uploaded my skin…
Martin_skin_01
…spot the immediate issue – Logo and mirror mount conflict! The truck templates don’t show where the mirrors are mounted on the doors 😦 Doh! I re-did the skin, moving and resizing the logo and the writing to accommodate the mirrors and this shot taken in my Bakersfield HQ shows the outcome…
Martin_skin_02
You’ll note that in the shade the color is a very pale blue. A new issue – out in the sun it becomes dazzling and you can’t read the company name 😦 Back to the skinning workshop and a re-color to a blue-grey based white. This time the result is ok and Martin’s has a corporate livery to be applied to all our trucks when we finally have a fleet!
Fertilizer to Tonopah
Only… Now I’m not happy with how the text sits in relation to the design of the door! Back to the workshop one last time…
Here’s the finished articleFinal Skin
Now, that looks OK 🙂 So, next time you have a load to shift, don’t forget to call Martin’s – Contract Haulage Specialists of Bakersfield, CA 🙂 Actually, please don’t call the number on the truck door… it may be a Bakersfield number but I have absolutely no idea whose it is! And the USDOT number is false too. Both were added to give an impression of reality. I’m hoping to find an image of a Clean Air California sticker to add too. And… Perhaps I should add the Californian Flag when I differentiate my truck from the one’s belonging to the employees 🙂