In recent days, we’ve heard of even more mods being ripped off and uploaded to questionable mod sites without the original mod authors permission. In many cases, the individuals who are perpetrating these offenses may also edit out any credit to the original mod author and some will even go so far as to take credit for the work themselves. These acts are killing our hobby and often lead to two possible outcomes with the first being the modder simply quits modding, or an even more damaging action is to take his/her mods underground where only a select few individuals/friends have access to the work. I actually view the underground/privatization of mods to be more damaging to the hobby than the modder actually quitting, simply because it limits the audience who can have access to the work. In other words, this action punishes those who just simply want to enjoy the mods which of course is the intended action.
What can be done?
In today’s environment, the short answer is nothing! Until there is a secure and reliable system in place which would allow a mod creator to lock, protect, encrypt his/her work AND the software intended to be used with these mods (Example: Giants Farming Simulator 17) offers the mechanism to recognize an authentic mod and ignores un-authentic mods, absolutely nothing can prevent these types of crimes. YES!!!! Absolutely, these are crimes.
Mitigating Steps can and should be considered
While it is true that nothing at the present time can be done to stop the mod theft we keep hearing about, there are steps we can all take to help protect and support our modding community. The first one is actually rather simple and doesn’t require a lot of effort. It’s something we should have all learned at a very early age and it’s called “showing appreciation”. I think the vast majority of modders fully understand their work will be subject to theft. However, I think often the issue might be that we as the majority who make up the user community don’t always show our sincere appreciation of the hard work our modding community does for us. Often times we act like a bunch of spoiled brats by bugging the modding community asking stupid questions like “When will X Mod be available” over and over and over. Or even worse, we too easily criticize these works because they don’t work, look or function the way we want them to. Guess what people??? Just like my favorite artist, Peter Paul Rubens, The modder who most likely created that mod, created it in his/her vision. They didn’t create it just for you. So please keep this in mind. Also, I would challenge everyone to say “THANK YOU” to all the mod creators you know or come into contact with. A little act of kindness goes a TREMENDIOUS WAY!!!!
But what else can be done????
So here’s where this article will better match up to the title or subject line. Keep in mind there are dozens and dozens and perhaps even more mod hosting websites on the internet. Which are reputable and which are not? Where can you go to ensure you are downloading an authentic mod which hasn’t been stolen and posted elsewhere? I’m going to share my list of sites which I use and why I use them. But before I do that, let me also recognize that some mod developers may host their own mods on their own website. Two really awesome mod developers come to mind and they are Blacksheep Modding and GTX Mods. This blog posting is more geared towards the hosting sites which are not privately operated and the list of those will now follow.
Giants Mod Hub
The Giants Mod Hub for obvious reasons is my top “go-to” mod site for FS17 mods. The mods uploaded to the Giants Mod Hub are controlled by Giants and while a mod might be uploaded which has been tampered with without the original mod authors permission, Giants will quickly remove it when they have been made aware of the offense. The simple fact that mods can be downloaded/installed/updated directly from inside of Farming Simulator 17 is also a really big plus. While I wish Giants would further develop their mod distribution system to allow for searching and perhaps would organize the mod listings in the same fashion as the game organizes them, would certainly serve as a huge benefit to the users.
I’m not only a proud member of PC-SG, I’m also an admin and part of the management team. I know the owner of the website and other members of management very well. Each of us are active in the simulation gaming community and each of us has a passion for helping others. Last year I wrote a detailed piece about the PC-SG Community and every word of that continues to stand today. But even since that article was written (11 March 2016) we have expanded our mod hosting capabilities by creating our own Mod Review and Testing Team. The individuals who make up this team are all outstanding individuals and many are also mod developers. All mods hosted on PC-SG are stored on our own fast/efficient servers. We don’t bombard you with rude and crude internet pop-up ads and we don’t throttle our download speeds. We have earned the respect and trust of some of the best modders including Stevie, Blacksheep Modding, Johnny Vee, SOB Modding (just to name a few).
Like PC-SG, Mod Central is operated by individuals who truly care about our hobby and community. They have a very professional and easy to use website and offer mod downloads both hosted on their own servers and also some linked to external sources. Mod Central also offers a friendly member forum to ask questions and obtain support for many of the mods hosted on the site. Modding Central is also a partner with PC-SG. The people behind Mod Central are some of the most talented individuals you’ll fine in our hobby.
American Eagles Modding
American Eagles Modding (AEM), is another friendly community with member forums and a variety of mod downloads. Typically if I’m looking for equipment for an American style map, I’ll first look to AEM. Many of the John Deere pieces of equipment I feature in my YouTube “Let’s Play” series were downloaded from AEM. AEM hosts their own mods and I’ve never experienced any delays or rude pop-up ads when using their website. Like PC-SG, AEM also has a review and certification process for mods uploaded and hosted through their servers.
Finally, FS-UK rounds out the list of my typical “go-to” websites when searching for mods. I like their mod organization where I can see both new and trending mods and also search based on the version of Farming Simulator. In addition, they also include a member forum and some of the best modders will feature their “Work In Progress” mods on FS-UK. FS-UK also has a mod review team and I believe they work hard to test and certify many of the mods hosted on their website.
While Marhu.net may not be as user friendly for us English only speaking individuals as others I’ve previously listed, but with a little effort and using the right internet tools we can still do OK in navigating their website. Some of the very best mods for Farming Simulator will be posted to Marhu.net by their original mod creator. Unfortunately, the mods listed on Marhu.net most likely will be hosted somewhere else with a link provided to that location. These links may direct you to a dropbox location or perhaps to another mod hosting website. In some cases, the link will take you to a mod hosting website called uploaded.net. Now if you are a subscriber of my YouTube Channel then you know I often (and very frequently) opine about my dissatisfaction about uploaded.net. I have my reasons and for the sake of educating my viewers, I’ll share this information in just a few minutes. Keep reading!
If you are an active mod user, you may be thinking that I’ve left out a long list of other mod hosting websites. Some might be accidental, but some have been omitted intentionally. For sake of overall professionalism and courtesy, I’m not going to call out or blacklist particular websites or mod hosting services. As stated, there are many…but most do not go to the same level of not only safe guarding the original mod author, but also safe guarding the individual user from extreme internet pop-up ads, click-baiting schemes and possible mal-ware infested server downloads. I’m not opposed to internet advertising as it does cost real money to operate a website with the server capacity to host mods. However, I believe some of these websites could dial down the amount and type of pop-up advertising they are subjecting their visitors to.
But are any of the sites not mentioned used by the original mod creators? Yes…absolutely! You’ll find mod developers using a variety of mod hosting websites which I have not listed by name. I may also visit these sites and very often will download mods. If you look through my extensive mod list, you’ll see links to many of these sites I’m referring to in this section. Are 100% of these mods genuine? Keep reading to find out.
Now just a few moments ago I spoke about uploaded.net and how truly irritating that website is. I don’t know who operates that website, but I believe it is safe to say that they are only in it for the $$$. Meaning, I don’t for a minute believe they care anything about the gaming community or the users. They subject visitors to rude and often times crude internet pop-up ads, click-bait ads and throttle their download speeds for non-paying subscribers to something resembling that of an old school 1200 baud modem. Again, while I’m not opposed to supporting the costs of running websites and server hosting sites, the cost of membership for uploaded.net is expensive (in my opinion). Uploaded.net premium membership fees start at $5.99 for 48 hours of access, $10.99 for one month, $27.99 for three months on up to $108.99 for two years.
Of course, the above mentioned fees are also being shared with those who upload mods to that website. Meaning, a mod developer who uses the uploaded.net website to host his/her mods will earn a small fee for the number of downloads. I’m not going to get into whether this practice is right or wrong. I’ll let you decide based on your own feelings whether this is a good or bad idea. But I will just remind you, that Giants also rewards the top mods (and their developers) with a small monetary compensation. You can read more about that here.
Verifying Authenticity – Can it be done?
Short answer, yes….longer answer is not easily and certainly not with any absolute accuracy. The reason behind the longer answer goes back to what I mentioned earlier. At the present time, there are no security measures in place to prevent someone/anyone from making changes and/or uploading elsewhere. What I’m going to say next might be somewhat out of character for me. But for most mod violations where simply a mod has been downloaded from the official location and uploaded elsewhere, the individual doing this is just simply too ignorant to edit the mod to strip away the actual ownership/credit information contained in the mod. They simply download it and upload it to another site and pretend they are the original creator of the mod. While it takes some effort to verify this information and of course the mod needs to be downloaded to confirm, it certainly can be done. But in many cases the operators of these websites are too slow to act in taking down the unauthentic mod and the damage is already done.
I ran into a situation a few months ago where I created a YouTube video to showcase a popular mod. The video contained artwork which I had created to use as the title and thumbnail artwork, this artwork also contained my YouTube name of GrizzlyBearSims. Another individual after watching my video, decided to download the mod then take a screenshot of my video logo and upload that to another mod hosting website. Another YouTube content creator discovered this and mentioned it to me. At first I wasn’t going to do anything about it. But after careful consideration I determined this could confuse someone into thinking I had uploaded the mod and I didn’t want to set that impression. But it took me several emails to the admin of the website to have the mod removed.
As I stated at the top of this article, at the present time NOTHING can be done to stop the abuse and unauthorized distribution of mods. While we can list out every reason why this behavior is bad for our hobby, at the end of the day it is left up to each and every individual (YOU and ME) to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is more than just not stealing and uploading mods without the consent of the individual mod developer. I believe it is just as bad to continue to use a mod you know has been compromised, yes…even privately. Finally, as a YouTube content creator…I believe we have a responsibility to never violate the trust of our modding community by using mods of questionable backgrounds in our videos and live streams. While I pride myself in maintaining a current mod spreadsheet which lists each and every mod I use, along with the location where the mod can be downloaded from…I will happily place my right hand on a stack of Bibles and swear that (to my knowledge) each and every mod listed is genuine and hasn’t been compromised. But in an effort to do everything I can to protect the modding community, I plan to perform an extensive review and will remove the physical mods and the listing which I can’t be certain of. Will you do the same???
Thank you Mod Developers
To any original mod developer who may be reading this article, I believe I can speak for the vast majority of enthusiasts who dearly love and treasure the hard work, dedication, attention to detail and passion each of you put into your works of art. Many of us just simply can’t do what you do. Even some of us (myself included) just don’t have the desire to learn…it’s just not something we are interested in doing. But we genuinely recognize how your pieces of work (regardless of how little or big they are) change the game play for us in such awesome ways. Farming Simulator is an awesome game. But without mods, the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable and exciting and certainly wouldn’t be so over a long period of time. Your mods allow us to lose ourselves in our own little virtual worlds and in my opinion, is better (and less expensive) than any shrink on this planet. Please don’t stop creating. Please don’t take your mods underground. Please know that we love what you do (even though we don’t always show it) and know we will always support you.
Until next time…
Happy Farming!!! (with authentic mods only)
Over the past 72+ hours, the forum thread on the official Giants Farming Simulator 17 forum thread lit up with rumors of rumors of even more rumors regarding console mod support for the upcoming (and highly anticipated) release of Farming Simulator 17. For the record, I’m not a console platform gamer and I haven’t been a console platform gamer since the mid 1980’s when I replaced my Atari 2600 with a PC. I realize there are some advantages to console game play with certain game titles. But for a game application like Farming Simulator, in recent releases the PC has been truly the best option and this has been down to the availability of mods.
A game like Farming Simulator is certainly an awesome game in its “vanilla” format. But just like vanilla ice cream can be made so much better with some chocolate syrup, whipped cream and even a cherry on top, games like Farming Simulator become truly AMAZING with mods. Perhaps one of the best use for mods in Farming Simulator is the variety of add-on maps available. As someone who has enjoyed FS15 since soon after it released almost two years ago, I’m really not sure I would still be playing it today if I only had access to the maps released by Giants.
When Giants announced the release date for Farming Simulator 17, one of the really big news items was the availability of mods for the console platform. This included mod support for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBOX console platforms. Again, this was really BIG News and rightfully so.
However, late last week the discussion on the Giants FS17 Discussion Forum began to turn a bit sour with news about how Sony has blocked mod support for Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Both had been previously advertised to have mod support and both were denied mod support. A little more reading and it appears Sony blocked mod support for these titles because they do not allow mods which alter the game in such a way the player has total freedom over the game. For those of us who play Farming Simulator, the mass majority of our mods don’t alter the game in this fashion.
Over the course of several days, many who had pre-ordered one of the console versions of FS17 had threatened to cancel as their stated sole purpose of purchasing was based on mod support. I certainly don’t blame them. However, Giants did finally respond in the forum thread with the following comment “You can relax, we’ve worked with Sony to find a solution that works for both sides and nothing has changed since then. Mod support for both platforms, Xbox One and PS4, will be available at Farming Simulator 17’s launch”.
While Giants response is certainly good news. In my opinion it somewhat strengthens the idea in my mind that nothing in life is certain. At some point in time Sony (or even Microsoft) could block mods from FS17 and there is nothing Giants or you as the consumer can do about it. Of course, I’m hopeful this does not happen. In addition, will the process of submitting mods for the console version of FS17 become too difficult? Will some modders refuse to make available their mods to these platforms? So while FS17 will have mod support available to console gamers AND Sony and Microsoft will allow mods to their console platform, will the variety of mods be the same between PC and console? If not, what then?
Any console gamer making the assumption that all mods for the PC version will be available to the console (and they function correctly) may be in for a really big surprise. For example, I’m not a mod developer. But if I were, would I make the personal investment of purchasing console hardware and FS17 just to test?
But this does bring my thoughts around to a somewhat related subject of how mod distribution is handled for PC users. In short….It’s an outright mess! But I think I’ll save these comments for a future blog article which I’ll write and release very soon.
Until next time…
Happy Farming with Mods!
I’m going to write a series of mod reviews for Farming Simulator 15. While I would almost imagine everyone already fully understands how to install mods in Farming Simulator 15, I figure I’ll just go ahead and quickly write this for anyone that may be confused.
First, if you are playing Farming Simulator 15 on a console platform, then you should already know that mods are not supported. So this “how to”, as well as the mod reviews will basically be for PC users. I’m sure there are many reasons to own and play “some” games on the console platform…but FS15 really isn’t one of them.
Most mods are available in one of three formats (listed and explained below)
1. Self-contained Executable File – While perhaps not as common as the .zip format (described below) many mods do come in a self-contained .exe file format. Like any other application, you just double-click to launch the .exe. It will automagically detect where your Farming Simulator 2015 is installed (Documents > My Games > Mods) and add the mod. Word of caution, if you use the Mod Commander mod to manage and keep your mods separated based on map, then you’ll need to move the mod (once installed) into the appropriate map directory.
2. ZIP Format (Most Common) – Depending on the map I’m playing, the number of mods I run can be anywhere from just a few to a dozen or more. The most common form of mod I run across is the .zip format. Depending on what the mod is and how complex and large it is, you may need to open the .zip file and extract a portion of it before adding it to your mods directory. However, in most cases…the .zip file will be ready to just copy into the mods folder. But how can you tell?
If the mod developer is smart, he will name the .zip file which needs to be uncompressed something like “UNZIPME_ChoppedStraw_15_0_05.zip”. This should immediately tell anyone that the contents in this .zip file first needs to be extracted. In this example, you can see from the image below the .zip file contains a compressed .zip file named ZZZ_ChoppedStraw.zip along with several .txt files. One smartly named “README.txt”. This file is name this way because….well….YOU SHOULD READ IT!!! What you need to know will be explained in that .txt file. Funny how that works huh?
I typically always open each .zip file I download. First, if the file is corrupt…then it probably won’t open and will need to be downloaded again. But also you can quickly see if the .zip file needs to be further extracted or just copied to the mods folder. In the example below, this .zip file just needs to be copied to the mods directory as it is.
3. RAR Compressed File (Least Common) – Of the compressed file formats, the RAR compressed file is the least common. These will always need to be uncompressed to reveal the enclosed .exe or .zip files stored inside.
A quick note about archival/compression utilities. I use and recommend 7Zip. 7Zip will unpack RAR files and also compress and decompress .zip files. It works extremely well and is free. WinRAR is also available for those who prefer that utility.
Again, I’m almost certain that anyone playing the PC version of Farming Simulator 15 will already know this information. If this has helped you, then it was worth my time in writing the piece.
Until next time…
I have briefly made comments when talking about map mods for both American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2. The words I’ve used to express my own opinion of map mods is quality over quantity. At the present time (according to the SCS forums for ATS map mods) there are about ten different ATS map mod projects underway in various forms of competition. With ten or so being actively discussed in the SCS Forums I linked to above, how many are currently in various forms of development that we may not know about? Who knows right. In all honesty, the only expansion may I’m truly interested in is the map of Arizona which SCS Software is currently working on. But that of course is a different story.
The ATS Map Mods actively being discussed in the SCS forums include the following: Coast to Coast Map, Hawaii, MHAPro map ATS – by Heavy Alex, Alaska, Project Australia, USA Offroad Map, Project Utah, Republic of China, DFW Metroplex, Project Idaho and Oregon. Whew….what a list!
I’m going to re-group the above list into a few different categories. The first being, “I Get That”, “I don’t know what this is about” and “Why?” This will be fun, let’s go!
I Get That
Coast to Coast – This map project started as a personal project of a modder named Mantrid. I’ve talked about the Coast to Coast map before as well as another helpful ATS mod titled Speed Limit Fixes. Mantrid created this map for his own use in order to be able to drive longer distances than what we currently have access to in ATS. When he shared this map he indicated it was a work in progress and for the most part, the map consisted of a route taking truckers from California through Arizona and out to the furthest point of Boston. The cities included along the way were pretty sparse and the scenery was really just a duplicating cut and paste from that of the base California and Nevada map. That is why on the first release or so of this Coast to Coast map you’ll see palm trees around New York City. This map (current release is 1.4.1) has been much improved and Mantrid has plans to further develop it based on feedback received in the forums. One of the next major editions to the map will feature Interstate 10. I-10 runs from Los Angeles all the way to Jacksonville, Florida. The route will take virtual truckers through Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, Tallahassee. At least this is the real world route. It’s unclear just how far Mantrid is planning to develop this map. While I drove the distance to Boston once, I’ll likely drive the I-10 route when this version is released at least once.
USA Offroad and Alaska – This is really a combined project from what I understand. While I attempted to install, I had issues and quickly backed out. But the concept is worthy of me classifying it in the “I Get That” category. With Alaska, every one has probably seen the History Channel program titled Ice Road Truckers. I’m not sure why this is on the History Channel, but that is a completely different discussion. The program showcases life as a trucker driver moving goods across the the dangerous roads in Canada and Alaska. Unfortunately, to get to Alaska you sort of drive north to the California border and the next thing you know you are in Fairbanks Alaska. I’m not sure what happened to Oregon, Washington and much of British Columbia. I think I would almost prefer this map to just be a stand-alone map, not tied to California.
DFW Metroplex – Perhaps the only reason why I’m not placing this into the “Why” category is based on what I’ve read about this map mod in the SCS Forums. The mod developer is planning to create new prefabs, roads and road signs which better meet those seen in this area. He has created this YouTube video showcasing the prefabs for his new DFW map. I grew up and lived many years in the DFW area and this is one map that I’m looking forward to playing. However, the discussion thread has gone quiet with the last posting being from me back on the 19 of February.
I Don’t Know What This Is About
MHAPro Map ATS by Heavy Alex – For the life of me I can’t figure out what this map is about. I’ve read the three pages in the SCS Forums and I’ve read a portion of his blog site but I’ve yet to see a image of the map or a detailed description of what his map mod does. Best I can tell is this is just a modified map to cover the already existing California and Nevada region. I’m currently watching a YouTube video titled ATS Gameplay Jackpot Elko MHA map. But there is no narration and it’s hard to tell what really has been changed with this map mod. While I could try it to find out. Nope, not without a better description into what the map mod does and what it covers. I’ll pass….
Of course, anyone is free to develop and distribute any mod they are capable of creating. Just like anyone is free to download, install and play these map mods. I also completely understand that based on the length of time it has taken SCS (from release of ATS) to still not release Arizona…that we’re talking several years before all of the lower 48 US states are available. The last update from SCS Software regarding the release of the Arizona DLC was back on 1 March and here’s the direct quote from SCS Software “We don’t have a release date to announce yet, but there should not be more than a couple of months of solid work ahead of us, plus the final testing and polishing stage.” So a couple of months? That could be two, it could be three…it could be even more. I say this only because if my wife asks me to do something, my response might be…Yes Dear! She may ask when I’ll do it, and my response might be “I’ll do it in a couple of minutes”. In most situations, my definition of “A Couple of Minutes” is more than TWO. So having said that, let me start with the Utah, Oregon and Idaho.
Utah, Oregon and Idaho – History often repeats itself. For whatever reason SCS chose to start in California and Nevada they will likely move East and North as they develop and release DLC maps. Depending on whatever direction SCS decides to go AFTER Arizona, the states of Utah, Idaho and Oregon are bordering states to California and Nevada. Most likely (at the very least) chance are pretty good that Utah “might” be coming after Arizona. Of course, I could be complete wrong and SCS could continue their eastward expansion across New Mexico, Texas etc. But my gut is telling me they will work their way north and east as they expand across the lower US 48. So in time these map mods will be obsolete.
Finally, with regards to Hawaii, Australia and Republic of China map projects. Just why?
In closing, here’s my recommendation to all who want to create ATS map mods. Please visit the ProMods forum and read this thread. ProMods is recruiting developers who want to be part of a team in creating quality map mods similar to those we see from ProMods for ETS2. For me, quality is always better than quantity.
Until next time…
Installing Mods in American Truck Simulator is super simple. If you are familiar with Euro Truck Simulator (ETS2), then you probably already know how to do this. However, I feel American Truck Simulator (ATS) has the potential to bring many new players to this game. Of course, you may ask yourself why install a mod? Out of the box, American Truck Simulator is pretty darn fun. I invite you to read My First Look into American Truck Simulator. At the time I wrote and published that blog post, I had about 8 hours in the game. As of today, I’m approaching 24 hours. Again the base game without any mods installed is certainly fun. However, the vast selection of available mods will enhance game play even more. An example of these enhancements might be a wider selection of trucks, trailers or AI traffic. Mods may also be available to enhance the game sound, weather and many other features.
Are mods safe? Pending you download from a reputable mod hosting website, I say yes…they are safe! But do keep in mind that there really is no vetting process to determine if a mod is 100% safe and just as importantly compatible. Mods are developed by fellow game enthusiasts to support the hobby.
And with all that, here’s how you do it!
Locate and download the mod you desire. For the sake of this post, I’m using a replacement sound mod for the Paccar 579 and 680 Diesel Engine for the default Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks available in the game. I highly recommend this mod to enhance the engine sounds of these two engines/trucks. You can download it here. This particular mod has been packaged up as a WinRAR .rar archive file. You’ll need an application like 7-Zip or WinRAR to extract these archived files. I recommend and use 7-Zip.
Locate the downloaded mod file and open with your chosen archive utility. In the example of the Paccar Sound Mod, you’ll have two files in the archive. The first being named ATS Paccar Sound.scs and WIND SOUND.scs. Extract these two files to your American Truck Simulator mod folder. This will normally be located under Documents\American Truck Simulator\Mods
Launch ATS and click on Mod Manager on the opening screen. When the Mod Manager opens, you’ll see listed all the mods you have placed in the mod folder. In the example below, I have the Paccar sound file activated and the wind noises deactivated. Once you activate (or deactivate) the mod(s) then click Confirm Changes.
That’s really all there is to it. Now just go out and have fun!
Until next time…
American Truck Simulator – My First Look
Yes, the very much anticipated American Truck Simulator hit the Steam Store on Tuesday, 2 February. This was an entire day earlier than expected and it certainly looks like American Truck Simulator (ATS) will be everything that Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2) is and in my opinion, a whole lot more. Here in the US of A, American Truck Simulator can be purchased from the Steam Store for a whopping $19.99. I’m not sure if this is a limited “introductory price” or if this will be the price going forward. But in my opinion, this game is worth every red cent. Like ETS2, ATS is developed by SCS Software, based in Prague, Czech Republic.
I must admit, I’m relatively new on the scene of these types of games. Oh I’ve been flying computer sims for over 30 years (got my start on the Commodore 64) and you can find a lot more about my involvement in the Flight Simulation Community by reading my Flight Sim Blog. However, while I’ve certainly known about “other” simulation type games…I really didn’t get the point. I mean, who wants to just drive a truck around or plow some fields? Holy Moly have I been wrong.
My foray into these “other” type of simulation games came at a time in my life where I was doing an intense amount of traveling. I spent the better part of 2014 and half of 2015 in hotel rooms. To better pass the time, I brought along a high-end gaming laptop but playing Flight Simulator just wasn’t appealing without all my external hardware. Plus, FSX (and even P3D) just requires a lot more horsepower for me to be satisfied with the experience. So I was in a hotel room back in the fall of 2014 watching Twitch. I noticed one of the usual flight sim streamers was playing Farming Simulator 2015. Again, my first reaction was….Gosh this must be a boring game. But honestly, the longer I watched….the more interesting it became. So I decided to give it a go. I was hooked on FS2015. Plus it was a game that performed really well on my gaming laptop and I could play it while traveling. It saved me from boring “hotel television”.
Some time later, I saw that same Twitch streamer playing Euro Truck Simulator 2. Again, spending so much time away from home…this looked like something that could help pass the time. It did! I became hooked on ETS2, then soon after I began hearing about and seeing preview videos regarding American Truck Simulator. Oh…I wanted ATS. As a matter of fact, just learning about ATS sort of caused me to lose interest in ETS2. Perhaps being an American, living in America and truly understanding just how important trucking is to this country…well, I just wanted ATS. Oh…I actually used to drive a truck (tractor/trailer). Back in the early 1990’s I worked for the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company. I drove a tractor/trailer rig and delivered Dr. Pepper products. Anyway, ATS just couldn’t come soon enough for me.
While the new year is only one month in, it’s been a busy time for me and my wife. One, we have both been sick and it seems like we’ve been sick most of 2016. I guess this fact is true as we are both still not 100%. But every day is a new day. Anyway, I had almost forgotten about the release of ATS until I received the email from the Steam Store letting me know a product on my wish list had just been released. I was at work, but I logged into Steam and made the purchase right then and there. The hours were dragging by until I could get home and install on my gaming PC. Between Tuesday afternoon/evening and today (written on Thursday morning 4 February) I’ve accumulated 8 hours playing ATS. I know this is certainly no record, but I feel I have enough hours logged in game to provide a few initial thoughts (or opinions). These won’t all be 100% positive, but give it a read and let me know what you think.
WOW….As Tim McGraw would sing, “I like it, I love it…I want some more of it”. Basically it is ETS2, but with American Trucks (Kenworth and Peterbilt) with trucking routes currently in California and Nevada. The state of Arizona will be released as a free expansion pack in the very near future. Again, the current price in US Dollars is $19.99 via the Steam Store. Like ETS2, ATS (at this time) is only available for the PC. No console versions (to my knowledge) are planned.
Thoughts about Console Games
I just want to quickly throw this out there. I don’t own a game console. So the only games I’m really experienced with are PC based programs. While I have friends who rave about various console game titles, a game title like American Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 (and even Farming Simulator 2015) would be extremely limited on a console game. Of course, I’m aware Farming Simulator 2015 is available for the console platform, but it is EXTREMELY limited in game play from the experience one gets on the PC game platform. Games like ATS, ETS2 and FS2015 are enhanced by all the various game mods (game modifications) made available. While I’ve played almost the full 8 hours on ATS without adding any Mods, in the coming days, weeks and months….so many great mods will be made available that (in my opinion) will just make the experience better. For those familiar with Flight Sim (FSX or P3D). Just think of only flying the default aircraft, default textures, default weather etc. BORING!!!!
Things I like about ATS
#1 is the fact that ATS is about AMERICAN TRUCKS. Trucks and Trucking, is who we are as Americans. Truck drivers (and the trucks they drive) are as important as the Cowboy was back in the 1800’s. You can’t drive down any US Highway without seeing a tractor/trailer rig hauling the goods that make our country so awesome. As ATS continues its eastern expansion, the game and game play will continue to offer hours and hours and even more hours of fun and excitement.
In the short 8 hours I’ve had with ATS, I’ve explored Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Las Vegas (plus a lot in between). SCS Software has done an outstanding job modeling these American cities. Of course, unlike the Flight Sim world where a city like LA is full size and flying from LAX to SFO (without acceleration) takes the same amount of time it does in real life…the world in American Truck Simulator is condensed. Driving a semi from Los Angeles to San Francisco in real life would probably take 8-9 hours (perhaps longer with California traffic). But in ATS, this can be done in about 30 minutes. So keeping this in mind, (and back to my thoughts on the cities I’ve explored) SCS Software have done a great job in adding in the major landmarks you expect to see while driving through these great US cities.
I play in career mode, which just simply means that I start out with nothing and work my way up to a point where I can purchase my first truck, then slowly save and grow my trucking company by adding more trucks and hire drivers to drive those trucks. I don’t use mods which add any extra $$$ or XP (Experience Points). While I’m not going to climb up on my ivory tower and say it is evil to use these types of mods, I’ll just say that with many things in life, the personal satisfaction gained by hard work will make you appreciate each and every dollar you earn. But it is your game…you can play it any way you like.
I also like the weigh station concept which has been added into ATS. This is very true to life and is something that American Truckers must put up with. It’s done nicely in ATS. While driving, you may receive an alert to pull into the next weigh/inspection station. Failure to do so will result in a fine. Just exit at the next station and drive onto the scales and stop. It only takes a few seconds.
Finally, perhaps some may be wishing more of the US of A was represented in ATS. I think the current setup of California and Nevada (and the soon to be free expansion of Arizona) will be enough to keep this game interesting for some time. Of course, I truly hope in time we will see new states added. While I’m sure the expansion states will come with an extra cost…it will serve to help keep the game fresh and new. Driving a truck in California, Nevada and Arizona will be completely different from Colorado, Texas and beyond.
Things I dislike about ATS
As I stated earlier, this blog post is not going to be 100% positive. I believe there are some serious issues with how they set a few things up in ATS which I didn’t really notice in ETS2.
The police in ATS are truly a pain in the backside. Unlike the lack of police cars in ETS2, (handled via speed cameras) police cars are part of the AI in American Truck Simulator. You’ll spot police cars cruising the streets, highways and even parked on the side of the road. The police cars don’t actually pull you over, but instead will hit you with a speeding ticket of $1000.00. Now in ETS2, I believe the variance was about 5 mph. Meaning if the speed limit was 55, you could safely set your cruise control to 60 and be OK. Plus the red light cameras in ETS2 only seem to be near the city areas. But in ATS, the police are everywhere.
Now, I realize just a few minutes ago I said I didn’t use any mods to cheat the natural play of the game. But I seriously believe there is a programming issue with the behavior of the police and because of this, I’ve installed a mod to remove the fines. Now this doesn’t mean that I am speeding everywhere I go.
As you traverse between California and Nevada, you’ll notice a big difference with speed limits on the highways. In California, on all highways and interstates I’ve driven on, this speed limit in the game is 55. You’ll notice as you drive in Nevada the speed limit increases up to 65, 70 and I think even 80 in some areas. But the issue I have with the speed limits in the game is two-fold.
First, the speed limit signs just aren’t very visible in the game. Perhaps this is just me, but I’ve heard a few Twitch streamers mention the same thing. Before I installed the mod which disabled the police fines, the speed limit would be 55, then change to 30 and almost always there would be a cop and if you didn’t immediately slow from 55 to 30, he would ding you $1000. In the real world, it is easier to spot the speed limit signs and in many cases you’ll see a sign informing you that a slower speed limit is approaching.
Second, most city speed limits in the game is 30 mph. This is fine. But what I’ve noticed several times is as you are driving through the city at 30 mph, you’ll see the speed limit increase to 55 mph then less than a minute later it drops down to 45 or 30 mph. Then a few moments later it is back up to 55. I don’t feel this is realistic. YES, most US cities will have a reduced speed limit, but as you near the city limits they speed limits will begin to increase to say 45 mph, then to 55 mph etc. Unless it is a construction zone, you won’t really see the speed limit increase and then be almost immediately reduced as you are still leaving the city limits.
The AI Traffic is absolutely nuts in both ATS and ETS2. Of course, I’ve also noted really odd behavior with the AI in Farming Simulator 2015 and for years the AI in Flight Sim has also been symptomatic. I fully understand this is just how it is. But if you play ATS (or ETS2 for that matter) long enough you’ll learn to hate the AI traffic. I’ve yet to take the measures to turn it off. But here are my top pet peeves with the AI traffic
First, while I know in real life someone may pass you then immediately slow down…but in ATS (and ETS2) it seems to happen more and more. Second, here in the US…trucks (and cars too) will often merge to the left when vehicles are merging onto the interstate. This doesn’t really happen in the game. Third, most highways (especially interstates) will have a much longer acceleration lane while merging onto the highway. This allows the vehicles to gain speed before merging left. This might also help with the crazy behavior of the AI drivers.
Finally, with regards to AI traffic behavior. There are a few situations where you must cross or turn onto a highway with no ramp or stop light. The AI traffic just keeps coming and coming and coming. Really the only thing that you can do is to slowly start driving into the intersection and eventually the traffic will stop. But this is not very realistic in real life.
Ugh…while I realize this is American TRUCK Simulator and not a Train Simulation game, the trains depicted in the game are weak sauce. In America, what isn’t transported via truck is done so via rail. LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG freight trains hauling tanker cars, box cars, intermodal etc. etc. need to be added to give us more eye candy.
My Wish List for ATS
While I realize there will always be some limitations of what can be done in a game application versus real life, I feel (and certainly hope) some of these wish list items can be incorporated into American Truck Simulator to better match up with real life experience.
Hopefully the points I made above (in the Things I dislike about ATS) section can be addressed.
Hopefully the AI engine technology can be further developed to ease some of the headaches.
Real World Brands
I know this is a licensing issue. But hopefully mod developers will soon release real world branding to the game. I’m ready to see Fed Ex instead of Post Ed trucks.
Would love to see ATS incorporate the opportunity to haul double and triple trailers. Man, that would be cool!
This is really self explanatory. I’d love the opportunity to haul some beef.
Rest Areas/Truck Stops/More Places to Sleep
Again, I fully understand the fact that the world inside of ATS is downsized. I’m not sure ATS would have the same appeal if it took 50+ hours to drive coast to coast. But just as trucking is such a big part of the American culture…so are the truck stops and rest areas. I’d like to see larger fuel stops (truck stops) along the interstate highway. In addition to fuel, these big truck stops offer plenty of parking for rest breaks. Along the US Interstate Highway System you’ll find large rest areas designed for both the trucks and passenger vehicles. I’d like to see these incorporated into the game.
Thoughts about Mods
Remember what I stated near the beginning of this posting about console gaming and the lack of mod functionality. There are some really terrific mods available for Euro Truck Simulator 2 and in time I have no doubt that the mods for ATS will be just as amazing. Everything from mods to enhance the game play to different types of trucks, trailers and cargo types will be made available via mods. I have a feeling that many (if not most) of the wish list items will eventually be addressed via mods. If you search “American Truck Simulator Mods” in Google, you’ll likely find several different websites listing available mods. The site I’ve used before (and the one I downloaded the police mod) is ATSMOD.net Less than 48 hours into the release of ATS, this site already has many pages of available mods. Some useful and some not so much. In time, more and more (and higher quality mods) will be made available via these mod download sites.
I’ll repeat what I said earlier regarding my initial thoughts, again as Tim McGraw sings, “I like it, I love it…I want some more of it”. While I have listed some negative experiences I’ve had with the game in my 8 hours of play, the game itself is stable and I’ve experienced no bugs. It performs beautifully on my system (follow that link to see my system specs) and I run ATS at max settings. Actually, this is really what I enjoy about ATS, ETS2 and Farming Simulator 2015…you don’t have to spend hours and hours and hours tweaking to get max enjoyment like you need to do with FSX or P3D. As an example, if I rebuild my system, it will take me many hours to install all the add-on scenery, textures, aircraft etc. Not the case with these other titles.
I think I’ll close and upload this blog post then head downstairs and fire up my Peterbilt in American Truck Simulator.
Until next time…
The new blog is starting to become a hit. The daily visitor stats are increasing and I would like to thank all who have shared links. This isn’t a fancy blog site, but Farming Simulator blog sites (especially in English) seem to be rare. While a lot of folks are creating wonderful content on YouTube and Twitch, sometimes the written form is often appreciated. For that, I’m happy to continue to write and share here. Please continue to tell your farming friends.
Stevie has once again released an update to his awesome Ringwoods map. This is the map I’ve been playing for several weeks now. The latest version is 1.81. Stevie states this will be the final update to the Ringwoods map. Version 1.8 was released just a few days ago and is the current version I’m playing. 1.81 includes some minor changes and fixes which don’t impact my game play, so for now I’m going to continue farming on Ringwoods 1.8.
Regardless if you are just starting out or have been virtual farming for years…if you want a full-featured map, check out Ringwoods. In addition, I’ve come to know Stevie through exchanging comments back and forth regarding Ringwoods. Stevie is a wonderful modder and truly an asset to our virtual farming community. If you are looking for high quality and error free mods, you may check out the full list of mods Stevie has posted on ModHub. I picked up a few new ones myself.
Don’t forget, check out this blog article if you are interested in using Ringwoods to help you “Get Rich Quick”. Just this morning I harvested another load of chaff for the BGA bunker. Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching….
Until next time…
P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.
Well…I guess nothing new is really coming for any of us who have been playing Farming Simulator 2015 on PC and Mac. But if you have been waiting for the console version of FS2015, your wait is almost over. Yes…the wonderful world of Farming Simulator 2015 will release on PS4, PS3, XBOX One and XBOX 360 on 19 May. While I don’t own any of these console platforms, I won’t be able to experience game play but I assume it will all be the same as what we experience on PC and Mac. Although I’ve heard the ability to add mods may not be available for the console versions. If this is true, then this is truly bad news for console players. The ability to install mods (or modifications) is truly cool. While the default game is certainly fun. The ability to load different maps, equipment and utilities such as Courseplay takes Farming Simulator 2015 to a completely different level of play. Of course, mods do from time to time cause issue with the functionality and stability of the game. This may be part of the reason mods may not be allowed initially. From what I understand the console platforms require Sony and Microsoft to approve any mods or DLC made available and again this might be part of the reason mods won’t be readily available at time of launch. In my opinion it is for these types of reasons that game play on a PC is far superior to that of the consoles. But that is another discussion for another time…
Anyway….I’m sure the launch of the console versions will also mean we may be even closer to the official release of the 1.3 patch. The patch is currently in public beta, but I’ve steered clear of it. However, I’m certainly hopeful the 1.3 patch addresses many things. The biggest issue I’ve found is just with drive dynamics. While it’s been a while since I’ve driven a tractor in real life across a field, I don’t recall the drive dynamics being anything like they are in the game version.
I certainly hope everyone had a fantastic weekend with your virtual farms. I have more blog postings coming over the next few days. Thanks for reading!
Until next time…
As you progress with your farming adventures, you are most likely to accumulate more and more tractors, combines, trucks etc. (basically drivable vehicles). Moving yourself from vehicle to vehicle can of course be done by exiting one vehicle and walking over and entering the next. Or you can take the faster approach by using either the Tab key on your keyboard or whatever button/switch you have mapped on your favorite joystick/controller. Tabbing from one vehicle to another vehicle is both quick and efficient when you just have a small handful of drivable vehicles. But as I previously stated, as you continue to grow your farming empire so goes the need of growing your fleet. This of course is a good problem to have…
As I’ve been farming on the Ringwoods Map (version 1.71) the past several weeks, I’ve reached a point where my available cash on hand is quite substantial and I can afford just about any piece of equipment I desire. I’ll share my secret (not really a secret) to getting rich in a future blog article. Ringwoods is a good map to really earn a lot of dough quickly if you desire. Anyway, I own a number of tractors, combines, trucks and using the tab method of moving from vehicle to vehicle was causing me to spend way more time cycling through vehicles than I cared to spend. But is there a better way?
Yes my farming friends, there is a mod for that! It’s called Vehicle Group Switcher (VeGS). You can download VeGS from the FS-UK site. At the time of this writing, the VeGS Mod is at version 2.0.6. VeGS installs like any other mod. Just download and place the zipped file directly into your Mods folder. Complete instructions are available on the VeGS mod page on the FS-UK site.
In a nutshell, once you download the VeGS mod and install it into your mods folder, the next time you startup Farming Simulator 2015 go to any vehicle and click Left Ctrl E. If your airplane starts you are in the wrong sim DOH!!!!! Anyway, Ctrl E places VeGS into edit mode. From this edit mode you are able to move each vehicle into one of 10 available (and customizable) groups. As you can see from the image below, I’ve customized my group names (when in edit mode, press and hold Ctrl and the group number until you see a text box where you can type the custom name you desire to use) by Small Tractors, Medium Tractors, Large Tractors, Combines, Telehandler/Wheel Loaders, Trucks and a final group called Forestry. Once you have your fleet organized the way you like it, click Left Ctrl E to leave edit mode. I would recommend you do a quick save in FS2015 as this will write the changes to your saved game folder.
After you have your fleet setup, you can easily switch from vehicle to vehicle by clicking left Ctrl and the group number to cycle through those items. The left Ctrl button will bring up this HUD (example from the above image) To make things easier for me, I printed the image above and have it nearby my controls. Eventually I’ll remember the groupings…but until then it serves as a handy cheat-sheet.
Again, make sure you read all the instructions on the mod page and enjoy. While I’ve accumulated many wonderful mods that I simply could not live without, I’ve got to say that VeGS is in the top 5 (perhaps even the top 3) most relied upon mods I have in my mods folder. Check it out for yourself and enjoy!
Until next time…
Things have been busy down on the farm. In an earlier post, I mentioned having some small challenges I was dealing. These challenges were with regards to the overall stability of the Farming Simulator 2015 application. I couldn’t understand why the crashes were occuring. The PC I run FS 2015 on is fully capable and it was just rebuilt a few weeks ago. To be very honest, I’m not really sure what the root cause was. I just know that I did manage to resolve it and the sim has been 100% stable for some 20+ hours of game play. In short, I reinstalled Farming Simulator 2015 and removed all installed Mods. I also began game play on a brand new map (or new map to me). I’m currently farming on Ringwoods 1.7.1 and am very happy with both the layout of the map and the stability and performance of the game play. Ringwoods is essentially the default Westbridge Hills map, but much improved and redesigned. There is so much to do on this map that from time to time I feel overwhelmed. As the name implies, there is a lot of logging opportunities on this map. Perhaps one day I’ll give logging an honest try, but for now I’m just not that impressed with how it all works. Perhaps this is a subject for another blog post. Now on to the topic of the day…
I learned about the Courseplay mod some time ago. I had watched a few YouTube videos and read much commentary about the mod in various forums setup to support the community. While I didn’t immediately dismiss the mod, I wasn’t really sure I would use it. After all, I enjoy performing many of the tasks required in Farming Simulator 2015 myself, but I also realize that running a large farm (or certainly hoping it becomes large) can’t be done with just one person. So I installed the Courseplay (CP) mod and began experimenting.
One of the first tasks I setup was having Courseplay handle the movement of Silage down at the BGA. A very helpful YouTube video got me started in setting up the default wheel loader to handle almost two full silos of silage I just created. Being able to use Courseplay to automate this task will allow me to do other things on the farm, while the hired help assists in earning a lot of money in the sell of the silage at the BGA. The task of setting up Courseplay to empty the silo is a little more advanced than some of the other CP tasks, once you get it setup not much will go wrong. Meaning there isn’t as many challenges to over come with traffic and collisions you may experience with other tasks. Just with this first CP setup, my competent worker generated almost two million dollars by moving/selling silage. Cha-ching…brand new equipment. I like…I like!
The next task I setup for Courseplay was hauling grain from my farms silo to the various sale points on the map. Setting up CP to handle this task was super simple and it works really well. All you need to do is drive from your storage silo to the sell point allowing CP to record the course. Then you save it and activate it to allow your hired worker to help generate even more revenue for your small farm.
To be honest, I figured this would be the extent of my CP setup (at least for now). But I then watch a few YT videos on using CP to automate the emptying of the combine and transporting that material back to the farms silo. Again, to be honest…this was not an easy process. It’s not difficult to do, just a bit of a pain (you know where) with dealing with traffic, collisions with trees and all the bloody fences on the Ringwoods map. Now what I’ve found through a lot of trial and error (mostly error) is CP appears to work a little better (especially with all the fences in Ringwoods) when you setup the combine course starting in the Northeast corner, heading South with two headlands in a counter clock wise rotation. Again, for me this seems to limit the number of collisions my hired help seem to make when running into fence posts, trees and most importantly…each other.
While it’s not perfect, I also know that Courseplay itself is also not perfect. Of course, I’m not a developer and it’s easy for us to play “armchair quarterback” in these situations. But what I find a bit mindboggling is CP does a pretty darn good job controlling the combine. But CP tends to struggle in controlling the other vehicles working in conjunction with the combine on any given field. Now I’ll also admit that I’m not sure how Courseplay works. But I would assume in combine mode, the combine would be (or should be) the master vehicle and it would (or should) control all the other vehicles. It calls for the other tractor/trailer vehicles to approach for offload AND as it is master, it knows where it is in relation to the map and also knows where the other vehicles are. When an approaching tractor/trailer comes too close to the combine, then CP should make sure the tractor/trailer navigates clear of the combine. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many times the tractor hauling the tipper gets too close to the combine and both get stuck in traffic. Again, the combine obviously knows where it is on the map and the combine knows where it is going to go next. All other CP controlled vehicles should yield to the combine.
With regards to the fences and trees…..well I don’t think I can fault Courseplay. CP knows the field dimensions and setting up the combine to perform two headland cuts does provide plenty of buffer zone for both the combine (especially with the 41’ header) to perform its maneuvers and for the most part allows the supporting vehicles (tractor pulling tipper) to maneuver. I’ve found when I create the route the tractor/tipper follows from the field to silo, that if I make the start/stop points as close to the field as possible, it leaves plenty of room for the tractor/tipper to maneuver without a collision to a fence or tree. At least in theory….
In closing, perhaps some of the issues Courseplay has with tractor/tipper collisions with the combine is due to the poor drive physics in FS2015. Fortunately within CP you can adjust speeds. Based on info I’ve seen in various YT videos I’ve set my field speed to be 20 mph and may even bump it down to 18 or even 15 to see if that helps. I’ll let you know.
If you are looking to automate more of the tasks on your farm, then the Courseplay mod will certainly help. The current stable version of Courseplay is 4.01 and is available from theCourseplay website. If Courseplay helps you (and it will), then please consider making a donation/contribution to the developers of this wonderful mod. You can donate via their website.
That is all for today. I need to tend to the cows, sheep and chickens now. Plus the wheat on field 17 won’t harvest itself. At least not without me getting the process started with Courseplay.
Until next time…