American Truck Simulator AI Traffic Issues–Message to SCS Software

As I have stated many times in the past two weeks, I absolutely love American Truck Simulator (ATS).  It’s absolutely fantastic and I’m having so much fun trucking around California and Nevada.  Like all other ATS Fans, I’m also anxiously awaiting the release of the Arizona DLC.  Just after ATS was released, I wrote a blog post titled “American Truck Simulator – My First Look”.  I pointed out a few issues I had experienced in the first 6-8 hours of game play.  SCS Software actually released an update for ATS today which addresses some of the issues with how speed limits are enforced.  You can read all the included fixes in update 1.1.1 and 1.1.1.1 here.  While these fixes are important, I’m hoping they can also address the AI traffic issue many of us experience.

Of course the issue I’m talking about has to do with how difficult it is onto some highways when no 4-way stop light intersection is available.  The one example which most probably experience frequently is when attempting to turn left onto highway 95 in Tonopah, NV (when headed towards Elko, NV.  It’s a royal pain in the backside.  Let me explain in a series of screenshots.

In the image below, I have a truck and two cars in front of me.  Highway 95 is a very busy 4 lane highway (especially during daytime hours).  If any of the AI in front needs to turn left, you will be stuck here forever.   The only thing you can do is to save the game, exit and restart.  This action will remove all the AI from in front of you.  This of course breaks the realism factor and is frustrating.

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But even with the AI gone, one must slowly begin to pull out onto highway 95 which if done carefully enough will force the AI to stop, then you can carefully cross the highway, turn left and proceed west.   While this action works and if done carefully you can avoid any collisions and damage.  But this would never be done in real life.  Unless you had a death wish.

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I don’t have the answers for what needs to be done.  Also, I fully understand there is a fine line between what and how the game depicts real world highway/street connections.  But in looking at the map, it appears the intersection for highway 95 and highway 6 does feature a merging type intersection, sorry I’m not sure what that might be called, but it’s not how the game depicts the highway intersection.

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Would the kind folks at SCS Software please do something to help in this type of situation?   SCS, thank you so much for reading this blog post and for considering anything that can be done to fix this issue.

Until next time….

Happy Trucking!!!

JT

American Truck Simulator Strategy

This blog post is going to cover American Truck Simulator strategy tips.  Some may be obvious, but some may not be.  But before we get started, It’s been over a week since American Truck Simulator was released.  Do you have your copy?  No????  Why not???  Oh, you may be thinking what fun is it to just drive a diesel truck around California and Nevada?  Huh…ask yourself that question again please.  Come on…you get to drive a truck around California and Nevada!  Trust me!  It’s worth the twenty bucks ($19.99)…so go buy it already!

I’ve been watching a lot of Twitch streams featuring ATS in the past few days.  Some are better than others and trust me…I have some BIG opinions about some of the folks streaming game content.  But I’ll keep that to myself for now.  Anyway, obviously many ATS players have experience with Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2) and for the most part they are using that learned experience in getting the most from their initial days in ATS.  Many others have mortgaged the farm and are literally living payday to payday to keep their company moving down the road.  Finally, others have installed cheats and are driving around with millions of dollars in cash and high amounts of XP.  For me, part of my enjoyment with these types of games is what I refer to as “career mode” and that is playing the game just as it was intended to be played/experienced and not cheating.  Yes…IT WILL start off slow at first.  But trust me, it will keep you coming back time and time again.

Resist the urges

Yes, resist the urges to immediately purchase your own truck.  I fully understand this is painfully hard to do.  Especially for first time players to the game.  But take time and enjoy working for someone else performing Quick Orders.  While the pay is not great, you don’t have to worry about fuel costs.  In addition, you can experience a variety of different truck types/brands which may help you when it comes time to make your first truck purchase.  But I recommend you operate in this mode and delay your first truck purchase until you have the chance to level up a few times.  Yes, this will mean using discipline to ignore the first email from the bank offering that first loan.

Your first truck

Yea….that’s a special feeling when you make the decision to buy your first truck.  Enjoy this moment…you’ve deserved it.  But keep in mind that you’ll need about $120,000.  This is why I recommend you operate as a driver lessee taking quick orders and save up $30,000 – $40,000.  Then take out a $100,000 loan.   This will allow you to purchase the stock truck from either Kenworth or Peterbilt and give you some extra $$$ for fuel, tolls and fines (should you get any).  Operate as a one-man company and enjoy.  Keep in mind each day the bank will charge you the loan installment.  The loan installment for the $100,000 loan will be $1,814.  So keep this in mind as you are planning and picking your jobs.

Explore, Learn and Save

Now that you own your very first truck, it’s time to really get to work.  Choose jobs as close to where your truck is currently located.  If your truck is in Los Angeles and you choose a job out of San Diego, then you’ll incur additional fuel costs (plus time is money) to first drive to San Diego.  As you complete your deliveries, make sure to also explore.  You’ll want to discover additional truck dealerships, but most importantly you want to discover job agencies.  Keep in mind, the more job agencies you discover, the more variety of skilled drivers you’ll have the option to hire.  If at all possible, delay purchasing a second truck and hiring the first driver until you have discovered all ten job agencies.

By exercising some patience, you will have the opportunity to increase your very own experience.  This is needed to open up better paying jobs.  Remember, the deeper in debt you go…the loan payments will go up.

Skills

Each time you level up, you have the opportunity to upgrade one of your skill areas.  What you choose will matter.  For now, ignore the Eco Driving skill and don’t waste your earned points on this skill.  Apply new earned points towards Long Distance, Valuable Cargo, Fragile Cargo, Hazardous Cargo and On-Time Delivery.  Remember, until you unlock these skill areas the jobs offered to you will be limited in each of these areas.  Therefore, the opportunity to earn higher pay will also be limited.   Long distance is perhaps where I would suggest you apply your first point.  As the current ATS map is limited to California and Nevada, there is no need to worry about maxing out the Long Distance skill quickly.  Again, simply ignore applying any skill points towards Eco Driving and then balance out the others.

Truck Upgrade

Just as exciting as buying your first truck, upgrading that truck will be equally as exciting.  I know you are also excited to expand the company and hire drivers.  But I suggest you first spend a little of your hard-earned cash you’ve earned operating as a one-man company on an engine upgrade.  Upgrading the engine in your truck will allow you to more comfortable haul heavier loads and the ability to do so a little bit faster.  You can wait on adding other bells and whistles, but spend the $$ and upgrade your engine as soon as you can afford it.

Expansion Time

Keep in mind there is no rush to begin expanding your company.  The only limitations you have to accomplish this task is money and availability of skilled drivers.  Earlier I suggested waiting until you had discovered all ten job agencies.  The reason for this is it will give you the best choice of driver talent.  But we’re actually getting ahead of ourselves.  Before you can hire, you must first have available garage space and second you must have a truck for your new driver.

With regards to garage space.  The cost of expanding your one-man garage or buying a new garage in a different city is the same cost of $180,000.  Almost every city on the map will have an available garage which can be purchased.  You’ll need to visit that city, discover the garage and then make the purchase.  It probably makes the most sense to purchase a new garage in a second city.  This will allow you to eventually hire three drivers before the need to expand again.

Next, you need to purchase a second truck.  Until you have purchased five trucks, you will need to visit the dealership.  Once you have completed five purchases, then you have the option of buying online. All your new drivers will need is a base truck.  While there is rumor within the truck sim community that hired drives will be more productive in trucks with higher performing engines etc.  At this stage of your expansion, just buy them the stock truck.

Finally, while hiring a driver is not rocket science…there are a few things you should consider.  First, keep in mind, initially no one is going to work as hard as you.  What I mean by this is if you’ve deferred expanding and hiring until you have reached level 6, 8, 12 etc. then your new hires will have much lower driver ratings than yourself.  This will mean the amount of income they will generate will be much, much, much less than what you are capable of generating.

Remember, the more job agencies discovered the more and better option for talent.  When looking at hiring a driver there are several important things to look for.  First, driver rating.  Second, salary and Third is skills.  While a lower driver rating will typically come with a lower salary, keep in mind it will take longer to bring that driver up to speed.  At this point, I suggest looking at skills.  Remember what I said about your own Eco Driving skill.  That also applies to hired drivers.  The most important skill to look for in a new driver is Long Distance.  Each recruited driver will cost you a commission fee of $1,500.

To sum it all up, to expand you will need a minimum of $300,000.  Whether you save up and pay in cash or take out a bank loan will be up to you.  But keep in mind that it will be some time before your newly hired driver(s) will earn their keep.  This may mean you will really need to carry the burden with the jobs you choose to ensure you are earning enough to cover the cost of the daily loan etc.

Driver Training

Don’t forget that as time passes, your hired drivers will level up.  You can set their driver profile to focus or train on any of the available skills.  How aggressive you are in their training is up to you.  But I typically set them to train on long distance until they have 2-3 points and then start them on the other areas.  The goal as you expand is to reach a point where the income generated by your hired drivers will exceed the daily cost of the bank loan.  But this takes time.

Final Thoughts

I’m truly excited about the possibilities for American Truck Simulator.  At the present time, I have my company HQ setup in Los Angeles and I have a second garage in San Diego.  I have a total of three drivers and looking at hiring two more which will bring me to capacity.  I will perhaps purchase my third garage in Las Vegas then wait until the Arizona DLC is available before expanding further.  The strategy is part of what I enjoy about this game.

I’ll provide an update on my second week progress on Tuesday and then return again with another Trucker’s Logbook entry and finally another mod review on Thursday.  Have a great week!

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

Have a great weekend

Have a great weekend and thank you to all who have stopped by, read and subscribed to my blog postings.  Friday is here and that means weekend!  Of course, this is also Valentine’s Day weekend.  So while I’m sure you plan to do some trucking over the weekend, don’t forget about your significant other. 

I had a great week behind the wheel and picked up some really great paying jobs.  To reward myself heading into the weekend, I upgraded the engine in my Peterbilt to the 500HP model.  This should really help in moving those heavy loads and keeping my speed up on the hills.  I also increased my fuel tank capacity to 300 gallons.  Finally I was tired of the plain white paint job and had the Mount Rushmore theme applied.  My wife and I visited Mt. Rushmore the first time just last September. 

I hope you all have a great weekend.  Please subscribe to the RSS feed, tell a friend about the blog site and follow me on Twitter.  I’ll return next week (Monday) with some strategy tips, will update you on my progress two weeks in on Tuesday.  Also next week I’ll get another Trucker’s Logbook post out and then finally on Thursday another Mod Review.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

ATS Mod Review–Paccar Sound

If you are new to ATS or American Truck Simulator, you might also be new to mods.  What are mods?  Mods are modification files which enhance the base or core game application (in this case American Truck Simulator).  I recently wrote a blog post on exactly how to install mods in American Truck Simulator.

In the “How to Install Mods in American Truck Simulator” blog post I actually mentioned the exact mod I’m featuring here today.  Keep in mind that ATS is just over one week old, but of all the mods I’ve found available for ATS, this one is a must have.

What is the Featured Mod?

This mod is the Paccar Sound Mod for the default Kenworth 680 and Peterbilt 579 trucks which are featured in the ATS game.  While these trucks look amazing, the sound is rather weak sauce.  Oh…and the horn…beep beep!  Ugh…

What does this mod do?

Basically it changes the engine sound on both the Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks available in the game to a more real life sounding diesel engine.  It is night and day difference.  I highly recommend this mod!

What else does this mod do?

It turns the little “beep beep” sounding horn which is default in the Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks into a very nice low air horn.  Trust me, you won’t be embarrassed to “lay on the horn” now.

How can I get this mod?

The Paccar Sound Mod for the Kenworth 680 and Peterbilt 579 trucks is available here.

How do I install this mod?

Please see my blog post “How to Install Mods in American Truck Simulator” for complete instructions.

Again, if you only install one mod…this is the one you want to install.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

Truckers Logbook #1

I plan to occasionally document my trucking adventures in the form of a blog post with pictures.  I don’t plan to document each and every delivery, but will try to post at least one each week.  With this being the first entry, I decided to start at my Company Headquarters of Apache Trucking located in Los Angeles, California.   After a good nights rest, we picked up our truck on Tuesday, 7:49 PM.

Our Peterbilt 579 with stand-up sleeper and 455 HP engine ready to go.

The job market out of Los Angeles is usually pretty good.  I’ve had a few jobs paying upwards of 25-30K in recent days, but today we are going to haul a couple of fork lifts on behalf of Sell Goods to Walbert in Winnemucca, Nevada.  The job is paying $18,660 (or $28.16/mi).  The job type is both fragile and high value.  The trip distance is 651 miles with an estimated trip time of 16 hours, 57 minutes.

Our route will be all Interstate travel.  We’ll head north on I-5 then east on I-80.  We’ll drive the majority of this trip overnight with a planned rest stop near Reno and hopefully deliver the cargo on-time (perhaps even early).

The pickup location for Sell Goods is literally just around the corner from my HQ Garage.  Here we are connected to the lowboy trailer with two forklifts.  After a brief walk around inspection, we are ready to depart Los Angeles.

Just outside of LA we encounter our first of two weight/inspection stations.  We gladly comply to avoid the fines.

A few hours it’s time to freshen up our coffee cup and while doing so will top off our fuel tanks at this Chevron station.  Fuel cost was $2.82 per gallon.

As we’re approaching Reno, NV on I-80 we pull in for our second weight/inspection check which we pass with flying colors.  The sun is just starting to come up.

It’s just after 6:00 AM and we need to get some rest.  We choose this truck stop outside of Reno.  They have nice clean showers and great truck stop food.

After a good nights (err, I mean good days sleep) I hit the showers, grab a hot meal and finish the drive to Winnemucca where I arrive at Walbert. I accept the more difficult parking for the max 90 XP opportunity and drop the lowboy and two forklifts as requested.

Another job successfully completed with an “Excellent” ranking.  Another solid drive and I should reach Level 16.

Apache Trucking is shaping up to be a solid company.  I currently own three trucks (including mine) and employ two additional drivers.  I own the HQ garage in Los Angeles and just purchased a second garage down in San Diego.  My two drivers in LA are gaining in experience and starting to earn their keep.  I think I’m going to pay down a few of my loans to get my daily loan payment under $10K and then as I save, begin purchasing three new trucks and hire three additional drivers.

I hope you enjoyed this first Truckers Logbook adventure.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

American Truck Simulator–My Progress

Just a quick update on my progress so far in American Truck Simulator.  Today marks the one week anniversary of the release of ATS and I wanted to share my current progress.

I’m playing in career mode with no cheat mods installed.  This just essentially means that I’ve started the game with a new driver profile and just like the American Dream, I’m building my trucking company through hard work, dedication and a little help from the bank.  There is an Aaron Tippin song titled “I Got It Honest” which best describes it.

Over the past week I’ve worked my tail off making all sorts of deliveries.  Like most, I started out running quick orders as a driver lessee, gaining experience and saving money.  But I never stopped dreaming of owning my own truck and eventually starting a small company with one garage and two additional drivers.

My company (Apache Trucking) is headquartered in Los Angeles and after reaching level 6, I took out a loan from the bank in order to upgrade the garage, purchase my second truck and hire my first driver.  I chose the Peterbilt to fulfill an early childhood dream of becoming a truck driver.  Of course this didn’t happen, well….at least not in real life, but through American Truck Simulator…dreams can come true.  Anyway, I kept hauling and kept working my way up the levels unlocking my Long Distance, High Value Cargo, Fragile Cargo and Just-in-Time Delivery skills.  This eventually opened up higher paying jobs and even more money began to pour into the operation.

I drove my basic Peterbilt until level 10

Hauling a load of high value cars and doing my best at keeping up with the BNSF freight train in the distance.

Around Level 10, I picked up my third truck and second driver.  I also upgraded my engine from the 370 HP to the 455 HP upgrade.  This made a huge difference when pulling some of those heavier loads.  As I believe was the case in ETS2, there is no difference with how truck upgrades benefit the hired drivers.  So all trucks I purchase will be the base model of either the Peterbilt or Kenworth truck.

Of course, eventually I wanted to take advantage of some upgrades to change the appearance of my own truck.  After reaching level 10 or 11, I added the stand up sleeper and dual exhaust stacks.

Hauling a John Deere (Dear John) tractor across Nevada.

Heading into Elko, Nevada with a load of high value, fragile cars under an urgent delivery contract.  $$$

At the present time, I’m currently at level 14 and just purchased my second garage down in San Diego.   My other two drivers have started to earn a little more as well, so as I can afford it…I’ll add new trucks and hire new drivers for the San Diego operation.   At some point I’ll continue to make enhancements to my truck.

Here are my current stats for American Truck Simulator

Total Driven Distance – 20,326

Total Driven Distance (On Duty) – 19,268

Total Free Roam Distance – 1,058

Roads Explored – 73.67%

Deliveries Finished – 42

Deliveries Cancelled – 0

Total Game Time Spent – 33 Days, 7 Hours

Play time – 20 Hours

I’ll occasionally update my progress and share more of my adventures in ATS here.  I’ve also started playing the updated Ringwoods Farm map in Farming Simulator 2015 and really enjoying it.  I’ll share some of my progress as well.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

Installing Mods in American Truck Simulator

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!

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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

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Step 3

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.

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That’s really all there is to it.  Now just go out and have fun!

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

J

American Truck Simulator – My First Look

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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.

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Initial Thoughts

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.

Police

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.

Speed Limits

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.

AI Traffic

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.

Trains

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.

Police

Hopefully the points I made above (in the Things I dislike about ATS) section can be addressed.

AI Traffic

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.

Double/Triple Trailers

Would love to see ATS incorporate the opportunity to haul double and triple trailers.  Man, that would be cool!

Livestock

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.

Final Thoughts

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…

Happy Trucking!!!

JT

American Truck Simulator

I realize it’s been a while since I updated this blog.  As I’m sure you are already aware, American Truck Simulator (ATS) was released yesterday (2 February).  While I’ve only been able to spend about two hours in the game, I can tell you that it is almost everything that I had hoped it would be.  While I enjoyed the almost 70 hours I spent playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2), being an American…I really was eager to play ATS.

I’ll return with an updated blog posting of my American Truck Simulator experience very soon.   At the present time, I’m busy moving all my blog sites and websites into a new web host.  My old web host was starting to seriously have issues impacting my sites up time and their support just wasn’t what it used to me.  So “bear” with me, and keep checking back.

Until next time…

Happy Simming!!!

JT

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