Train Sim Enjoyment

Hello friends.  I hope you are well.  It’s been just over one month since I announced my pause from YouTube.  Yes, I’m still calling it a pause for now and I haven’t really done anything with the “rebranding” I spoke about a month ago.  At least with YouTube in mind. 

The SimplySafeMods project is going very well.  Via the SimplySafeMods website, I’m hosting over 40 Farming Simulator 17 and 19 mods from a small handful of mod developers.  The site continues to perform well and while I don’t typically toot my own horn, I’ll just say that I believe it’s the easiest mod download site to use (perhaps outside of GIANTS Modhub).  No need to register, no advertisements, no need to click multiple download links to get what you want and best of all, fast download speeds.  But enough about all that….

Sim Gamer

A few weeks ago my good buddy Eustace Pharmer (aka Atomic 67 G) had been discussing some gaming titles he enjoys and I decided to give Astroneer a try.  Thankfully, Steam offers a full, no-questions asked refund (within limits) because I realized within  about 30 minutes that this game wasn’t for me.

This is absolutely no reflection towards anyone who enjoys Astroneer (or any game like it) and likewise, this is no reflection on me.  We like what we like.  We all have gaming styles which we enjoy and like many of you, my time is limited…so I tend to play what truly interests me.  This little Astroneer experiment caused me to take a short pause and look at some of the games I already own, but haven’t played recently. 

When I built my current gaming machine (GBS Beast Mark V) in May 2018, I took the time to install Prepar3d, Farming Simulator, American and Euro Truck Simulator and a few others.  Two titles which didn’t make it back on the SSD was Train Simulator and Train Sim World.  I’ve now corrected this.

I Love Trains

Who doesn’t, right?  When I was a child, I had a Lionel train layout and about 18 years ago the bug bit me again and I built a fairly large platform layout in my basement.  The platform I built (about waist high) was “U” shaped and consisted of two 6 x 12 platforms and one 6 x 8 foot sections.  I could run multiple trains, perform switching operations and I’ll admit….I was starting to get out of control with my ideas.  Keep in mind this was an “O” Gauge layout. 

When I came to my senses (or should I say when my wife helped me come to my senses) and instructed me to turn the basement area into an office and bedroom, I made the move from a physical train layout to a virtual one with the help of Microsoft Train Simulator.  Of course, MSTS went bye-bye years ago.  I replaced it with Dovetail Games Train Simulator (can’t remember which version I started with)

The Chicken or the Egg

I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter for what we’re discussing here.  Obviously Dovetail Games Train Simulator came along well before they introduced Train Sim World.  Initially I was under the impression that Train Sim World (TSW) would eventually replace their Train Simulator offering, much like Dovetail’s Flight Sim World was going to replace….er, well nevermind. 

Anyway…as we firmly set here in the year 2020…both of Dovetail’s train simulation products are tagged as 2020 versions.  My recent gaming memories of both of these products when I had them last installed was Train Sim World was buggy as heck and regular Train Simulator was stable (or at least more stable). 

I’ve been enjoying both of them actually.  As I’ve owned TS longer than TSW, I have more DLC and I’ve been going back through some of those.  But I’ve gotta hand it to Dovetail Games…TSW 2020 is far, far more superior than what it was when I first played it.  So I suppose like wine and cheese, good things come to those who wait.

What Next?

I have a few draft articles in the works regarding my rekindled experiences in both TS and TSW.  I’ll discuss my opinions of these two rail simulation platforms in future postings.  But for now, I have some coal I need to haul in TSW. 

Until next time…

Happy Simming!

Jerry

Realism through Simulation

I play a lot of simulation based video games.  Actually…if the game doesn’t have the word “simulation” in the title, I’m very much liable to pass it by.  I also have an extremely narrow definition of the word “simulation” and there are some very popular game titles using the word “simulation” in their name.  Some of these titles have absolutely earned the right to be called “simulators” and some have not.  In addition to playing simulation based games, I also enjoy watching others via Twitch and YouTube.  There are a lot of really good gamers out there and likewise there are a lot of not-so-great gamers.  It may surprise you to know that my views of what makes a great simulation gamer versus a not-so-great simulation gamer may have little to do with regards to controlling an aircraft, backing up a truck, seeding a field or driving a train.  The reason?  We’re all a noob at some point.  The majority of the great simulation based gamers don’t have a pilots license, they’ve never driven a vehicle larger than a car and the closest thing they come to running a farm is when they walk through the produce aisle at their local grocery store.  For the most part, what makes them great is how much they strive for realism in their gaming style.

Realism through Simulation

I’m not sure if the tagline “Realism through Simulation” has been adopted by anyone.  I did Google it and I searched using that phrase on YouTube and nothing really relating to video game play or video gamers popped up, so I’m adopting it for my blog.  Realism through Simulation will become my goal as I not only play the various simulation based games I enjoy, but it will also become the threshold for what I write about and how I write about it here on GrizzlyBearSims.com.

Mods, Mods, Mods – The root of all that is evil?

One pitfall I see many gamers fall into with regards to realism has to do with mods.  Before I go any further, let me say this.  I absolutely love and support the modding community.  While you may disagree with what I’m going to say next, I truly believe the modding community has been instrumental in the success of many of the simulation based games I play.  Said another way, many of these game titles would have been dead a long time ago without a strong modding community supporting them.  Imagine what it would be like to play ETS2, ATS, FS15 etc. without mods?

But some mods are perhaps the root of all that is evil…or certainly go along ways towards breaking realism.  Again, before I go further….let me just say that I’m NOT writing this article to instruct anyone how they should play their simulation based games.  If you want to haul in the wheat crop pulling a loooooooooonnnnnnnnggggggg train of tippers that is your choice.  Likewise, if you want to cultivate a field with a cultivator measuring almost 150 feet, again that is your choice.

Perhaps the reason why I’ve been thinking about my own game play style and choosing to write about it has to do with a Twitch channel I watched recently.  I’ll keep the identity of the streamer to myself, but he was clearly struggling and I (and many other viewers) were trying to coach him on a few things.  Most of the issues he had were caused by some of the mods he was using.  But towards the end of his broadcast he mentioned that he was bored with Farming Simulator 15 because it was too easy.  Yes, he was cultivating his field with a 150 foot cultivator.

As I try to wrap this up, no I certainly don’t count the rivets or bolts and I don’t compare color swatches.  But for me and how I choose to play these simulation based games…I do strive for authencity.    I believe playing simulation based games as authentic as possible, goes a long way towards keeping the level of play from becoming boring.  It’s one of the reasons why I will routinely plow AND cultivate a field before harvest.  It’s also the reason why I don’t use a 150’ cultivator.

Realisim thorugh Simulation works for me.

Until next time…

Best of luck with your simulation adventures….regardless how you play the game.

J

GPU Upgrade–WOW

When I first built my current gaming machine, I purchased and installed the GTX 780Ti (3GB) GPU.  At the time I believe more powerful GPU’s were available, but they were also well over $1,000.  Two years ago, the 780Ti was approx. $600.  My previous gaming machine had the GTX 460 (1GB) model, so I felt the 3GB model would be fine.  At the time I was only using my gaming machine for Flight Sim.  Both FSX (and P3D) are more CPU intensive programs and really anything over 3GB would be overkill.

But then I began to play other simulation based games such as Farming Sim 2015, Euro Truck 2 and in the past few weeks I’ve been burning up the highways in California and Nevada playing American Truck Simulator.  My 780Ti began to show its age with both ETS2 and the new ATS.  I really had to dial down the graphics settings to keep my frame rates high enough for the games to be playable.  Things seemed to get worse with a recent update to ATS when they introduced the new Kenworth W900 DLC.  I’m not the only one that noticed the loss of FPS.

Now having spent so many years flying FSX and now P3D, FPS rates in flight sim just aren’t the same thing as it relates to other games.  Gamers may demand FPS rates well above 60 FPS (or even into the 100+ range) with many games.  We’ve just never been able to experience that in FSX/P3D.  Especially when flying the more complex, payware aircraft (like PMDG) and using add-on scenery, weather etc. etc. etc.  But at times when I would drive through the city areas (like LA, SF etc.) my FPS rates would drop into the teens.  It was especially noticeable when turning.  It was like watching a bad slideshow.

I was able to keep FPS rates in the low 20’s with some tweaks using the Nvidia Inspector.  This of course is an old trick we would need to do to get more from FSX.  But it still wasn’t to my liking.  Plus, when monitoring my GPU, the GPU was running constantly at 99%.  The more I thought about it, the more I was leaning towards upgrading my GPU.

Well…I finally pulled the trigger and purchased the GTX 980Ti SC+.  This beast of a GPU offers me 3x the performance and 3x the memory of my old 780Ti and it really shows when playing both ATS and ETS2.  With max graphic settings, the GTX 980Ti SC+ works at less than 50% capacity.  My FPS rates are steady at 60 FPS (even in cities).  I’m very pleased.

At the moment I know I’m mostly playing ATS, ETS2 and FS2015.  I will return to P3D and I’m hoping for even better performance and visuals with that application.

Until next time…

Happy Simming!!!

J

Coming Soon–Train Sim Content

I needed to create an entry in WordPress to setup the Train Sim category so I could get my top menu setup.  While I currently do not have any Train Sim content to share, I do plan to add some soon.  I’ve been playing Train Simulator since the Microsoft MSTS days (2001 I believe).  Anyway, at the moment Train Sim is not getting a lot of my attention as I’m busy farming and trucking across Europe.  But I do own the Steam version of Train Simulator 2015 so that is what I’ll be playing.   I’ll be sure to add some content very soon.

Until then…

Choo Choo

JT

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