Windows 10 Updates

While I’m sure you’ll find many differing opinions on Microsoft’s current OS, I must say that Windows 10 is perhaps the best thing that has happened in the PC gaming industry since sliced bread or a pocket on a shirt.  But the Windows 10 update process does lack a lot to be desired.

My PC gaming experience dates back to the early days of Windows.  Over the past couple of decades (geez, I’m getting old), Microsoft Windows has released some excellent operating systems and a few not-so-great versions.  In more modern times, Windows XP (with service pack 3) was a fairly reliable OS and performed well in its day.  Then there was the infamous Windows Vista (barf) followed by Windows 7.  Windows 7 (64bit) was also a very reliable and solid performer.  In my real life day job, we still have a fairly large number of workstations still running Windows 7.  However, over the next 18 months most of these will be decommissioned.  After Windows 7, we endured the Windows 8 fiasco (big barf) but thankfully Windows 10 came along quickly became the go-to OS.

You Get a Copy, You Get a Copy and You Get a Copy

Sometime in the summer of 2015, Microsoft began handing out free copies of Windows 10 much the same way Oprah handed out cars many years ago.  Licensed users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 could download/install Windows 10 without charge for one year.  I must admit that I was a bit reluctant to upgrade my gaming machine to Windows 10.  After all, I had a pretty reliable process for building/rebuilding my Win 7 system and everything (including all my Steam games and Prepar3D v3.x) was dialed in pretty solid.

However, I had been testing Windows 10 at work and had also updated one of my other home PC’s to Win 10 and was starting to see that Windows 10 was going to be the future of PC gaming.  My current instance of Windows 7 was starting to slow down and things were getting cluttered on the system.  I wanted to take the free Windows 10 update, but didn’t want to hassle of inheriting all the little issues I had been having with the Win 7 setup.  So I formatted my main SSD drive, reinstalled Windows 7 and then applied the Windows 10 update.

Time Flies when you are having fun…

For the past 18+ months my gaming machine has performed flawlessly.  Prepar3D version 4 (64 bit heaven) worked beautifully and all my Steam games performed like a dream.  While this particular gaming machine is approaching 4 years old, I built it with the future in mind and pending no hardware failures, should still handle my gaming needs for another year or two.

Windows 10 Updates

Having the IT background I do, I’m a firm believer in applying updates/patches etc. in a timely manner.  I began experiencing an issue shortly after the new year where my machine wouldn’t/couldn’t install Win 10 updates.  I did some research and tried all the usual things.  Nothing I did worked…but it was only a minor nuisance until about a week ago.

Last Saturday morning, with coffee in hand I went down to my basement office to play a little Farming Simulator 17 and record an episode.  I guess Microsoft was hell bent on changing my plans, because for the past 2-3 months these updates wouldn’t install, but magically they did…but to my fear it left my system in a terrible state.

I did manage to repair Windows 10 to a point where most things worked fine, but I ran into issues with Prepar3D and I just can’t live with that.

I’m a Perfectionist

I really don’t know if being a perfectionist is a good trait or a bad one.  I think it can easily go both ways.  In my real world job, I suppose it’s a good thing as I typically don’t settle for anything less than perfection.  In my personal life…well…it absolutely drives my wife crazy.  But the problem with little nagging issues is they can quickly become really major showstoppers and as I have just less than three weeks worth of recorded content ready to go, I figure now is a good time to fix this mess.

A Change is a coming…

Shhhhh, don’t tell my wife….but I’m about to plop a new 500 GB SSD in my gaming machine.  As I previously mentioned, I did build this machine with the future in mind.  At the time, I installed three 250 GB SSD drives in the machine with the idea that SSD #1 would run Windows, SSD #2 would be for all things P3D and SSD #3 would be for Steam Games.  In addition to the SSD drives, I also have one 500GB SATA drive that I use to capture my video recordings and also use it as a backup drive.

The new plan is to rebuild Windows 10 on the current 250 GB SSD.  The primary Windows drive doesn’t need to be massive and I feel 250GB will be fine.  The new 500GB SSD will contain all my Steam games as I’m quickly approaching the point where 250GB won’t hold everything.  P3D will continue to live on its own 250 GB SSD and finally, the older 250GB SSD will  contain nothing but the Documents folder.  After all, so many of the games I run utilize the “Documents” folder to save files, mods, aircraft, scenery etc.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

After backing up my precious game saves for FS17, ATS, ETS2 and other important items I began the process by kicking off the built in Windows 10 reset tool and selecting the option to delete all personal data, files, settings etc.  After all, I’m wanting to start from scratch.  This is a excellent feature of Windows 10 and it worked just as intended.  Less than 30 minutes later, Windows 10 was perfectly reset with all patches and updates safely and securely applied.  I then proceeded to update my Nvidia GPU drivers and a few other critical device drivers.  Another 30 minutes or so and I was ready to start installing games and other applications.

Steam – I love it!

I know a lot of people loath Steam and Steam games.  For me, I absolutely adore it and in a rebuild scenario it is your best friend.   As my primary recorded content on my YouTube Channel is FS17, FS17 was the first to get installed.  I changed the install directory to the new 500GB SSD drive and allowed Steam to download and install FS17.  Once FS17 was installed, I launched it so it would create the appropriate folders in the Documents directory (living on its own SSD drive) then shut down FS17.  Next I copied over the saved folders/files from the previous Documents installation.  This brought over all my mods and the appropriate game save folders.  It also pulled in the much appreciated keybindings file which worked perfect.  I fired up FS17, loaded up my new map game save and everything was just like it was on the old setup.  Love it!

Next I installed ATS and ETS2 and followed much the same procedure as I did with FS17.  I’m pleased to report everything is 100% like it was when I last played.  Fantastic!

Finally, I got OBS, TrackIR and a few other things I need to be able to continue producing my  video content on YouTube.  I highly recommend you backup your OBS configurations as it is super easy to import these back into OBS when performing a rebuild like this.  I’m now 100% ready to resume recording my game content for what I’m currently featuring on the channel.  From start to finish, I’d say I reached this point within less than 2 hours from the time I started the rebuild process.  Awesome!

Are we there yet?

My gaming rig wouldn’t be complete without my flight sim setup installed and dialed in to perfection.  While it only took me about two hours to completely refresh Windows 10 and get the rig back to a point where I could play and record FS17, ATS or ETS2.  Two hours is merely a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time required to get fully airborne.   In February, Lockheed Martin released version 4.2.x of their 64 bit Prepar3D Flight Simulator.  I had been running 4.1.x so I took advantage of this re-birth to go with the latest and greatest.  I installed P3D v4.2.x onto its own 250GB SSD drive and verified all was working by loading up the sim and choosing a default aircraft.  Success!

Next comes all the add-ons.  Now for those of you who enjoy FS17, ATS and ETS2 and enjoy those games with mods, you know we simply need to find the mod we want, download it and drop it in the mods folder.  Launch the game and a few clicks the mod is enabled and hopefully it’s everything we had hoped it would be.  The process for flight sim just isn’t that simple.  Every, single, add-on has its own .exe or some can only be downloaded/installed via a central application (as is the case with Orbx).  Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the new Orbx FTX Central.  Not only does it automate the download, install and updating process…it’s just really cool.  I’ve already praised this new application in a blog post last year.

But to put things into perspective.  In FS17, I have well over 150 mods.  Most likely closer to 200.  Getting FS17 downloaded, installed and running again just where I left off only took me about 2 hours and this included the Windows 10 refresh process.  But Flight Sim is much, much different.  On my mod spreadsheet for P3D, I have approx. 100 add-ons.  Again, each of these are .exe’s that need to be checked if they are the latest versions, downloaded if not, then installed.  With scenery add-ons, it’s advisable to restart the PC and load up the sim between each install.  I would estimate (and this really is a guess), but it most likely takes me well over 24 hours (I really don’t think this is an exaggeration) to get P3D running with absolutely everything I own running and dialed in.  This also includes configuring all my external controls including yoke, rudder pedals and various button/switch panels.  Very little is simply “plug & play”.

My typical approach to reinstalling P3D (which I do every 18-24 months) is to do a little at a time.  I typically install all the Orbx ground texture applications (base, vector, openLC etc.) then proceed to the Orbx regional terrain (Cen. Rocky Mountains, Southern Alaska, NoCal etc.).  Then I install the other add-ons like Weather, Sky Textures, VATSIM etc.  Then I proceed with payware aircraft.  Typically I always install the PMDG 737 NGX first along with add-on airports of KDEN and KDFW.  Then I typically begin installing other airports and aircraft as I fly around the virtual world.

Whew….well, I need to get busy again installing scenery and aircraft.  After all, it’s not gonna get done all by itself.

Until next time….

Jerry

AVOID CSIO Tech

To my loyal and wonderful readers.  I’ve been blogging about my interests in the simulation gaming hobby for over 10 years.  Later this year will mark the 11th year of this blog.  During this time, I’ve shared a lot of experiences (both good and bad) with my readers.  While my blog postings can always be found here at GrizzlyBearSims.com, my individual blog postings are picked up and syndicated on several other websites including PC-SG.  When I’m actively writing and posting new content, the website and blog postings are viewed by you (my readers) at a healthy rate.  Now please understand that I’m not telling you these things to boast or gloat.  I’m merely stating that GrizzlyBearSims.com and my blog postings are active on the interwebz and produce a considerable amount of traffic.

About two years ago, I began hearing about a small company called CSIO Tech who was in the process of launching a Kickstarter campaign to develop, build and bring to market an Eaton Fuller style USB shifter to enhance American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2.  I watched their Kickstarter campaign video announcement and immediately became a backer.  I wrote a few blog postings regarding this product including a full review which I titled CSIO’s SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter.  Best that memory serves, from the time I initially heard about this shifter to the time I was installing it on my Logitech G27 was only about 4-6 weeks (perhaps slightly longer).  The entire process was super easy and left me feeling 100% satisfied.  I also personally know several others who also participated in the Kickstarter and all received their shifters and were equally as pleased in the product.

However, about 2 months ago I received a rather odd comment which was posted to the above linked article suggesting the entire Kickstarter and the product was a scam.  As I had not had any issues and as previously mentioned knew of several others who also received their shifters right as promised, I figured this posting was meant to be SPAM and I deleted it and didn’t give it any additional thought.

Then right before the holidays I received an email from another reader who also commented on the fact he felt he had been scammed by the CSIO Tech company.  I replied to the email requesting more details, but never heard back.  As was the case with the first comment, I simply put the idea on the back burner and haven’t really thought much about it.

But things have changed….

Just recently, I received yet another comment on the blog post and this time the reader provided more information which I feel I must act on.

Let me state for the record…

I’m in no way affiliated with CSIO Tech.  My only connection to CSIO Tech and the owners/employees of this company was simply as a Kickstarter backer.  I paid the same amount of money to back the Kickstarter as anyone else would have done.  I received no discount or no other compensation for writing the articles I did almost two years ago.  In addition, I do not have any way of contacting CSIO Tech.

But being curious in what has been going on since the time I backed the program and received my shifter, I began to do a little research.  After all, while I have no horse in this race….I have several blog articles floating around on the internet all stating what a wonderful product the shifter is and what a wonderful company CSIO Tech is.  While I believe most will understand that I have no control over what a company does or does not do to support their customers, I still feel really bad that some appear to have really been treated poorly and perhaps….yes….I’ll say it….SCAMMED!

My Research

As stated, I have no connection to CSIO Tech or any of the employees/owners of this company.  I could easily delete the blog postings from two years ago and just ignore the comments and emails.  After all, this isn’t my fault.  But everything posted on the internet is there for eternity.  As previously discussed, my blog postings are read by thousands of people and are syndicated on numerous websites.  I at the very least wanted to make an effort to see what was going on with CSIO Tech.

My first attempt to contact was to visit the CSIO Tech website.  I was hoping to find a “Contact Us” email address, a web form or some other method of contacting.  It appears the only way to contact CSIO Tech is to register for an account and log a support ticket.  I attempted this process, but after clicking on Support > Submit a Ticket, it does not bring up any physical way of submitting a ticket for support.  It’s as if they have deactivated the support ticket process.

Knowing many YouTube Content Creators either ordered or received a SKRS Shifter, I decided to see what folks might be saying on these “review videos”.  I read through comments on three different well known YT channels and found comments from just a few weeks ago where folks had been waiting 6, 8 and even 10 months without hearing anything from CSIO Tech.

My next method of contacting CSIO Tech was to visit their Facebook page.  One of the first things I noticed when visiting their Facebook page was the date of what appears to be their last post dated 11 May 2017.  There are numerous comments from customers who have been waiting on orders.  Many postings claiming fraud, scam etc.

Two Sides to Every Story

Yes, I fully subscribe to the theory that there are two sides to each story.  I sent CSIO Tech a private Facebook message as this appears to be the only way of reaching them.   In my message I explained who I was, I mentioned the email and comments I’ve had posted on my blog about their service (or lack of service in this case) and simply asking them to explain what is going on.  I explained that I would wait until end of day Friday,  26 January before publishing this article.  But I stressed the fact that while my experience in dealing with this Kickstarter was 100% successful, I feel bad that others have appeared to be scammed and cheated.

Sigh…

Well…it’s Saturday, 27 January and I received no reply to my Facebook message to CSIO Tech.  All evidence I can gather points to something seriously going wrong with this company sometime after mid 2016 and the present day.  It’s certainly hard to argue with those who have taken the time to contact myself, leave FB comments and YouTube comments for others and all with the same general theme of being scammed.

Again for the record, the experience I had with CSIO Tech almost two years ago was nothing but positive.  But things can change and change quickly.  I certainly do not recommend doing business with CSIO Tech and for those who have placed orders which have not been fulfilled, I suggest you contact your bank, credit card company or Paypal and file a complaint and request a refund.  In addition, you might be interested in filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Other Options

While I have no direct experience with either of the two companies I’m going to mention next, it appears these two do offer an add-on replacement shifter (similar to the SKRS).  Please do your own research and engage them at your own risk.

Tech Affliction Mega Shifter

AplusB Software Simu Shift Knob

In Closing

I’m terribly sorry if someone read my blog posting and made a decision to purchase the SKRS Shifter from CSIO Tech and lost money as a result.  I truly hope everyone understands that my only connection with CSIO Tech was merely as a customer.

Thank you for reading.

Jerry

 

P.S.  As you can tell I originally drafted this blog article in late January with the intention of publishing it then.  I actually decided to wait in the hopes I would receive a response from the CSIO folks.  It’s now mid-March and I know I’ll never get that response from them.  I’m sorry to everyone who have been burned by this company.

Schwarzmüller Trailer Pack DLC Review

About a week ago SCS communicated via their blog regarding an opportunity to win one of 30,000 activation keys being given away for a brand new DLC pack.  This new DLC pack is the Schwarzmuller Trailer Pack.  Unfortunately, all 30k keys were awarded within 24 hours, but the great news is, for much less than a cup of fancy coffee…this brand new DLC for ETS2 can be yours.  In US money the brand new Schwarzmuller Trailer Pack DLC will set you back $2.99 and is available from the Steam Store.  This trailer DLC expansion pack includes FIVE trailer types including a Food Cistern, Curtain Sider, Refrigerated Trailer, Slidepost Logging Trailer and a Low Bed Trailer.

Do we need more trailer choices in ETS2?  Well…perhaps not and I know through mods the sky is the limit.  But as I’ve said before, the cost of this DLC is affordable (for most) and most importantly, it helps support SCS Software to further develop our favorite trucking games of ETS2 and ATS.  Of course, I know this statement is often subject to ridicule.  You’ve already purchased the game so hasn’t that fact alone already funded SCS Software forever and a day?  Actually…NO!  This is not an SCS Software issue, it is just the nature of the software business and one that I’m very familiar with.  But this blog post isn’t about all that, so I’ll get back on subject.

Of course, the other major benefit of this DLC is having more choice of equipment in the multiplayer environment.  While these trailers are not currently available in the TruckersMP Multiplayer environment, they should be added in the next release.  THIS is great news for those of us who enjoy multiplayer action and of course unable to use mods.

The photos below are property of SCS Software and obtained from the Steam Store for the purpose of this review.

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Unfortunately I was not one of the 30,000 lucky winners.  By the time I read the blog article all had been awarded.  But I did purchase this DLC and managed to do a few jobs in recent days with these trailers.  Just in recent weeks, SCS Software has conducted two DLC giveaways via their blog site.  I’m not sure if more are coming, but it’s probably worth checking often.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!

Jerry

CSIO’s SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter

The Eagle has landed…the good ole, and reliable United States Postal Service (USPS) “We Deliver” did their job just as the tracking number I received indicated and delivered my CSIO’s SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter on Saturday.  You may remember from a piece I wrote in April that I backed their Kickstarter program and as part of being an official backer would receive a shifter sometime in May.  I’ll admit, the wait has had elements of my childhood in the days leading up to Christmas and wondering what would be under the tree when I awoke on Christmas morning.  Ahhhhhhh  Ok…let me get back to reality now.

If you’ve had your head buried in the sand over the past several months AND not been paying attention to the recent ATS and ETS2 trucking news, then perhaps you’re completely out of the loop regarding what a CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter is, what it does, how you can get one and most importantly IF and WHY you should own one for yourself.  Well…I’m going to break these things down for you in what I hope will be an easy to understand read.  Here goes….

What is this thing?

The CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter started out as an idea (and a rather good one at that) by the CSIO Technologies team.  These guys wanted to bring to market a piece of hardware which would truly place us behind the wheel, or better yet behind the gear shift of a semi truck.  And remarkably they did just that!  But trust in the fact they just didn’t crank out a replica shifter from a 3D printer.  Oh heck no!  These guys have used the genuine article.  The shifter housing is 100% the real deal and what you would find if you crawled into the cab of a semi running an 18 speed Eaton Fuller transmission.  Sounds easy right?

Unfortunately for us simmers, the real deal found in a semi truck uses pneumatic hoses and not electric cables.  So the talented folks at CSIO Technologies designed a small USB interface which would be fully contained inside the shifter housing.  Their goal was to provide us something we’d all be proud to own and use and they certainly got this right!

The CSIO SKRS shifter mounts snugly and securely onto a Logitech G25/G27/G29 or Thrustmaster TH8RS/TH8A shifter.  One small USB cable (provided) then connects into an available USB port on your PC and after making a few changes in either ATS or ETS2, you’ll soon find yourself manually shifting gears in the big rig of your choice as you truck down the open highway.

My First Impressions

My style of simulation game play has always been to enhance it as much as possible.  I have hundreds of dollars invested in hardware to enhance my flight simulation experience.  When flying the PMDG 737 or 777, I almost rarely need to use the keyboard and mouse.  I have hardware modules to control my NAV and COM radios, I have hardware modules to control the autopilot and flight navigation systems and of course I use a flight yoke and rudder pedals.  Likewise, I have the Logitech G27 wheel, pedals and shifter to enhance my “Realism through Simulation” efforts with American Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Farming Simulator 15.  Driving or flying using only mouse and keyboard is just simply not an option for  me.  Each of the games I play are SIMULATORS.  So having said that, it’s no wonder I would find the CSIO SKRS shifter a must have for my setup.

While it’s been a long time since I held a Class A CDL (issued in the Great State of Texas), the CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter felt comfortable in my hand.  Of course it should.  As previously stated…this is the real deal!  But I must almost admit that I pretty much drove my ATS and ETS2 trucks with automatic transmissions.  The reason for this was because I just found the process of shifting gears (especially simulating an 18 speed transmission) to be un-natural.  I tried setting up buttons on my G27 shifter to emulate the high/low and splitter functionality.  But it just didn’t feel right.  So I gave up and returned my truck to an automatic transmission.

The Setup

In the coming weeks (perhaps month or so) the initial setup will be much easier and actually almost plug and play.  SCS has officially backed the shifter and have plans to add the necessary adaptions to make the setup easier.  Until this happens, you will need to make a few edits to the profile controls.sii files.  But everything is explained in the very well produced CSIO YouTube videos found here.  The changes required on my system mirrored 100% of what was discussed in the video and everything functioned as described.

My Use

As you can see from the image below, I’ve installed the shifter onto my Logitech G27 shifter as described.  I spent about two hours over the weekend driving in ATS multiplayer both learning the correct shifting methods and having a lot of fun.  As those of us who already use a wheel, pedals and shifter setup know just how much these items immerse us into the simulation….this shifter knob takes it even higher.  Yes absolutely, you can enjoy ATS or even ETS2 just using a mouse and keyboard.  You can improve on that slightly by using a game controller such as an XBox type controller.  But throw this CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter onto a Logitech shifter (with wheel and pedals) and just about the only thing missing is that sweet smell of diesel exhaust.  In other words, this setup takes ATS from being a video game into a hard core American Truck SIMULATOR.

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Unfortunately, I realized I would need to change my setup just slightly in time.  I’ve got to get rid of the rolling chair I currently use or place a carpet under it.  Trying to stay coordinated while using clutch, brake, accelerator (plus shifting gears) all while trying to keep my chair from rolling backwards is a real pain.  Not to mention it seriously breaks my sense of realism.  The other thing is I plan to mount the Logitech shifter on a lower table or platform of some kind so my shifter is a little lower than it currently is.  Mounting this at the same height as the steering wheel makes the overall height of the knob much higher than the default shifter knob and I’d rather it be just a little lower.

Am I satisfied?

Heck yea….

Do you need the CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter?

Heck yea…Especially if you already have either the Logitech or Thrustmaster hardware.  This will allow you to take the simulation to the next level.  This is truly an awesome hardware addition and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to back such an amazing product.  I can’t wait to learn what other items the CSIO team will come up with next.  As a matter of fact, the CSIO.tech team posted a new YouTube video showing an EasyJake addon for the SKRS.   Yes Please!!!!!

Want to learn more about the CSIO SKRS Eaton Fuller Style USB Shifter?  Just visit the CSIO.Tech website.

 

As always thank you for reading my blog.  You can follow me on Twitter and also check out my mature virtual trucking company, Grizzly Bear Trucking.  We pride ourselves in realistic simulation operations on multiplayer and single player.  We are a relaxed group of enthusiasts who enjoy following the rules of the open road and would welcome others who share this same desire.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!

JT

940551169900056091xxxx

What does 940551169900056091xxxx mean?  No, it’s not an international telephone number.  No, it’s not the winning lottery numbers (close) and no, it’s not my IQ.  That number is the United States Parcel Service Priority Mail tracking number for my Eaton Fuller style USB shift knob which I backed in the CSIO Kickstarter campaign last month.  The reason why this number is close to being a winning lottery number is the fact that the package is due to arrive at my residence tomorrow (Saturday, 21 May).  Woohoo….

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I received the shipping notice and the CSIO folks posted the above picture on Twitter with the tweet reading “Last of the @Kickstarter s going out right now!”  Yep, one of those USPS Priority Mail packages will find its way to my home in Denver on Saturday (hopefully).

I’ve see a few of the famous (and some not so famous) YouTube folks demo and showcase their shifter knob in recent days.  From what I’ve seen, the shifter will most certainly live up to my expectation.  You can expect a full review of the shifter sometime next week right here on GrizzlyBearSims Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Farming Too!) Realism through Simulation blog

Until next time…

If you can’t find it, grind it! 

Jerry

I Must Be Nuts…

Wheel nuts that is. 

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Yea…I’ve been critical of SCS Software before and I’ve recently written several blog articles about the new update for ATS and ETS2.  But, while I really don’t need to “tune my nuts”…I did put my money where my mouth is an purchased their brand new DLC titled “Wheel Tuning Pack”.  It’s available at the Steam Store for $2.99 USD.  If you own both ATS and ETS2, then you only need to purchase it once and you’ll get the DLC for both titles.   Look…I’ll be the first to say that I feel there are a lot of other things SCS Software should be working on before working on a wheel tuning pack so I can paint my nuts.  But….But….like many of you, I truly love ATS and I want to see this franchise be successful and I’m willing to support that success any way I can, and the best way I can do that is to purchase the DLC.  So I did.

Until next time…

What color will you paint your nuts? 

J

ATS/ETS2 Recent Updates

If you are a Steam user of either (or both) American Truck Simulator or Euro Truck Simulator 2, you probably are aware a software update was automatically pushed out in recent days.  The official update versions are as follows:  ATS 1.2 and ETS2 1.23. 

I don’t know about you, but I had a bear (a Grizzly Bear) of a time with ATS after the update.  For about 12 hours I believed I had lost much of my overall progress with my career save profile (the one I started the game with).  I assumed most of the mods I had installed prior to the update would cause ATS to blow up, so I deactivated them from the ATS Mod Manager.  Upon doing this, it caused ATS to crash when loading into my saved profile.  After several swear words, and a not so restful nights sleep…I approached it again this morning and managed to get it working.  Look for a soon-to-be-released blog post on how I resolved this issue. 

Anyway, speaking about the ATS update (because I haven’t even dared to launch ETS2), it really is more than just custom lug nuts.  I know even I’ve been critical of SCS Software for bringing us custom lug nuts before delivering Arizona and before fixing some of the most talked about issues.  But Hey-Ho, you gotta start somewhere….and as I said, the update for ATS is more than just custom lug nuts.

Steam Workshop

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This is perhaps what I’m most excited about with this update.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it can be when dealing with all these mod download sites and their ads and high risk of malware.  From what I understand, the Steam Workshop will be a much safer alternative (and much easier to use) form of finding awesom mods to enhance ATS and ETS2.  Here’s the offical explanation of the Steam Workshop.  “Steam Workshop is a hub which allows simply distribution of game modifications created by community.  Thanks to Steam Workshop, you can download and install mods effortlessly from a safe and trusted place.”  You complete have me at SAFE and TRUSTED!I’ve already downloaded/installed a few really awesom mods from the Steam Workshop and suggest you take a look for yourself. 

 

Ultimate Wheel Customization

Yea, yea….I know.  I’m sure someone, somewhere is/was really exited to know that SCS Software was working so hard on custom lug nuts.  This is not high on my list of priorities.  After all, I can’t really see my lugnuts as I’m motoring down the interstate.  But perhaps this is clearing the way for better things.  So it is what it is!

UI Changes

There are a number of nice changes made to the user interface in this update.  They include:

Navigation path (red line) can be disabled (option)

Disable of hidden Route Advisor popups (option)

Autopark feature can be disabled (option)

Speeding highlight on Route Advisor

The last two are perhaps my picks from this list.  I don’t need autopark and while most times the speed will be highlighted in red (I almost always drive slightly over the speed limit as I do in real life), it is still good to know.

Vehicles

The following enhancements relating to vehicles are part of this update:

Fixed cruise control locked on by retarder

Multiple position of engine brake

Improved truck stability during retarder usage

Keyboard steering improved

Map

Speed limits polished

Speed limits signed enlarged

Stop signs removed from traffic light controlled crossroads

Turn left traffic added to some crossroads

Certified scaled are now working

Traffic light on interstates removed (where possible)

OK…so while there were some nice changes to the map dept.  There still so much work that needs to be done to fix really bad issues which truly break with reality.  The intersection in Tonopah still needs to be fixed and while they removed the traffic light/stop signs on I-80 in Reno, they still have the speed limit set at 30 mph.  I really doubt I-80 slows to 30 mph.

Other

AI improvments

Steam Achievements for Nevada

I’m not sure exactly what sort of AI improvements were made.  But hopefully SCS Software sent all the AI to drivers training and as a result we can anticipate the level of respect truckers deserve on the highway.  But the jury is still out on this one…As for Nevada achivements, looks like I earned both of those (Silver State – Discovery of every city in Nevada and Gold Fever – Deliver cargo to both quarries in Nevada).  Not sure why these achivements were part of the game from day one.  Hopefully any Steam achivements for Arizona will be available when that DLC is released.  Perhaps that is the cause of the delay?  ha ha ha

In closing, yea…I know I’ve mentioned lugnuts several times in this blog posting.  As you can see for yourself, this software update was much more and I’m truly excited for Arizona.  I think we must be close now….  Are we there yet?  Are we???

 

Until next time…

You’ll find me waiting for AZ DLC!

J

CSIO’s SKRS 18 Speed Eaton Fuller Style USB Shift Knob

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Would you like to drive your American Truck Simulator or Euro Truck Simulator 2 trucks with a real Eaton Fuller shifter?  Soon you’ll be able to do just that thanks to the wonderful and very talented individuals at CSIO Technologies.  These guys have figured out how to take a real 18 Speed Eaton Fuller shifter knob, incorportate a little technology and lots of ingenunity and provide to all the truck driving fans of ETS2 and ATS this wonderful product. 

 

But wait!!!  It’s not available just yet.  However if you act fast, and sign up for their KickStarter project, you may have your fancy shifter knob in May (pre-orders will begin shipping in June). 

I’ve joined over 140 other ATS/ETS2 fans by pledging my support of this project.  You can do the same, but time is running out.  Head over to the CSIO’s SKRS 18 Speed Eaton Fuller Style USB Shift Knob KickStarter page and sign your pledge of support and join me and over 140 other ATS/ETS2 fans. 

Upon receipt of my shifter knob, I’ll do a full review of the product here on GrizzlyBearSims Blog page.  So stay tuned…

Until then….

Happy Trucking!!!

Jerry

P.S.  What are you waiting for?  Go pledge your support for this awesome piece of kit. 

RusMap–My First Impressions

I realize the RusMap map mod for Euro Truck Simulator 2 is far from new.  As you probably know, this map mod includes 30 cities in Russia and 12 cities in Belarus.  The most current version of RusMap is version 1.6.1 which was released on or about 21 February 2016.  As the blog title suggests, this is my first experience with this map mod.

My overall experience with ETS2 really only dates back to early 2015.  I picked up both expansion DLC packs including Going North and Going East, then sometime after I tried the Promods map mod which opened up a huge chunk of Europe to me and really felt that was enough.  With Promods I’ve explored as far North as Iceland and down towards Romania, then east into Poland.  But I’ve also kept my eye on the RusMap project and after updating Promods to the latest version I decided it was a good time to look at RusMap.

With regards to map mods available for ETS2, there are several.  The ones I keep hearing the most about are Promods, RusMap and TruckSim Map.  From very early research, I kept hearing that Promods was the best, had the best support base and was the most actively developed.  So that was what I chose as my first map mod.  From further research I’ve learned that Promods and TruckSim Map will not work together. But RusMap will work with either Promods or TruckSim Map.  So just remember, RusMap will work with either…but PM and TSM don’t work together.

Moving along and getting us back on track…

The RusMap mod for ETS2 connects the Belarus and Russian cities with the Going East DLC at the town of Brest.  There are 30 cities in Russia and 12 cities in Belarus to explore.

image

The following images were captured during a recent drive through Belarus and Russia.  I’ve found no technical issues or glitches.  I’ve personally never visited this part of the world, but I’m certainly pleased with the quality and level of detail I’m seeing with the RusMap mod.

Besides trees, fields, houses and other buildings…the RusMap mod appears to have more “people” activity than I’ve noticed with the base ETS2 game or with Promods.  I like this.  It gives more eye candy to look at while we drive.

Active construction zones with working equipment and working crews.

The developers even included beautiful Russian architecture to marvel at while we drive by.

 

All in all I’m really pleased with the RusMap mod and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to expand their ETS2 experience.  As I’ve pointed out, RusMap also works well alongside the Promods ETS2 map system.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

Jerry

Trucker’s Logbook #4

Our Trucker’s Logbook #4 once again has us in Europe.  I’ve been spending a little more time playing ETS2 versus ATS.  As I’ve stated before, I do love ATS.  But I’ve spent almost 60 hours playing since it was released a few weeks ago and I’ve discovered all cities and I’ve explored almost 100% of the map (CA and AZ).  I’m hearing Mantrid is going to include I-10 to his Coast-to-Coast Map and more than likely that will force me to drive that route so I can drive through my birth state of Texas.  But my feelings on the Coast-to-Coast map are mixed.  I’ll  just say that I prefer quality over quantity and leave it at that for now.

Speaking of quality.  I recently updated my Promods ETS2 map to the latest and greatest version of 2.0.1.  Also, I’ve installed the RusMap which adds 30 new cities in Russia and 12 new cities in Belarus.  It’s been a while since I’ve headed east across Europe and Promods have done a lot of work on their Poland map (Poland Rebuilding) and it was merged into their Promods map system several releases ago.  But this is the first time I’ve ventured out in that direction since they added it.   I actually have reviews for both Promods and RusMap in the pipeline, so certainly keep an eye out for those blog pieces coming soon.

As previously mentioned, our logbook entry for today has us in ETS2.  We are going to head to Russia and do some exploring around the (new to me) RusMap map mod.  The job we are taking is hauling three forklifts from the Bayer company in Brussel’s Belgium to StoraEnso in Tver, Russia.  The total weight of the three forklifts and trailer is 11 tons.  The total trip distance is 2,454 km (1,525 mi) with an estimated travel time of 39 hours, 38 minutes.   The job is paying €103,036 or €41.67 /km.

image

Our route will take us out of Belgium across Germany, then through Poland, across Belarus and finally into Russia.

Our day starts out on Friday just before Noon at our garage in Brussels.  We have a large thermos of coffee and plenty of snacks for the trip.  Our pickup location of Bayer is just around the corner from our garage.

We arrive at Bayer and the trailer and three forklifts is ready to go.  We back up, hook up and do a quick inspection of everything.  It’s time to roll….

As we depart Brussels, we enter into Antwerp.  The snapshot below is looking at the Cathedral in Antwerp and is one of my favorite places to visit.  I’ll visit here in real life this coming July and I can’t wait.

The snapshot below is more for commentary than it is to really document our trip.  But somewhere in Germany I saw this ICE train rolling by.  What interested me about it that it is a long train.  I’m pretty sure this train is part of the default ETS2 and not part of ProMods.  If my thinking is correct, and this is part of the default ETS2…they why did SCS Software give us such short trains in American Truck Simulator?

It’s been a really long day and we’ve covered a lot of miles during day 1, leg 1.  It’s approaching 20:30 and we are yawning.  We pull into this Shell station to fill up before resting.  But what’s interesting about the screenshot is the TWO fueling points.  I’ve never seen that before and I think it is WONDERFUL.  With some of the larger truck stops we see in ATS, we need more than just one fuel point.

Goodnight….

Good morning!  Day two begins just after 7:30 on Saturday morning.  Yep…it’s raining!

It’s still raining…and while I might be hungry…I think I’ll just pass the Mickey D’s on by.

All the toll booths.  We must be in Poland.

This guy was trying to tell me something.  But we are just gonna keep on rolling….

Day two comes to a close and once again we are yawning our self crazy.  We pull over and stop just before we reach the border of Poland and Belarus.  Day three (Sunday) also starts off much like day two with rain.  Let’s head to Belarus.

“Here Comes The Sun”  Now where are those sunglasses?

Hello Belarus…

110 km/h YES PLEASE!!!

Rolling through Russia, we see a lot of cars/trucks pulled over on the soft shoulder.  Many of the people appear to be ready to throw down with each other.  Peace folks…

I was hoping we would be able to make our delivery on Sunday (mid-afternoon) without the need to rest prior.  But we were held up in traffic and we would likely be falling asleep trying to drive the last 25-30 km.  So we are going to have a rest here.  We have plenty of time and should make our delivery sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

As we wake from our rest, it is Sunday evening just before 8 PM.  We have just another few hours until we make our delivery.  The developers of RusMap have made sure to include some beautiful Russian architecture.

We have reached our delivery destination and they are happy to see us.

Despite a speeding ticket we received in Belarus, our job completed with excellent results.

While this job was not our longest completed.  That would be our ATS Coast-to-Coast run we did a few weeks ago.  This job did take much longer and is perhaps our longest (measured in time) job to date.  The time required was just shy of 3 hours.  But well worth it.  I’m going to do mostly short-haul jobs in Russia for a few days and try to explore more of the RusMap before I pickup another long-haul out of this region.  It was a of fun and I’ll be sure to get back to Russia and Belarus compliments to RusMap for providing this wonderful add-on map mod.

Until next time…

Счастливый Грузоперевозки  “Happy Trucking in Russian”  Or at least that is what Google Translate thinks it is.

J

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