So I return to work on Monday morning (10 July) after having spent 10 wonderful, relaxing days on vacation. Over half of this time off was spent near Estes Park, Colorado and the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. This was a much needed, highly anticipated and just honestly what any doctor could have ordered break for both my wife and I. The last few months have been tough on both of us and I honestly think we began counting the days down to this get-away back in the early spring timeframe.
Between meetings on Monday morning, I decided to catch up on a few of my fellow YouTube friends and the videos they released while I was on vacation. My friend Farmer Klein was the first name that popped up in my list of video recommendations and I noticed the video title was “Old Guy Farmers Single Player Challenge”. Challenge??? What’s this about seemed to be thoughts that entered in my mind. Obviously I know who Old Guy Farmer is…that’s Mr. Jerry Ott who created the wonderful Mountain Valley Farm map which I’m currently running a “Let’s Play” series on. If interested, you can follow my progress on my Mountain Valley Farm series on YouTube.
Anyway…back to this challenge. I watched with excitement as Farmer Klein started game day 1, episode 1 of the special Goldcrest Valley Edit map which Jerry Ott had designed specific for the challenge. As more minutes passed, I began thinking…I want to do this. I want to play this map and I want to participate in the challenge. I quickly read through the rules/guidelines of the challenge….”Must Use Seasons Mod” Ok…that’s good as I just simply can’t play (nor am I interested in playing FS17 without the Seasons Mod. “Game mode must be set on Hard”. OK..that is also OK as I’m playing on MVF set to Hard mode. “Game play time must be set to x15 speed and can only skip time from 9pm to 6am” That’s also just fine. “Game play must be streamed on YouTube or Twitch” This is also great because I’ve really been wanting to stream my FS17 game play more. Etc. etc. I’ll let you read the rules/guidelines at your own discretion.
While I did say several months ago I had no interest in playing another GCV edit map, on Monday afternoon I downloaded the GCV edit challenge map and fired up OBS and kicked off episode one (of 72 total episodes) of this challenge series. Yes…you did read that correct. This series will consist of 72 episodes as each episode will be precisely one game day (6 AM ish to 9 PM ish). 72 days is what 3 Seasons Mod years, set to 6 game days per season calculates to. Yes, this is a major undertaking…but I have until 1 November. There’s a lot of time between now and 1 November! Right? Right????
I’ll admit, my game play during episode 1 certainly was not my finest hour. I must have appeared as if I was a nube to Farming Simulator 17 or perhaps even a nube to simulation based gaming altogether. I really do have over 500 hours of game play recorded in FS17 (and over 700 in FS15) and I’ve been using the Seasons mod since early January.
The truth is, I completely underestimated the stress in knowing that from the moment you enter the game, time is ticking away at a fairly fast pace (game play set to x15). An entire game day (6 AM to 9 PM) passes by at near light speed in just over an hour. As most of my viewers know, I farm at a fairly relaxed pace and I may spend a few minutes painstakingly comparing tractor specs before making a decision (or no decision at all). In this challenge, TIME is definitely of the essence.
Long Story Short….so yes…GrizzlyBearSims took the challenge and I’ll do my level best to not only survive the challenge, but also complete it and also try equally hard to win it. While the rules are clearly defined, I’ve made the decision to follow my own guideline of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” way of doing things. Meaning even though time is quickly speeding by, I won’t take shortcuts…I’m not going to drive through my crops etc. I’m plowing fields, applying fertilizer, cultivating, seeding and then fertilizing again. Regardless of the outcome, FUN is the absolute number one priority for each episode.
While I don’t believe it’s too late for others to take part in this challenge, if you are interested in participating…please visit this website for complete rules and information. But don’t wait too long as while on paper there are many days between now and 1 November…trust me, before you know it…summer will be over and just remember, time is of the essence.
For my wonderful friends/viewers of the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel, Are you interested in winning your very own copy of the Giants Farming Simulator 17 Platinum Expansion Pack DLC? I’m gifting a copy to three lucky winners of this expansion pack (via Steam) at the end of the challenge. All you need to do to enter, is watch my livestreams (either live or via YouTube recorded playback) and listen for me to provide the daily code word. Each episode will have a unique code word which I’ll verbally announce during the game play. Once you hear the code word, just follow the information I’ve outlined to enter. You can view these contest guidelines and how to submit the code word on the GrizzlyBearSims Discord Channel. You can enter up to 72 times, pending you watch (and listen) for the code word. Obviously, the more episodes you watch, the better odds you’ll have at winning. I’ll do the drawing and notify the winners on Sunday, 6 November.
In recent days, we’ve heard of even more mods being ripped off and uploaded to questionable mod sites without the original mod authors permission. In many cases, the individuals who are perpetrating these offenses may also edit out any credit to the original mod author and some will even go so far as to take credit for the work themselves. These acts are killing our hobby and often lead to two possible outcomes with the first being the modder simply quits modding, or an even more damaging action is to take his/her mods underground where only a select few individuals/friends have access to the work. I actually view the underground/privatization of mods to be more damaging to the hobby than the modder actually quitting, simply because it limits the audience who can have access to the work. In other words, this action punishes those who just simply want to enjoy the mods which of course is the intended action.
What can be done?
In today’s environment, the short answer is nothing! Until there is a secure and reliable system in place which would allow a mod creator to lock, protect, encrypt his/her work AND the software intended to be used with these mods (Example: Giants Farming Simulator 17) offers the mechanism to recognize an authentic mod and ignores un-authentic mods, absolutely nothing can prevent these types of crimes. YES!!!! Absolutely, these are crimes.
Mitigating Steps can and should be considered
While it is true that nothing at the present time can be done to stop the mod theft we keep hearing about, there are steps we can all take to help protect and support our modding community. The first one is actually rather simple and doesn’t require a lot of effort. It’s something we should have all learned at a very early age and it’s called “showing appreciation”. I think the vast majority of modders fully understand their work will be subject to theft. However, I think often the issue might be that we as the majority who make up the user community don’t always show our sincere appreciation of the hard work our modding community does for us. Often times we act like a bunch of spoiled brats by bugging the modding community asking stupid questions like “When will X Mod be available” over and over and over. Or even worse, we too easily criticize these works because they don’t work, look or function the way we want them to. Guess what people??? Just like my favorite artist, Peter Paul Rubens, The modder who most likely created that mod, created it in his/her vision. They didn’t create it just for you. So please keep this in mind. Also, I would challenge everyone to say “THANK YOU” to all the mod creators you know or come into contact with. A little act of kindness goes a TREMENDIOUS WAY!!!!
But what else can be done????
So here’s where this article will better match up to the title or subject line. Keep in mind there are dozens and dozens and perhaps even more mod hosting websites on the internet. Which are reputable and which are not? Where can you go to ensure you are downloading an authentic mod which hasn’t been stolen and posted elsewhere? I’m going to share my list of sites which I use and why I use them. But before I do that, let me also recognize that some mod developers may host their own mods on their own website. Two really awesome mod developers come to mind and they are Blacksheep Modding and GTX Mods. This blog posting is more geared towards the hosting sites which are not privately operated and the list of those will now follow.
Giants Mod Hub
The Giants Mod Hub for obvious reasons is my top “go-to” mod site for FS17 mods. The mods uploaded to the Giants Mod Hub are controlled by Giants and while a mod might be uploaded which has been tampered with without the original mod authors permission, Giants will quickly remove it when they have been made aware of the offense. The simple fact that mods can be downloaded/installed/updated directly from inside of Farming Simulator 17 is also a really big plus. While I wish Giants would further develop their mod distribution system to allow for searching and perhaps would organize the mod listings in the same fashion as the game organizes them, would certainly serve as a huge benefit to the users.
I’m not only a proud member of PC-SG, I’m also an admin and part of the management team. I know the owner of the website and other members of management very well. Each of us are active in the simulation gaming community and each of us has a passion for helping others. Last year I wrote a detailed piece about the PC-SG Community and every word of that continues to stand today. But even since that article was written (11 March 2016) we have expanded our mod hosting capabilities by creating our own Mod Review and Testing Team. The individuals who make up this team are all outstanding individuals and many are also mod developers. All mods hosted on PC-SG are stored on our own fast/efficient servers. We don’t bombard you with rude and crude internet pop-up ads and we don’t throttle our download speeds. We have earned the respect and trust of some of the best modders including Stevie, Blacksheep Modding, Johnny Vee, SOB Modding (just to name a few).
Like PC-SG, Mod Central is operated by individuals who truly care about our hobby and community. They have a very professional and easy to use website and offer mod downloads both hosted on their own servers and also some linked to external sources. Mod Central also offers a friendly member forum to ask questions and obtain support for many of the mods hosted on the site. Modding Central is also a partner with PC-SG. The people behind Mod Central are some of the most talented individuals you’ll fine in our hobby.
American Eagles Modding
American Eagles Modding (AEM), is another friendly community with member forums and a variety of mod downloads. Typically if I’m looking for equipment for an American style map, I’ll first look to AEM. Many of the John Deere pieces of equipment I feature in my YouTube “Let’s Play” series were downloaded from AEM. AEM hosts their own mods and I’ve never experienced any delays or rude pop-up ads when using their website. Like PC-SG, AEM also has a review and certification process for mods uploaded and hosted through their servers.
Finally, FS-UK rounds out the list of my typical “go-to” websites when searching for mods. I like their mod organization where I can see both new and trending mods and also search based on the version of Farming Simulator. In addition, they also include a member forum and some of the best modders will feature their “Work In Progress” mods on FS-UK. FS-UK also has a mod review team and I believe they work hard to test and certify many of the mods hosted on their website.
While Marhu.net may not be as user friendly for us English only speaking individuals as others I’ve previously listed, but with a little effort and using the right internet tools we can still do OK in navigating their website. Some of the very best mods for Farming Simulator will be posted to Marhu.net by their original mod creator. Unfortunately, the mods listed on Marhu.net most likely will be hosted somewhere else with a link provided to that location. These links may direct you to a dropbox location or perhaps to another mod hosting website. In some cases, the link will take you to a mod hosting website called uploaded.net. Now if you are a subscriber of my YouTube Channel then you know I often (and very frequently) opine about my dissatisfaction about uploaded.net. I have my reasons and for the sake of educating my viewers, I’ll share this information in just a few minutes. Keep reading!
If you are an active mod user, you may be thinking that I’ve left out a long list of other mod hosting websites. Some might be accidental, but some have been omitted intentionally. For sake of overall professionalism and courtesy, I’m not going to call out or blacklist particular websites or mod hosting services. As stated, there are many…but most do not go to the same level of not only safe guarding the original mod author, but also safe guarding the individual user from extreme internet pop-up ads, click-baiting schemes and possible mal-ware infested server downloads. I’m not opposed to internet advertising as it does cost real money to operate a website with the server capacity to host mods. However, I believe some of these websites could dial down the amount and type of pop-up advertising they are subjecting their visitors to.
But are any of the sites not mentioned used by the original mod creators? Yes…absolutely! You’ll find mod developers using a variety of mod hosting websites which I have not listed by name. I may also visit these sites and very often will download mods. If you look through my extensive mod list, you’ll see links to many of these sites I’m referring to in this section. Are 100% of these mods genuine? Keep reading to find out.
Now just a few moments ago I spoke about uploaded.net and how truly irritating that website is. I don’t know who operates that website, but I believe it is safe to say that they are only in it for the $$$. Meaning, I don’t for a minute believe they care anything about the gaming community or the users. They subject visitors to rude and often times crude internet pop-up ads, click-bait ads and throttle their download speeds for non-paying subscribers to something resembling that of an old school 1200 baud modem. Again, while I’m not opposed to supporting the costs of running websites and server hosting sites, the cost of membership for uploaded.net is expensive (in my opinion). Uploaded.net premium membership fees start at $5.99 for 48 hours of access, $10.99 for one month, $27.99 for three months on up to $108.99 for two years.
Of course, the above mentioned fees are also being shared with those who upload mods to that website. Meaning, a mod developer who uses the uploaded.net website to host his/her mods will earn a small fee for the number of downloads. I’m not going to get into whether this practice is right or wrong. I’ll let you decide based on your own feelings whether this is a good or bad idea. But I will just remind you, that Giants also rewards the top mods (and their developers) with a small monetary compensation. You can read more about that here.
Verifying Authenticity – Can it be done?
Short answer, yes….longer answer is not easily and certainly not with any absolute accuracy. The reason behind the longer answer goes back to what I mentioned earlier. At the present time, there are no security measures in place to prevent someone/anyone from making changes and/or uploading elsewhere. What I’m going to say next might be somewhat out of character for me. But for most mod violations where simply a mod has been downloaded from the official location and uploaded elsewhere, the individual doing this is just simply too ignorant to edit the mod to strip away the actual ownership/credit information contained in the mod. They simply download it and upload it to another site and pretend they are the original creator of the mod. While it takes some effort to verify this information and of course the mod needs to be downloaded to confirm, it certainly can be done. But in many cases the operators of these websites are too slow to act in taking down the unauthentic mod and the damage is already done.
I ran into a situation a few months ago where I created a YouTube video to showcase a popular mod. The video contained artwork which I had created to use as the title and thumbnail artwork, this artwork also contained my YouTube name of GrizzlyBearSims. Another individual after watching my video, decided to download the mod then take a screenshot of my video logo and upload that to another mod hosting website. Another YouTube content creator discovered this and mentioned it to me. At first I wasn’t going to do anything about it. But after careful consideration I determined this could confuse someone into thinking I had uploaded the mod and I didn’t want to set that impression. But it took me several emails to the admin of the website to have the mod removed.
As I stated at the top of this article, at the present time NOTHING can be done to stop the abuse and unauthorized distribution of mods. While we can list out every reason why this behavior is bad for our hobby, at the end of the day it is left up to each and every individual (YOU and ME) to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is more than just not stealing and uploading mods without the consent of the individual mod developer. I believe it is just as bad to continue to use a mod you know has been compromised, yes…even privately. Finally, as a YouTube content creator…I believe we have a responsibility to never violate the trust of our modding community by using mods of questionable backgrounds in our videos and live streams. While I pride myself in maintaining a current mod spreadsheet which lists each and every mod I use, along with the location where the mod can be downloaded from…I will happily place my right hand on a stack of Bibles and swear that (to my knowledge) each and every mod listed is genuine and hasn’t been compromised. But in an effort to do everything I can to protect the modding community, I plan to perform an extensive review and will remove the physical mods and the listing which I can’t be certain of. Will you do the same???
Thank you Mod Developers
To any original mod developer who may be reading this article, I believe I can speak for the vast majority of enthusiasts who dearly love and treasure the hard work, dedication, attention to detail and passion each of you put into your works of art. Many of us just simply can’t do what you do. Even some of us (myself included) just don’t have the desire to learn…it’s just not something we are interested in doing. But we genuinely recognize how your pieces of work (regardless of how little or big they are) change the game play for us in such awesome ways. Farming Simulator is an awesome game. But without mods, the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable and exciting and certainly wouldn’t be so over a long period of time. Your mods allow us to lose ourselves in our own little virtual worlds and in my opinion, is better (and less expensive) than any shrink on this planet. Please don’t stop creating. Please don’t take your mods underground. Please know that we love what you do (even though we don’t always show it) and know we will always support you.
I truly love helping my fellow farm sim enthusiasts, it’s really the main reason why I launched my GrizzlyBearSims blog site and the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel. I have been blogging about my simulation based gaming efforts since 2007 and both through this blog site and my YouTube channel, I’ve met some truly incredible people that I happily call friends. Many of my friends have launched their own media outlets to showcase their game play and also use their platforms in turn helping others as well. One such friend, Farmer Klein has successfully launched his YouTube channel and is quickly gaining in subscribers and popularity. I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to feature one of his most recent tutorials on my blog site.
Unfortunately, not all maps are created equal in terms of the written language. Some of the truly great maps may feature a language other than English and perhaps we see the German language most frequently. Having a wife who is fluent in several European languages has worked to my advantage many times. However, I believe she has grown bored with me calling her over to my PC to translate words I don’t recognize and I’ve often wondered how difficult it would be to change the language to English. But I must admit, I’ve never really looked into how one goes about doing this and I really don’t have the time (or the desire) to do much with Giants Editor. Well…..as Farmer Klein demonstrates in the video below…the process of changing the written, displayed language doesn’t require a degree in rocket science. All that is needed is the desire, the time and the ability to use Google Translate (or have a multi-lingual wife who doesn’t mind helping).
If this interests you, (no you can’t borrow my wife) please watch the video below by my friend Farmer Klein. After you watch the video, please show your appreciation of his hard work by subscribing to his channel and liking the video. I’d like to give a really big Grizzly Bear “Thank You” to Farmer Klein for taking the time to showcase the steps required to change the language of a map. Now if I can just figure out how to stop the trees and fence posts from jumping out in front of my tractor, I’ll be all set. Mr. Farmer Klein….got a video tutorial for that? LOL
A brand new Cattle and Crops Gameplay Trailer was released today. If you’ve been holding onto your pennies in anticipation of the new Cattle and Crops farming simulation game releasing this year versus pre-ordering Farming Simulator 17, then go ahead and place that pre-order for FS17 TODAY! Cattle and Crops will not….I repeat, WILL NOT release in 2016. Yes…this is disappointing news. But in the past few hours we’ve learned a lot about who’s behind Cattle and Crops and a much better idea regarding their plan.
First, please direct your attention to the brand new game play video which was released today.
I must admit, I’m still mostly captivated by what I see from Cattle and Crops (CnC). For me, this has been the case from the very first video they released. However, it’s all starting to make a little more sense to me. Just as I mentioned earlier in the week when I posted the CnC news regarding the upcoming gameplay trailer, we haven’t heard much from CnC and I had started to hold little faith that we would see this game title actually release in 2016 despite what they stated on their website. The software business (including the gaming world) is all about marketing. We’ve heard practically nothing from CnC compared to GIANTS and their upcoming release of FS17. But again, it’s all making sense now.
I do applaud the CnC folks for not rushing this product out the door. If it’s not ready….then it’s not ready! While I’ve often thought the whole CnC concept was vaporware (not real, just a hoax) I’m now convinced this is an actual product/concept and I will continue to follow its progress. But we still have many unanswered questions. In my opinion, wonderful graphics is only part of what goes into a true simulation based game. The short gameplay trailer really didn’t demonstrate anything more than that. Time will tell just how much focus they have dedicated to produce a more realistic simulation versus an arcade experience.
The Cattle and Crops website has been updated to include much more detail regarding CnC, the people behind CnC and the future plans (including the Kickstarter campaign). Please visit the Cattle and Crops website for more information. When you view the actual Kickstarter page (and I hope you do), please pay close attention to what they are calling “Season Pass”. You’ll find this starting at the €44 level. I really don’t know what this means, but it looks like….sounds like…some sort of subscription “pay for play” model???
In closing, I don’t need to worry about my attention being pulled away from FS17 later this Fall or early Winter. As I’ve stated, I pre-ordered FS17 a few months ago and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into all that is new and different. At this time I’m undecided if I’ll participate in the Kickstarter campaign. I’d really like to better understand what they are attempting to achieve with what they are referring to as a “Season Pass”. I’m certainly not a cheapskate, I support GIANTS (and others) by purchasing most DLC made available for their titles. My advice to CnC is scrap the “Season Pass” concept and just produce affordable, quality DLC (like GIANTS) but please don’t become another Train Simulator.
Until next time…
P.S. In the long run, it’s probably very smart for CnC to delay their release until the Fall of 2017. After all, at that point FS17 will be a year old and unless GIANTS changes their highly predictable release schedule, FS19 will be a long one-year away. This could mean the audience (you and I) will be ready to try something new. If CnC is successful in accomplishing all they hope to accomplish, it should also drive FS19 to be that much better.
The silence from Cattle and Crops over the past few months has been absolutely deafening. The last update on their Facebook page was 26 August and it didn’t tell us much. In contrast, Giants has been releasing news content multiple times a week on the much anticipated release of Farming Simulator 17. But the silence has been broken today with a news bulletin from Cattle and Crops.
According to the Cattle and Crops Facebook Page, we can expect a gameplay trailer to be released on Friday. C&C have also posted a countdown timer on their website which indicates the Friday they are referring to is this Friday, 30 September.
I’ll be honest, much of the excitement I had for Cattle and Crops has dried up. If this game ends up being more than vaporware, they seriously need to re-think their marketing strategy.
I’m not the only one that may have considered waiting to purchase FS17 if the communications from C&C would have been more forthcoming. I’m extremely impressed with how Giants have kept us all informed on the new changes coming to FS17. This is what marketing looks like. Unfortunately for C&C, I made the decision to pre-order FS17 as I really didn’t believe Cattle and Crops actually existed or if it did exist, it wouldn’t be releasing before the end of the year.
Again, I’m not the only one left scratching my head here. A Facebook user named Jarrod, posted “I’m not sure what your strategy is for releasing this game knowing that FS17 is already being released next month and pre-orders are already out there. If I were you I would wait and see the faults Giants are going to have and be so much better than them”.
Like you, I’ll watch the game play trailer on Friday. Will I lose any sleep over it Thursday night? Nope…but I’ll watch it. Most likely I’ll even have some comments to share here.
As I posted yesterday, Saitek is due to announce today the pre-order process for their add-on hardware for Farming Simulator. The development effort was a team effort between GIANTS (developer of Farming Simulator) and Saitek (well known developer/manufacture of gaming equipment). Unfortunately, the news which broke yesterday from Saitek left more questions than it provided answers. There was no mention of cost or product availability. But I’m sure this information will all be provided today when the pre-order process opens up.
I wanted to share a few brief thoughts before I actually learn of the cost/availability for the product. I’m writing this article early on Thursday morning with the expectation the pre-order process will launch sometime today as Saitek indicated yesterday. So here goes…
First, I think this announcement and partnership between Saitek and GIANTS is good news for the Farming Simulator franchise. Regardless of the cost, quality etc. of the Saitek product….I don’t think Saitek would waste their time to spend $$$ in R&D (research and development) to bring a product such as this to market if they didn’t feel there would be some longevity to the Farming Simulator franchise beyond FS2015.
Second, from the picture included in yesterdays email announcement, I’m not really sure what to make of the overall quality impression that image leaves me with. To me it just doesn’t look like it will be priced in the range of say the Logitech G27 ($240 USD per Amazon). It also doesn’t appear to be of the same level of quality as the Logitech product.
Third, it most likely won’t function with other driving type games. Also, at the present time it is unclear if this is for PC only or if this device will also function with the console platforms. So again the price point can’t really be anywhere near the G27 for it to be successful.
Drum Roll Please…..
The announcement has just hit and here are the details….
The full kit (including steering wheel, pedals and vehicle side panel is $299.99. The Steering wheel and pedals only is $149.99 and the side panel only is $149.99. See the Saitek website for pre-order info. It looks like general availablilty of the product is Fall 2015 and this is ONLY for PC and Mac. You can read all the specifications here (no need for me to type it all again).
The price of this is somewhat surprising to me. But if the units are plug and play, ready to go and all truly function the way the information claims then perhaps it is justified. After all, even if you purchase the Logitech G27, you still need to purchase a joystick to get the same functionality. So this may really just be geared for the hard-core farming simulator enthusiasts who don’t tend to play other driving games or don’t mind having multiple driving setups for different driving games.
Will I buy this product? Right now the jury is still out. I’m going to think it over, spend more time reading through all the information available and also wait until after next weeks E3 Conferencein Los Angeles where Saitek states the hardware will be on display. Unfortunately, I will not be attending the conference, but hopefully there will be some coverage of this product available somewhere.
In closing, while we know a little more today than we did yesterday. At this point we’ll have to wonder just how easy or difficult the setup will be. If the setup is “plug and play” then I would say…HUGE BONUS for this product. Time will tell. Perhaps Saitek would consider sending me a demo unit to try? I’ll ask as all they can say is no. But then again, I’m not that well established in the FS2015 blogsphere. But I’ll ask anyway.