Paradise Hills Episode Four

Happy Friday!  Guess What?  Only three more weekends until the release of FS17!  Are you excited?  I’ll admit…I am!

I’m pleased to bring you the fourth episode of Paradise Hills.  Episode four begins the use of the Soilmod and we begin the process of prepping field one and planting wheat.  Unfortunately, a chunk of video is missing as I had a failure with OBS.  But I do my best in making up for that and still covering much of the details around the Soilmod to get us started.  I’ve also sold off much of the starting equipment and repurchasing equipment I truly want to use.

If you are slightly behind on my episodes, don’t worry…I don’t plan to release episode 5 until Monday.  Have a great weekend!

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

As Real As It Gets?

The other morning I was farming along when one of the Steam users I follow messaged me.  He was asking questions about Farming Simulator 15 and the level of realism it offers to the virtual farmer.  During the back and forth exchange, he was asking if things like season, climate, weather and other regional challenges were factored into the game.  Of course I had to regretfully explain that none of these elements are factored into default game play.  I did elaborate slightly about how mods like the awesome SoilMod do go a long way in helping to achieve a slightly deeper level of immersion.  However, I believe he was really seeking even more depth than what is available through the mods I’m aware of.   He went on to throw out ideas such as seasons with the idea that during certain seasons the virtual farmer would be forced to do other tasks on the farm.  Take certain aspects of the farming life indoors through the use of greenhouse facilities.  In addition, many of us would love to see more realism with regards to ground physics, vehicle mechanics (maintenance, damage, dirt) and perhaps even player fatigue come into play.   Of course, there are mods which try to simulate mechanical reliability (the damage mod comes to mind).  But there really is no penalty if we choose to never wash our vehicles.  Try that in the real world and see where that gets you.

While it would be safe to say the majority of individuals who will read this blog post either directly from GrizzlyBearSims.com, PC-SG Forums or anywhere else it’s being distributed do truly want a more “As Real As It Gets” level of realism from our favorite simulation based games (myself included).  But unfortunately, our numbers are very small and for many reasons.  First, cost!  But more about these things in just a minute.

Of the simulation based games I enjoy (think Planes, Trains and Automobiles – and Farming Too!) Flight Sim (Prepar3D, FSX or X-Plane) is truly the best at delivering the most “As Real As It Gets” experience.  Actually, the term “As Real As It Gets” has been the Microsoft motto for their flight sim franchise for as long as I can remember.  But if you break it all down, flight sim (again via Prepar3D, FSX or X-Plane) offers the enthusiast a 100% global experience.  Want to fly from Denver to London?  Want to experience real world weather conditions both on the ground and in the air?  Want to experience the effects of windshere or what happens when you mis-calculate the amount of fuel required to complete a flight?  Yep….it can be done in flight sim.   Take the level of immersion up a few notches with complex payware add-on aircraft which simulate how the real aircraft equivalent performs from a cold & dark flight deck experience all the way to engine shutdown.  It can be done!  Of course much of what I’ve described is only available through add-ons (or mods).  But it is available and they do a really good job of full immersion.   But the downside, it costs a lot of money to reach this level of immersion.

A company like Giants is in business to make money and it is my opinion that at the present date and time, they are the best at what they do.  Yes, competition is certainly on the horizon.  The fourth quarter of 2016 and early 2017 is shaping up to be the year of all things Farming Simulation.  Some titles are already here with others to come.  While it’s true all appear to offer a little more realism, much of what we may want may never come.  Especially at the price point of $19 – 29 USD.  But just as important, the audience numbers are also relatively small.  Most are just not interested in the full immersion.  In the example of farm sim, most just want to plant, fertilize, harvest then rinse and repeat.  Factoring in the need to make important decisions such as do I have enough hay, straw, silage to last the winter months…is it too early (or too late) to plant X crop or another number of any of the many other factors which go into running a real world farming empire.

Of course, these are just my opinions.  What do you think?

Until next time…

Jerry

Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 5

The end is here…after carefully planting, fertilizing, watching weather forecasts and monitoring soil conditions over the past several days…the day of harvest has finally arrived and I wrap up this five part practical soilmod workflow for Farming Simulator 15.

Did you play along?  Were you successful?  Did you fail?  Regardless…do you think you can improve and do better next time?  Or did you realize the soilmod is just too much?

I hope you’ll continue to use this wonderful mod.  Remember, while I think there are plenty of lessons to be learned from each crop you plant, fertilize and harvest using the soilmod.  I also firmly believe the soilmod provides us that “real life” unpredictability when it comes to harvest yields that regardless just how close you follow any plan the results will always vary.  This is what keeps me playing this game over and over and over.

Thank you for watching, liking and subscribing.  I appreciate it!

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 4

In part four, we once again review our overall soil conditions on the third day after planting our wheat crop on field #2 of the Graceland map for Farming Simulator 15.  Just one more day until harvest!

Please return again tomorrow for Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 5.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 3

In part three, we once again review our overall soil conditions on the second day after planting our wheat crop on field #2 of the Graceland map for Farming Simulator 15.

Please return again tomorrow for Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 4.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 2

In part two, we take a look at the over all soil conditions on the day after planting for our wheat crop on field #2 of the Graceland map for Farming Simulator 15.

Please return again tomorrow for Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 3

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

J

Practical Soilmod Workflow Part 1

I recently blogged about and provided some general information on the wonderful soilmod mod for Farming Simulator 15.  That blog post provides a general overview of how soilmod works and most importantly how it changes the entire game play.  I’ve spent many hours reading as much information as I can and watching a few hours of YouTube content.  While I started to gain a simple understanding of soilmod, I had to actually commit to using it to fully understand how to develop my own process and overall workflow.

Of the several hours of YouTube videos I watched, one thing I really couldn’t find was a simple and practical step-by-step process.  Most of my favorite FS15 YouTubers have awesome videos demostrating the soilmod, but they are also doing many other things in the video and don’t really take the time to explain their workflow.

If you are new to soilmod, understand that my process and workflow may not work for you.  But I wanted to take the time to document it and provide it to anyone wanting to get more from the farming simulator experience.  The soilmod is awesome and if you truly want to take FS15 to the next level (and you play on PC) then give it a try.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

Now for my video.  This first video will be the longest of the series and includes a general overview of the differences between game play without and with the soilmod.  I then discuss my own personal workflow for how I plan, prepare and plant my crops when using soilmod.

During the video, I reference a spreadsheet tool and my own process workflow document to help me keep track of each fields lifecycle from field prep, planting, fertilizer, herbicide and water application through the final harvest.   Links to these documents are listed below the video window.

 

Calculation Tool for Soilmod (version 2.0.2)  This is the spreadsheet tool I demonstrated during the video.  This spreadsheet will function in Microsoft Excel and Apache Open Office.  Apache Open Office is open-source and free for personal use.

I’ve developed my own workflow checklist which I also demonstrated during the video.  As this document is my work, you are free to download and customize how ever you see fit.

While I think it is safe to say the soilmod is not for everyone.  However, if you are looking to take your farm simulation to the next level…I I hope you’ll try the soilmod.  Give it a solid go, have fun and learn from the experience.  You may not experience high crop yield immediately, but keep at it.  I truly believe you’ll appreciate Farming Simulator 15 much, much more with Soilmod.

Please return again tomorrow for part 2 where I review the soil conditions and action plan after the harvest.

Until next time…

Go Use the Soilmod and have fun!

Jerry

Soilmod–My First Impressions

Ok, so this really isn’t my first impression of the Soilmod.  I did mess around with it several months ago and failed miserably to grasp the concept.  I really had a lot of things going on and just couldn’t take the necessary time to research how this mod changes Farming Simulator 15.  But I’ve got to admit that I’m actually enjoying the challenge of using the soilmod and while I’m not sure if I could say I would never farm without it, I’d have to say I’m very close.  Yes, I did just recently mention I was starting to use it again.  But this post comes about a week into my endeavour and I’ve planted and harvested my first field.  I’m pleased with the results.

Before we really dive into my understanding of this wonderful mod, allow me to briefly state how the vanilla (default) game reacts to our process of field preparation, planting, fertilizing and harvesting of our crops.  This won’t take very long as we all know the vanilla version of FS15 really only cares about if we seed a field and we earn a bonus for fertilizing.  That’s really it.  We don’t need to worry about the condition of the soil as it relates to anything at all.  It’s dirt and it will grow crops.  We don’t need to worry about moisture, we don’t need to worry about pH levels and it doesn’t matter if we spread or spray fertilizer.  Speaking of fertilizer, there is no set timeframe for when to apply the fertilizer.  It can be done before planting or after planting.  Just as long as the fertilizer is applied BEFORE the crop heads into the final growth stage you’ll enjoy the bonus of a higher crop yield.  Because of this, I’ve never messed with using liquid sprayers.

My old workflow (before soilmod) typically would be to plow or cultivate the field after the last harvest,  While not required and no added benefit, I just did this because I really had nothing better to do.  I would then mostly likely spread fertilizer and soon after seed the field.  Even on a large map like States or Graceland, I could manage as many fields as I could afford.  I typically didn’t have plant withering turned on.

Impacts of Soilmod

Soilmod changes everything and I do mean EVERYTHING about FS15.  All the things I previously mentioned that we didn’t need to worry about in the vanilla game are now areas we MUST think about.  When you install the Soilmod mod into FS15, it radically transforms Farming Simulator 15 from just a game into a real life farming simulator.

Before I go further, I would suggest you take the time to watch two YouTube videos on the subject of the soilmod.  The first video is about 18 minutes in length and if you are like me, I had to watch it several times before I really grasped all it was telling me.

The second video is just over 5 minutes and provides a high level overview of the soilmod.

As I’ve spent several days and many hours reading about the soilmod and attempting to put into practice what I’ve learned on my virtual farm, I’ve also been trying to accumulate additional information to assist me as I go about re-developing my workflow.

Here are a few helpful (at least I find them helpful) reference materials:

Soilmod Reference Sheet (2.0.22)

Soilmod Reference Sheet and Field Planner

Soilmod Manager (1.1)

Soilmod Calculation Tool (2.02)

For me, I find the Soilmod Calculation Tool to be the most useful.   I typically use that to plot and plan how I will initially start the planting process.  I’ve developed my own workflow checklist which is sort of a mishmash of all these tools into something I can comprehend.  I print these and have them on my clipboard in the virtual farm office.  I can quickly at a glance see what needs to be done and I can record the daily numbers for each field to make sure I’m on track to a good harvest.

Putting everything to use

I struggled in the first few days of keeping all my tasks sorted.  As I pointed out, Soilmod really does change things.  No longer can you just plant, fertilize and then sit back and watch the wheat grow.  The soilmod really forces you to be a lot more attentive to details.  In addition, you can’t rely on creating the plan based on soil conditions and weather forecast on day 1.  Just like in real life, wait 5 minutes and the weather forecast will change.  Unfortunately, each time you start up FS15 the weather forecast is recalculated.  So on the first day, the weather forecast might show one or more days with temperatures above 22 degrees celcius.  Temps above 22 c will have a negative impact on soil moisture.  However, if you shutdown FS15 and restart, you may see a completely different weather forecast.  From my understanding, the only thing that won’t change is the frequency of rain.  If rain is shown in the forecast, then each time you restart FS15 the opportunity for rain will remain.

Coming Days

Over the next few days I will provide more information regarding my use of the soilmod in FS15.  I plan to record and release several YouTube videos documenting the planning and workflow I use.   This video series will step you through each of the multi-day processes including field planning, preparation, planting all the way up through harvest.

Bottom Line

As you may soon learn and especially after you watch the 5 part YouTube series I have recorded documenting my workflow for the preparation, planting, daily maintenance and eventual harvest that the Soilmod is not for everyone.  I really couldn’t agree more with that statement.  So I’ll say it again, the Soilmod is not for everyone.  However, if you are wanting to take your virtual farming to the next level…then at the very least, you should give Soilmod a solid try.  Find a map which is Soilmod ready, install the soilmod mod and get to work.  Will you be successful?  Will you fail?  Perhaps the answer to both of those questions will be YES!  But you’ll learn….and you’ll improve…and you’ll feel a level of satisfaction from your game play.  YES…you will also work hard at it.

Please return tomorrow for the first part of a five part YouTube series showcasing my process and workflow as I plant a field of wheat on Graceland with the soilmod installed.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

J

Soilmod–Trying it once again

Note:  This article was written and scheduled for release approx. 10 days ago.  Since writing this and the present time, I’ve learned a lot about this wonderful mod.  This week will be dedicated to the Soilmod, specifically the Practical Used of the Soilmod modification for Farming Simulator 15.  Each day I will release a written blog article and YouTube video covering how I use the Soilmod in my FS15 game play and my typical workflow.  I’ll provide some tools and tips and document the process as I prepare a field to plant and harvest wheat.

It’s been several months since I was first introduced to the Soilmod for Farming Simulator 15.  During this time life was hectic and I struggled to truly grasp the concept.  Out of frustration I removed the mod from my mod folders list and haven’t looked back.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve really enjoyed playing Farming Simulator 15 and in really thinking about it, FS15 is has become my favorite simulation based game.  I say this because unlike flight sim, truck sim, bus sim etc.  you are somewhat limited in what you can do.  But with Farming Simulator, you can work crops one day, the next day you can tend to your animals and the next day you can do a little forestry.  Not to mention that each of those activities have a wide variety of different equipment to choose from.  You can also mix it completely up by playing a different map.  Bottom line is there is just so much variety with FS15.

Just a few weeks ago I somewhat re-branded my blog site to better match my simulation game play.  Realism through Simulation has been something that I’ve really always considered important and I figured if I really wanted to take my farm sim game play to the next level I needed to master the soilmod.  So that is just what I’m doing.

I’ve installed the Soilmod on my Graceland map.  The Graceland map is soilmod ready so I spent a few days and harvested all my crops, backed up the game save and then installed the soilmod.  But of course, before doing all that I watched a few hours of YouTube videos and read as much as I could online about how soilmod changes the FS15 game play.

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I’ll be honest, I’m currently somewhere between lost and confused…but I’m learning.  There are some great soilmod reference sheets available and just through my own trial and error, I’m attempting to figure my own way through this.  Because at the end of the day, I can read about or what how others do it…but you really must adapt a process which works for you and that is what I’m attempting to accomplish.

Of course, I plan to write future blog articles on my experiences (both postive and negative) about the soilmod and how it is changing my FS15 game play.  But for now that will need to wait because I have far more questions that I have answers.  So stay tuned…

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

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