Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Power of Fan Community

Hi Everybody, Pavel here, reporting about my trip to Scania truck plant in the city of Södertälje, Sweden, this weekend.

It was a fun trip, seeing all the gorgeous trucks during an Open Day event in the factory, and watching the final round of Scania Young European Truck Driver competition. (Check out the replay of the finals and admire the skill required of a real truck driver! http://scania-yetd.creo.tv/150425/scania_yetd_final_event_2015)

It was a visit I would no doubt consider worth covering here on the blog, but this alone may not make me write a blog post on a Sunday evening.

I've had a real eye opening moment this weekend, realizing how much we depend on the fan community to have cool things happening to our company and to our games...

Here is the latest example: There is a young man living in Södertälje who is a huge fan of a certain youtuber and streamer known as Squirrel, and as it also happens of Euro Truck Simulator 2. This young man, let's call him Kilian, was the catalyst who put in motion a series of events which ended up in Scania's marketing department issuing official invitation for Squirrel to come to the YETD finals to show his skill driving Scania trucks in our game (and actually driving real trucks at Scania Demo Centre!). Things snowballed from there, our Scandinavian publishing partner Wendros offered to help and show the game at the event - big thanks Johan for all the hard work! - and I was invited to come and help present the new Scandinavia DLC. As a result, hundreds of visitors of the event, adults as well as kids, got a chance to sit behind the steering wheel - also thanks to John at Nordic office of Logitech who donated five brand new G27 wheels - and to try out the new map add-on in a world premiere in the public.

I've heard a lot of praise as well as some constructive critique about what we were showing, admittedly it was a bit of an ego-booster experience, but there was more happening that none of us really expected.

Crowds were pouring in to see the game and to meet Paul in the flesh. The announcement of his visit to Scania on his YouTube channel attracted fans from as far as Switzerland, Germany or Ireland, not to speak about a ton of his Swedish fans. There was a queue that lasted like 2 hours of people asking for an autograph or selfie together with Squirrel, numerous people even bringing presents for him for his upcoming birthday.

I was wondering, is it really possible that something as trivial as a computer game can be so powerful to induce so much emotion, to create friendships, to spark new businesses, to change people's lives? We must have done something right to have this happening to our little Euro Truck Simulator 2!

It's definitely a strong inspiration to keep our commitment to the community, to continue improving and expanding the game. Thank you guys and gals!

If you are a fan of Squirrel or just curious what this youtube and streaming phenomenon is all about and how it can fire up the imagination of so many truck sim fans, I suggest you head to Squirrel's twitch channel immediately to watch his regular Sunday Night Trucking programme LIVE at this very moment. This time it's a special show I understand (birthday and all), and SCS has chipped in too with some very unique Steam keys for giving away in a raffle. Youtubers and streamers are a big factor contributing to continuing success of our game by attracting new players to it; there are hundreds and thousands of them out there, but Paul and his audience is really something unique.

Below are some images from my trip and from the event and the game show...





Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Non-Steam version of ETS2 stays around

We are delighted to see your feedback for ongoing open beta of ETS2 update 1.17 on our forums. Several issues we had not been aware of were already spotted thanks to you. With Scandinavia DLC release, everyone will benefit from this community cooperation on polishing the graphics engine upgrade.

Today we would like to talk about the future of non-Steam edition of Euro Truck Simulator 2.

Our stats suggest that over 80% of copies purchased in retail were registered on Steam. Majority of active players appreciate the simple automatic updates as compared to clumsy download mirror hunt, slow patch downloads and installation, the hassle-free migration to a new computer without having to find the misplaced activation keys, and of course the availability of additional DLC bonus packages. Seeing this, it's tempting to just concentrate on our core skill of developing and evolving the game further rather than expanding our legacy key authentication system to handle more DLCs, and to just stick with Steam service for future updates and releases.

But there is still also a considerable number of hardcore ETS2 fans who swear that they will never use Steam or Origin or any comparable system. They have already bought into ETS2 and we do not want to punish them by refusing them access to critical ETS2 updates and additions. We therefore feel that we have the obligation to sustain the availability of non-Steam edition of ETS2 and the big map add-ons, and to provide regular game updates outside of Steam.

We do not guarantee that this support will last indefinitely. We plan to keep adding cool features into the game relying on Steam infrastructure and therefore be Steam-exclusive. As a result we expect the numbers of actively played non-Steam copies of the game used in the wild to dwindle further, eventually freeing us from the need to provide two alternate game update methods. But for the time being and foreseeable future, we are not going 100% Steam exclusive with Euro Truck Simulator 2 ecosystem.

In fact, we did invest considerable development capacity to come up with a new feature: the Updater.



Built on top of torrent protocol, this new utility will give you a chance to update the game without having to go to any download sites. Much like comparable proprietary game update systems (Battle.net, League of Legends...), using torrent protocol means that the updater will piggy-back on additional upload capacity of people downloading the update to serve chunks of data to other people also grabbing the update at the same time. We won't have to serve tera-bytes of data each day any more just providing game update downloads (and there was never enough bandwidth honestly), you won't need to worry about clicking a wrong link on a 3rd party mirror site.

Still, the writing is on the wall, and it's only a question of time until we "sun set" the legacy key authentication system.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 - Scandinavia expansion box art

It's not a coincidence that ALL boxed copies of ETS2: Scandinavia map add-on sold in retail stores by our retail publishing partners and all copies sold on various 3rd party digital download sites will be Steam-only. Our retail publishing partners opted to bundle Scandinavia expansion with various DLC packages as extra goodies. Due to our limited infrastructure, we are using Steam for all of our non-map DLCs. So retail boxes of the add-on by necessity are now packing Steam-only game installers and keys.

The non-Steam edition of the Euro Truck Simulator 2 and both map expansions will continue to exist, they will be available for purchase exclusively from the official game website at http://www.eurotrucksimulator2.com.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beta update 1.17 is now ready for public testing!

We are about ready to put the beta of the upcoming game update featuring numerous major changes in your hands!


For the past three months we were rewriting a big part of the world-rendering pipeline. As we were finishing work on Scandinavia, it became unavoidable to find new tricks to speed the game up.

Finally as of this Monday, the pieces of the puzzle started falling together, and we now believe that we are in better shape than where we started (and we still keep on pushing). We see better worst-case performance: on low-end and mid-range hardware, framerate is now more stable and doesn't dip too deep and fluctuate so much under heavy stress. In some cases we find the current best-case framerate to be below 1.16 speed (simpler scenes on high-end computer configurations), but not by a wide margin. The important thing is that places where performance was the worst, like certain city centers, now perform better overall.

But in fact it's the purpose of the open beta to hear back from you and see if the statistics on the wider tester group confirm our hopes. The final 1.17 update should go out alongside the release of Scandinavia map-addon, so we had better stress-test it prior to its release next month; time flies too fast!

As per usual, the public_beta branch is available via Steam platform to all Euro Truck Simulator 2 owners.

With this update, our aim was also to respond to a number of popular feature requests. For example, we have increased the number of drivers you can hire to work for you, or added sequential wiper speed... Included are also various changes to telemetry system to increase its functionality. Check out the full changelist below to see details on all of the changes we've made.

Please let us know on our forums if you have any issues or would just like to leave feedback on any of the changes. We expect to continue updating the open beta frequently through the rest of the month.

Treat this as an experimental build! It would surely be prudent to make a back-up of your player profile! If you are too concerned about losing a few hours of your career progression by possibly having to go back to a back-up, just stay away from the beta and wait until we say the update is ready for general use.

Full changelist:


Code

  • Improved rendering engine
  • Improved GPU memory consumption
  • Improved support for multi-monitor systems (configuration is explained on the ETS2 website)
  • Normal map support for railing and buildings segments
  • Traffic AI improvements
  • Suspension damping simulation improved
  • Improved timing and logic of automatic and sequential transmissions
  • Fixed interpolation of brake pedal using button/key control
  • Engine brake does not work if clutch or throttle are pressed. Added toggle input control
  • Shift on sequential transmission does not cancel CC anymore
  • Added config variables for h-shifter transmission tweaks (g_hshifter_layout_shifting, g_hshifter_synchronized)
  • Added config variable for optional behavior of braking lights (g_brake_light_all)
  • Added independent simulation of adblue gauges, adblue tank size truck dependent
  • Successfully docked achievement works

UI

  • Added cancel button in URL confirmation
  • Sort jobs by sender and receiver name
  • Show ferry price in route info
  • Face of player's driver can be changed in edit profile
  • Autosave before profile change
  • Both ESC and ENTER now skip animation and close the delivery screen
  • Independent radio volume bar

Data

  • Improved daylight cycle visuals
  • Improved flares look
  • Added six-wheeled chassis for both Renaults
  • Steering wheel animation of all trucks updated to 900 degree range
  • Driver faces style improved, many new added
  • Added sound for seat and suspension noises
  • Tyre and rim made independent accessories
  • DAF XF Euro 6 new sfx

Telemetry

  • 64-bit values better match with documentation
  • Added dashboard-displayed gear, more wheel channels
  • Added differential and all gear ratios
  • Average consumption made real instead of statistical
  • Adblue channels are working now
  • Added navigation distance and time channels
  • Added current speed limit channel

OSX

  • Better support for Retina displays

Modding


A full list of modding changes can be found here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Scandinavia DLC early videos

Recent weeks have been awfully busy at our office while we apply final touches to the content of Scandinavia DLC as the release date draws closer and closer. At the same time, our team has been working round the clock to put together the public beta of the upcoming 1.17 update.

We have to apologize for being over-optimistic about the timeframe of the open beta release - we expected to have it out already as of last week, but we ended up needing more time. Important optimizations in the rendering code have been taken more time, sorry about raising your hopes too early. We definitely want to make a good impression even with this first beta (and there may be more), so having the performance closer to what we expect to ship with eventually is really important.

Meanwhile, we have lifted the embargo imposed on our inner-circle closed-beta testing group, the guys and girls helping us to comb Scandinavia for bugs, and they have started producing some really amazing videos! Perhaps they can shorten the wait a little for those anticipating the release of DLC Scandinavia.

Below you can see a short teaser trailer created by Adam, one of our trusted community testers. His short video showcases the environments nicely with the use of scenic camera...


The second video is a gameplay clip from Squirrel - one of the community's favorite YouTubers and streamers - taking you on a short delivery across beautiful Swedish landscape, visiting the Scania factory:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Scandinavian diversity + The release date

Greetings,

We are stabilizing the 1.17 ETS2 update with the goal of releasing another open beta soon. In fact we hoped to surprise you and get it out still this week, but late on Friday it became clear that we are not ready yet.

The graphics rendering pipeline is undergoing quite some overhaul to speed things up ahead of release of Scandinavia. We see that it improved framerate stability on low-end computer configurations, the jury is still out whether it helps the same way on high-end computers. We are battling some last-minute bugs creeping in now, and the programmers insist on spending a couple of extra days to have a build stable enough for public consumption. We expect 1.17 public Steam beta will see the light of day next week, fingers crossed that the coders fix all the problems by then.

The good news is - our ultimate goal is clear and we are on path: release of Scandinavia DLC is scheduled for May 7, 2015. Yesterday we already released a little teaser just about that. If you haven't noticed it already, check it out:


Let's talk a bit more about what's coming in the new DLC: Scandinavian diversity.
 
The asset variation across Scandinavia territory is unprecedented for our games. The man-power we have poured into creation of new models and textures is exceeding even the work invested into the original ETS2. You can see that the look and feel of north of Scandinavia is very different comparing to the southern regions. Forests, fields and lakes of the south are giving way to mountainous regions filled with rock formations, cliffs, mountain valleys, and long twisty tunnels - which sometimes have even crossroads inside.

We have prepared a new set of screenshots for your viewing pleasure:






Happy Easter to everybody!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rims and Tyres Upgrade

Today we would like to discuss another feature that should be included in Euro Truck Simulator 2 update 1.17, appearing along with the release of Scandinavia expansion.

We have been receiving a lot of feedback from the players that truck wheels customization in the game is too limiting, as truck rims and tyres are essentially baked together now in game data. In the Real World out there, the truck owner is of course free to choose any rim and match it with any compatible tyre type.


We are happy to report that at last we have separated the rubber part and the metal part into two separate pieces - tyres and rims. This should provide way more flexibility in tuning the trucks both with stock game content as well us with mods (existing mods should not be badly broken on 1.17 release, but mod authors will want to revisit their creations and reorganize their wheel mods to take advantage of the extra degree of freedom).

Another good reason for us to focus on the wheels now is that we keep trying to establish a working dialogue with tyre manufacturers. How great would it be to introduce real tyres from the likes of Michelin, Continental, Goodyear, or Bridgestone into the game simulation, including not just the looks but also actual technical data and physical properties!


We do not think the changes should stop at cosmetics alone, we are sure that gameplay would only benefit if different tyres would have different properties, and it would be up to the player to choose the correct tyre for a given situation. So for future evolution beyond the 1.17 update, we plan to get inspiration from real world tyre labelling when expanding the simulation properties. We think of adapting the officially existing tyre grading system for our needs...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mercedes-Benz joining the Euro Truck Simulator 2 garage soon!


We have some great news to share with you today: Our team has just managed to clear the last hurdle and get the final approval which will allow us to finally include Mercedes-Benz Actros in Euro Truck Simulator 2! Let us show you a bunch of screenshots that were used as a part of our showcase during the review process of the almost-finished truck model.


New Mercedes-Benz Actros truck will be available to all Euro Truck Simulator 2 owners for free as a part of game update shortly after Scandinavia DLC release.

As a small bonus, we are also including a raw review video that was used as a part of the approval process to show the truck in the game:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Russian Paint Jobs Pack is now available!

We were quite surprised when we realized that Russian players form the largest player community on our World of Trucks platform (if you are interested, the next five big communities include users from Germany, Great Britain, Brazil, Poland, and USA).

We would like to say "Thank You" to our fans in Russia by releasing a brand new truck paint job set for them today.

The Russian Paint Job DLC can be purchased from Steam Store using this link.




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cargo for Scandinavia

Trailers and cargo are an essential part of the world of Euro Truck Simulator 2. For Scandinavia add-on release, we are going to add several new trailer models for players to pull, we are also expanding the list of cargoes with over 80 new options.


As you can see on the screenshots, new trailers will range across multiple industries. These include wind farm parts, truck carrier rigs delivering trucks from Volvo Trucks and Scania factories to their respective dealers across Europe, and semi-trailers designed for transporting livestock. The new windmill set will be a part of Scandinavia DLC, while the livestock trailer and truck carriers should be a part of a new free game update for all users. This update will go out in sync with the release of the add-on.


Over 80 new cargoes are spread through several categories including: food, machinery, construction, ADR as well as general supplies. Of course each cargo has been assigned only to locations where it makes perfect sense to haul from or deliver to. As an example we went as far as separating farms into two groups: plant farm and animal farm. Each farm type of course has different production output and receiving needs. This trend is kept across the entire expansion with a lot of tweaks in the core game.


Questions about our planned release date are pouring at us every day. We hope to be able to announce official release date soon, we are still testing and fixing and improving, but we hope that the quality we expect of ourselves is within reach. Our goal is to put Scandinavia DLC in your hands within the next two months.


Before the release, we will most likely also go through another open beta round with the core game. For those participating in the beta, this would mean being able to take a look at things like the new trailers or the new daylight cycle system ahead of the Scandinavia official release.