Thursday, June 22, 2017

SCS on the road: ETRC 2017

We are proud to announce our partnership with the European Truck Racing Association (ETRA). ETRA has been the promoter of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship (FIA ETRC) since 2016. They have been very kind to approach SCS Software with the opportunity to show our games to the visitors of ETRC racing weekends.


Here is the plan - SCS Software will be a part of the show at several upcoming championship races in 2017, and possibly beyond!

The very first event coming up is the third round of races, held in Germany at Nürburgring, July 1 - 2, 2017.

And we are really pressed for time...

You see, we have been thinking about building some sort of demonstration platform for our games for quite a while already; something that we could deploy to the various games industry shows, as well as transportation industry events, something that would make a lasting impression on visitors. The impulse from ETRA was the final inspiration to turn the vague plans into reality. The final go-ahead was given only a couple of months ago, and we started designing and working immediately under a crazy tight deadline.


We are building something really special. The ETRC race series visitors will be the first to see it, but there are several more gaming and trucking shows in our calendar. Our team of specialists has been working on a unique exhibition platform. Its basis is a forty feet long cargo container, which is being refurbished with a custom-made interior. Our visitors will be able to experience a ride in Euro Truck Simulator 2 on an advanced 4DOF motion-sim platform with a three-display setup. We are packing in not just one of those high-tech simulators but two! We are still hard at work actually, far from finished. The special trailer will arrive at the first event still smelling of fresh paint!


SCS Software's On the Road Team is looking forward to the European Truck Racing Championship events, and we are excited to invite the fans of our games to meet us there in person. Oh, and you may happen to see a bunch of really cool racing trucks up close!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment

The engine is roaring. The town is behind me now, miles of the road stretch into the distance ahead of me. And all around there is just pristine nature. Land of Enchantment is New Mexico's nickname, and we are doing our best have it reflected in our new DLC.


We’ve created a new set of local flora: new shrubs, coniferous trees and over forty new terrain materials (grass, clay, stones). There are tons of new rocks and stones shaping the scenery. Fantastic horizon panoramas created from scanned templates abound. Note the great-looking streams,  the map designers are also very proud of the dry and muddy riverbed created with decals.


A picture is worth a thousand words, enjoy the beauty of New Mexico in our screenshots, currently in development for American Truck Simulator!



Articles related to New Mexico:
New Prefabs
Places to Rest and Refuel

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Technically Sound(ing) - Balancing the Heavyweights

Simulation of suspension and weight distribution


For well over a year, our programmers and testers have been spending a huge amount of time and effort with the goal of bringing more interesting cargo and trailer combinations into our games, adding proper support for one of the most requested features: doubles, heavy cargo, advanced and multi-joint trailers.

You may wonder why this feature, in particular, should be so difficult and demanding to pull off. After all, we had reasonably working road trains in one of our earlier sims in the 18 Wheels of Steel series games. But the fidelity and accompanying complexity of our physics simulation has increased by an order of magnitude since then. Making sure all things are in balance and in sync is getting more complex as well. Efficient physics of the trailer where many wheels are touching the road is proving to be a tough task; we had to iterate a lot, especially with cargo weight distribution and accompanied suspension loads.


Over its lifetime, a trailer will carry thousands and thousands of tons of cargo, ideally while operating with as little maintenance as possible. To withstand the harsh demands, and to deliver the load to its destination safely, it is crucial to observe the weight of the cargo. If you overload a trailer, or if you do not balance the weight right, it may cause damage to the trailer, its suspension or wheels, it may damage the road, and most importantly, it will make it unsafe to operate. With the never-ceasing demand to transport more and heavier cargo, the transportation industry has adopted new solutions to overcome the technical and legal limitations, in most cases centering around adding more length and axles to the tractor and semi-trailer .

It is not just about the number of axles though, it is about where they are and how trailer as a whole behaves while under load. There are considerable differences between North America and Europe.

In Europe, the legislative push is to limit the overall length of the truck and trailer combo, while making sure the total weight is distributed such that no wheel is pressing on the road surface too hard. Ultimately, this has lead to adding axles to the rear of the tractor as well as adding them generously under the relatively limited-length trailer. As engineers realized that putting more wheels next to each other causes problems with tyre scrub (due to high lateral friction, a paper about the topic here, chapter 2.1.3), a creative solution was adopted, making the wheels follow the turn or even steerable.



On the other hand, in the USA, the regulation is a bit more flexible about total truck length. There are still tough restrictions regarding weight on each axle, but there is also legislation in place making sure that the weight is not concentrated over a short length, pushing to increase the distances between the axles. The engineers, in turn, made the trailers longer to spread the weight in such way that it will comply with Federal Bridge Formula (source). To lessen tyre wear and to make it possible to make turns in reasonable fashion, trailers with multiple pivot points were adopted.



The primary duty of suspension is keeping the wheel on the road. It is effectively pushing the wheel into the ground to make sure that friction caused by wheels is sufficient to either brake or to corner. It is also in place to absorb the energy of impacts from road bumps, potholes, uneven roads or unexpected shifts of weight caused by side wind. The suspension system has to be incredibly durable, each axle has its own suspension system which takes care of the load on each wheel separately, working as a dynamic system absorbing energy from the environment. There are several types of suspensions used in cargo transportation, but this may deserve a future topic of its own.

Brakes are arguably the most critical part of a vehicle. Either from standpoint of safety of others on road, or safety of the cargo, we all want them to work as intended. With multiple axles on the vehicle, each axle has to have its own brake system.

By far the most complicated problem we encountered was the distribution of weight along the multiple axles and pivots of new trailers. We had to rework weight distribution algorithms in order to make it work for new trailers and to make sure that old ones wouldn't be negatively affected. Our constant battle with the numerical stability of the suspension simulation code is far from over.

During testing and tuning, we encountered many issues, some quite hilarious, especially when we had to (re)learn backing and reversed steering. We had a lot of fun debugging it. In general sense, it was all about making the behavior of the trailer appear to work correctly with the player's input. That proved to be the largest challenge for us, especially with steerable trailers for ETS2. We definitely enjoyed working on them immensely. In the end, our determination, grit, and dedication prevailed, and it was a very proud moment for us to share our experience and the final product of our tireless effort with all of you!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Heavy Cargo Pack DLC for ATS is out!

Looks like 2017 is going to be a very exciting year for truck sim fans. Today we are here to announce the release of Heavy Cargo DLC for American Truck Simulator!



Much like in our previous release of Heavy Cargo Pack for ETS2, this DLC contains a set of new features that will enhance your gameplay. Let's see what you can look forward to in this heavy haul pack.

New Cargoes to haul


We are introducing 9 cargoes for you to haul:
  • Crawler Tractor
  • Bulldozer
  • Lift Truck Chassis
  • Lift Truck
  • Cable Reel
  • Milling Machine
  • All Terrain Crane
  • Scraper
  • Transformer

All of these cargoes range in weight from 55, 000 lbs to 123, 000 lbs (25 - 56 metric tons), so there is plenty of work to be done if you want to get them to their destination.


Trailers

If you are wondering why these trailers look very different from the ones used in Europe, look up Federal Bridge Gross Weight Formula.  The trailers tend to be quite long and multi-pivoted for a good reason.

Let's familiarize ourselves with each part.

The first part which is the closest to the tractor is called the jeep and it is connected to the truck via the normal fifth wheel. The second part is called the lowboy and that's where the cargo is placed. It's either in the middle or it's the last part, depending on the configuration. The third part is semi-optional in relation to the cargo that is transported. It's called the spreader (or the stinger or the axle booster as it is called sometimes) and as the name suggests, it is there to spread the weight of the cargo across more axles and greater length. All three have their own pivot point which makes backing really entertaining and actually generally not advisable.


Our Heavy Cargo Pack comes with a mix of 2-part and 3-part (with spreader/stinger) configuration trailers, chosen to suit each particular cargo.


New engines


We have recently added new engine variants (with real behavior) to the game and we feel that this is the right time to remind you of that. All trucks now have a 600 hp engine option available and some trucks even have a stronger engine to choose from. There are of course still lower power engines available too - very sensible and economical choices for most transportation scenarios.

See you on the road!

If you happen to play both Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator, consider this link: SCS Cargo Addict Bundle to combine two discounts on the DLC.

Related articles: ETS2: Heavy Cargo Pack DLC is here!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Your Orders Are on the Road!

A few days have passed since we've started our new game merch E-shop. We just wanted to show you that the packages are indeed getting on the way!


Based on your feedback, we have made some quick adjustments, like adding Brazil to the list of countries that we can ship to, we have also rebalanced shipping costs to particular territories.

Thank you all for your opinions and feedback, we really appreciate it!

Related articles: Suit Up in the Colors of SCS Software!

Friday, June 2, 2017

SCS on the Road: Jobs Dev 2017

As you may have noticed if you're following our Instagram and Twitter profiles, a small team of our colleagues, along with our CEO Pavel Šebor, participated at a special "marketplace for developers" event last weekend. The organizer's stated purpose was to facilitate informal developer-to-developer dialogue and offer a place where companies from a wide range of IT industry can meet with skilled programmers, freelancers, developers, and university graduates.

We are always looking for new talent, in fact, we are now making more room for it! We are in the process of fitting out a new place for SCS Software now, with some 1,700 square meters of office space. This is going to be a huge leap for us again, as we are planning to grow the team to over 100 people. We are well aware that our fans want us to do more for them - to improve and expand the games at a faster rate - so clearly we need to grow even more to have a chance to pursue all these opportunities.


We prepared a small programmer-oriented quiz for the visitors of our booth ("How fast can you sort an array of floats?" - you can refer to this Wiki page if you are into algorithms). David, the lucky (and smart!) winner of our little contest has stopped by today to pick up his prize, an MSI Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, plus some goodies from SCS Software's recently opened e-shop.


We'd like to thank all visitors who stopped by to have a chat with us and to try our games. Big thanks also belong to the organizers of this event, and to Czech Technical University in Prague, which hosted the event. It is always an inspiring experience to show our games to the public. This event was in no way focused only on game industry, but we were pleasantly surprised to meet so many people who knew our games and were active players even among the hundreds of participants looking for all kinds of jobs in general IT industry.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Suit Up in the Colors of SCS Software!


Today is a special day for our company. When we're on the road - at public events, truck shows, or any gaming industry expos - we are often asked if there is any way to buy some of the game-themed clothes we're wearing. We have been hesitating for years, but as we've been getting these requests more frequently, we've started to think about SCS Software merchandise a little bit more. Finally, we decided to give it a try and offer our fellow truck sim fans a chance to get clothes or other handy stuff with the Euro Truck Simulator 2 or American Truck Simulator motifs.

We are happy to open our new SCS Software merchandise E-Shop!

The selection of goods is currently pretty basic (we welcome your tips for more types of merchandise to offer), but everything is in stock and ready to be shipped. Our clothing comes in different colors and sizes, and it's of really good quality.


Clothes are not the only stuff that you can browse. You can go on a trip with a new backpack, pack your lunch along, or sip your coffee from a nicely decorated mug.


Only time will tell how popular our merchandise will be. Most players care only about the games of course, but we are very excited to offer our fans this extra option to show your enthusiasm for our games!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Community's Driver Seats #3

We're still receiving really great pictures of gaming setups and places from our fellow truck simmers and we'd like to share another batch of these photos with the rest of our fanbase. It's so motivating to see that our work can inspire some of the players to spend considerable time and effort to build so elaborate setups for virtual trucking!

If you've missed the previous sets of gaming rig pictures, you can check them at the links under this article. And if you'd like to share your awesome place where you're hauling digital cargo, please send us your photos to inboxes at any of our official facebook profiles: Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator or SCS Software.

Here come the pictures:









Thank you, our fellow truckers! And until next time - take care and have a great time!

Friday, May 19, 2017

New Mexico: Places to Rest and Refuel

We are always thinking of opportunities to make our tech more flexible, to help us bring the "touch of real trucking spirit" into our virtual worlds. Besides driving, the places to stop and rest are an integral part of a driver's life. We have decided that they deserve our focus now as we work on New Mexico DLC for American Truck Simulator.

Even smaller rest areas for New Mexico are now being created as custom works. Instead of monolithic prefabs used repeatedly across the world, we are now combining smaller building blocks into unique sets for each location. This approach also makes it easier to mix in location-specific objects.




An even greater amount of care is given to big truck stops. They are truly vast unique locations that are recognizable as real world landmarks. We have separated petrol stations for passenger cars and trucks. There are dedicated spots offering virtual drivers complete services as they are: fuel, repairs, rest, and services. This required a bit of technical innovation - we had to teach the AI drivers to navigate around the sprawling rest stops. The invisible AI guidance "rails" were historically only created in Maya or Blender as part of one-piece prefabs, but now the map designer will be able to flexibly lay them where needed. That should push the immersion depth and the overall feel of our truck stops to a new level.



Related articles: New Mexico: New Prefabs