Sunday, February 27, 2011

SCS Software's games mentioned in Fernfahrer Magazine

It is not very often that mainstream media cover our games. In fact, it is not very often when even gaming media do. But now, thanks to activities of our German publishing partner rondomedia, we should get a mention in a highly regarded publication for German transportation industry professionals and enthusiasts, the Fernfahrer Magazine.

We were asked to prepare a few screens a couple of weeks ago for the occasion, and we though why not share a couple of them with you as well.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Morphological Anti-Aliasing

This post is going to be a bit technical, but perhaps this angle will also be interesting to some of you.

We are in the process of implementing Morphological Anti-Aliasing in the graphics engine. You may have noticed the jaggy lines - aliasing artifacts - in previously posted screenshots, and MLAA is a method to lessen the problem. With the new deferred shading technique in our renderer, we can no longer use standard MSAA techniques. The two technologies are incompatible.

There is a brute force anti-aliasing solution - supersampling, also known as Full Scene Anti Aliasing (FSAA), but the performance hit is considerable. We will offer supersampling as an option in the game - the scene looks just great with it if you have a powerful graphics card with fill-rate to spare and lots of memory to allocate the larger buffers needed. But we also wanted to make the picture better on middle class or low-end hardware.

This is where MLAA comes handy. It is a very smart post-processing pass on the rendered image, basically selectively smoothing out parts of the image where a smart filter detects a jaggy line. It is not perfect, sometimes it blurs things that would be better left untouched, and it also cannot really reconstruct single-pixel width objects (for example electrical wires in the distance) to make a smooth line out of them like MSAA or FSAA could. But it helps considerably in many situations, and the performance cost is acceptable. You can read more on the method here It is not our invention, the algorithm was invented by a very smart engineer at Intel.

As the picture below illustrates, the benefits of MLAA can be clearly seen on the big concrete blocks near the camera. However, the technique cannot really fix the problem with the road on the other side of the river just below the castle. The amount of information preserved in pixels of this part of the image is not high enough.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pedal to the Metal...

Thanks for your feedback to our previous post! Based on your reactions, for this weekend we will try to increase the frequency of posts a bit - we have posts lined up for every day until Sunday! We do not expect to be able blog this frequently normally, but we are interested if this experiment will increase the pool of people reading the updates.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The dangers of overhyping a game

We had an internal discussion at SCS Software recently about this blog and the amount of news and pictures that we are posting or not posting. Opposing opinions were voiced about what our strategy should be when it comes to the blog and in general to the information that we release.

Some people expressed their concern that we may be overhyping the game(s) from the point of view of the truck sim fans, that we will oversature you with information and visual material long before the game release. And when it comes to ETS2 release, we are still long way from the finish line - the final date is not yet set in stone, but it is definitely well over half a year from now!

The concern is that if we push too hard, the fans will be fed up by the time we are ready for release. And there is also the danger that so much hype will make an impression that the game is going to be so fabulous that when you see it eventually, you will be disappointed that this or that feature that you requested did not make it into the game. Euro Truck Simulator 2 may will be a huge step from our previous games, no doubt about it, but if we do not "manage expectations" of the fans properly, and the community ends up disappointed, it may hurt us a lot. Already the extra fan requests when compiled into a wish list would add another two years to the development schedule, and this is something that we just cannot afford, and we also think that you would not want to wait for so long. This is quite a lot of potential frustration that may be unleashed on us when Euro Truck 2 hits the market.

On the other hand, the blog is not traditional PR, it is not the typical big campaign marketing bombardment done for big games through big media. It is intended to satisfy the hunger for information of the most loyal fans, and it seems that the hunger is really there. And maybe it is actually bringing new fans into the community, new potential customers eagerly awaiting the release of our games.

So the big question is, should we step on the brakes a bit and post news, images and movies less frequently? Or on the other hand, should we push pedal to the metal and give you more? Well we think we know what kind of answer we will most likely hear from you, but still, we thought you should be aware that we are facing this dilemma, and wanted to hear what your opinion is in support of either side of the argument. Perhaps we can even be persuaded to start releasing information about the other truck sim game that we are still keeping in secret, even though it will be actually launched before ETS2.

One more image from Poland posted here as a way of saying thanks for reading such a long text and taking the time to think about it ;-).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Extreme Trucker 2 on the shelves in Germany

We have received confirmation that 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2 is now available on store shelves in Germany, of course localized into German language.

The Extreme Trucker games are aimed at a somewhat different audience than what perhaps constitutes the majority of the visitors of our blog. The games are supposed to appeal especially to younger players, with more arcade approach. And they were also developed on very lean budgets, with as much material as possible re-used from the earlier 18 Wheels of Steel games, and many of the new 3D assets created at the same (lower) level of detail to keep things in line. Such is the reality of the PC games retail market in the USA - for the publishers there it is hard to justify higher budgets on such niche genre games, they just don't see the sales potential there for a serious sim.

But still, Extreme Trucker 2 is a work of love of a small dedicated team inside SCS Software, and they worked really hard. They did their best to overcome the limitations of the legacy material to produce a game with a few good hours of fun packed into it, with two all-new maps and new areas added to the old maps to give players lots of new stuff to explore. We are biased of course, but the maps have spots in them that we think are the best looking sceneries in any SCS-developed games so far. With new eye candy effects in the graphics engine, and big parts of the physics code and the traffic AI code rewritten, we think the game is worth trying. In many areas, there are glimpses in the game of things under development for Euro Truck 2.

Extreme Trucker 2 is distributed in Germany by rondomedia.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Poland under construction

It is impossible not to notice the constant stream of requests to reveal more of the plans for the Euro Truck Simulator 2 map. We are a bit reluctant to talk the specifics yet - the game is still far from being complete, and the plans may still be adjusted by the time we are done with the game. ETS2 map is going to be by far the biggest virtual world we have ever created, right now the plan calls for well over 60 cities - when it comes to cities, the game is going to be at least three times bigger then the original Euro Truck or the newer GTS and UKTS games.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More transportation industry contacts

As a part of our effort to establish and strengthen connections with the transportation industry, we have paid a visit this week to Danish Transport and Logistics Association in Denmark and also to Scania in Sweden. If we are to ever produce truck simulation games truly worthy of using the term simulation, we had better start learning from the guys who are in this for real!

The trip was very inspiring; it may be one of many small steps still ahead of us, but we are firmly on the road now. We are committed to continually improving our understanding of what it takes to drive a truck, and to manage a transportation company with a fleet of trucks. The more we learn, the more we see that we need to learn far more!

We are really grateful for your feedback on this blog with your tips for improvements. Hearing your positive comments is certainly heart-warming, but your intelligent analysis is extremely useful and often humbling. Big thanks to Katixa and his tips on mirrors, and also thanks to many others who recently spent their time pointing out problems and suggesting fixes. Obviously many of you know considerably more about trucking than we do! So please have patience with us, hopefully Euro Truck Simulator 2 is still only a beginning of a strong line of vehicle simulation projects developed by SCS Software in the future.

Below you can find a few pictures taken in Sweden, perhaps you will appreciate the rare opportunity to look behind the scenes, too. The following images are from Scania truck assembly plant in Södertälje, taken first few in their nice museum area and finally from the actual assembly line. It is incredible to witness a truck built from so many thousands parts to come to life in only a few hours! A larger gallery of photos will be posted soon on our facebook page, too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Euro Truck Simulator 2 movie!

The presentation video is ready, and we couldn't wait till Monday to post it on YouTube and mention it here in the blog :-).

(tip: click through the movie and watch it in HD)

You can see that we still have a lot of work to do ahead of us to polish everything, but we hope that you will find the work in progress to be promising.

The intro part of the movie is not renderered in-engine, it's a quick grab from Maya. It represents the artistic direction we have in mind for presenting the trucks in the game's user interface screens - to tease the player with the cool high-detail models.

In the second half, we are showing an in-development Scania tractor in 4x2 and 6x4 axle configurations. Proper support for multiple steerable axles is introduced, and perhaps you can also appreciate the hint of working cabin suspension (still needs tweaks to the physics constants) and light & shadow play in the new 3D engine.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Working on a presentation movie

We are now preparing a short presentation movie that we plan to show next week on our trip to Södertälje, Sweden. We will post the movie clip on SCS Software's YouTube channel once it's ready for you to enjoy, but for now, here are at least a few teaser snapshots from the video.

One of the images shows the play of light and shadow in the cabin. As everything in the world and the truck itself can cash shadows on everything else, the level of immersion behind the wheel is greatly increased compared to our previous games.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Here is a hint that in Euro Truck Simulator 2, you won't be stuck with just one particular axle configuration. When purchasing and configuring a truck, there will be several things to customize, not just the wheels of course!

In particular, the 6x4 Volvo may be of interest if you pay close attention. With the physics programmers implementing features like Ackermann steering geometry, the precision of the physical simulation should be a different league compared to any of our previous games.