Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Can you help us with ETS2 license plates?

We are working hard on finalizing Euro Truck Simulator 2 for release, but there are still some unfinished tasks which we would like to get done so that the game is released in great shape. One of the problems are correct and believable license plates on vehicles.

In our previous projects, usually the license plate was a part of a vehicle's texture, so there was no chance to dynamically alter it or pretend that the trucks and cars come from different countries. For Euro Truck 2, at first we thought about a system providing slightly more variety - have a small set of license plates for each country, and assign them around, but it turned out that too many people take it as an offense if they happen to see multiple vehicles in the world sharing the same license plate texture, not to speak about lack of variety.

In the end, we are about to bite the bullet and implement a system to be able to procedurally generate the license plates based on a set of rules for each country in the game.

See the image below to see an example of how this is setup for the Czech Republic (specifically these would be license plates for Prague from recent years). There is a background for the license plate ready to accept the letters and digits in a given pattern, and then we generate the "text" with the particular combination of letters and digits that follows the country's rules for license plates, picking the alphanumeric symbols from a font texture with font specific for the given country.

Our problem is that for some countries like our own, we know those rules and can implement them with no problem, but doing the research for other countries is a time consuming task for us, with the risk that we'll still misunderstand the rules and implement the license plates for some countries incorrectly.

That's where the idea to approach our community and ask for help on collecting this know-how came to us. We would be very grateful for any pointers or URLs of documents that may help us, or explanations that you can provide, on how to compose believable license plates for vehicles in the various countries in Europe, mostly those present in the game already. Especially if you could point out if there are any things to pay special attention to, like differences between front and back plates, possibly differences between trucks and passenger cars and again if anything special is in place just for trailers, license plates differences as they are issued in different years etc, all this could help us to create a world which will be more believable when you drive though it.

If you have something useful to suggest, please mention it in a comment to this blog post, or alternatively send it to us by mail to info [at] scssoft [dot] com.

Here is a short movie as a way to saying thank you very much in advance..