Monday, March 30, 2020

#TruckAtHome Event

Virtual Truckers of the world, we are all enduring a difficult time, as the world fights against COVID-19. It's time for us to respond in the best way we can.


Heroic drivers and support crew around the world are currently delivering much-needed supplies and providing life-saving services. Their work keeps the world moving and is incredibly challenging and dangerous.

When reflecting on this we might ask the question, what can we do. The scientific advice is clear, the best thing we can do is to stay at home and keep physical interaction to a minimum. So, we are calling on you, our #BestCommunityEver, as a salute to these heroes, to unite and to #TruckAtHome. Let's stand alone together, keep the world safe, and let's participate in a World of Trucks community event!


Our slogan for this event is #TruckAtHome and our goal is simple, to get as many people involved, in any way they can, while remaining at home. Complete as many jobs as you can, there is no special cargo and no minimum distance. Choose the longest jobs possible or do many short jobs, it's up to you because we are going to track the delivery distance required for all jobs completed, then add them up. You can even use your own trailers in the External Market!


We are in the middle of beta testing upcoming updates to our games, and injecting new content into the games is just not possible unless we restart the betas. So, instead of going the usual Steam Inventory route, we have had to improvise. As an incentive to get more players involved, we are providing a free Steam Workshop #TruckAtHome paint job mod for the event. We'll be handing out free Steam keys to get even more people playing. And, we also pledge to undertake positive actions to help those who are combating COVID-19, more details in the rules. The more distance covered during the event, the more keys we will give away and the more pledges we will make. Every kilometer, every mile counts! We feel that it is crucial to send the message now, when it matters most.


Event's paint job MODs can be downloaded here:





#TruckAtHome Event Rules: 


Using External Contracts or External Market, with a World of Trucks-connected profile, in Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator or both, the community is to cover as much distance as possible while making deliveries. All completed jobs will have their planned route distance added to the event progress.

For each milestone of 20,000,000 km reached by the community, we will be offering Steam keys in a special social media giveaway campaign. Furthermore, we pledge to undertake a positive action to help those who are combating COVID-19 for each milestone reached, and will announce these on a case by case basis.

A player will reach their personal goal once they have delivered over a combined planned route distance of 2,500 km or more.


Reward:


Personal goal: An individual contribution of completed deliveries reaching a combined planned route distance of 2,500 km (ca. 1,600 miles) or more earns that player a prestigious World of Trucks Achievement. Then, after 1.37 has been released, we will further complement this with a special Steam inventory item reward, yet to be announced.

Community goals: For each milestone of 20,000,000 km (ca. 12,500,000 miles) reached by the community, we will be offering Steam keys in a special social media giveaway campaign. Furthermore, we pledge to undertake a positive action to help those who are combating COVID-19 for each milestone reached and will announce these on a case by case basis.


The event will be concluded on Monday the 6th of April at 23:59 UTC.



Let's get the message out there to #TruckAtHome, and make the world a safer place. Play Euro Truck Simulator 2 or American Truck Simulator during this unprecedented event. Any content under #TruckAtHome along with tagging our profiles on Facebook (SCS, ATS, ETS2), Instagram or Twitter will be in the running for a special reward. Post videos, take screenshots, write reviews, create chat rooms and discuss the event and message, make artwork about it. Do whatever it takes, just stay at home and stay safe. 

Are you an established streamer? Get in touch with us (through this email) to obtain Steam keys to engage your audience during the event. Please make sure your message is written in English.


We have crafted this event really quickly compared to previous events. It may not offer a glorious trailer to haul and we promised a reward only after 1.37, but it was undertaken because we feel it was the right thing to do, because it was the most we can do and because we feel the message needs to be sent out loud and clear, not next week, not tomorrow but now – stay home and stay safe. Thank you for understanding and enjoy the event!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Not to be sniffed at

What could this possibly be about? Who knows, anything is paw-sible....


Any ideas? Let us know in the comments section below or on our social media profiles!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Introducing Colorado

After much guessing and debate, many of you came to the conclusion of which state we showcased in our recent teaser trailer. Today we are putting those theories to rest...

Introducing Colorado for American Truck Simulator



Home to some of the country's tallest mountains, a wide variety of biomes and an array of unique industries; this map expansion will bring beautiful landscapes and new road networks for drivers to explore and deliver to.

But where did the name Colorado originate from? The origin of the word actually comes from the Spanish language, which means 'colored red'. This name was chosen for the territory by U.S congress in 1861, which may be the reason why the state received the nickname of 'Colorful Colorado'. However, many believe it received this nickname because of the magnificent scenery of mountains, rivers and plains you can find across the State.



Colorado is a project that we are currently developing at full capacity in parallel with Idaho DLC; of course, our Euro Truck Simulator 2 fans know that there are yet more projects in production! At the moment, our aim is to complete and release Colorado a few months after Idaho, tentatively towards the end of this year. Please note, however, that due to extraordinary circumstances we face during this time, this timeframe may change.



Be sure to add Colorado to your Steam Wishlist, and to check out our InstagramTwitter, SCS Software, and ATS Facebook page for more exclusive screenshots.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Idaho: Spud Special

Po-tay-toes! Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew. Lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish, even we couldn't say no to that. It's one of the first things that people think of when it comes to Idaho. In fact, the state is so famous for its potatoes, in 2018 farmers harvested 14.2 billion pounds of potatoes.


So how will potatoes play a part in our upcoming map expansion for American Truck Simulator? Well, you can be sure to be making deliveries to and from the many farms that produce them; as well as seeing trucks being loaded with potatoes from afar, but what else makes Idaho perfect for potatoes?


Idaho’s unique environment provides nearly perfect growing conditions for potatoes. Thanks to a number of natural combinations including rich volcanic soil, meltwater from the mountains, clean air, sunny days, and cool nights; all these elements combine to to allow the growth of consistently high-quality potatoes that have made them famous worldwide.


Sound a-peeling? Be sure to add Idaho to your Steam Wishlist, and to check out our Instagram and Twitter and ATS Facebook page for more exclusive photos.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

HS-Schoch Tuning Pack

Today, we are proud to bring you a new tuning pack created in close cooperation with HS-Schoch, a leading truck tuning and accessories brand. While our previous tuning DLC's have been focused specifically on certain truck brands, our partnership with HS-Schoch has allowed us to obtain detailed 3D data references to bring these high quality accessories for a majority of the vehicles in ETS2.

Introducing the HS-Schoch Tuning Pack, Now Available for Euro Truck Simulator 2.


Since 1986, HS-Schoch has been a leading expert in the creation of truck styling and accessories for major truck brands across Europe. The foundations of HS-Schoch's success has been built on a high level of quality awareness, flexibility, and reliability, which we are excited to represent within our virtual trucking world.



The HS-Schoch Tuning Pack contains many accessories including light bars, bump bars, sidebars, side steps, roof bars and much more for the following trucks:

  • DAF XF105
  • DAF XF
  • Iveco Stralis & Iveco Stralis Hi-Way
  • Mercedes-Benz Actros & Mercedes-Benz New Actros
  • Renault Magnum & Renault Trucks T
  • Scania R 2009/Streamline
  • Scania R/S
  • Volvo FH16 2009 & Volvo FH 2012
  • MAN TGX & TGX Euro 6



In this new pack, you will find an array of branded accessories, which can be used in a variety of combinations. Each of these accessories has been made according to HS-Schoch product catalogue, which they provided us for references.


We look forward to seeing how you will further customize your truck with this exciting new addition! Be sure to share your photos with us on our social media channels and with HS-Schoch on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #HSSchoch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Deserts of Iberian Peninsula

A Fistful of Dollars, Winnetou Return and Once Upon a Time in the West; these are all famous movies that are based in wild wild west of America, featuring traditional cowboy shootouts and close-ups of squinting eyes (yee-haw!). But did you know all of these Eurowestern classics were filmed in the hot and dusty deserts of Spain?


Located in the south-east of Iberia and often nicknamed 'mainland Europe's only desert', you will find the Tabernas Desert, a dry but beautiful part of the Spanish mainland. This part of Iberia will also be the first desert climate to ever feature in Euro Truck Simulator 2; and offers a very unique contrast to the lush and green forests that dominate the rest of the continent.


In these desert areas, the sun shines for over 3,000 hours a year and sees as little as 240mm annual rainfall (unless you turn the rain slider up) so make sure to bring plenty of drinking water, and sunscreen on your journey, as temperatures can soar up to 51°C, but as low as -1°C during the winter. These extreme climates make for harsh terrain, in which very little vegetation grows.


So whether you are just traveling through, or taking the scenic route, be sure to look out for the locations of famous movies, tumbleweed, and cowboys... because this town ain't big enough for the two of us, partner.

Remember to check out our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more exclusive images not found on this blog!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Adapting to Difficult Times

Following increased and overwhelming concerns regarding the novel coronavirus, we have had to adjust to the new situation.


As of today, all employees of SCS Software's Prague studio have switched to home office. Last week on Wednesday, we trialed a one-day test with the whole company working from home to test the waters; and on Thursday and Friday, we were already packing up computers, hardware and assisting our teams in moving them to their homes if help was required.

We are doing this to protect the health of our staff, but we also see this as our social responsibility. The fewer people there are using public transportation, the fewer opportunities will the virus have available to spread further. We all need to do our part to contain and mitigate it.

This will inevitably affect our productivity, and we have yet to understand what kind of impact it makes on our production schedules. We need to learn a lot of new skills for team communication and planning; there are a lot of junior designers in the teams who will now require training and assistance remotely, putting strain on our seniors.

These worries are, of course, trivial compared to the massive problems that the whole of mankind will be facing in coming weeks and months. We will all need to brace for hard times. But we do understand that our fanbase expects honest communication from us, and any news we can provide on improvements and new features and content we are working on.

Our blog and our social media channels will remain our primary communication platforms, and we will do our best to keep the flow of the news regular, informative and entertaining.

We would also like to provide you with up to date information regarding our attendance of upcoming events.

Owing to the extraordinary circumstances and challenges posed by the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Mid-American Trucking Show has been cancelled; you can find more information on their homepage. Twitchcon EU has also recently released a statement, in which they announced the cancellation of their event. Anyone with bookings to TwitchCon EU or MATS 2020 should reach out directly to the organizers for more information regarding their tickets.

For the safety and well-being of our team and the community, we will be carefully considering our plans for upcoming future events such as Truck World Canada (which has been recently rescheduled) and Truckfest Peterborough. We will post an announcement here on our blog or on our social media channels on any further changes to our travel plans.

Unfortunately we also regret to inform you that the SCS E-Shop will no longer be accepting any new orders and will be closed until further notice. Any orders that have been made and paid up until today (the 16th of March, 2020) will still be processed. If you have any further questions regarding orders, please contact eshop@scssoft.com

We thank you for your understanding, and we apologise to our community who may have made plans to meet us at any of the cancelled events. We will continue to keep you posted in the coming months.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Krone Visit Vol 2.

Recently, we had the opportunity to visit the Krone production plant located in Werlte, Germany. It produces approximately 30,000 vehicle units a year! Of course, we couldn't turn down the invite! And as most of you probably know very well, it was not our first visit there!


So what exactly did get up to on our visit? As you might of seen on some of our Social Media channels, a few members of our SCS team arrived on location with photography gear and even a drone. Our goal was to take scans and reference multiple Krone trailers, which are not yet included in the Krone Trailer Pack DLC for Euro Truck Simulator 2. Some of them might arrive in the game with some of the upcoming updates or with a special WoTr event, but some of them will be stored for potential future additions.


But what did we get up-to with the drone? Well as you know, drones have the ability to create awesome videos and photos from multiple angles from a very high view-point, and with special permission and our resident expert pilot, we were also able to scan and create reference material about the production plant and the location around. We will let you speculate what that might be for.


And because we all love merchandise and potential trucks cabin accessories, we also visited their local merchandising shop! Which of the items on pictures below you like the most? Let us know!





Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Under The Hood: Characters

Dominik Luska is a 3D graphic artist working at the SCS Software for more than 4 years and has worked on almost all currently released map expansions. His job description consists of recording animations in motion capture, modelling, retopology of a high-resolution model, texturing and importing the model into the game. He works alongside Animator and Map Designers to create pedestrians, workers and other living characters that can be seen in our truck simulator games.


If you are interested in how are we create people and animal animations that can be found within Euro / American Truck Simulator, you've come to the right place. First and foremost, I need to emphasize that pedestrians and other characters don't play an important role as trucks and depots, not even close. However, they still play a role in our games, so we need to make sure they receive the appropriate care. At this moment, we have over 30 character models in our trucking titles. They are all characters you can see around our world. For example, you can see, security workers, police and customs officers, people taking photos of oversized cargo on their phones and more. To create a world full of life, we need to differentiate them from each other by their actions, their animations and by their looks. Some of them are universal, of course, so we use them between projects to save work and time. Besides those universal, we have specific characters for a more specific project, country or city. For each character, there are four textures, two for clothing and two for the body.

There are also additional items (or as we call them "props“) which our characters can hold or use, these items are included in final animation files. The amount of data for these models and animations are not insignificant, and to help us not to become confused between textures and models, we're using an absolute classic - Total Commander. Every file has a naming convention in English language to make it accessible and understandable to everyone.


When we're importing finished data into the game, we need to save exported model or animation and also a source file for these animations of models; just in case we need to make some adjustment or change in the future. We have a whole folder structure specifically for animations, models, textures, and a skeleton. Data organization doesn't end by files, folders and their naming convention though. We can't forget about the flawless management of each model in definition files that is nearly as important as previously mentioned folder structure. To give you some basic introduction to definition files, every single model has to have the correct unique designation number and a brief name for Map Designers.


At the very beginning, we create a model according to a reference file. These references are sourced from our Researchers - a special department in our company who are responsible for searching up data, pictures and information; simply anything the rest of the company needs, saving a lot of time to Modellers, Animators and Map Designers. This first model is called "LOD 0". This abbreviation means „Level of Detail“ and this system serves to toggle between lower and higher resolution models according to the range from the point of view. We have 4 LODs in our game for characters; in which the last of them serves for 100+ meters distances. LOD has to be thoroughly checked too for drastic changes, for example, we don't want to have legs or head disappearing within 10 meters of its viewpoint. Some animated models also have a "collision model", which stops players going through a character. Such a collision model are found on non-animated and static models too. And why don't we allow people to go through buildings and characters? Because our games have received an age rating of 3, which we'd like to keep. Thanks to it, anyone can play our games, even kids.

When we're satisfied with the model and its LODs, we will move to the UV mapping, or rather unwrapping of a 3D model on a 2D plane, so the texture can be created. This process also takes some time mainly because of the more important parts of the model get a bigger space on the texture. That means UV unwrapping must be created as effectively as possible. For example, we mirror small parts of the model like caps, helmets and other props, which spares a precious space on the following texture for this model. After this, we create a texture for this model according to the references we have received. Every character gets a normal map. A normal map is a picture, which simulates a soft geometric structure, which is used to create an illusion of higher detail on a low-resolution model. Normal maps are used for folds, buttons, embroidery, pockets and similar details.

After we're done with the textures and model, a more interesting and yet also a little bit frustrating process begins, recording character animations. To save time and energy on NOT doing it the most time and energy demanding way, we're using an improvised motion capture (MoCap), which we use to record rough animation foundations. I'm saying "rough" because amongst the disadvantages of this type of mocap is its accuracy on important bones, such as collarbones or wrists. We're not using full-fledged mocap, but a cheaper variant built on two Kinect sensors (2nd generation). These sensors use a depth camera, and since they're standing against each other, they "see" how a man or woman moves on the scene with some accuracy. This animation method has one advantage, you don't need any special clothes or markers, so anyone can get on scene and start recording. Thanks to this technology we can take anyone in the company and put him in front of the cameras to bring the character models to life.

Before we start recording an animation, our mocap has to be prepared and calibrated. It is necessary to do a short test & calibration recording. This takes up to two hours because there may be problems on different levels, for example, the stations may encounter problems communicating with each other, operating system might be updating just in the right moment when we would like to use it and many other issues can appear. After successful calibration and recording session, we need to adjust these recorded animations "manually" in different programs. In this case, we commonly adjust noise and tremors, movements of bones in the wrong axes, or movements of the wrists that our mocap did not pick up. To understand the recording process fully in detail, we would need to create a separate article, so let's go to the final stage, importing data into our game.

So our finished model with animation is now ready to be put into the game. To make the editor "see" our model, we need to define it correctly in a text file (definition file). In this file, both animated and unanimated models have a link to the model, to its LODs and potentially animation and collision.

When we successfully define the model, we can finally see it in the editor. The editor is our own tool, in which Map Designers build the whole map and in which our Graphic designers are checking on their own models. If there's something wrong, we'll adjust the model or animation in 3D programs like Maya or Blender and re-export it. Since the definition is already there, we can just refresh the model in Editor to see changes right away. It's similar to refreshing a website on the web browser. Models and animations are created in Autodesk Maya, and textures in Adobe Photoshop. To create a normal map, we have to import the model to Marmoset Toolbag software, which serves for "baking" details from the high-resolution model to the low-resolution model. The whole process is more complicated than what I have written here, but then this blog would be twice as long (and maybe even more).

I do hope that I've explained it well enough for you to have some insight into our work. And if you liked the article and you'd like to want more, let us know in comments - and don't be shy to say what exactly interests you.