Friday, January 28, 2011

A small hint of ETS2 tech progress

We are constantly bombarded with requests to show more of what is happening with Euro Truck Simulator 2, but it's complicated now.

On the technology programming side, we have been working on deferred shading for quite a while, but now the time has come to finally integrate the code into the game - to give the artists the access to the tech and tools.

The end result is of course that the artists and designers are at the same time happy with so many new features that they will have at their disposal - true shadows including self-shadowing, true lights, new shader effects, HDR, bloom and the like. But at the same time they are pulling their hair as we realized how many tweaks of existing stuff will be still needed.

Anyway, finally we will have a state-of-the-art graphics engine! It will just take a few more weeks before we can start showing screenshots of all these things properly tuned and balanced, all working as expected at the same time in the scene...

For today, here is just a small teaser that shadows are already finding their way into the game. In these shots only the trucks have shadows enabled. Fortunately, the new technology is quite smart; it will allow all objects in the scene to cast shadows relatively cheap when it comes to performance, so the scenes will look gorgeous even on mid-range hardware. You will notice that this scene doesn't contain any new vegetation or some of the things that we have already talked about - this is exactly the case that many features that people are working on in parallel now need to be finished, integrated and adjusted to work together at the same time, not just as isolated research and development sub-projects. These shots are from a rural area in Poland by the way

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Extreme Trucker 2 demo

At long last, the 1-hour time-limited trial version of 18 WoS Extreme Trucker 2, a.k.a. demo of the game, has been made available for download on the game's official website here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Iteration during truck model design

We have another look behind the scenes for you today - images of work in progress, and also an example of the kind of feedback that the lead artist repeatedly provides back to the 3D designer building the model.

You will notice that we are trying to pay attention to characteristic visual features, but inevitably, we do have to make compromises. We cannot afford to throw hundreds of thousands triangles at the model, we need to make sure it renders at reasonable framerate in the game even on lower spec computers. We are always hungry for high quality reference material, this is another hurdle for us. Obtaining technical blueprints or at least decently scaled schematic images of the original vehicles is quite rare. All the mod makers could confirm how tough it may be working just from photos.

This model of course should or perhaps we had better write _may_ end up in Euro Truck Simulator 2 eventually. We need to formulate our statements safely - so that there is less potential for disappointment when the game finally ships. All the images from development that you see here on our blog are still subject to final approvals, and please don't take it for granted that any of the stuff is guaranteed to appear in the game. Especially with trucks, this is highly sensitive topic. Just as with our previous games, there may be material that we had spent weeks and months working on which may end up being cut from the final version of the game to keep us in safe legal zone. We need to respect that the truck manufacturers have multi-billion business, their brands are a huge part of the value, and they protect their brand and public image fiercely. We are trying hard, but there may be cases where the walls erected around the brands may be too thick to penetrate.

(click the images to get the full size view)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mod contest for Polish fans

Our Polish publishing partner is launching an interesting experiment - mod creators are invited to take part in a competition, with a chance to win prizes and to earn recognition and perhaps a bit of fame. Entries are accepted for all of SCS Software's recent truck sim games. The prizes will include game posters signed by the development team here at SCS Software.

We'll be happy to bring the winners to the spotlight on our blog once the competition results are announced.

You can find out more about the competition on FonoGAME website.

Friday, January 7, 2011

18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2 on Facebook!

For better promotion of Extreme Trucker 2 we have decided to create a new Facebook page. Of course this blog and SCS Software Facebook page will still be the main channels for communication with our fans. However, in the world of Web 2.0, having a presence on Facebook is considered essential, as many people use it almost exclusively instead of the "old web." The 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2 Facebok page could help us become more visible to this type of players, even if they do not belong among our "hardcore" fans. A home for the game on Facebook where they can find out when a patch is out or similar news.

Perhaps the regular readers of our blog, the most loyal fans we have, could help us a bit. Of course we'll be happy if you share your pictures, observations and opinions and see if it's worth participating in discussions on our Facebook pages. But also, you could help us improve awareness of our game - clicking the LIKE button on the page only takes a split second. Even better, to have the word spread around when the game is finally out - if you consider it worth recommending to somebody - the SHARE button is a nice tool to let your friends on Facebook know. Thanks!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Official 18 WoS Extreme Trucker 2 trailer!

New movie for our YouTube Channel today  -  finished at last, the official 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2 trailer...

Your comments and speculation on Bus Driver 2

I feel that it would be appropriate to address the avalanche of recent comments.

We're getting 20-30 e-mails every day with feature suggestions, wishes for future games, gripes about problems, all kinds of input and feedback. It is absolutely beyond our man power to respond to this constant stream of messages (but rest assured that we do read them all). This blog was born out of need to have a platform to talk back to the community, as we really don't have the bandwidth to respond to individual fans. We can only hope that you are a bit happier with us now; you can hear far more frequently from us this way than during the past years.

Regarding a new bus sim game and how easy it is to build it or not - SCS is really a small company, and we just cannot double our size overnight even if we wanted to. We cannot just hire a bunch of guys off the street and expect them to be done with a new good quality game 12 months later, and then dump them to the street again. It takes experience, and it takes experienced leads spending their time teaching new guys the tricks of the trade, the specifics of our engine and content pipeline. This is especially true for programming tasks, even though it applies to map design and 3D/2D art too. A new project always means disruption to other projects under development. We know it all too well, as we often were forced to work on multiple projects in parallel to keep the company afloat.

As for the idea that we can do a new bus game cheaply ("just throw in 10 good bus models") - well with the quality bar expectations ever raising, this is far from cheap. Models of our Euro 2 tractors take over 2 months to create - perhaps 40% time is spent on exterior, but majority of time goes into interior, then there are animations and paintjobs. So we are talking spending some 20 man-months just on a few buses. Add to it the investment into world creation and programming of the game, and easily you are talking 100+ man-months. I am not even counting the need to create and animate pedestrians and passengers, surely you would expect them in a game about transporting people released these days, so most likely even more development time would be needed. So maybe 120 or 150 man-months ? You do the math on the budget needed.

This is the cost that we need to feel confident we can earn back. Well in fact as we are very conservative about borrowing money from somebody else and then having them dictate their terms to us (years of working as contractors have taught us the value of independence), we first need to be confident that we can self-finance such a project through its development, which is even higher hurdle to jump. And again as I said above, the game is either built by the current team members, interrupting our work on truck sim games, or is built by new people who are supervised by current team members, still delaying current work.

Don't get me wrong, we would LOVE to be able to create a new bus game. We are proud of the original Bus Driver, it was small and far from perfect, we had to take a lot of shortcuts to get this out on a shoestring budget, but it was actually our very first "big" independently developed driving game, after years of working only as low-paid contractors on somebody else's intellectual property. So you see where our preferences were. Hopefully one day we'll be in position to greenlight such a project, but not in foreseeable future, certainly not before Euro Truck Simulator 2 is finished, and before it hopefully makes us some money to sustain us through the next project or projects.

Pavel a.k.a. Sabre
SCS Software

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

18 WoS Extreme Trucker 2 movie teaser

Yesterday we promised that we will publish more movies from Extreme Trucker 2. Today we are bringing you a new short movie in high-definition showing short gameplay scenes from 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Official website of 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2

Today we are happy to announce unveiling of the official website for our new truck driving game - 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2. Valusoft, the game's publisher, should start shipping the retail version of the game across Northern America this month. Other countries are definitely going to follow, we are actually already working on integrating translations for German, Russian, Hungarian, Czech and Polish releases for a start. Also we understand licensing discussions are ongoing for Scandinavia and France.

As usual, there is a gallery, so do not forget to check out another set of screenshots from the final version of the game, and the number of movies will be extended very soon by a cinematic teaser.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thanks for your wishes!

In the first blog post of this year we want to thank you all for your new year's wishes. It is really encouraging to see that so many people appreciate our work, that our effort was not just a waste of time. Conversely it pulls us to work even harder in this year. We need you to stay with us, and help us through your positive as well as negative feedback to develop the best truck games for you.

And new games are for sure coming in 2011! Release of 18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker 2 is really close now. Of course we are still working on Euro Truck Simulator 2, and there is even a third small and secret project under development now. More on this surprise soon.

Thank you for everything again, we are looking forward to our dialogue with you in 2011 through our blog and facebook pages!

Oh, we did some work on the Scania, is it any better now?