Saturday, October 14, 2023

Arkansas - Research Trip

Over the past year, we've been able to send quite a few members from various related teams on research trips to the United States of America. Today's blog focuses on one such team's journey to Arkansas and beyond. The purpose of their travel was to gather references and information, as well as to inspire them in preparation for future projects. However, please keep in mind that the information and media presented here do not confirm what our upcoming DLC will include.

The team consisting of Map Lead David Němec (Davido), Map Asset Specialist Jan Pavlíček (Paulie), Senior Map Designers Vojtěch Plechač and Joanna Cempa and Road Specialist Zuzana Holušová, set off on quite the journey in the US! Travelling over 2,200 miles in 12 days, the team managed to visit quite a few different states, major cities, depots, real-life viewpoints, truck stops, and many other locations too. 

"Within Arkansas, we visited cities such as Jonesboro, Little Rock, Russellville, De Queen or Hot Springs, which is a very beautiful spa town with a rich history and many landmarks. Our goal was primarily to explore the beauty of the Natural State of Arkansas, which we're currently working on." Davido tells us. "The most important parts for us were the references around West Memphis, where I-40 and I-55 merge. There are many interesting locations that we could include in this DLC, such as several truck stops, a weigh station, a welcome center, and the Mississippi River. This place really gave us several insights at once. Unfortunately, geographically, all of this is quite close to the AR/TN border, so we know it won't be easy to get everything in due to our game's scale."

For a few of our team members, it was their first time visiting the US. All of them agreed that they learnt a lot from this trip, especially when it came to the roads, truck stops, towns, and cities. Vojtěch shares his experience a little with us, "There were a lot of things that surprised me, but one of the main things for me was probably the overall vastness of the main metropolises as well as the smaller towns and villages; everything seemed to me to be very spread out over a large area. It's a completely different world compared to Europe." 

"Everything is bigger in America. I learnt that this saying is actually quite true because until now I have only seen pictures." Zuzana shares with us. "Being there and seeing everything with my own eyes was an experience I believe every mapper should have at least once because it is so different from what we see through a lens. Trees, barriers, signs, roads, junctions, truckstops, hills.. everything looked much bigger than I could imagine"  

The team also learnt a lot about the conditions of the roads, especially when it came to smaller road networks that wind through the countryside. "There are holes, they are curvy or bumpy, especially some smaller 1-1 roads." Zuzana and Vojtěch shares with us. "We have seen that there's a lot of curves, bumps, potholes, gradients, etc."

The team also took the time to visit multiple locations and industries to collect more accurate references, such as power plants, where only a minimal amount of material or photos were available online. They also took their journey outside of Arkansas too! "Having already flown such a distance, it would be a shame to stay in only one place and not compare Arkansas with the surrounding states" Davido shares with us, "So, we also visited and collected references from Louisiana, where we were able to visit the amazing Avery Island and the Tabasco Factory, which we had a tour of! It was awesome to see how the production of this popular sauce works, from the cultivation of peppers, through barrel aging, blending, bottling to loading onto trucks and distribution."

In addition to Arkansas and Louisiana, the team was also able to visit Mississippi and Missouri and they even had the opportunity to visit Texas and Oklahoma, two states which we have already released. We believe that these opportunities for our team to visit the States really do help those involved in the development of ATS to bring a more immersive and realistic experience for you, our players! 

We look forward to sharing how these research trips translate to our virtual recreation of the states in the future. Until then, we hope you enjoyed this little insight on the process of creating a new State/region, and how our teams gain experience and knowledge of the states. Don't forget to add Arkansas to your Steam wishlist!

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