Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Under The Hood - Farm Machinery

With the recent release of the Farm Machinery DLC for American Truck Simulator, we wanted to take the opportunity to talk with one of the driving forces behind the new and unique addition. In today's 'Under The Hood' blog, we spoke with Stanislav L, one of our 2D/3D Graphic Designers who helped bring the idea to life. 

Featuring 2 new in-game brands, the Farming Machinery DLC allows drivers to deliver a variety of unique cargoes on Lowboy, Dropdeck or Flatbed trailers to a number of agriculture-related industries large and small across the virtual world of American Truck Simulator. So what was the inspiration behind creating this DLC? 

Stanislav L, 2D/3D Graphics Designer at SCS Software

"As we continued to work our way across the USA from the coast, past the Rocky Mountains with its snowy peaks, wild valleys and snake like roads; we arrived into a totally different area, The Great Plains". Stanislav explains "It’s an area of agriculture and the backbone of the country. The fields appear to go on endlessly for miles, with golden crops ready for harvest. We felt that it'd only be right to represent farming more in our games and highlight the importance of the agriculture industry. After all, it provides nourishment to millions of Americans every day".

So what was Stanislav's role in creating the Farm Machinery DLC? We asked him to find out! "I believe I was a good fit for the Farming DLC. Aside from the design language and looks of the machines, there are a lot of mechanisms and functional parts. There is a heavy practical side behind all the fancy bodywork which is seen on first sight.". Stanislav tells us "I think that I can say that I understand how these machines work, because I have 12 years of experience in the agriculture industry". 

 "I studied at the Technical Faculty (ČZU), which is the main university for Agricultural Education & Research here in Prague. I then continued my studies and work at the Research Institute of Agricultural Engineering (I was a scientist!). I then went on to work at one of the biggest companies which designs and produces its own machines here in Czech Republic. My positions included working in the Design Engineering department, which included assisting the team to administer their CAD data and models. I also programmed a bunch of standalone and integrated tools in Java, optimized their workflows with custom classes in their CMS etc. I then went on to switch from IT to graphics (because this was the subject I loved always the most) and became the head of graphic design in the Marketing Department". 

Having this background and previous work experience would prove to be incredibly useful when it came to the creation of the Farm Machinery DLC. Stanislav explains "As a concept artist at SCS Software, I transform ideas from words or paragraphs into the visual form; I help design how the DLC will look". 

"I created the concept designs for all the machines which we wanted to depict in the DLC. We created two in-game brands, Owl and Greenler, which are entirely fictional. I also designed nine machines (with some variations in-between the brands). Our aim was to make them as realistic as possible, so that you (the player) are immersed by the realistic cargo that is used in the agriculture industry". 

So how many people were involved in the creation of this DLC? "Actually many people were part of this project (and helped us to successfully release it and deliver to players)." Stanislav tells us "Dominik (3D Graphics Designer/Technical Supervisor) was responsible for the Technical/Modelling side and I was more on the artistic/Design end. I also must mention the Research department, who provided us with plenty of resources and information about US farming machinery. They assisted us in choosing the categories and types of machines which were ultimately selected for this DLC".
"During the production stage, we had several 3D Graphic Designers working on the DLC. We had nine machines to create, so each of them made one or two models. It was great to have such a big team because we were able to work on many models simultaneously and shorten the production time".

"The last stage involved their implementation in our game and comprehensive testing & bugfixing. We also had a small inner circle, which included Smety (Senior Vehicle Artist) and Peter (3D Graphic Designer), both having experience in the Agriculture industry. I would like to thank all those involved the creation of this DLC, it wouldn't have happened without their hard work." 

So how long did it take to create this DLC, and which cargoes were the most fun and/or most challenging to create? Stanislav shares his answer with us. "I think it took around a year. From the idea stage through preproduction, production, implementation into the economy, testing, bugfixing, etc. It is quite hard to remember when we specifically started talking about it though. As for the cargoes question... The Crawler tractor was really fun, it's the field’s powerhouse! It always has great aesthetics and is the manufacturer’s flagship".

"I also really enjoyed working on the autonomous tractor, as it is the future, and they are about ready to hit the market in the real world. I enjoyed experimenting with all the curves and aerodynamic lines that are featured on it. Developing this model was fun, as I wanted to give it a futuristic look. I enjoyed it a lot. The cabin accessories were also fun to create. It was great to jump from the machine's hard steel and solid mechanisms to working on plushies and play with toys for a while like we are little kids again".

"The most challenging aspect of this DLC was probably the Seeding unit, not from a design but a technical side point of view. This is because there are not a lot of bodies which can hide the inner parts, you pretty much see it all. Nothing is indicated, every single part is there on the machine, visible for all to see. So it was a challenge to be able to depict it and stylize it within the borders of our polygon limit. Luboš (3D Graphic Designer) did a great job on it."

We're thankful for the time Stanislav took out from his work schedule to share a little Under the Hood with us about this DLC. We asked him for anything he'd like to share with you, our #BestCommunityEver. "Have fun, play games, Simulation ones are the the best and deliver some Agriculture Machines in this DLC! Help the farmers in their hard work".

"Oh and just something to share, we have even more information we'd love to share with you, that didn't make it into this blog. We are playing with an idea of creating a 'Making of the Farming DLC' downloadable publication. Let us know in comments if you would be interested in seeing this, as well as on other subjects in other formats besides our blog". 

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the Farm Machinery DLC, available now for American Truck Simulator on Steam! If you already own this great addition and you are enjoying it, consider leaving a positive review for us too. We hope you enjoyed this Under the Hood look for this DLC, let us know if you'd like to read about some specific subjects in the future! Until then, keep on truckin'.  

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