Reader Warning: Some may find the following post too depressing to read and therefore may need to (or should) avoid it altogether.
I don’t talk much about my experience with depression or mental illness on this blog which was one purpose I had created it in the first place. I know the details of mental illness can get messy and super depressing so I generally opt to keep them to myself. Today I decided to get real with you again and share (or divulge your attention for a few moments depending how you look at it) and let you in on a little bit of the ongoing fight…er…experience I have with it.
For me and probably others, depression can suck so much you could care less about doing much of anything. In the middle of a low, you don’t even want to or sense the need to write a simple blog post about how you feel about depression. And when one is bombarded and filled with such inexplicable sadness, desires for doing much of anything are greatly diminished and sometimes altogether absent. If you hadn’t guessed yet, I am having one of those days.
What it’s not
Contrary to what some may think, this sadness I speak of and experience isn’t the kind of sadness you feel/have after you lose a pet or a loved one or have to go to a funeral, although those are all horrific and deeply depressing experiences and events. However, such types of sorrowful experiences can be related and make the sadness that comes with depression feel all that much worse.
One big difference between depression sadness and depression as a result of a sad event is that the later is expected, explicable and explainable but the former isn’t really. We try to explain the sadness of general depression and I will today but it never really makes a lot sense if you have never personally experienced it. I know that people have never been in the middle of it or aren’t currently in the middle of it if they say to simply snap out of it and here’s why. When I am not in the middle of this inexplicable sadness of depression, I can’t understand why it existed or cannot remember very well what it was like when I was there despite its occurrence only a day earlier! It’s true, a day without or with less depression begins to make me think it would be easy to “snap” out of it too…..that is until I am actually in the middle of it again. Wierd, perhaps. But that’s been my experience.
What it is, and looks like, sort of (based from personal experience)
In my little world, sadness caused by depression can be likened to inexplicable frustrations (sometimes anger) of feeling trapped in a endless cycle of hopelessness wrapped up with a unhealthy lack of ambition, anxiety or fear for doing stuff that truly matters. With this type of depression comes anger, frustration, low to absent ambition and of course sadness. In this state, you don’t want to work, can’t work well, don’t want to do even things you usually find enjoyable, can’t get out of bed, or don’t really care if you do or not (even if you still know you should) and most importantly don’t want to talk to people about God. Contrary to what some might think, during my times of seeming despair, I have found that the intellect doesn’t disappear and I am still quite “aware” of my surroundings and what is happening which can make matters worse. Food is still food, people are still people, the bed is still a bed and I look fine. I can and usually even “pretend” I am feeling fine but God’s knows otherwise. In other words my mind isn’t changing tangle objects into something their not. The problem lies in the level and existence of perpetual sadness and that I know I tend to feel my environment to a fault. A sad news event or knowing about one, will ruin my day. Reflecting on the reality that people are going to hell and I feel unable to do anything about it, ruins my day(s). Being reminded that there are millions of people who support the murder of babies, ruins my day. Knowing millions of babies are being murdered, ruins my day. Seeing the masses fall for the lies and deception that Satan so abundantly spreads in all aspects of our lives, ruins my day(s). Knowing people drink in sin like water ruins my day. Knowing I have the same heart and desires to drink in sin like water is just plain depressing. Knowing I have broken God’s law more times than anyone can count is beyond depressing. Realizing that there are people out there who won’t stand up for God’s laws but would rather break them, ruins my day. Of course it goes deeper than a few cleverly linked adjectives and descriptive examples but that’s a super quick gist of my experience.
Hope and Depression?
Now if you know me from my writings about God, you might be surprised. I of all people should know about hope, right? Yes and no. I know the one who gives it and I know the Author of that hope including the source for peace and joy. Yes, I even said joy. I know and believe there is hope out there because I have a relationship with the hope, peace and joy giver. God gives hope to people when they die when you repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ. You may have heard or read about God’s message of hope on my website before or somewhere else. In fact, I believe He saves (and is the only Savior) from the wrath to come (God’s judgment for sin/breaking His laws). God also gives joy and peace because I know I won’t be under his judgment come Judgment Day. Currently I can’t see it, feel it, touch it, or taste it but I can read about it in His Word. It’s simple faith in something or rather someone bigger that any of us and His name is Jesus Christ the maker of the universe. And yet, I sit here after knowing and believing that, that in my experience having that hope doesn’t do a lot for healing depression or mental illness when you’re smack in the middle of it. In fact, in the midst of a bout with depression and lack of ambition, there is a present sort of tangible sadness that perpetually exists regardless of one’s beliefs and trust in God. Am I alone in feeling this way? I “hope” not.
I have thought of my experience with mental illness as some kind of battle or fight that I might win tomorrow with God’s help or even healing. I should also note that prayer (and even tears) have been a large part of my life and yet the sadness of depression remains. Some days it doesn’t feel like their is much battling going on at all unless it’s a losing battle and I’m the one on the losing end.
If you have ever dealt with depression issues, know someone who is or not, perhaps you have found this post a little depressing. (pun intended) And I do apologize for that but guess what? Writing about it and sharing it with you sure has made me feel a little bit better today. Yay.
Perhaps you can relate to something I wrote about? Know someone or experience depression/sadness yourself? Feel free to comment below.
Is it okay to abort a baby? What would you say? People give many reasons why abortion is an acceptable choice, including:
The inconvenience of pregnancy
Incompetence of parents
It’s the woman’s body
It’s not a baby
Rape or incest
She’s not ready to be a parent
Watch as author and award-winning filmmaker Ray Comfort addresses these seven questions, reasoning with college students and people on the street about whether such objections are justified. Seeing those who are ardently pro-choice change their minds in moments is both compelling and convincing.
God’s perfect standard is the moral law, the Ten Commandments
Have you ever lied?
Do you always put God first in your life?
Ever used God’s name as a cuss word to express disgust?
Hitler and Mohammad are not hated this much.
Lusted? Jesus said lust is the same as adultery of the heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
3. We deserve God’s Judgment for breaking His Law
because of God’s perfection and
holiness we deserve judgment in Hell. (remember due to God’s holiness
and perfection He cannot have sin in his presence)
4. Good Works Are Not Good Enough
Trying to keep God’s commands or doing good things won’t work with God (God is the Judge – He cannot be bribed)
Only God can provide the way of escape because He is the Judge.
5. There is Hope
Although we have violated God’s law, and are in desperate need of Savior there is a way of escape from God’s judgment for sin. (James 2:10)
God the Father sent His Son Jesus
Christ—God manifest in the flesh—to die on a cross paying the penalty
for our breaking His Law (Sin). (Ro. 5:8)
Jesus rose from the dead after three days defeating sin and death. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
When you repent from your sin (turn
from it as in changing your mind about committing sin) and trust in
Jesus Christ alone to save you from the wrath to come (judgment against
sin), you will have eternal life! (John 3:36, Titus 3:4-7, Ro 6:23)
In light of the Resurrection we ask, who is Jesus?
Today many celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ but just Who is this Jesus anyways? And most importantly why does it matter?
Jesus talking to the Jews said.. “I have come to you representing my Father, and you refuse to welcome me, even though you readily accept others who represent only themselves. You gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from God alone. “ (John 5:43- 44)
”The Father and I are one” (John 10:30)
The high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say. And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror, shouting, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. (Matthew 26:63-65)
Jesus said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” “Who does this man think he is?” the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to each other. “This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?” The Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him. In addition to disobeying the Sabbath rules, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
The Jewish leaders replied“…you, a mere man, have made yourself God.” (John 10:33)
After reading the above passages, you may have realized many trends. I would like to draw your attention to a simple yet common theme. This particular theme stirred up many who listened to Jesus talk. The Jewish leadership and others sought to even kill Jesus because of it and eventually we know they did. But why such hatred for an apparently good man who healed, and even performed countless miracles? Why would simple statements and acts of kindness and love by Jesus cause the leaders to cry out “blasphemy!” from a simple statement by Jesus? We know the answer from the verses above.
Jesus claimed one thing that was clear to all who heard Him speak. Jesus made the claim to be God and this was obvious blasphemy to the Jewish leadership. Likewise, even today this remains true. This claim continues to be considered blasphemy by Jesus and/or anyone who claims to be God unless of course it is true and Jesus truly is who He says He is. Like the Jewish leaders, I am aware that many today choose to believe Jesus is not who He claims and yet are willing to accept the account of the life of Jesus. In fact, many might even consider Jesus to be a good teacher and one who would offer good advice.
For us this remains true. If we do not believe Jesus is God than no one can be able to trust anything Jesus says to be the truth. If you do not believe Jesus is who He claims to be, than how can one trust Him to have been even remotely a good teacher? The choice remains. Either Jesus is God and the Savior of the world with power to forgive sin or He is not. Your life depends on who you put your trust in. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus was crucified and rose from the grave three days later. It’s only because the tomb is empty and Jesus rose from the grave that anyone can have peace with God.
In my previous post about American Truck Simulator I mentioned briefly the added benefit of using mods in your game. Not all mods are great but some mods can become an essential part of your game especially when you want to try to create the best (and most realistic) game experience possible.
I am constantly discovering new or better mods that really enhance American Truck Simulator but listed below is my current essentials list. Many can be found on the Steam workshop page for American Truck Simulator. Others I have found elsewhere. Some mod settings I even tweak to my own liking, which if your new to mods, I will explain a little about that at the end of the post.
My favorite Mods
DP’s Realistic Traffic mod by Dumbfounded Polymath (creates a more realistic traffic flow to your game. (the mod also causes the ai traffic to be slightly more impatient which I have tweaked to my liking (more patient)
This information is specifically meant for those who are new to modding and in American Truck Simulator. I don’t know anything about creating a mod but perhaps I can help with tweaking a modders mod to your liking.
Some mods are easier to tweak than others. I have only tweaked one mod in particular but others have settings that can be changed in a similar fashion. (Important note: You cannot redistribute or upload tweaked or changed mods without first getting approval from the mod creator. )
Mod Location and Subscribing
Once you have subscribed to a mod on the Steam workshop perhaps you would like to find their location on your hard drive. First, it’s important to note that there are two places for mods on your computer. Steam workshop mods that you have subscribed to from the American Truck Simulator Steam workshop website will be located in a numbered folder (To help clarifying this post I will call this folder xxxxx). This numbered folder can be found in your steam workshop content folder. Follow this path on the drive Steam is installed on your computer. (Program files (x86)/Steam/steamapps/workshop/content/xxxxx (where xxxxx designates your steam numbered folder for ATS)
Within the correct numbered folder for American Truck Simulator there will be more numbered folders pertaining to each mod you have subscribed to. Finding the correct numbered mod folder can be tricky especially if you have subscribed to a lot of mods but here’s a tip. Sometimes within the numbered folders there will be a jpg image inside which can give you a hint as to which mod folder you have opened.
Mods you have download from other websites outside of Steam will need to be placed manually into a different mod folder that is located in your documents folder on you hard drive. (documents/American Truck Simulator/mods) Important note: Steam workshop mods will not be located here. As example Jazzycat mods go in this mod folder
DP Traffic Mod tweak example
Once you have your favorite Steam mods for American Truck Simulator in game enabled, you can sometimes tweak the mod if you don’t like the exact settings used by the modder. For example I have tweaked DP’s Traffic mod slightly. This mod contains a file called traffic_data.sii. If you want a more safe and patient reacting ai traffic response (like default) change ai_safety_modifier to 0.3 and ai_patience_modifier to 0.0. You will still see lots of ai traffic with this mod in use but their likelihood of crashing into you will drop significantly. Tweak those numbers and see what you get but do it at your own risk!
Have you played American Truck Simulator? Let me know what you think of this game.
Note: All images are from my modded version of American Truck Simulator
Warning on mods and altering mod files and settings: Tweaking settings of your mod files can not only mess up the local version of the mod that you have downloaded or subscribed to, it can corrupt your saved game. If you are unsure what you are doing exactly I would leave the mod files alone. I will not be responsible for undesirable results!
American Truck Simulator was released in 2016 and is a game about truck driving in American western states. Before ATS (American Truck Simulator) there was the highly popular Euro Truck Simulator which I have not played….yet.
SPOILERS: Yes, this post contains spoilers and not the kind that you can add to your car.
Having been blessed with the opportunity to actually drive a big truck (Werner Enterprises) you might wonder why it has taken me until 2019 to get my hands on this game. I remember playing or trying to play a game called 18 wheels of steel sometime between 2000 and 2011. Perhaps it was the weak visuals or keyboard controls that caused me to lose interest but whatever it was when American Truck Sim game around I didn’t give it much of a look. Around it’s release I tried the demo and didn’t care much for it either, until now. What has changed? I don’t really know since I haven’t followed the game’s development up until lately.
Today the game features California, Nevada, Arizona with Oregon and New Mexico as DLC (Downloadable Content Expansions to the base game). Washington State is next in line to be released sometime this year!
Real trucking vs ATS Trucking
What I enjoy about American Truck Sim is how this game gives the player the ability to pretend one is actually driving a 18-wheeler. As you complete jobs (deliveries) you earn in game money allowing you to buy new trucks, upgrades, trailers and do it again. ATS also features a bit of business management. While you drive and complete deliveries, you have the option to buy garages, higher and fire drivers and then let them begin to bring in the bacon (aka dough…..aka money) for you!
So how are the graphics? First, my standards are pretty high. I like photo-realism in games but who doesn’t? So how does ATS measure up? To me the graphics in ATS are like a mixed bag of nuts. There are some good parts but not others. First, the UI (User Interface) has a slightly dated feel to it with large mouse cursor and big menus as if it’s still from early 2000. This does not detract from the game though because it’s still highly functional.
Outside the skies can look visually stunning when driving through the desert in Arizona for example but this game (similar to other games I have looked at—yes you Cities Skylines) is also plagued with virtually no anti aliasing. The truck and vehicle models are top notch as are many of the landscapes but it’s those jagged edges I keep see on bridges, fences and distant objects which really hinder the graphics in this game from becoming completely stunning.
Gameplay, realism and accuracy
You pick up a load at one location and deliver it to the business that is expecting it lets say….12 hours later. And once you arrive, you get to decide if you want to back it up to the dock or easy park or move on to the next job. (By the way, twelve hours of in game time can be equal to about 1-3 minutes of real time driving…er….game play driving….you get the idea.) Along the road there are weigh stations and as you pass the sign……you will hear the pre-pass beep signal to either pull in to the weigh station or continue on by. That’s what I call the real thing!….the best part is you don’t really have to deal with the law or overweight loads but you had better not miss it or run a red light or you will pay….$150-$700…the violation tickets seem to increase as you progress in the game. And hitting another vehicle can be $900. At first this hurts when you’re trying to save up money to buy your first pretend truck if you didn’t use a bank loan but later in the game….well….that’s why you hired those drivers!
Controllers and Performance
I can safely say, using a keyboard to steer your truck isn’t going to be much fun. And backing? Forget it. It’s much easier in real life. Perhaps thats why I didn’t like this game when I first discovered it because I only had a keyboard and mouse. Now I use a controller which isn’t much better but it has improved the experience. The wheel, so I am told, is the best way to experience ATS and I do imagine it is.
I don’t know for sure, but I have heard ATS runs good even on older game systems. In my system (gtx 1070ti, I7-8700k) The game runs smooth at 1080p with most graphics settings on high but can hesitate slightly in cities with AI traffic mods and reflections on high. (Tip: Lowering mirror distance to medium seems to help.)
The MapNow ATS isn’t for everybody. If you like exploring open roads you might enjoy ATS. Only specific roads are driveable within ATS and they are mostly interstates and state highways in California, Nevada, Arizona and the add-on expansions (OR, NM). But what you do get to travel on is fun especially if want to taste what it’s like to drive a big rig. Many of the cities are not really too exciting but they do offer load pick-up and drop-off locations for freight and cargo. The expansion States Oregon and New Mexico DLC are highly recommended for adding more locations to travel, buy garages and get jobs.
Simply put, mods make ATS better (and more realistic). And the right mods can made ATS a truly great experience. The default AI traffic in ATS is sometimes scarce (which makes driver around easier) but with the right mods you can have loads of trucks and cars and some can actually hinder you from making that delivery on time! (I am constantly discovering new mods, but I do have some favorite ones that I have listed here.
While many places look familiar, some of the locations, landscapes and roads within ATS are not very accurate or familiar looking. For example 299 in Northern CA (Redding to Eureka) in real life is a mountainous two lane and four lane highway with a river on one side much of the way. Within ATS this section of 299 looks dated and there are no mountains or hills in sight. The in-game road is two lanes the entire way. (Interesting to note: That stretch of 299 use to be only a slow two lanes but it is much improved today)
Driving through Los Angeles in real life can be a nightmare of waiting in traffic and busyness everywhere but in ATS there isn’t much of Los Angeles to actually experience. In fact, even with a traffic mod, there isn’t much traffic to speak of. And when traveling on Interstate 10 or I-5 in ATS there are no mass tract housing projects, malls, more housing, more malls and grids of streets lining both sides of the roadway as there is in real life. In addition, the freeways of ATS in Los Angeles (and California in general) could use an upgrade to remove a dated 1994 gaming look. (It’s probably worth noting that with California being part of the base game release it’s interesting to see the massive improvements to development in the latest expansion DLC.)
Larger entrances and exits
Many job locations and even rest stops feature extremely small entrances and exits and areas to turn a trailer in general especially if your trailer is 53 feet long. There is no way of knowing this until after you have arrived at your job recipient only to find out you won’t be able to enter their parking lot without getting stuck.
Repetitive Spawning Aircraft
Some location based activity, such birds or airplanes landing at an airport might be okay but at times the other repetitive animations you will encounter make the game feel stale. A little more randomness would help this game a lot. For example instead of the same four hot air balloons spawning in a particular location all the time, they should sometimes simply not appear. Likewise, the same bi-planes we see throughout the game world which appear at precise locations, should either not appear at times or be a different randomly spawned plane.
There are some prominent but missing truck manufactures and truck types in ATS (ie, missing logging trucks, doubles tankers etc.) Freightliner, Mack, International are just some of the missing truck manufacturers which need to be in this game. (To be fair, these manufacturers must first give approval for addition to the game)
Before I make it seem that ATS is a terrible excuse for a game, it is quite the opposite. While ATS isn’t for everybody, there are the little things in this game, such as the myriad of random animations, visuals and sites (although many repeated) throughout your travels that make it great for us who enjoy it. But now speaking as a former trucker, there is one thing I wish would or could be implemented within ATS that might just give the game that edge it so desperately wants to have. In real life when a truck passes another truck sometimes the driver will signal with their headlights by quickly turning them off and then back on to signal the driver ahead that it’s clear and safe to move over. I hope this little touch of realism gets added one day into ATS.
American Truck Simulator has exceeded my expectations in many ways. Will you like it? I don’t know but there is a demo on Steam and I highly recommend giving it a test drive if you aren’t sure. Get the game and expansions on a steam sale and it’s a great deal.
Have you played it? Let me know what you think of American Truck Simulator.