After years of hearing glowing stories from family and friends about the Jelly Belly jelly bean tour in Fairfield California, the time had finally come for my family and I to visit the factory. It was Sunday afternoon and with much anticipation for jelly bean madness and delight we might encounter, my family entered the factory visitor center. First, we were hungry so we grabbed a bite to eat in the Jelly Belly cafe for a bean shaped pizza which was kind’ve cool and mostly tasted dandy except for the slightly uncooked doughiness we encountered toward the center of the pie.
Next we headed on up the steps to begin the highly proclaimed self-guided factory tour. The long hall appeared dimly lit and TV monitors played various clips of the factory operations and history of the business. Windows lined the long corridor where we could see where bean greatness originates on a daily basis…almost. As far as I could tell, today there was no bean greatness happening. In fact, the rows of conveyor belts and automated machinery including the robotic arms for handling your favorite fruity beans and packaging, were at a standstill. Instead I had to imagine factory workers busily moving about the factory floor and machines humming because on this day, as far I could tell there were no factory operations operating at all. Apparently, the bean factory was closed on Sunday.
All that was left of what fast became a not-so-grand bean tour was to see the many mosaics, created entirely from Jelly Belly beans, hanging on the walls and ceiling or stand and watch a video or two or three. Fun. I suddenly felt like I was watching an episode of “How’d They Do That?” on the Discovery Channel which I could have done anytime from the comfort of my own home.
With disappointment still fresh, we exited the “tour” from where the tour had begun—at the retail store. Now it was true that the retail store was open for business, so at least the Jelly Belly company was still making a profit. To me, the store appeared to be brimming with overly priced branded bean products such as a jelly bean dispenser for $30 and not including the beans to fill it. Naturally I felt like the factory experience especially had been over-hyped by a majority of online reviews I had read prior to my visit and it also appeared there was a little misleading going on (either intentional or not) by the official Jelly Belly website for failing to note their non-operation of the factory on Sunday’s (and perhaps even Saturday).
So would I recommend the tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California? Not really, especially not on the weekend and only if you really love Jelly Belly beans. Oh well, at least the beans still tasted fruity and were mostly flavorful.
Like many liberal organizations, it would appear that Microsoft has bowed to the altar of hate by hating God and loving sin through their blatant backing of the LGBTQI community. On the Microsoft store website they ask, what actions will you take? Throughout the site is various computer related merchandise with the goal to promote LGBTQI sin. (Note: the LGBTQI promoted merchandise and action site has since been removed – see screenshot above)
You might be asking why is this hate? And the simple answer is because Microsoft has chosen to dishonor and hate God Creator of the Universe, His laws but instead love their sin and the sins of others. But they don’t stop there. They go on to promote their hatred of God and love of their sin and the LGBTQI sins by running a campaign about it on their store and website.
Imagine the uproar if Microsoft or Google had embraced God’s holiness and righteousness on their website such as they have with sin.
We are all lawbreakers
It’s important to note that we all have the same desires to sin and have broken God’s law (sinned against a holy God).
Romans 3: 10-18 There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." " Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; " The poison of asps is under their lips"; " Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." " Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known." " There is no fear of God before their eyes."
And spiritually speaking the unregenerate heart is even hostile to God. In fact, that’s the main point of why we are in desperate need of deliverance. God is holy but we are not and cannot enter heaven without a Deliverer. If you haven’t already, check out the good person test and if you are super bold read the book of John in the Bible. You may not have tomorrow.
Updated 7/22/19 (for ATS version 1.34 and some mods updated for ATS 1.35)
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 for ATS 1.34 (most working in 1.35)
Filmic Lighting by Pixelgrapher (Note about compatibility: There is no bloom effect when using Filmic Lighting mod, therefore HDR – No Bloom mod is not necessary when using this mod) (not working in 1.35)
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. Euro Truck is also a great game too by the way. (Note: As of this post, latest version of ATS is version 1.35)
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 (Version 1.35) 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 is now released!
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 computer 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.
In a bold new painting, Jon McNaughton accurately portrays the current state of immigration in the United States. In it we see the stark contrasts of what is most important for both the Democrat party and President Trump.
What do you think of this painting? Comment below with your thoughts.
USA.Life and 1776Free seek to be the solution to Google, Facebook and Twitter’s Christian/Conservative worldview suppression problem
Christians and Conservatives alike already know they are strongly disliked and in many cases it’s raw hatred. In fact, Jesus Himself said many would hate us because they hated Him first (John 15:18). And online the story is no different. Many of us have experienced first-hand, the suppression and/or censorship of our worldview by people who want nothing to do with the God of the Bible. Just ask Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders, Dennis Prager, Ben Carson, Herman Cain and many hundreds of other prominent Christians and Conservatives how they are treated by those on the Left. In fact, Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of the world, was spit on, whipped and murdered because he spoke about something people didn’t want to hear but needed to. Today the name of Jesus is so hated, that not even Hitler or Muhammad’s names are hated as much to be used as cuss words to express disgust. (For more about this check out the Good Person Test)
Countering Google, Facebook and Twitter
Enter Google, Facebook and Twitter. The big three, as I call them of the social media world are no different how they treat those with a biblical and conservative worldview. Doing a typical search on Google, I personally have seen how the name Donald Trump will bring up a myriad of anti-Trump related links. In fact, links from liberal media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and others generally get priority on Google over Christian or Conservative news outlets. In a similar way, a search using the name Ray Comfort will bring up a host of atheistic related sites, many of which bash him or his ministry. And many sites that generally paint Mr. Comfort in an unfavorable light also get priority in the Google hit list. See the Crazy Bible movie
A safe alternative to Google, 1776free will be a family and America friendly search engine that will not suppress searches relating favorably to Jesus, God and Conservatives who share a Biblical worldview.
Now We Need Some High Profile Conservatives/Christians to Get the Word Out
I had not heard of 1776Free or USA.Life until I found it through an advertisement on WND.com. In order have the best chance at succeeding, especially while in the initial stages of development, I believe it will take high profile Conservatives and Christians to financially support and get the word out about this family friendly and Biblical faith friendly social media alternative.
Let me know your thoughts about having a site that is able to counter Google, Facebook and Twitter!