Getting Started in Painting with Bob Ross

If you enjoy Bob Ross like I do or are the least bit interested in getting started in painting using the wet on wet technique, check out this special 1 hour episode of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.  (And don’t forget to watch the Bob Ross Experience video here or at the bottom of this post.)

Below are links and recommendations to some of the painting products I use which can help you get started using the Wet-on-Wet oil painting technique that Bob Ross used on his show.

Bob Ross Master Kit –  I highly recommend beginning with this kit as it will really help you get your painting going and you will save some money on basic paints, palette knife and brushes.

Complete List of Bob Ross Brushes and Palette Knives

Complete list of Bob Ross oil paint

Complete list of liquid oil mediums for preparing the canvass.   While this is a complete list of Bob Ross available mediums, Bob mainly applied his signature Liquid White or Magic White to the canvas before painting his landscapes.

Bob Ross 2-in 1 Easel (as seen on the Joy of Painting after Season 27) – This easel is a good deal especially when it’s on sale.  (Note: any easel will probably work to get started but I have found not many easels allow edge to edge painting on the canvas as this one does well.  The Bob Ross 2-in-1 Easel also can be used as a table top easel if you want to paint while sitting at a table.)

Canvases 16″ x 20″ – also a good deal at Michaels when they are on sale or using a 50% off coupon  (Note: Bob used 18″ x 24″ canvases on the Joy of Painting but you can use any size you prefer just make sure they come at least double primed which most are.

Odorless paint thinner

Bob Ross beater rack and paint brush thinner screen

Small bucket with a lid (the size of the brush thinner screen)

Also highly recommended: 

Bob Ross large Clear Palette

Baby Wipes at Costco or Dollar tree

Roll of Paper Towels

Larger trash bucket for beater rack

Apron and old pair of clothes you don’t mind getting paint on

some old towels

a place to set your paints and brushes when not using them but within reach while painting

Palette paper or a super cheap palette unless you jump right in and purchase the Bob Ross Palette which I recommend if you want to get serious

Although I am still quite new at this painting thing, I would love your questions or comments so feel free to drop me a note.

(Note: I do not receive any compensation for sharing these links but they are favorite products of mine to aid in getting you started with painting like Bob Ross. )

The Bob Ross Experience.  Check out the campaign

Jerry’s Artarama

Official Bob Ross Supply Site

Watch Bob Ross on YouTube

TwoInchBrush

Watch what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms

A Mostly Jelly Belly “Tour” Flop

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.


Jelly Belly official site

Watch what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com


image 1 source

other images are my own

Discovering Elite Dangerous in 2019

Are we there yet?

Elite Dangerous is a massively multiplayer online space game by Frontier Developments. Although the game requires a persistent internet connection it also features a solo or single-player mode. Elite Dangerous is the successor to Elite which was first released in 1984 and now 30 plus years later, the game has seen quite a change.

My history with Elite Dangerous is virtually non-existent aside from hearsay about a learning curve and how fantastic the game is to play in Virtual Reality. Now it’s true I have interest in open world simulation games such as X-plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator and both Euro and American Truck simulators but interest in a space game not so much. It seems most space games are about aliens, monsters and mostly shooting other spaceships in an arcadey fashion. Something about the wide open vast nothingness of space travel also hasn’t had much appeal….but then again I have never encountered game quite like Elite Dangerous.

Sidewinder training

What Learning Curve?

Something about Elite Dangerous seemed different. Oh and there’s that learning curve I kept hearing about. A learning curve to play a game? There is always some learning when you are starting a new game especially in flight simulators but this game simulation was suppose have a notable learning curve and was not meant to be taken lightly.

And so armed with a wee bit of knowledge of what I might be getting myself into only through those online game reviews and gameplay, I took the plunge into beginning my journey into the world of Elite Dangerous. And what a journey it has been.

A new ship, another Starport

Read the Manual and Make Friends with the Options Menu

Now I don’t consider myself a very fast learner and besides that I prefer to take my time to make sure I’m understanding what I learn. And so after 14 hours later, I was able to fly my first ship! Did I mention I like to take my time? You see, perhaps Elite Dangerous is a game at heart but it’s also a simulation that takes place in space. It must be experienced and that’s not even with VR! Now I generally do not enjoy multiplayer games and so my time in ED has been spent in singleplayer (Solo) mode, along with training tutorials and the options menu for keybindings and that is probably one of best places to start in Elite Dangerous.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, within the universe of Elite Dangerous there are 400 billion star systems as part of the in game reproduction of the Milkyway galaxy. All these systems can be seamlessly traveled to in a spaceship which you can upgrade as you gain credits. You begin the journey in a spaceship called the Sidewinder. If you die or crash in Elite Dangerous you will get your Sidewinder back but will have to start over. Later, when you buy a different ship, you will need to pay a rebuy amount (5%) of your total ship value should you die or crash it.

Find the dock

Flying and docking is an accomplishment in Elite Dangerous

For me the learning curve in Elite Dangerous has been first and foremost related to keybindings and understanding both the game, menus and ship systems terminology. At the start you will want to take a look or two or three at that Elite Dangerous manual which gives a nice overview of system terms. Of course you will need to learn how to operate your ship and it’s not a point and click operation (at first). Each ship features a six-way on-board thruster system (vertical(up and down), lateral(side-to-side), forward and backward and don’t forget about pitch, roll and yaw) somewhat like trying to fly a Harrier jet in space. But unless you would like to go spinning uncontrollable toward the side of the spaceport you might want to leave Flight Assist on.

If you have familiarity with flight/combat simulators then learning to fly in Elite Dangerous will a piece of cake, maybe. Your ship features thrusters are not unfamiliar but figuring out your keybindings just might be! I am using a Flight Stick with throttle control – Thrustmaster Hotas X (Hands On Throttle and Stick). Also a keyboard, a mouse and a Xbox controller. I have heard you can fly with a keyboard and mouse only but I haven’t tried it.

Hyperspace Jump

Moving your ship to another star system is another accomplishment

Moving from one star system to another within the galaxy is also a new experience which must be learned. We just don’t do that kind of thing on Earth!

Likewise docking (landing) in a spacestation-like port is also not like driving to grandmas around the block in your car unless you use AutoDock which is a newer feature of the game. (Note: All ships come equipped with AutoDock, Auto Launch and Auto Cruise. Auto Cruise can be useful when hyper-traveling around the galaxy.)

Focus on the task at hand

Doing most anything successfully in Elite Dangerous feels like an accomplishment

So you can move around in Elite Dangerous and you’re learning the keybindings and termology? Good. Now what? As a noob to ED at just over 80 hours (at the time of this post) I have learned about a few things you can do in this vast openworld galaxy. There is a war going on within the game but it appears to me, at least visually speaking, to be a nearly silent war (maybe it’s different in Open mode with human players?). But nevertheless, space is really big and so unless you go looking for a fight you might not find any. Each port features a news and mission board which displays information about the faction war and their particular allegiance (if any). You can choose to do missions for the leaders of the factions to earn credits (in game currency) or go exploring on your own.

I have found that doing Courier jobs at first helps as you are learning how to jump from star system to system and it doesn’t require any cargo space. The data is store on your internal computer and if you get scanned by another ship or pirate they will not try to steal your stuff. NPC’s or none playable characters are all that is found in the solo mode but in Open play mode you will encounter human players.

Should we land there?

Explore some Planets with Horizons

Recently I have begun to explore systems and map individual planets using the Detailed Surface Scanner (which must be bought at a Starport). The data you get after mapping a planet and from discovered systems can be sold 20ly (light years) away in a different star system for sometimes hundreds of thousands of credits!) If you prefer combat, you can learn how to shoot other ships down and gain credits for doing it. Besides doing missions, you might try mining an asteroid, landing on a planet and disabling turrets on the base for a particular faction leader. This is part of the war except you won’t encounter actual people or aliens walking around with guns. Maybe you like to free-roam and wish to visit a random planet (not for a mission). You can with the included SRV (Surface Recon Vehicle) that is part of the Horizons expansion pack in Elite Dangerous. Horizons is great especially if you want to be able to land on some of the planets and moons. (Note: As of this post there is no life on the planets and you cannot land on any Earth-like planets)

Request docking permission

The Universe in Elite Dangerous is really big

I haven’t really scratched the surface (aside from a few planets) of what this game probably has to offer since I am still quite new. However, I have been able to get a glimpse of what this game is and how vast it is. Elite Dangerous is masterpiece in it’s size and beauty but something more jaw dropping is what this game is based off of. When you go outside on a clear night, look up at the night sky and see hundreds of dots of light and realize those are suns similar to our own—one cannot but ask at least one big question. Who made all this?

I know the Maker of the Universe and perhaps you do as well. But if you do not know the Creator Almighty God, there is a reason why it matters more than anything else on this earth. Elite Dangerous was made by mere men but someday all men will face God. Some will meet God willingly in worship and some will be kicking and screaming but today you have an opportunity to find out who the true God really is and why it matters. Many people believe in Heaven but if hell is real place you need to find out what that means to you. I don’t want anyone to go there. If you haven’t already why not check out the good person test linked at my website or read my post called 5 things you should know before you die. And if you have a Bible start reading in John 1. The good person test and starting with John 1 from the Bible will give you a good start to understanding who God is and why it matters since none of us are promised tomorrow. And in case you wondered, this is a matter of life or death and not about joining a religion or church.

Outpost – Time to fuel up

But after all we’ve learned, is the game any good?

You learn quite a bit in Elite Dangerous, you need to even to survive but is it a game I would recommend? And how about that learning curve? I would enthusiastically recommend Elite Dangerous but especially to anyone with special interest in Flight/combat simulators and/or truck simulation games with a twist. If you don’t mind learning and setbacks and frustrations and grind to get a reward (menial at first) then you might like this game. Each person is different but do your research and then if you still like what you see, get it on sale with Horizons. Naturally, you will need to take your time to learn ED but I think it can be a rewarding experience when you learn something new. I know it has been for me (and that’s saying a lot).

My Rating (out of 10) 8.5 out of 10


AreYouGood.us

5 things you should know before you die

My early steam review

Elite Dangerous Deluxe Edition on Steam

Elite Dangerous Official Site

Elite Dangerous Manual

Watch what hope looks like -FullyFreeFilms.com


images are my own in-game screenshots

Discovering Planet Coaster in 2019

Planet Coaster, is it for you?

Planet Coaster or Planco for short, (not to be confused with Planet Fitness), it seems was released a long time ago (2016) but this year (2019) I have finally got my hands on it.

Will you like it?

Everyone’s tastes are different but if you enjoy city and/or transport building sims (City Skylines/Transport Fever) and management style games you will probably like/love Planet Coaster.  Note about Roller-Coaster Tycoon Series from the early 2000’s: I never got into the Roller-coaster tycoon games from the early 2000’s, but if you liked those games, I’ve heard this game improves upon them.

Game Summary

Build roller coasters and rides while you manage staff and the rides (yes, the rides do break down for which you will need a mechanic.) You can play various modes. Challenge, campaign or Sandbox/free play mode (unlimited money). I haven’t played the scenarios as all my time has been in sandbox mode (80+ hours and counting). 

Graphics

Good to excellent. 
Something to keep in mind though. Must have a high end computer to play this game otherwise you will probably become disappointed with the performance. (My computer has 16 gb ram, 8700k and gtx 1070ti 8 gb, and it still slightly lags, stutters when building a park to fill the default map size.) There are also some anti aliasing issues visible at certain angles which for me slightly mar the overall quality level of the graphics. 

Where’s the people? The park isn’t open yet

Tips for first-time players

Before you really get into building a good park, I recommend practicing getting use to using hot keys on a empty map (in sandbox mode). Here are a few of my favorite commands and settings. 
NO CLIP – In the menu camera settings, be sure the option NO Clip is selected. This allows movement through terrain ( otherwise building/moving/seeing underground will be impossible or difficult. ) 
Key Command T allows a first person camera view which is essential when building tunnels and general moving around the map. 
X allows the precise placement of objects and rides without the camera moving (especially when you zoom in). 

Two hands on the controls

Using your mouse in the right hand and W A S D keys with the left hand move the camera around the map. Hold SHIFT while pressing WASD keys to speed up the movement. When you have the T key toggled (don’t hold it down), raise and lower the camera with Q and E keys. Note: If those keys rotate, then press T to enable first person view (freelook).

Ctrl Z will undo your last action and Ctrl Y will redo it. 

The path and track laying system could be improved (Transport Fever gets it right) but in time you will understand how pathing works in Planet Coaster, so don’t give up.  Note: there are two ways to make a path. Either on a grid or freeform. (In my experience, both ways kind’ve stink and could have been implemented better. Just remember to practice to see which method works for you best)

When all fails, you might consult a YouTube tutorial or two or three.

Rating

My rating (out of 10): 7.5 

It’s on Steam

Get the game and dlc in a bundle on a steam sale and it’s a great deal. 

Comments

What do you like (or not) about Planet Coaster? Tips or tricks for me? I would love to hear them.


Planet Coaster Official Site

Planet Coaster on Steam

See what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com


Images are my own

5 Reasons World Unrest Will Grow

unrest

1. We are rebellious people –  From birth we are against God and choose to go our own way.

2.  We have broken God’s law (the Ten Commandments)  (The Good Person Test demonstrates this well)

3. Sin separates us from God.

Starting in the Garden of Eden, our relationship and sweet fellowship we once had with God has been broken.

4. Further from God – As people get further from God, the more trouble there will be on the earth.

 

 5.  The Bible Predicts it –  What God says about the end times and His plan for salvation has been predicted in the Bible, whether we read His word or not.

 


 


There is hope

Watch hope in action – Fullyfreefilms.com

 

 


image source

Watch 7 Reasons Movie: “It’s okay to kill a baby in the womb when?”

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
  • Infant disabilities
  • 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.

What reasons would you give for/against abortion?

Find out more


Watch any film at FullyFreeFilms.com to see what hope looks like


5 things you should know before you die

1. God is holy and perfect

God cannot have sin in His presence.

 (Psa. 5:4, Hab. 1:13)


2. We broke God’s Law

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 3:36Titus 3:4-7Ro 6:23)


Watch any film at FullyFreeFilms.com to see what hope looks like


Image source

Discovering American Truck Simulator MODS

The Open Road in American Truck Simulator

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.

Tractor hauling a tractor in American Truck Simulator

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)

Mods and links for adding more AI traffic, trucks and trailers

Non Steam Workshop Traffic Mod Packs by Jazzycat (for 1.34) (See all Jazzycat mods updated for 1.35 here)

Trailer and Company Wizards

If you really want to have fun with your trailers and types of trailers that will spawn at company locations check out this trailer tweak wizard and company wizard

A little about tweaking Steam Workshop mods.

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

Something you don’t see everyday

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.


Discovering American Truck Simulator

American Truck Simulator on Steam

Steam Workshop for American Truck Simulator

American Truck Simulator Official Site

My Complete Steam Mod Subscription List for ATS

Watch what hope looks like – FullyfreeFilms


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! 

 

Discovering American Truck Simulator

Driving view in a semi truck in American Truck Simulator

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!

Sunset, external view of driving my truck in American Truck Simulator

The good

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!

The Graphics

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.

ATS User Interface with custom truck skin

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.

Mods

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.

wrecked doubles trailers in ATS
My first day on the job? Not a good start.

The not-so-good

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.

Missing Trucks

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)

Final thoughts

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.

Check out my post on some favorite mods for American Truck Simulator here


Discovering American Truck Simulator MODS

American Truck Simulator on Steam

American Truck Simulator Official Site

Watch what hope looks like – FullyfreeFilms


Note: All images are from modded trucks and trailers in American Truck Simulator