Discovering American Truck Simulator MODS

The Open Road in American Truck Simulator

Updated 6/29/19 (For ATS version 1.34)

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

  • 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)
  • 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)

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

Non Steam Workshop Traffic Mod Packs by Jazzycat

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

What Lego City Undercover Has Proven

lego-city-undercover

Lego City Undercover is an extremely lite GTA style open-world game for computers and consoles that proves it is possible to make a popular family friendly open world game that is still fun but without profanity, prostitution and excessive gore.  In addition to this, the main playable character in Lego City Undercover is a police officer.  Yep.  That’s right, you play as a cop (Chase McCain) and actually have lots of fun and adventure in the process.

There are many fans of GTA that will always defend what it is. They will say it would never be possible for a similar game to exist that could be as fun unless the profanity, gore and prostitution exists.  I have long believed however that this claim could be proven wrong if only the game existed.  (By the way, I believe it’s actually the profanity and prostitution that is being defended from GTA games rather than the exploration of the beautifully rendered game world.

Enter Lego City Undercover

Lego City Undercover nearly achieves the objective of “fun to explore”.  Note I said nearly.  The world of Lego City has adventure and extensive exploration including flying helicopters but remember, the vehicles, aircraft and characters are made of computer generated Legos.  There is no blood and gore here just broken Lego bricks which is fine for what it is.  The sandbox open world style of Lego City Undercover is fun to explore even for adults like me but imagine if this world was not Legos but was a living breathing world complete with realistic looking people and vehicles.  (Imagine if there was an actual train horn for the trains…. something Lego City Undercover is inexplicably missing.)

If Lego City Undercover wasn’t made with Legos

I believe the concept and story found within Lego City Undercover is brilliant and should be developed into a realistic looking game world.  Even though Lego City Undercover is amazingly fun as it is with Legos, a realistic looking version of it (including a working train horn for the trains) would create a whole new game for me (and others) to play and completely accomplished without prostitution, profanity and excessive gore.

Will we ever see a cleaner GTA looking kind of game?  As of this post, one game to keep your eyes on is Police 1013 currently in development.

 

 

 

 

 


The Crew and the state of open world games

Third Person Open World Games Miss the Mark

My Review of Lego City Undercover on Steam

Police 10-13

Audacity

180movie

Athiest Movie

 


Image source

Would you be interested in a family-friendly version of Grand Theft Auto?

Vlc_2013-08-15_08-23-01-13

The question was once raised, “Would you be interested in a family friendly version of Grand Theft Auto?”

And my response is, absolutely.  By now, there are mods available which turn GTA games including GTA 5 into a similar family friendly gaming experience.  Yet I believe there is money to be made for any game company/developer who developed a GTA 5 style open world game without the extensive profanity, sex and violence (specifically against others) which GTA games are known for.  Essentially it could be GTA 5 lite.  This game would feature the same map, same natural environment including AI traffic but different gameplay options.  Police patrol? Yes. Catch bad guys? Yes.  Cause explosions? Sure.  Fly?  Drive?  Run? Yes, yes and yes.

In-game options are always good

Another option would be for Rockstar games to include a filter(s) within their games.  Simple on or off options for language.  Street dialogue profanity on/off.  Assassin’s creed Black Flag includes a similar option to remove blood.

We already see games which feature beautiful scenery but do not focus on swearing, sex and violence at every turn.  The CREW Wild Run is a perfect example.  However, The CREW only features a driving mode.  No running, walking, doing police patrols, exiting your car, etc.  In fact you can’t get out of your car at all.

Just Cause 2 is another example of a great open world game without sex and extensive swearing. In fact, the swearing can be virtually eliminated by lowering the volume for dialogue.  However, Just Cause 2 does not feature a modern American style city nor a map or vehicles like GTA 5.  Additionally, there is a lot of violence in Just Cause 2 (explosions and commando style shooting)—against the bad guys.

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption outside of missions doesn’t even feature all the sex, violence and swearing one can find in GTA 5.  Red Dead Redemption isn’t available for a PC nor does the map feature a modern American-like city.  In fact, RDR is a western game.

Modding GTA games

An open world game that virtually eliminates swearing, sex and allows the player assume the role of a good guy or as a cop will get my business.

At this point I will note the mod for GTA 5 called LSPDFR. LSPDFR is a police mod essentally allowing the player become a cop in the GTA 5 world.   The trouble with mod’s is how they cause GTA games to crash.  In the meantime, I will be waiting for a permanent solution to LSPDFR or even the family friendly mod for GTA 5.  Is Police 10-13 going to be that game?

 

Would you like to see a GTA 5 family friendly version or similar?


The Crew and the state of open world games

Third Person Open World Games Miss the Mark

Police 10-13

Audacity

180movie

Athiest Movie

 


Image source

The Crew and the State of Open World Games

Pic_20180109_004833_4096x2160

If you haven’t heard of it, The Crew is a massive online open world type game for PC and gaming consoles centered on driving cars and motorcycles.  The game allows the player to drive and race cars and motorcycles (2015 version) across a modified map of the United States.  Did I mention the map is large?  When the The Crew was released at the end of 2014 it was nice but was limited in its gameplay features and visual detail. It received criticism for it’s less than stellar graphics and static weather among other things. The game at that time did not feature dynamically changing weather as it does now in the most recent version of the game from 2015 (The Crew Wild Run).

Pic_20180109_003535_4096x2160

It is now 2018 and The Crew has been out for a few years but it still has many exciting elements to it.  For example, the world has been injected with a vibrant living world including people, animals, aircraft, balloons, and new and improved jumps and ramps.  I find this game a great rediscover since the original release of the game.  And if you purchase the expansion pack called Calling All Units, players can play the game from the cop’s side of things–with limitations.   Now it’s the limitations to The Crew  which make this game another great example of an awesome open world style game falling short of its full potential.

Game Limitations (and frustrations)

Let start with the police player limitations.  When playing as a cop in The Crew (Calling All Units) the player must gather wait for a notification enter a chase with another player.  Did I mention this game is online only? (I will get to that later.)   But seriously, why do I have to wait for a notification to chase another player?  And the chase isn’t a typical cops and robbers police chase either.  The driver you are chasing must take a crate from one point to another before the live police player can catch up to them.  It’s fun but it could be better.  What happened to patrolling the streets and pulling over speeding drivers, other online players and Ai drivers on a regular street?  In my opinion that would truly make for a great (and perfect) police expansion to The Crew.  There are limitations on the vehicle you get drive.  Opening up the number and variety of police vehicles would make things more fun too.

Online Only (sometimes stinks)

When playing the Crew, other driver players must sign in to play the game.  Live people are playing alongside you as you explore and race in this massive driving world. Sounds fantastic, right?  Sometimes this is great fun and sometimes it would be nice to be able to drive and explore the game with only AI drivers and without drivers who insist on trying to run your car off the road or engaging in demolition derby.

The Crew has been improved, visually since its first release.  But like other open world style games, there is great room for improvement especially in the realistic department.  In GTA 5 for example, we find many limitations and annoyances.  The game might feature a visually stunning map of grand proportions but a lack of realism and it’s over-the-top gratuitous elements ruin the game.  While it is great fun to blow things up and see large explosions I find types of games that feature disgusting profanity at every turn and on nearly every street corner as does GTA games ridiculous and unnecessary.  A simple profanity filter in the settings could fix this.  And as to the violence and sex, I do not play a game to kill bystanders or to have virtual sex.  I play open world games to mostly be able to explore the map and see the scenery whether it be by foot, in a car, boat, plane, train or motorcycle and have some fun with explosions, killing bad guys and playing as a cop in the process.  Oh, and did I mention the graphics and map should be at least as stunning and expansive as GTA 5.  I have yet to find this type of open world game but perhaps Police 1013 will be that game.

 


 

The Crew

Fullyfreefilms

Audacity Movie

Police 1013

The Crew 2


images are personal in game screenshots

Third-Person Open-World Games Miss the Mark

rdr_redemption_mountains02

 

Currently third-person open-world (GTA style) games made specifically for the console (Xbox 360, PS4 Xbox One) are ruined by unnecessary content.   Two words come to mind when I think of games made by Rockstar and others:  Unnecessary Vulgarity.   Many of these games such as Red Dead Redemption, Saints Row, GTA may feature great looking graphics and capabilities but that is about where they end in the “great” department.  They all had the potential of becoming quality, high standard games but with so many unavoidable directed narrative missions, unnecessary profanity and vulgarities wrapped in sickening lewdness makes these games simply not worth buying (or playing).

Now I know many people disagree but I believe it’s because there exists no alternatives to the vulgarity that permeates these types of games.   In the end the millions of us who want a competitive alternative lose.

Now I have written previously about my displeasure at gaming companies that will not make a decent, exciting, action filled third-person open-world game geared toward adults like me (and teens).   For example, where’s the sandbox style third person game that does not revolve around profanity, lewd sex acts, nudity, blaspheming God’s name and murder at ever turn?     Of course people (including the developers) probably hate God and have no problem with the list I just mentioned because that is precisely who the developers target.   But what about us who actually care about what God thinks?  What about us who enjoying gaming and challenges but actually care about true justice and doing the right thing?

Let me be clear, I believe gaming should be fun, exciting and action filled.   The bad guys should lose and the good guys should win.   The innocent should be protected and the police praised.   (There is too much of the bad guys winning in real life I don’t need more.)   It’s time for a game company to make a truly quality, visually stunning third-person, action-filled sandbox game that is actually open to explore.    My kind of game would be truly open-world as the name implies.  The map would be huge and there would be no mandatory missions with endless cut-scenes wrapped in a story just to “complete” the game.   A true game of exploration would mean the replayability would be a first.   It’s time for such a visually stunning game to be made that features explosions, driving, trains, planes, cars, helicopters, horse riding, killing the bad guys, stunts, free exploration and action, without unnecessary vulgarities or nudity.   If I was a game company this is what I would do and it would not only be popular but a big seller too.

 

Related Interest

Police 10-13 looks promising

Nearly Perfect Open-World Game

Raising the Bar in Gaming

FullyFreeFilms.com

 

 

Image source

The Nearly Perfect Open-World Game

open-world

Open-World Games Could Be Fun, If…

I have owned an Xbox 360 for a few years now but haven’t ever played an open-world game on it.  Now if you aren’t familiar, an open-world game allows the player (or players) to explore at will a large mapped out area within the game.  Missions and Challenges are usually spread throughout the map area for the player to discover.   It’s true, open world games look fun to me from a limited time playing GTA 4 with a police mod called LCPDFR but most of my knowledge about open-world games come from others—other people playing them on YouTube.    Now you may be wondering, why haven’t actually played much with these type of games if am so interested.  I mean really, it’s 2016 and many open-world games have already been released.

I don’t play much with this style of game is because well, I am a person with a higher standard.   I am an adult who enjoys third person action games probably in the style of GTA (Grand Theft Auto) 4 and 5 or even Red Dead Redemption but in today’s world it is impossible to find this type of open-world sandbox style game that truly rises to my standard for gaming.

High Standard…Really?

What is my standard you ask?    It’s what would make a game decent to play.  Such a game would be one that doesn’t surround itself with gratuitous sex, unrelenting cursing and profanity all bathed in extreme violence.  However the game I am talking about doesn’t exist despite it being the type of game that should be made.

Now it’s true most hard-core gamers mock people like me who want to remove cussing, sex  and extreme violence from a game.  They say it’s made that way for adults not kids.  Well, I am an adult person who likes games that are fun but doesn’t enjoy hearing cursing and words or lyrics of a song that blaspheme God’s name pumped into my head simply while I drive a car or boat fast, jump into and out of planes (or helicopters) and do other cool stunts.   Is this really to hard to ask?  Apparently for the gaming industry it just might be.

Graphically Rich

Why not create a game so graphically rich as GTA 5 without profanity at nearly every turn?  Why can’t a game company make an exciting stunt filled open world game similar to Just Cause or GTA that involves driving cars, planes, boats and trains as the good guy without sex scenes and only blowing people up?

Modding

This brings me to modding.  There are mods for these types of games which do exactly what I have just mentioned such as removing or toning down the excessive violence, profanity, sex and will allow the player to play as a police officer (think LSPDFR).  However, these Mods will only work for the computer version of a game and must be added in before you start the game.   So my big question is, if a mod can be made to “fix” a game that meets or exceeds my high standard why can’t game companies make a game that already accomplishes this?

High Standard Sales

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a game from a criminal’s perspective and it did very well, sales-wise.    And yet I believe a game of similar style could sell even more copies if it was raised to meet my incredibly high standard for what a good quality game could look like.  And while I’m at it, where are the graphically rich games that allow a player to take on the role of cop and do things like pulling over speeding vehicles without always ramming them?

So let me ask you?   If you like playing games, would you play a console or computer game that gives you the option to do fun stunts, drive cars, boats, planes, and trains within as graphically stunning an open and real world environment as GTA 5 but you could play as good guy?

 

Recommended

Third Person Open World Games Miss the Mark

Police 10-13

Audacity

180movie

Athiest Movie

 

 

Image source