SCS Software is well-known for its massive catalog of simulation titles. Specifically, vehicle simulators. The studio has been a major contributor to the genre for several years at this point. Nowadays, however, it’s really only focused on two projects: American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2. These are both very popular in the sim world and despite both being multiple years old, the devs continue to update them with improvements, changes, and new content. Quite a lot of work has been put into both titles thus far, but it would be nice to see if they could be expanded upon. Perhaps, using ATS/ETS2 as a base, SCS should consider returning to a section of the driving-sim genre it’s visited before: bus-driving simulation.
I must admit that this thought didn’t come to me until I heard it mentioned by a well-known simulator YouTuber, who’s channel name is simply: “Squirrel”. During one of his gameplay videos of Fernbus Simulator, he mentioned how he thinks it would be cool if SCS were to create a modern bus simulator since there are so few of them floating around. Those that are currently active aren’t really up to snuff when compared to the caliber of simulators like American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator. To add to that, he also made a good point: SCS could simply build upon the assets they’ve created for the two aforementioned simulators. After he said this, the idea just made so much sense to me.
Both ATS and ETS feature pretty huge and very detailed maps. There are miles and miles of virtual landscapes, complex road networks, intricate cities and towns, and well-modeled landmarks. On top of that, SCS clearly has quite a lot of experience with building vehicle simulators, specifically dealing with big machines. A bus and a semi-truck aren’t really in the same class, but the driving mechanics are rather similar. They’re both heavy vehicles and require a lot of steering power due to their length in addition to weight. So, not only could SCS re-use the assets of the worlds that’s been built for ATS/ETS 2, but the physics system could also be reused. All that’s needed is some tweaking and voila! Okay, maybe it’s not that easy, but it’s definitely a solid foundation. The core aspect of any driving/racing game is how realistic the handling and physics are, and ATS/ETS 2’s strength in this area would definitely serve as good blueprints for this hypothetical new bus simulator.
Really, the overall engine that powers both these simulators is pretty decent, though anyone who owns either of these titles will tell you that optimization is not its strongest point. Even on powerful hardware, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent frame rate (especially when playing via the internal view). As alluded to earlier, certain aspects of it would have to be rebuilt, such as the physics and interaction with the game world (creating passenger stations instead of cargo depots). So, if SCS were to reuse this engine, it would definitely be nice if the team could also spend some time tweaking the performance so that it plays better with modern systems.
The beautiful and complex worlds of ATS/ETS 2 are a great foundation for a hypothetical new bus simulator.
I believe this would be a good path for SCS to take. As stated before, there aren’t really that many other bus simulators out there, so it’s not as if there’s much in the way of competition. The icing on the cake for this whole fantasy of an idea is that SCS actually already has already pulled off this concept before in the past. The team created a bus simulator by reusing the engine and assets from their former mainline truck simulator series. This bus driving sim was Bus Driver and it was built upon the 18 Wheels of Steel engine.
Bus Driver was a mission-based driving game. All of the gameplay took place in individual scenarios. It gave players impetus to drive a number of different buses under various circumstances. For instance, there were school bus missions, while others consisted of transporting workers and tourists. Some missions spiced things up with a change in weather conditions to make driving a little more interesting. There was also always the constant pressure of being on time, obeying traffic laws, and driving as smoothly as possible. Points would be rewarded and deducted depending on the performance of the driver. It was a fun game, albeit one that was rather short. After you’ve played all the missions, there isn’t much else to come back to. Had Bus Driver featured an open-world map like its cousin 18 Wheels of Steel, then perhaps it would’ve been better. Well, that brings us back to the concept of a new, modern bus simulator.
It’s been about eleven years since Bus Driver was released, so now’s a good time as any for a successor to come about. Technology is clearly a lot better, so it would be nice to see what SCS could do with creating new models. All of the buses in Bus Driver lacked a cockpit for some reason, so now would be a good time to fix that. Going back to the idea of using ATS/ETS 2 as a base, it would definitely also be nice if SCS went the open-world route this time around. They could also use this at the opportunity to make the city areas of the map even more intricate. There are already pedestrians roaming around, but that could be expanded upon in ways like giving the character models proper animations for entering/exiting the buses. Maybe even introduce foot traffic along the streets, like in other open-world titles. I believe if there’s any sim team that has the ability to pull this off, it’s SCS. But, as psyched as I’d be to see this come to fruition, I doubt it ever will. As stated before, the team seems to have its hands completely tied to supporting American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2. Speaking of which, the ATS community, in particular, has been a bit annoyed with the slow trickle of new content in the form of map expansions. This is due to SCS wanting to strive for quality over quantity, which is great, but clearly takes a lot of time. So, perhaps taking on a new project of any kind isn’t really high on the priority list for this team. Even so, one can still dream…