Interview with DJ Bob, DJ Sundance and Giants Software PR Manager Martin. September 16th, 2018 on Simulator Radio!
Bob: Well, good afternoon, we're on the radio. Eventually. Sorry, I had some technical issues. I am joined in the studio by DJ Sundance. How are we doing, Sundance?
Sundance: I'm feeling well, how are you, Bob?
Bob: Yep, we're doing alright now that we're connected to the radio. I don't know what happened there. We're also joined by Martin, one of Giants Software's PR- is that what you're doing, Martin?
Martin: Yes. I'm a PR and Marketing manager.
Bob: Excellent. So welcome along Uhh... We have a few questions for you… Ehm… very professional as always.
Bob: It hasn't been the best of starts today. So you did a run yesterday, didn't you? Was it a mudrun for charity or what?
Martin: Uhh, no, to be honest, that's one thing I noticed when I lived in the UK for five years, it looks like everytime someone is a runner, you tie it to charity. That's something we don't really do here in Germany. I'm not saying that we shouldn't do it, it might be a good idea but I notice it's very common over there. So it might be surprising to you that people run a tough mudder without donating something to charity.
But yeah, I did a tough mudder run, 16 kilometres in 18 (of what?) and I quite enjoy my day on the couch today and chatting with you guys.
Bob: Brilliant. Total misconception where I thought it was for charity. Obviously not then. *laughs*
Martin: No, no, like I said, it's not that common here to support runners for charity, while it's a good thing, of course. (took some liberty here, as he was repeating what he had said earlier) It's also because an ex-colleague of mine posted a similar thing that he's running a tough mudder next week I think and he's like "sponsor me for this charity!" and I'm like… we don't do these things in Germany. So I'm running a tough mudder, and he's doing one for charity and I thought… maybe I should do that…
Bob: Brilliant, yes. So you've had a good weekend then? We're going to chat to you about the up and coming release of Farming Simulator 19 today. Sundance, you want to get us started?
Sundance: Yeah, yeah, sure! First of all, I mean, I don't know what's on everybody's mind but we're really excited for FS19 to be coming out. What would you say to someone who's been away from the farm for a while and you want to entice them back with this release?
Martin: Well it depends what you enjoy about the game most and what your type of playstyle is. Let's say if you really like multiplayer we've got this great new feature coming up where you have like multiple farms in multiplayer. Let's say you play with five friends and you split it up so that three people play on one farm, and three play on the other farm. And then you buy land instead of fields and then if some people from the other farm want to work on your fields you actually have to invite them.
Then they can work on your farm but usually you'd say "hey, if you help me harvesting my products I'm going to pay you some money." You can play cooperative in a way, but also try to bid against each other, working against each other. Plus if you're the kind that jumps in game from time to time who wants to help out, you can basically play with a third farm and you don't even buy land, you're just buying machines and help out on other farms so you're more like a contractor.
So that's a really cool feature in terms of multiplayer. If you really… If you don't like multiplayer and want to play offline there are other things. Like if you're a big John Deere fan. John Deere is obviously the biggest pusher for that you'd say. The graphics have improved. You've got horses coming up if you like to take care of animals and maybe ride around your farm. The new customization options with the 3D shop.
But for me actually the multiplayer is the one I'm looking most forward to. It just opens so many possibilities.
Bob: That there sounds like a really good feature, the co-op farming and stuff, I'm quite excited about that like that's definitely up there in my top 2-
Sundance: I'm ready for PVP farming. Farmer vs. Farmer.
Martin: Oh yeah.
Sundance: Going after Bob with a pitchfork when he's adding mods to the server.
Bob: Yeah that's one of my big things… I like mods. I definitely like mods. Just as we're talking about multiplayer, is there any… a couple of our listeners have been in touch asking if there's going to be any changes to the synchronisation of the multiplayer or any fixes or improvements to make it faster?
Martin: Ah, to be honest, uhh, because I'm not a developer, I can only like say what I heard the last few weeks. So there have been continued improvements towards that and when we played multiplayer last time at the office it was synching quite fast. But it's still going to be there, but the synching will be continuously improving but to completely get rid of it would probably be the ideal case. I think it would mean there would be other things that you know. The thing with the synchronizing is there is too much to sync like all the ground information like what's growing, where, what is the status of the wear on the machines so that is the reason why there is synchronizing and why some multiplayers don't have it because they don't store so much information per meter of the ground I would say. We always try to improve it.
Bob: Compared to 17, compared to 15, 17 is a lot better with the synchronisation, in my opinion anyway.
Martin: Yeah, I think in 17 one of the bigger things that we changed there was that it didn't immediately synchronize like the whole map but it started with the surroundings around you so what you don't realize is that when you change version is fine, but when you change quickly again, it's…
Bob: More laggy.
Martin: yeah. But in theory you start with a first machine and it's synched already. These are like small steps that we do to kinda reduce it. And there's currently know realistic way at the moment to completely remove it or make it so fast you're not even realizing it. But we try to improve it all the time, yeah.
Bob: Excellent. Sundance?
Sundance: Yeah, you know it's funny because with you talking about the developers and one thing I really love to hear is when you say something like… "I heard this around the office." Because, you know, that's the kind of stuff that I like, you know. Because some players usually take for granted all the challenges developers have. And of course, players are good at complaining and I'm good at complaining so… So we can better understand how complex development can be… what feature of FS19 did you hear around the office was the most challenging to get it working right?"
Martin: Probably depends on the developer you ask. You know, like the guy who works in multiplayer would definitely say multiplayer. I think ah, again, it's kinda a subjective thing. The most time consuming is always all the machines in the game, some like the trickiest ones you know. It's not something we did in the past but the new game has over 300 vehicles and tools, and it costs so much time than what I realized because from a PR Marketing perspective you try to take screenshots and once you take the screenshot, someone realizes "hey, there's a mirror that doesn't really look like real life, look at this photo there."
And then this thing has to be changed again because of the professionalism which is something that makes you think. But it makes my life sometimes a bit harder because we try to make machines as realistic as possible and it's kind of an eternal process, you know, it gets designed by cut data maybe, but sometimes the cut data is not complete - like stuff like mirrors, and then you just guess it and you get the design wrong and you have to design it again.
This takes a lot of time usually. But I think probably the trickiest one I could imagine is again the multiplayer. The new one with the farms because there are a lot of things that can potentially break the whole game. There are so many things that you have to think about and one of the first things we thought was like 'Okay, let's do two farms'. Super cool, nice feature. And then someone was like... "yeah, but what if someone wants to fast forward the time?" And then they went like… Uh. Yeah. Can't really do that!
Bob: That'd definitely make for interesting gameplay. Especially if you're seeding something and you're halfway through seeding it and someone speeds up the time and… I play on servers and we do that quite often, but… you've got half a crop growing and half a crop not growing. Very complex.
Martin: Yeah, and things like uh if you play but your friend from the other farm doesn't play and you fast forward time while you play… will his crops rot for example? I mean, he could be on vacation and comes back to his crops that are rotten.
Bob: Or have disappeared.
Martin: Yes. And then of course sometimes even features come out of it, you know. Because I think initially when we started talking about this it was like… 'yeah I know, we could have different farms and you do that and you work on your field… but yeah but what if the other farmer comes around and just cultivates my field?' You know, you must not be allowed to do something like that, it opens so much towards griefing.
Sundance: There's the PVP thing!
Martin: But that's the reason why we said 'Okay, let's make it so that they can't do anything on your field unless you allow them to.' And then we thought well, maybe we could do something contract style so you allow them to work in a field and you pay them for it. So it kind of developed and it was on the one hand very time consuming but I still think it's kind of a tricky thing because it affects all the areas in the game. Not just one thing, like you say horses as a new feature, it's kind of a bubble inside the game.
You have horses, you have oat, you focus on the horses and the riding animation looks good, feeding them works well, but it doesn't affect the whole rest of the game in a way but multiplayer with several farms it touches everything. Things like… what if it locks someone out of the game will the tractor still be visible? All these questions and to be honest I don't know all the answers to most of them and I can't be bothered learning them all the time because they might change. 'Hey, let's do it like this,' and then a week later 'Oh no, it didn't work!' So I tell the guys to tell me once it's ready, how it works.
And the multiplayer is still… the good thing with multiplayer is that we still get to work on it until launch, we can still play with it before launch. And if you need a patch anyway we can still focus on that.
Sundance: You mentioned that the horses... you introduced oats...are there any other crops that will be introduced to this release?
Martin: Yes actually, the big one is cotton. Together with this gigantic cotton harvest is ksh (?) and yeah, of course they'd be more fitting for the US map Ravenport that we're going to have. We also have the second map, you know, the European map, I think you can grow cotton there but it would not be too (?) to be honest but for the US environment they're quite fitting.
Bob: Not very practical this European map I wouldn't have thought, but it was the same with sugar cane that came out in FS17 there you could play that on the standard maps as well as the new one it came out with. Can't remember what it was, pastatcho? patatcho?
Martin: Estancia La Patcho is the name. Yeah.
Bob: I can never pronounce that. But yeah, absolutely awesome map there.
Martin: It could be that cotton is that they produce this gigantic... marshmellow or how do you call that in English? Sugar ... that you get on fun fairs? That you can lick?
Bob: Candy Floss.
Martin: Candy Floss! It looks a bit like that. Gigantic bales and then you've got the transporter with them so... I think you've got two types like where you can plant for one of these bales and one where you can transfer to. They are so big that a truck with a trailer can only carry two of them so it's quite interesting to look at it. It's my recommendation to go on youtube and try to find a video something like 'transporting cotton bale trailer' or something like that. It kinda sucks the whole thing onto the trailer, it looks quite cool and we have that in the game too.
Bob: Yeah, definitely. Will have to take a look into that! I'm quite excited for cotton as well now! There we go; horses, cotton.. multiplayer...
Sundance: You know what else... I mean as an American.. I'm excited that the color of the new expansion is definitely green. Right? John Deere? John Deere green?
Martin: There is also orange though!
Sundance: Is it orange? Yeah, I know but it's still, you know, the green hat and the green tractors and all the stuff that I grew up with. You know, it's really exciting to see that you guys had gotten an agreement with John Deere to get them into the farm... well I know that the Europeans well enjoy it too, I mean, I know that there are some hardcore farmers out there that have their favourite brands... Do you have a favourite tractor, Martin?
Martin: Well, to be honest with you, when I was growing up I thought that all tractors are green with red rims. So you probably know what I'm talking about. It was only later when I was older I realized that they can look different. But back then in my village everyone had Fendt. So for me, Fendt is still the tractor brand I just know the best. That's the one I grew up with but I was so happy to hear we had John Deere in the game mainly because the largest agricultural machine company in the world I'd say!
And it was so exciting to keep it secret for like months until we revealed at E3. There are a few cool stories like players almost found out about it because an intern at John Deere dealer saw us like coming in with goodie bags so he asked the manager like 'what were these guys doing here?' and had no idea that John Deere sent them and he went to a fansite and telling like he had seen us at a John Deere dealer... and we were like... "oh my god, what have you done there?!" It was for sound recordings, which we did first before we revealed because it was too dangerous, people could spot us. It's crazy how these people find out.
Bob: Yeah, yeah. There was lots of speculation after the first videos that you released before the E3 one, there was a lot of speculation like a lot on the different forums and lots of people said "Well yeah, it's John Deere, it's definitely John Deere!" But yeah, I was sat on the backseat, I wasn't committing to it until I had actually seen it.
Martin: In the first CG trailer with the tractor in the garage it was a John Deere but a different model than we had later. We tried to do everything to lure people in the wrong direction like reduce all the color, the shadows, even removing the lights and the ladders that are on the tractor to make it look less obvious... I even checked the - there's a scene where you see the farmer, the face of the farmer close up and I thought you know I had no idea they were so crazy - the CGI guys zoomed in on the eyes to see if they didn't have a reflection of the John Deere in the eyes and okay, they hadn't done it so that's good. Because I thought... 'someone's going to do it, check it!"
Bob: Someone would have spotted that, definitely. You know what the community is like.
Sundance: I know that there are so many mods developed by the community and some of them become universally loved. Universally loved and used by everybody, have any of the mods from the past that seemed very very popular been incorporated into the new version? I don't mean directly like taking the mod but just a matter of making something in game that in the past was left to modders.
Martin: I think that that generally happens, I mean two that I know that are in FS19 are crop destruction ground control even though you could argue that they're mods but they were examplarly so it was a bit easier but they were done in free time back then. So technically I'd say they count as mods and now we've included them in the game. But other mods I think if we do that then it's usually - I mean, we've done it in the past too - our own code as far as I know because just including a mod like that would also be like stealing. You don't want to steal the work of a modder like that.
What happens often is that people just say that they just stole the mod from someone and put it in the game, but that's usually not the case. It has a different development plus very often we already had this idea too but in the end we have to make compromises like what makes it into the game and what doesn't. Sometimes things get pushed to the next version, in the meantime mod comes out and then you put it in the next game and it looks like we took inspiration from a mod. So, I'm not saying that we never took inspiration from a mod, that happens too, but often we want to put it in the game. Pretty sure that this time we add Lime... is it? Or is it chalk? Here in Germany we say Kalk... is it Lime?
Bob: Yes, it's Lime.
Martin: Chalk is the thing on the whiteboard right, in classrooms?
Martin: So yeah, you have lime in the ground and I'm sure that there's a mod where you have that.
Bob: Yeah, yeah, there is.
Martin: But it's also been in discussion for years before for the other versions so eventually, we put it in there. So it could sound like we added another mod but it was something we had all planned years before but just hadn't added it to the game yet. So this will always happen I think that there are mods or that they'll be put in and if there's something that is a good mod and we think it's a good thing to include we'll certainly think about it.
Sundance: Well I know that as a member of the community myself who plays that we're all grateful that you embrace the modding community as much as you do and provide an editor that we can go in and mess up your fine work.
Martin: I think in general opinion is (?) companies because all the farming, you know the whole system is so complex that we can't really cover it all. You know it would take years, even more years now to put everything in there so we kinda make the base game - many people call it wonderlaggy (?) for like everyone and we kind of see the mods as specialisation. So if there are splinter groups or subgroups of people who want to play like exactly like this way, then people can come up with mods and you can kind of individualize your game. So we try to focus on features that a lot of people would really want to play so basically it sounds harsh, but you know creating something for something like 5% of the player base is sometimes not really efficient. So that's where modders can come in and that's something we really appreciate; that people can create their own mods but share them with a community and then people can play the way they want to play.
Sundance: Right, so I'm just going to plant the seed now... for Farming Simulator 2021... Chainsaw duelling.
Martin: What kind of percentage of players would-
Sundance: I know, I know. Point zero zero one percent. It's just me. I admit it. I'm the only one so I might have to write the mod myself, there you go.
Bob: Yeah, definitely don't add that because I'll probably be at the other end of that chainsaw. That wouldn't be nice. No, definitely.
Sundance: So I'll be Like... "okay.. you've added another 300 mods this morning" and then I attack him with a chainsaw. One of the other questions... one of our listeners want to know - and I don't think you can really answer this but if Bob had a farm, how long do you think it would last before he went completely bankrupt? And I know the answer to this, though, because he occasionally might... you know... use a mod to get some extra money in the bank so we never go bankrupt. It's a mod, so it's not cheating, right? It's just... you know...
Martin: You have different types of difficulty levels in the game and you're just trying the hardest one. This time it changes a little bit more because I don't know if you know that, but the player system also changed a bit so when you place like silos or a garage, for starters the environment... so if you'd place it on a hill or steep area, it still looks good that's the one thing. And once we thought about this, we thought; 'okay, we can change it a bit more' and then when the multiplayer system came in we also went so far that we said 'you know, you have to be able to place your farmhouse somewhere if you have multiple farms in multiplayer, I mean, the players have to be able to pick where they live.' So on the hardest difficulty you can choose like where you live, and you don't even start with like with any placeables so you place your farm, you place your garage, your animal barns... so on the hardest one you have to place everything yourself, with not a lot of money.
Bob: That is excellent, that! That's definitely the game's been lacking, like in my perspective you're stuck with 'this is the fields, and this is where your farm is'. But you don't always want the farm where the farm is. You want it somewhere else. Yeah, so that's really something that's really interesting coming into FS19.
Martin: One of my favourite features would actually be that we can actually track where people place their farms but we don't do that. But I'd love to see that in the end, to see a food network and where people placed their farm, that would be super interesting from my point of view but yeah, we can't really do that.
Bob: That'd definitely be an interesting feature there.
Bob: We got some awesome information so far. Just so much to take in. What do you think, Sundance?
Sundance: Oh yeah, I mean I'm looking forward to it. And just to take care of that, FS19 releases November 20th, right?