Today I founded the ‘Two at Once’ bus company; It had been a lifelong dream to serve the masses with getting from A to B. In this day and age, we have some wonderful technology at our disposal. So, with the limited funds I had, I thought I would hire a bus simulation company, Stillalive Studios, to get me up to speed.
I’d like to document this, so any other potential public transport entrepreneurs can avoid the pitfalls. So, before we begin… Tickets, please!
Bus Simulator 2016 is Stillalive Studio’s first foray into the simulation market, but not the first for their publisher – Astragon Entertainment GmbH. With the rich history of the publisher, I went into Bus Simulator 2016 with merry optimism. Was that optimism returned with a smooth journey? Or, was I going to have to report the driver for reckless abandonment? I had my company on the line here.
Things’ started off good, on the provided tablet, the user interface is simple to navigate, and is clean. The main options for the day-to-day running of the company are on the left-hand side of the screen. From here I could do everything to ensure that my company would become the first name that the public would think of when it came to public transportation. From hiring drivers, setting up the routes that I could best cover, and setting up company branding. We went with pink buses with a red flower decal. I say we, my daughter wasn’t going to leave me alone.
After watching the video tutorials, setting up the branding, and picking a relatively simple route, it was time to sit behind the wheel of my first simulated bus.
The layout of the dashboard was intimidating at first, kind of like going on a first date. I wasn’t sure how to get the engine going at first, then I noticed I’d left the parking brake on. As I cruised down the road, I familiarised myself with the ticket machine, air-conditioning, and door controls. It was a summer day; I’d not want any of my passengers to go passing out. Court battles wouldn’t do the business any good.
As I was cruising down the road, I took in my surroundings. At this point, I paused the simulation to check I was in the correct program. Yes, I was. This was 2016, not 2012. My business mind kicked in, I knew now that the monies I had paid to partake in this simulation was not going on aesthetics or detail. Though it was still a little saddening to see the world looking so bland, with characters more akin to animated manikins, than say, people. Looking out of my wing mirrors, I noticed the world behind me fading into a white mist that wouldn’t be amiss from horror title, Silent Hill.
I took a deep breath; I was approaching stop #1. I slowed down, aligning myself with the marked area. There were people there, so I swung open the doors of the bus, and greeted them all with a smile. The passengers were polite enough, and understood that I was new to this. On they boarded, and after a few miscalculations on the change given, we were off.
Stop #2 approached. Great, just the one passenger. I opened the door, and on shuffled a drunk. Now, we’ve all taken the bus home after a few pints. Yet, it was 11:30am, so I notified him that I was unable to provide him carriage today. Sorry, Mr. Rand, but you need to take it easy on the booze, sir.
Now, I never made it to stop #3. The simulation was abruptly halted when I killed a pedestrian.
After several hours of expanding my route, hiring new drivers, and flirting with bankruptcy. I decided it was time to give up my dream of providing a public service to the masses. Though, not launching this company, could be argued as the best public service I could provide.
The feedback I provided to the simulation company was brief: I felt truly immersed in the bus, never had I sweated so much during a video game. I felt compelled to make sure that I was at each stop within the allotted time, that my buses were on brand, and that I did what was best for my customers. However, the world around me wasn’t what I’d expect from a title published in 2016, and after looking at the 2012 version, there isn’t any progress.
The handful of experiences that were truly negative were: Passengers’ purchasing unrealistic amounts of tickets. For example, one customer purchased 3 returns. They were the only passenger at that stop. The constant requests for the air-conditioning to be turned up and down, on the same trip; this cost me rather a lot of revenue for my time.
And, finally, there were no teenagers playing their loud music on speaker.
All being said, Bus Simulator 2016 isn’t for me. Maybe I’ll go try myself at farming, or delivering goods around Europe.