What I’ve Been Up To Lately

It’s been a while between drinks, this is true.

So what’s been keeping me busy lately? Well, everything from driving double decker buses, to flying a Spitfire Mk1a it would seem…

Did you just say…bus?

OK, so this ‘part’ post will predominately focus on the ‘bus’ bit of what I’ve been doing. I will cover the Spitfire and other planes I’ve recently had the pleasure of flying in sim land soon, however. I promise!

Anyway, back to the buses…since discovering ‘OMSI – The Omni Bus Simulator’, I have become quite addicted. This is definitely not your ordinary run of the mill ‘game’, no sir. OMSI brings with it unparallelled realism, physics-wise, audio-wise, and hey, the visuals aren’t that bad either. I don’t think you will find another bus simulator this detailed out there right now.

I have several YouTube videos already uploaded to the Harman Motor Works Blog channel that serve to do this sim more justice than just a few paragraphs of text, and I will link to a few of those videos at the end of this post. In the meantime however, here’s a quick rundown of just what to look forward to with OMSI…

Buses? You’re funny, man

Sure, you might think I’m a bit ‘daft’ for driving these things, but I’ve had a secret fondness for buses for a long time and since I was young, I remember riding the various double-decker dinosaurs during school excursions and the like. There is something quite special in driving something so large, with so many people aboard, on ordinary streets, without incident (hopefully). OMSI gives me a chance to (almost) live out that desire to drive these behemoths. All that is missing is the smell of diesel…hmm…

Next stop…Melrose…I think…

One of the great things about OMSI is that you actually have the chance to pickup, drop off and generally transport passengers about in a virtual environment, with variable environments, traffic levels and with a variety of buses. What’s more…you are also given the chance to sell tickets to passengers as they board. I joked early on that this sim could almost be considered to be a fun ‘maths game’ with the amount of ticket sales you are sometimes called on to perform. Not only do you need to select the correct ticket to offer the passengers, but you are frequently called on to deal with calculating and giving back the correct change; some passengers will complain if you get it wrong, others, if you have accidentally given too much change, will gladly accept the ‘tip’. Bastids. :o

What’s under the hood?

As mentioned briefly above, OMSI is blessed with an ultra-realistic physics model. Your buses tyres will scrub kerbs, (climb them if you’re especially careless, lazy, green, or all of the above), exhibit realistic movement physics and each bus also has realistic systems modelling such as air brakes, transmissions, and engine power. Think you’ve mastered the art of driving an old-school MAN SD77? Try driving it at night during a snow storm. It’s whole different ball game.

The cockpits in these old buses are loaded with switches, all clickable in the sim, which offer everything from cab lighting, heating, to hydraulic drivetrain braking. Incidentally, it is quite funny to go picking up passengers during a night bus run, and having forgotten to turn on the interior lights, hear the passengers complain about the darkness.

Which brings me onto another point: passengers won’t say much if your driving well and getting things right (or at least right-ish), but mess something up, and boy will you hear about it! :D Climb a kerb, run late, drive during the freezing months without the interior heating running, and be prepared for the tirade of complaints which will surely eminate from the rear of the bus. Really foul up though (hit another car, stationary object, etc) and most passengers will complain even louder and signal to leave the bus immediately. Fun times.

I would go as far as suggesting that if you should decide to try this sim out (and you definitely should), to avoid picking up any passengers until you at least get the hang of driving these behemoths in the first place. You will quickly learn that there is a certain art to taking corners in tight quarters with cars and pedestrians surrounding you, and you will learn to judge distances down to the last inch as you squeeze past heavy traffic. If this sim has taught me one thing, it’s: ‘when you think you’re close, you can get closer…until you hit something’. Hah.

I should mention that the native language for the game is German and the included maps are somewhat based on real-world German locales, so voices are naturally all German as is the writing on the tickets (which makes selecting the correct ticket a challenge sometimes), street names, destinations, towns, and well, pretty much everything else. However the sim is easily moddable and there are English sound packs and the like out there, not to mention a flurry of add-on third party buses, of which the quality is varying. I have also personally created an English ticket mod which I may well release on the Harman Motor Works official website soon.

Tickets please…

In closing I would recommend this sim to anyone remotely interested in buses, simulations or driving in general. I am glad I found this sim, I stumbled across it back around February whilst perusing real-world buses for sale on eBay. Fancy that.

Having had a Logitech G27 in my possession for over 2 years now, I’m glad to have finally found a great use for it. Being that most buses in the sim are also automatic, I was especially glad to have recently downloaded an add-on bus that offered a manual transmission which fully utilised the G27’s gear shift gate and clutch. Double wow! It should go without saying that all the buses in OMSI support the G27’s excellent 900-degree steering wheel rotation which offers superb steering fidelity and realism.

Below I’ve included a brief gallery of screenshots as well as links to some of my YouTube videos as well as a direct link to the official OMSI homepage.

Enjoy, and get on that bus!!

YouTube video #1: OMSI Familiarisation – Quick Run Around Bad Kinzau

YouTube video #2: OMSI – Bad Kinzau to Saasdorf – Snow Day

YouTube video #3: OMSI – Bad Kinzau – Ikarus 260 – Driving Stick

Official OMSI website: http://www.omnibussimulator.de/english.htm