Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel is a game centered around the big rigs that keep America running. In Hard Truck, your goal is to strike out on your own, starting and operating your own trucking company and aim for that great American Dream... earning $1 million! You can go it alone or you can hire contract drivers and outfit them with rigs to help you make your runs.
During the course of your travels, you will visit some of the great scenic locations of the US, including the Pacific Coast Highway, the deserts of the Southwest, the openness of the Midwest and, of course, Las Vegas!
So, let's fire that rig up and let's get going...
Getting the Game Started
To play the game, fire it up and behold the main menu. At the main menu, you can go into the options menu to play with the graphics, sound and control options (including joystick/wheel config), and quit the game back to the Windows desktop.
The three buttons at the top let you start a new game in "West Coast", "Midwest" or "Rockies" area. These areas have increasing difficulty, from Easy through Medium to Hard. If you click one of these buttons, you’ll be dropped into the game and your driver career may begin.
You can setup your joystick, joypad or wheel in the options menu. You can also look at the default key combinations there, but here are some of the major keys you need to know.
Arrow keys – drive truck
T – Attach trailer to your rig
D – Detach trailer from your rig
C – Call 911; this will repair your truck should you be terribly damaged or on a side
N – Bring up notepad
P – show/hide pager window
L – Toggle lights
H – Honk the horn
M – Map
1 – Driver view from inside your rig
2 – Top of rig view
3 – Top down view (useful for backing)
4 – Trailer view
5 – Wheel view
6 – Bumper view
V – Rear view on drivers side
B – rear view on passengers side
Note: you can press F1 anytime in the game and get an overview of all keyboard mappings.
Driving a truck is about moving cargo around this great country of ours. But you can’t just go grab any old trailer and take it wherever you want. In Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of steel there are two kinds of jobs that you can get. The bulk of the jobs at the beginning will be "ad hoc" (or miscellaneous) jobs. These will be one time deliveries in which you get paid for hauling the goods to a certain location and then you’re out of work again and will need to find another job.
All jobs have a little window hovering above the trailer that is awaiting pick that describes all the needed info (namely, what, where and how much).
- The number of stars represents the required driver rating companies demand to feel comfortable about entrusting you a job. Your company cannot be assigned a job with higher rating required than you have already achieved. Also, when you haul recurring jobs between destinations, you are given licenses of various levels for performance on those routes. Hauling a cargo requiring better rating than is the license you have earned for the particular route is less profitable.
- the second line tells what type of cargo it is and what city its going to.
- Name of the destination company. There are several companies located in each city, and loads must be delivered to appropraite company loading/unloading dock.
- How much much you get paid to deliver (assuming no damage and on time).
- How fragile the goods are. Loads more likely to get damaged by harsh handling pay more, but there is always the risk that you deliver them in bad shape and will be fined for it.
- The last but one line in the box is how much longer this job will be available for picking up before the company takes it off the job market and uses a different method to deliver it.
- the very last line is time remaining till the expected job delivery
To pick up an ad hoc job, simply pull into a freight yard, back up to the job and hit the T key to attach the trailer to your truck.
At the bottom of the job description window will be icons that indicate specifics of the job. If a weight is shown, this means that the job is an overweight job and you will be fined if you are caught with it - stopped by police or at a weigh station. The payoff is usually higher for overweight jobs, but its definitely a risk. A wine glass icon indicates that the job is fragile and your will be penalized if the job is damaged.
When your driver rating is very low, you will pretty much make your living by performing ad hoc jobs. But when your driver rating increases, and your bank account balance improves, you should start eyeing the other type of jobs - recurring jobs. Once you successfully deliver a recurring job on a given route, contracts with rating lower or equal to the license level you will thus win will become available for your company and can become a steady source of income. Once you win the license, recurring jobs on this route can then be assigned to contract drivers (see below).
As mentioned above, to pick up a job, simply back under the trailer and hit the T key. The job info window will then be shown in the upper left of your screen as long as the trailer is attached. You should also notice that an on-screen icon representing an attached trailer will appear instead of icon representing truck without any trailer attached. Now you must set out to deliver the load.
Once you arrive at your destination, you must back your trailer into the delivery lane and press the D key to detach your trailer. An onscreen icon representing the attached trailer should change state again. If the trailer is in the right spot, you will be shown a settlement dialog that shows how much money the job was worth, the amount of any penalties for the job being late or damaged, and the final payoff amount. The final payoff is instantly credited to your account. If you deliver a load late, you will be penalized, as well as when you deliver it damaged above the allowable tolerance.
Notable Game Concepts
- Growing your company - You start with an old truck and a little amount of cash, and the road towards your first million dollars is long and winding. It is possible to win the game alone, just tirelessly hauling cargo between destinations, gradually upgrading and improving your truck to be able to perform better on the road, as well as improving your skills and your company's reputation so that the shippers are willing to entrust you more important and better paying jobs. However, a faster road to victory is using the help of additional drivers that your company may hire when you have high enough reputation and enough money to be able start to building a fleet of trucks.
- Company Rating - Your company rating will improve based on how well you deliver the jobs. When the shippers send cargo, they are not ready to trust their precious stuff to anybody. They expect the driver who will haul the cargo, or his company, to be able to do a good job. Therefore they require a certain rating for the job. You will meet additional truck drivers that you will be able to hire to your company. Their skill is also expressed by this same rating. Better drivers will deliver cargo in better quality and make your company more money, but worse drivers are much cheaper, you must decide what you prefer. The rating is always depicted by stars.
- Road hazards - At times, there may be accidents on the road, difficult weather conditions or other anomalous things happening that will temporarily block a road. You will usually hear about roads being block though your radio, and if you have an onboard GPS you will also see the place on your map view. You may be forced to look for alternate routes to deliver your cargo if you have already loaded it, or plan a new ad-hoc job so that you avoid destinations that are not easily reachable.
- Sleep - Safety regulations require truck drivers to have appropriate amount of rest each week. If the police catches you exceeding the time spent behind the wheel, you will be severely fined. You will also experience sleepiness effects while driving. It is a good idea to rest from time to time, ideally in motels or truck stops. You can also take a short rest in the loading docks, but you won't be as refreshed sleeping in the truck's cabin as you would by sleeping in a real bed. You should plan your rest time between the jobs, so that you don't pick up delays.
Management in HT18 happens in the Notebook screen. Press the N key to open your notebook.
This screen contains a list of all drivers you have made contact with. You may want to hire some of them when the situation is ripe. Over time, you may also fire some lower rating drivers and replace them with better drivers who will deliver loads with better performance and make your company more money.
You will meet new drivers as your game progresses at freight yards for the various companies that you will work for. To hire a driver, select the driver you wish to hire then click on the hire button. If the driver is available, you will be taken to a negotiating dialog where you will work out the percent take that you and the driver keep. Note that you can only hire drivers that are at your driving rating or lower. If you try to contact a driver with a higher rating than you, he will not answer his phone. And if you unsuccessfully negotiate with a driver too many times, he will not return your calls for several days.
When you do hire a driver, you will have to buy that driver a truck with which to haul the cargo. A truck window will be displayed allowing you to pick which model of truck you wish to buy your new employee. Cheaper trucks will obviously be slower and less reliable than newer trucks.
The list of drivers can be sorted by various criteria by clicking on the column headings (the drivers employed by your company appear at the top of the list). When you select a driver, you will see his details.
List of drivers screen functions:
- HIRE - hire a driver
- is only possible if you have enough money to buy your new employee at least the worst type of truck
- driver contract bargaining:
- as the company owner, you pay your hired drivers by having them share
a percentage of profit on the loads. The amount is dependant on the rating
of the driver
- if a driver doesn't like your offer, he will decline
- if the driver declines three offers in a row, he will refuse to negotiate any more,
and you will only get in contact with him over the phone in a couple of days again.
- if you successfully hire a driver, a new windows will appear where you will be able to buy and assign a truck to your new employee. The better trucks you assign to your driver, the more likely they are to deliver the loads on time and with less damage, and thus the payoff will be better.
- UPGRADE - buy a better truck for your driver, this may improve his performance and bring you more money in the long run. You can also "downgrade" a truck, if your company gets into financial trouble, you may need to sell a truck and replace it with a lower quality, cheaper one, using the money from the difference to finance other part of your business
- FIRE - fire a driver you are not satisfied with.
- NAME - driver's name
- SHARE - the share on profits that your company splits with this employee
- SKILL - how good the driver is. A driver should be hired for recurring jobs not exceeding his skill, otherwise you risk that he will deliver them late or damaged too often, and will not make you much money. Buying a driver better truck can make up for this deficiency a bit, but overall it's a good idea to hire as good drivers as you can to make sure your company operates as smooth as possible.
- LOCATION - current place where the driver is. He is either in a city, or somewhere on the road between two cities.
- EXPECTED GAIN - estimated payoff of the jobs that your hired drivers has assigned, computed based on the current week jobs.
- REAL GAIN - real payoff from the delivered jobs, probably lower than "expected gain" due to the hired drivers sometimes delivering jobs a bit late or a bit damaged.
- PAY-OFF - the ration between real gain and expected gain, basically a measure on how profitable your drivers is under the conditions of the jobs you have assigned him. If the number is too low, you may need to hire a better driver in his place, or give this one less demanding jobs.
- WORK LOG - the log of events involving this driver. It displays the last couple of jobs he delivered, and in what conditions - this will let you to see how good a driver he really is.
The licenses screen gives you an overview of the list of cargo routes and the status of your licenses for these routes.
How to obtain a route license:
- you can't assign jobs on a particular route to your hired drivers without having obtained appropriate license for the route first
- the share you are offered for jobs on a given route is based on the license level you have achieved for the route as well as on your overall company rating
- the license level obtained is depicted by stars next to the route in the list
If any of the above conditions are not met, you will see a message "license not provided" in your pager along with a reason why:
- you need to deliver a recurring job on the route you are interested in yourself first,
doing the first "pilot" round as a benchmark of what quality of service your company
is able to provide
- it must not be delivered late
- you must deliver it with minimal damage
- the license level of the contract you are applying for should logically be higher than
the license level you might have already acquired for this route before
- job delivered late
- cargo is damaged too much
- license already exists
If all of the above conditions are met, the license is issued for you; its level is based on the rating of the delivered "benchmark" recurring job. This way, your company was fully qualified to deliver cargo of the same or lower rating than the license level on this route.
Jobs that have higher rating than the license level you have already acquired on a given route pay less than jobs that your company is eligible to transport in general - which is based on the company rating. This is because the shippers still consider using your company a risk on the particular route if you haven't proven otherwise, and expect that you will not be able to consistently deliver the cargo with good performance. It is therefore a good idea to improve the license levels on the routes in the map as you become a better driver and have a better faster truck available.
The "pay-off" of assigned jobs represents the profitability of the job you have contracted to one of the drivers you have hired for it. Low number generally implies that your drivers are hauling jobs with higher rating that the license level you have already obtained for a given route. As mentioned above, the companies consider such deliveries higher risk and pay less for them. Your solution should be improving your license level for the route, as well as hiring as good drivers as possible.
The JOBS page shows all the recurring jobs that are available or coming available during the course of the week.
This screen lets you organize the jobs assigned to hired drivers.
- You can only plan the jobs that are yet to be dispatched.
- You can only plan the jobs that you have appropriate route license for, and that have equal or lower rating than your skill rating
- the screen displays on recurring jobs offered by the shippers, not ad hoc jobs
Job box description
The four main panels that this screen consists of are:
- top left corner - abbreviation of the starting city
- top right corner - abbreviation of the destination city
- box center - icon representing the cargo, and money offered for the delivery
- you will see further details in a panel when you bring the mouse cursor over the box representing the job (panel 4 described below)
- a hired driver summary - top right panel
- a hired driver schedule - top
- job market - middle
- filter & help - down
- A hired driver summary
- TRUCK ICON - dragging it onto a scheduled job will generate a transfer run for
the truck from last location to the starting point of this job
- DRIVER - a drop down list that allows you to choose a driver from whom to organize
- LOCATION - current position of the hired driver's truck
- A hired driver schedule
- depicts the plan of runs for the driver. It contains three types of boxes representing various
activities that your driver has scheduled:
- transport - when the destination of a planned job is different than the starting location of a job planned next, the hired driver must transport his truck from one place to another without any cargo. This "transport" box is generated automatically to maintain continuity in the drivers plan. It can be removed by clicking on it. It can be generated by dragging a transport icon from panel 1 onto a recurring job box
- rest - generated automatically after any job that is long enough to require a rest by safety
regulations requirements; cannot be removed from the schedule
- job - a scheduled job, can be removed from the plan by clicking on it
- Job market
- list of available recurring jobs on the market, filtered using the criteria in panel 4 (see below)
- putting the mouse cursor over the job displays a tooltip with further details: Job ID, expected pickup time, what city and company loading dock it is from, what type of cargo, plus possible actions.
- Click to assign this job - can be scheduled to the current driver by clicking
- You cannot assign this job. You have to get appropriate license for this route - cannot be scheduled yet, you have not obtained license of appropriate level for this route
- You cannot assign this job. Your skill is too low. - cannot be schedule yet, you have managed to obtain the license to be able to haul cargo on this route, but your overall company rating is too low and the shipper is not confident that your service will be of good enough quality
- Filter & Help
- the "stars" filter specifies the rating of the jobs you want displayed in the job market panel
- AVAILABLE - will filter out jobs that cannot be assigned to any of your drivers due to various reasons, only those currently accessible for your company will be left.
This screen provides an overview of information about your company
- ASSETS - the total estates of your company
- CASH - ready money available on your bank account
- INVESTMENTS - total sum of investments in the trucks of the drivers you have hired
- EXPECTED, REAL EARNINGS, PAY-OFF:
- Last Week - revenues over the last whole week
- This Week - revenues made so far this week
- WEEK ACCOUNTING - accounting entries from the current week; overview of earnings and expenditures, fines, gas bills and repairs, overview of jobs delivered both by you and the drivers you have hired
Using the Various Services
There are several different types of services that you’ll see scattered around the map. These include truck stops, repair centers, gas stations and weigh stations. Below is a basic list of services that you can get from the various places:
- Motel - This will let you sleep. Be warned that if you are in the middle of hauling a load, it will likely make your load late if you sleep. Safety regulations as well as common sense say that the drivers need to rest occasionally. You will pay severe fines if the police find you are breaking this regulation, and you will also experience nasty sleepiness effects if you go too long without sleep. Be sure to plan when to sleep and when to haul cargo carefully.
- Gas - This will just let you gas up. You’ll be charged for your gas at the price shown. Make sure that you are using the area designated for trucks!
- Service - The service depart will repair your truck or install upgrades. It is far cheaper to have your truck repaired at a service than having emergency fixes provided when you call "911". One of the most useful upgrades is dashboard GPS that will allow you to see your position on the map view. Without the GPS, you can view the map, but it will not show you where you are. You can also buy a completely new truck there.
- Truck Stop - truck stops are all in one centers for the above services, and you can also buy a whole new truck there.
- Weigh Station - This is where you weigh in and have to pay fines if you’re overweight. Its also where you buy your Hazardous Cargo certificate, which is required to run the high paying HC loads.