We have triggers for the load board, the truck stop, truck dealers etc. The walking system could work similarly with triggers for interiors of a standard restaurant, hotel, warehouse, repair shop, and gas stations. Get out of the cab, walk up to the trigger, hit enter or E or some other hotkey, and "enter" the facility.
We don't really need a physical character to walk in game. There are no hands on the steering wheel, and no visible body parts in the shop walking cam. Based on our existing system, all we'd need to "walk" is a camera (essentially the free roam devcam) set to a fixed height with maybe a little bounce for run. Stop the truck, press a key to exit the vehicle (say number 9), then either the door opens or the user is teleported out of the truck to the ground level. There's already plenty of detail in the map, and the important areas of the ground (including sidewalks) already have collision. Nothing at the ground level needs to be changed to allow walking.
But walking makes the game take on a new feel. Instead of the new camera feature for scenic areas, allow drivers to hop out and walk around a bit. Maybe even use binoculars view a specific spot more closely, or pick up a souvenir at a gift shop to put in your truck (like the chainsaw toy that hangs from the roof).
Again, with simplicity in mind, my thought process would be basic interiors for each.
- A basic restaurant with a few tables that could be "entered" with a hotkey. And then the menu would be another key with a list of stock foods that would arrive either via an animated waitress or just appear on the table in front of the driver after a cutscene or fade to black.
- A basic warehouse with an office and a few shelves. For the stock van trailer, an animation of a forklift going back and forth from shelf to trailer would add a lot to the immersion factor. Currently, we back up, the trailer takes on an invisible source of weight, and off we go.
- A basic gas station with a front counter and some snacks. Stopping for a bite to eat and to pay in person for gas goes along with the realistic concept of stretching your legs during a long run.
Being able to click on things to play animations could enable a wide range of realism opportunities in the cab, but also out of it. Click on the trailer doors, and they open or close. Click on the landing gear, and they raise or lower. Click on the fifth wheel to unlock it. Click on the air hoses to connect or disconnect. Click on straps to secure a load, etc, etc.
ATS is a great game as it is, but it needs a lot more interaction with the environment to qualify as a trucking simulator. With the ability to walk, we could have the ability to eat, spend a night in a hotel, buy gas, check out progress on our truck in the shop etc. There could be new costs for the player as a result of these activities, and new things to focus on. For example, you don't eat: you get drowsy.
But most importantly, SCS doesn't have to implement most of this. All they have to do is give modders a base. The community has proven time and again that it is capable of stretching the limits of this and other games to a new height of realism. But without base scripts supporting it, getting started is the biggest challenge.