Relax. Construction Simulator video game takes the stress out of building, says CEO.
Imagine that you have finally finished a long day of work. You kick off your shoes, grab your dinner, turn on your TV and start…a construction simulator.
Filled with excavators, cranes and more, the Construction Simulator series was originally created in 2011 by German game developer Astragon Entertainment and software company Weltenbauer and has since spawned several mobile iterations.
Today it has licensing agreements with recognized American and German construction brands like Bobcat, CAT, Mack, Liebherr and Schwing Stetter, as well as a large fan base.
Across all platforms, including PC and mobile, the franchise has achieved 30 million downloads and sales, according to Carsten Höh, public relations and community manager for Astragon. In September, the series plans to release a new iteration, simply called “Construction Simulator”, which will feature cooperative multiplayer, where players can work together towards a common goal, and maps spread across the United States and Europe.
Construction Dive spoke with Höh and Weltenbauer Game Development CEO Rene Nold about the history of gaming, the influence of construction workers, and the value of games to gamers.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
CONSTRUCTION DIVE: Tell me about the history of Construction Simulator. Where did it start?
RENÉ NOLD: Weltenbauer was not initially set in a game development environment. We were doing more B2B work and also real-time applications and simulation stuff, but we weren’t focusing on games. In 2011, one of the Astragon [employees] meets one of our Weltenbauer employees. Astragon came up with the idea of developing a sort of construction-related simulation game.
So we started implementing the first installment, which was Construction Simulator 2012. It was PC only and very small. But there were a bunch of vehicles, about 14 and 11 missions, which had to be played in a straight line. So not really an open world game.
Simulation games can have quite a small audience compared to games like first-person shooters. What do fans of the game enjoy?
NOLD: Simulation [games] are niches, but it’s a growing niche. Similar to Euro Truck Simulator and Farming Simulator, Construction Simulator is also very quiet gameplay. It’s not as fast, of course, as a first-person shooter or a racing game or something like that. It is another form of relaxation.
You feel that if you’re playing these games, it’s not an intense atmosphere, it’s calm and relaxed.
If you’re going to dig a huge hole with a huge excavator, it’s like you’re doing repetitive tasks with a bit of planning, and you get lost moving dirt and putting a lot of dirt in a truck, and then you ‘ I’m going to get in the truck and you drive and unload the floor. That’s the fascinating thing about Euro Truck Simulator, you’re just driving down the highway, or Farming Simulator, you’re just driving through fields and stuff like that. So I think it’s more about relaxation.
Have you ever received feedback from construction workers in real life?
NOLD: Yes, both before and after release. We have, over the years, [consulted with construction workers], and they helped guide and advise us on how the build actually worked, how the machines worked, and how they felt. They also tested our equipment.
Of course, you won’t have an expert for every machine, but we’ve tried to incorporate not only their feedback, but also that of our players over the years. There are a number of professionals in our gaming community. So if they say “I drive the truck” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then I’m sure they know what is, for example, the distance it takes to stop a four-tonne truck or a trailer.
Do you have any comments on which players are inspired to get into building as a result of the game?
CARSTEN Hi: I would say with certainty that we have a range of players from six years old, and it goes up to players in their 70s. In fact, among the youngest, there are a large number of them who play these games because they like huge machines. We don’t have manual labor or manual labor in the game, but as far as machines go, those are two of the first steps towards something big like this.
NOLD: Yeah, it’s like the digital equivalent of playing in the sandbox with a model excavator or something. If you’re an age like, like Carsten said, seven, eight, or something, you’re still hooked on this building stuff.
With literacy in the subject itself, it is possible to take this interest even further in Construction Simulator by trying out different machines, equipment and vehicles. We have a lot of our equipment, especially the ones like excavators and cranes, with both joysticks set up like on a game controller, or you can attach two joysticks to your PC and play with two joysticks and the controls can be mapped like in the real world, [like how] excavators are trained.
You can learn how these guys operate the real world machines on your PC or console and how to operate an excavator, and which stick and axle rotates the bucket, first arm and second arm.
You get a glimpse, like a peek or a glimpse of what the job could be like if you did it in real life someday.