My love of driving simulators - including bus simulators such as OMSI - isn't ironic. I resent living in a world that thinks my interest in the just announced Bus Simulator 16 [Facebook page] anything but sincere. German many-sim publisher Astragon have declared that the game will be out before the end of the year and it sounds like it may be taking a cargo-load of inspiration from Euro Truck Simulator, by letting you not only drive the buses but build a bus business empire.
As well as steering the buses, obeying traffic laws and delivering passengers on time, you'll also need to design your own routes and maintain the reputation of your company by communicating with passengers, selling them tickets, and handling "the different moods of the commuters." The better you deal with those situations, the greater the reputation of your company and the greater the popularity of the routes you operate. "Good management will also of course mean financial success and even more and better buses for the player's company," says the press release. Play well and I imagine you'll soon have a monopoly, allowing you to hike up your prices even as your stock falls into disrepair and the quality of service declines, all while the feckless local government rewards you a renewed contract year after year. That's how this works, yeah?
Bus Simulator 16 has licensed the vehicles of German bus maker MAN, though my love of these games doesn't extend so far as having knowledge of individual bus manufacturers. Instead I'm in it for the relaxation of tourism, the trance-like state driving can induce, and the satisfaction of skillfully following a set of complicated rules. Wrapping that up in a business management metagame - as Euro Truck Simulator does, but OMSI never did - should hopefully increase that engrossing relaxation.
Of course, my enjoyment will still depend mainly on the physics of the driving model. Bus Simulator 16 is being developed by Stillalive Studios, whose only game thus far is fantasy terraforming and physics puzzler Son of Nor, which Chris Livingston quite liked when he wrote about it for us last year. It's a game that has little in common with a bus simulator, although it does allow you to cover a giant butt crack with a tower of sand you willed into existence, a skill I have often wished I possessed while riding buses around Bath.
There's not yet a trailer for Bus Simulator 2016 and so I clicked the below, from the same publisher, thinking it a video of the last iteration. It turns out that there is no previous game in the series, and this is instead a trailer for Bau Simulator 2015 - which is known as Construction Simulator 2015 outside of Germany. Egg and chips all over my face, but here's that trailer anyway because why not: