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Exclusive Interview: Hitching a ride with Alaskan Road Truckers and its developers, Road Studio


Our hobby has a lot of niches and corners that don’t often get reported on, and the long-haul driving sim is one of them. It’s there for those who like to kick back and relax, but it’s also the home of enthusiasts who build their own cab, from luxury steering wheels to replica seats. 

It’s one of gaming’s kinks, and Alaskan Road Truckers is the latest to feed it. If we’re honest, we don’t fully understand the genre, but we’re curious to know more. With that in mind, we jumped at the chance to talk to Michal Puczynski, the creator of Alaskan Road Truckers, to find out what brings people – particularly those sim-loving Germans – to its wheel.

alaskan road truckers keyart
Alaskan Road Truckers – Snowy!

Hi, could you please introduce yourself and your role on Alaskan Road Truckers?

Hi, I’m Michal Puczynski, the CEO of Road Studio. I ensure the team has everything they need to realize our vision and if we encounter a fork in the road, I’m the one to choose the path, or at least to approve the team’s choice.

Could you give us a quick overview of the game? 

Alaskan Road Truckers is a trucking game first, but one that comes with all the additional layers of what you’d expect from a full trucking experience. You play as a trucker, not as a truck, which means you can (and have to!) leave your vehicle, visit shops, prepare for journeys, and eat and sleep as you take up jobs that’ll take you to different parts of Alaska.

We have a huge open world, a full seasonal cycle, all kinds of weather, truck repairs and customization, and also base development. You’re a trucker, not a truck.

There is such a large and passionate audience for long-haul simulations like Alaskan Road Truckers. For people who haven’t experienced this kind of game, how would you describe the appeal?

On one hand, it’s about trucks themselves. Who wouldn’t like to drive these huge, monstrous vehicles? On the other hand, it’s about the Alaskan experience. Did you know that Alaska is the largest state in the US but its population is less than a million? There are huge areas where it’s just you and the wild. The towns aren’t that huge and they all feel cozy and nice. There is something romantic about living there.

For a trucker, every day is an adventure.

alaskan road truckers truck
Turn back?

Where do you even start in mapping an entire US state for a player to drive around? Did you and the team get to visit Alaska for that process?

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to go there, but we studied all kinds of maps, and spent hundreds of hours on Google Street View. As a result, we created a map that’s a condensed, but quite faithful version of the entire central part of Alaska. We have all the major towns and many small but memorable places such as North Pole, a town with Christmas decorations. 

If we sat an Alaskan in front of Alaskan Road Truckers, would they recognise much of where they live? What landmarks have you included?

I certainly do hope you’ll recognize at least some towns or landmarks. However, these aren’t 1:1 depictions, but rather places heavily inspired by real Alaskan locations. Apart from towns, we have a system of Points of Interest that you can discover, take a photo of, and create postcards of to your collection. These are places like the Igloo Hotel or the famous (but now removed) Magic Bus.

We also have some places that we created that are either “soft” easter eggs or perhaps foundations for something in the future. But I’ll hush about that for now.

It’s incredible how detailed a simulation this is, as you shop for goods and maintain your own rig. It’s almost 1:1 with the real experience. But is there a reality of truck driving that you chose not to include, or a line you wouldn’t cross in this way? Toilet breaks, perhaps?

For sure, there are things that were discussed but didn’t make it to the game. Some of them, like the toilet breaks you mentioned, would just cross a line that we did not want to cross. We also decided not to include hunting for now, in part due to the complexity of the mechanics, and in part because it takes you away from trucking which is still our main focus in the game. But the world we’ve created is ripe for expansion. First, we want to make a great trucker life game. Then we can start expanding it into something more, if that’s what our fans wish to see.

alaskan road truckers cab
The cockpit is well set up in Alaskan Road Truckers

What’s your favourite detail in the world that you can’t wait for players to find?  

My personal favorite is a certain place inspired by a certain show I am a fan of. I asked the designer to get inspiration from the show’s location. It’s an easter egg, but not a laugh-out-loud one, just a nod to a piece of art that I adore. I wonder if players will find it and make the connection.

Alaskan Road Truckers has a vibrant Discord community and you regularly update them with blogs etc. How important has your community been to the development of Alaskan Road Truckers?

It was crucial. A lot of initial ideas for the life/survival mechanics came from the community. Their feedback from the demo inspired some key changes to our mechanics. And their feedback to what we show on Steam or social media makes us tweak the game or art in the game, sometimes in ways that are subtle but feel important to the fans.

We also collect ideas for future expansions that are frequently shared on our Discord.

Can we expect more content for Alaskan Road Truckers in the future?

That’s the plan! We didn’t create a map of a huge part of Alaska to just drop it after the game’s release. We have tons of ideas on how to expand it. And I don’t just mean new map areas, but also what you can do in the places that we already have. It’s not always directly related to trucking because we’d like you to be able to ultimately experience many, many different aspects of life in Alaska.

alaskan road truckers driving
Going deep into the atmospheric Alaskan Road Truckers

What’s next for the team? Are you moving state by state, or are there different challenges on the horizon?

We hope the game will be successful enough to let us keep adding to it. At the same time, in order to complete Alaskan, we paused our other project: American Motorcycle Simulator. It’s a different beast, more story-driven. It would be nice to resume work on it because it’s a very distinct game with a soul. We also have an idea for something else that would utilize our experience in simulators and add a completely fresh new layer to them, but it’s waaay too soon to discuss it.

And finally – Money is no object: what do you get installed in your long-haul truck?

A luxury compartment for my pet companion!

Give the trailer for Alaskan Road Truckers a watch if you want to see it in action. Alaskan Road Truckers is due for release in 2023 on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 and PC – check out the Steam page. That doesn’t leave much time to get the fluffy dice and cup holders on order.

Huge thanks go out to Michal for providing further insight into the world of Alaskan Road Truckers.

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