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Nielsen

A few questions about custom growable buildings

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I finally decided to go forward and install some custom growable buildings. This made me wonder how the game, in spite of the added custom buildings, randomly picks a building to grow. The custom ones are located in the plugins folder while the original Maxis buildings are located somewhere else (can't remember where as I'm writing this on my tablet). With this in mind, does the game distinguish between custom buildings or Maxis buildings in any way, i.e. bias selection, or is it still random?

This leads on to my next question. How do growable custom buildings work with building style control? Well, I know that the readme files of the respective plugins probably would mention whether a specific building style is required. So what I need to know is whether the 'build all styles at once' option is a general precondition for making custom buildings grow? I usually stick to the New York style and I'd like to continue doing so while using custom buildings. After all, I think most of the custom buildings I have downloaded have a great universal appeal but I'd hate to plop them or see all four default styles mixed in my cities. Such compromises would ruin my motivation and immersion.

Finally, are custom buildings foolproof, i.e. is full attention to all the default game mechanics, such as stage levels, wealth degradation, power usage etc. preconditions for creating a custom building? Furthermore, can custom buildings affect parameters that growable Maxis buildings don't? I know I seem sceptital about this and it's not like I don't have faith in the reputable creators and community reviews, I would just like to know which risks I might take when adding some of these awesome looking buildings.

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Although the game is supposed to choose buildings randomly, some seem to be preferred. Small standard size lots are preferred to larger or oddly sized lots. In my game, I see some bias to higher occupancy. Some downloadable buildings grow like weeds, no idea why. Maxis buildings will grow normally, just more rarely the more plugins you have.

 

Buildings should grow as long as you did not exclude all styles they have been assigned to. If you stick to the NY style, they must have NY style listed among the styles they grow at. Additional styles don't influence that.

 

No, custom buildings are not foolproof. Some of them are outrageously off in their stats. Most are fine. You will notice when something is off. Common problems are wrong stats (I had some industrial buildings that yielded about 1000 times the tax they should), growth on empty lots (especially common among buildings from the early modding years and with Japanese lots), immortal lot syndrome (if the building accidentally overhangs the lot), wrong transit times (for traffic plugins), slider bug (improperly modded civics), the water bug (some older textures), or no growth at all (not really a problem, but very common and mostly due to an uncommon lot size). All of this is fixable, of course.

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I have many custom buildings.  After a little experience you will decide which builders you prefer.  The randomizer for choosing buildings doesn't seem to be very smart, but since it is in the game kernel we have no way to attack it. 

 

The Maxis buildings, BTW, are in the .dat files in the game residency along with some of the data for various things.  If you want to change a Maxis building you can extract it with the Lot Editor and do a Save As on it to your Plugins folder.  Once you've got it there, you can tackle it with the reader or any other tool.  Because it is in the Plugins folder that loads last, it will override the standard Maxis building when the game loads if you don't change its ID.

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This leads on to my next question. How do growable custom buildings work with building style control? Well, I know that the readme files of the respective plugins probably would mention whether a specific building style is required. So what I need to know is whether the 'build all styles at once' option is a general precondition for making custom buildings grow? I usually stick to the New York style and I'd like to continue doing so while using custom buildings. After all, I think most of the custom buildings I have downloaded have a great universal appeal but I'd hate to plop them or see all four default styles mixed in my cities. Such compromises would ruin my motivation and immersion.

 

It all depends on what tileset the custom building belongs to. Some content may not be assigned to the correct tileset. This can cause the wrong style of buildings to appear when selecting a particular building style. Using the 'build all styles at once' option would guarantee that the building grows, but wouldn't actually change a lot's properties. If you want to make sure buildings are correctly assigned (e.g. to a New York tileset), you'll have to do a bit of editing.

 

This can be done using iLive's Reader. Here's a small tutorial that I wrote, that explains how to do this

 

 

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Thanks for the replies, really helpful!

I have been trying to narrow down my search for custom buildings and so far I'm interested in using the creations by cobb32118, ks_JPN, mathatter106 and DuskTrooper. It seems that they offer a nice selection of fictional commercial and residential buildings. Maybe some of you have experience with their content? I'm not really interested in adding too much custom content, otherwise I'll just be overwhelmed. In fact, there are Maxis buildings that I still haven't seen and I'm quite happy with the selection offered by SC4 Deluxe. I'd just like to spice it up with more variety and taller eye catchers for the region satellite view. If everything fails, I'll just try the tools you guys refer to.

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I have a ton of buildings from all of those guys, but I have modified the stats on most of them.  The residential ones grow pretty easy, but I cannot keep CS3 or CO3 demaned very high, so growing those buildings is difficult when you have many of them.  So I just lowered their capacity some to make it easier for them to grow.  the iLives reader is a great tool.  Version 1.4 is pretty easy to use.  There are some basic things to watch for in custom lots to make sure they grow.

 

From the .desc file

-Capacity satisfied:  This is how many sims the building holds.  The closer to 6000, the harder it will be to grow.  If you go over 6000, it will be almost impossible to grow.

-Pollution at center:  I dont know what is considered "a lot", but I usually keep it under 100.  Some buildings have none (kinda cheating)

-Building Value: Used for calculating taxes.  I set it between 15k and 150k depending on if its a small building or a 8x8 skyscrapper.

-Lot type: See below

 

From the .lot file

Growth stage: Most custom skyscrapers are stage 8 ( the Maxix cap).  Some are between 9 and 15.  These will not grow unless you are using CAM.  Any building that was stage 9 or higher, I just remade the lot in lot editor.  I actually DLd a bunch of CAM lots from SC4devotion and redid them to grow at stage 8, its pretty easy.

-LotSize: measured in road width x depth.  Sometimes the creator doesnt tell you the lot size, or its mislabled.  This is where you can find out for sure.

-Lot type: The type of lot that this is R, C, I or $, $$, $$$.  From my experience, the .desc and .lot files have to match here.  A CO$$$ will not grow on a CO$$ lot.  I have come across a few buildings where this did not match and the building wouldnt grow.

 

Sometimes the .desc file is merged into the .lot file or both are merged into a .dat.  Any case is fine and the building will work as long as the stats are correct.

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Growth stage: Most custom skyscrapers are stage 8 ( the Maxix cap).  Some are between 9 and 15.  These will not grow unless you are using CAM.  Any building that was stage 9 or higher, I just remade the lot in lot editor.  I actually DLd a bunch of CAM lots from SC4devotion and redid them to grow at stage 8, its pretty easy.

 

Hey hellmunkey, I'd like to know how you do this. Can yuou elaborate a bit?

 

Cheers

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There is a how to posted, but it wasnt that clear for "noobs" so I cleaned it up a bit.

 

You need three things.

1. Plug in manager

2. Lot editor

3. Ilives Reader 1.4.

You can make any building grow on any type of lot, so you can make C buildings grow in I or R for more variety or vice versa. Its really easy and only takes about 2 minutes, unless you spend a lot of time decorating.

 

Step 1 - Use lot editor to open the lot of the building you want to convert. Click on "Examplar" in the left side, and make note of the entry LotConfigPropertySize. This is the size of the lot in width x depth. You will need this info for later.

 

Step 2 - Drag the model file to the plugins folder, do not place it in any subfolders.

 

Step 3 - Open plugin manager. You should see the model listed on the right. Minimize the "plopable" (just under BUILDING) column in the tree in the left side. Drag the building from the right side to your desired R-C-I and wealth level.

 

Step 4 - A window will pop up. This is where you set the attributes for the building. Building value is what is used for taxes. 15k to 200k is a good range depending on the size/value of the building. Make sure to adjust capacity satisfied, pollution at center, elec/water used, and name if desired.

 

Step 5 - Once all values are entered, click OK. You will get a message saying plug saved successfully and a .desc file will be added to your plugin folder.

 

Step 6 - Open the lot editor. Find a lot that matches the building desc you made in PIM. If you made a high tech building, select a an I-HX lot, med wealth residential needs R$$X, high wealth comm office needs CO$$$X, ect. The lot type must match the desc type or the building wont grow, at least in my experience. The X is the growth stage, that part does not matter and can be changed after the lot is created. This is also where the lot size is important. If the building is 4x4, you cant place it on a 3x3 lot. If there is no lot in the size and type needed, see below.

 

Step 7 - Make sure the lot is the proper size. You can change any lot to any size from 1x1 to 6x6. Then click the Building tab, then click replace item. Search for your building and then place it on the lot. If the building does not show up in the list, then the lot is too small. I have come across a few times. The original lot was 4x4, but the building turned out to be 5x5, so I had to adjust the lot size, then I could put the building on it. If you have to change the size of your lot, you need to delete or add base textures so the lot is full before you can save it.

NOTE: To make lots bigger than 6x6, you must first save the new lot. Once you have found the correct type of lot (size does not matter, only RCI type and wealth level right now), save it as something descripitve for the new building, like CO$$$_7x4_BuildingName. The new lot will be saved to your plugins folder. Exit lot editor, and open the new lot with Reader. Click exemplar, then change the LotConfigPropertySize to your desired size (7x4 in this example). Be sure to save the lot before you close Reader. Then open lot editor again, and select the lot you just made.

 

Step 8 - Click SAVE AS not SAVE or you will overwrite the existing lot and there is no undo. I leave the CS$$$_YxZ, R$$X_YxZ, ect and append _BuildingName. This way I know what the lot type and size are without having to open it in reader (makes zoning odd sized lots easier to remember).   You can do this step at the end, but I prefer to do it right away just so I dont accidetnally overwrite something.

 

Step 9 - Decorate your lot. Add overlay textures, props, and flora til you are happy. Then click save and exit lot editor.

 

Step 10 - Organise your plugins folder. This is optional, but it makes things easier. Once I make a building/lot, I make a folder named after the building and place the .lot .desc. and .sc4model files inside the folder. I then place that folder inside a buildings folder that is inside the Plugins folder.

 

This is really easy after you do it the first time.  If you want to check you work and make sure the building grows, you can kinda cheat a bit.  Use Reader and open the .desc file.  Change the Capacity satisfied to something low, like 5 or 10, then save the file.  Open the .lot file and change the growth stage to 1, then save the file.  Start up sc4 and zone an appropriate area and the building should grow right away as long as their is demond, power, and water.  Once done testing go back into the .desc and .lot files and change them to where you would like them.

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Jeebus!  Thank you for that hellmunkey.  I am an absolute $%&^! and you did just clear it up for me, I been looking for a layman's explanation of this process for a long time now.

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No prob.  Both of the tutorials I read had some extra info in them and kinda made them hard to understand for beginners.  Enjoy modding ur buildings.  :)

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No prob.  Both of the tutorials I read had some extra info in them and kinda made them hard to understand for beginners.  Enjoy modding ur buildings.  :)

 

I will definitely try these tools out when the LEX exchange is back online. I assume that this great guide, thanks for that, is universal when it comes to altering anything relating to custom and default Maxis buildings? I ask because I was using these custom buildings on which the creator had left his signature and some random stats, which Maxis buildings don't show when clicking them with the in-game query tool. Stuff like that I would like to remove for consistency.

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I suggest that removing copyright material is not a bright idea.  On the other hand, I generally put a texture in my BATs with my Moose on it.  You would have a hot time trying to remove that.

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I suggest that removing copyright material is not a bright idea.  On the other hand, I generally put a texture in my BATs with my Moose on it.  You would have a hot time trying to remove that.

 

I didn't even assume that it is copyright material. Most of the custom buildings I have checked out did not have signatures attached to their in-game stats so I was rather suprised to see it.

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No prob.  Both of the tutorials I read had some extra info in them and kinda made them hard to understand for beginners.  Enjoy modding ur buildings.  :)

 

I will definitely try these tools out when the LEX exchange is back online. I assume that this great guide, thanks for that, is universal when it comes to altering anything relating to custom and default Maxis buildings? I ask because I was using these custom buildings on which the creator had left his signature and some random stats, which Maxis buildings don't show when clicking them with the in-game query tool. Stuff like that I would like to remove for consistency.

IMO, as long as you do not redistribute it without the authors approval, you are free to do what you want to the lot/building.  Ive changed a lot of buildings and repuprosed them.  It seems most buildings are CO$$, CO$$$, or CS$$, so I made a few residential.  I also made a few Industrial (Somys buildings have a very Idustrial feel to them, so I made them industrial).  However, I havnet shared them, and wont without permission.  Ill post some screenies when I get home if you would like to see.

 

I too noticed that a lot of buildings had silly names.  I have yet to fix all of them though.  I have over 300 biuldings in my plugins folder, so it will take a while.  The guide above is strickly for custom buildings, but any custom building.  It could be a landmark, plop, or growable.  There are different steps to edit Maxis buildings, and Im not sure what they are as I have yet to do that.

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