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SC4 and the NAM - A Poll for All SC4 Players

SC4 and the NAM   4,874 votes

  1. 1. Do you use the NAM?

  2. 2. How important do you think further development of the NAM is to the health of the SC4 community?

    • Extremely important - without further development, SC4 will gradually wither away.
    • Very important - without further development, the SC4 community will see some decline.
    • Moderately important - Continuing NAM development helps keep the SC4 community healthy.
    • Somewhat important - Continuing NAM development is useful in the same way that all new custom content is useful.
    • Not very important - Whether or not the NAM is developed further really doesn't affect the health of the SC4 community.
  3. 3. If you use the NAM, which version do you use?

    • Version 31.2 (the current version)
    • Version 31.1
    • Version 31
    • Version 30
    • Version 29
    • The May 2010 version
    • An earlier version
    • I don't know
    • None
  4. 4. Ideally, how often would you like to see new versions of the NAM released?

  5. 5. What spacing of NAM releases would be far enough apart so as to cause you to lose interest in the game?

    • Semi-annually
    • Every nine months or so
    • Annually
    • Less frequently than annually
    • I am happy with whatever the NAM Team decides, and will not lose interest.
  6. 6. If the NAM Team has internally scheduled a release, and delaying it a few weeks would increase its quality moderately to significantly, what would you prefer?

    • Release the NAM, and then make a bug fix release a few weeks later.
    • Delay the release for a few weeks.
  7. 7. What features in the NAM do you actually use in your cities?

    • None
    • Bullet Train Mod (BTM)
    • Canal Addon Mod (CAN-AM)
    • Diagonal Streets
    • Double-Height Elevated Rail
    • Double-Height Monorail / Bullet Train Mod
    • El Rail Alternate Implementation
    • El Rail over Road Networks
    • Elevated Road Networks
    • Flexible Underpasses (FLUPs)
    • Fractionally Angled Networks (FANs)
    • Ground Light Rail / Tram
    • High Speed Rail Project (HSRP)
    • Maxis Highway Override (Project Symphony)
    • Network Widening Mod (NWM)
    • Ped Malls
    • Real Highway Mod (RHW)
    • Single Track Rail (STR)
    • Street Addon Mod (SAM)
    • Underground Rail
  8. 8. (continued) What features in the NAM do you actually use in your cities?

    • None
    • Viaduct Rail
    • Rural Roads Plugin
    • NAM Transit Stations
    • NAM Custom Bridges
    • Extended Station Queries (the large NAM style)
    • Maxis Highway Interchange & Ramp Additions
    • One-Way Arrow Mods
    • Real Highway Regional Transport View
    • Custom Road Textures and Markings
    • Roundabouts and Other Non-Highway Interchanges
    • Turning Lanes
    • TuLEPS
    • Wide Radius Curves

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54 posts in this topic

Posted

This poll is being posted in the General Discussion forum in order to get an idea from all players about their  feelings of the importance and usage of the NAM - not just NAM users.  Your time in filling out this poll is greatly appreciated.

 

Please note that the questions in the poll do not necessarily indicate anything about current or future NAM plans or releases.  Instead, the questions are being asked for the purpose of understanding the feelings and desires of the SC4 community.  It is very helpful to the NAM Team to know how its users, potential users, and the rest of the SC4 community feel.

 

Please feel free to explain any of your responses in more detail below, or to make any other comments relevant to this thread.  Your input is highly valued.

Tarkus, Slashback, kergelen and 1 other like this

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Posted

While I think the NAM is one of the most important things ever to have happened to SC4, I don't think that continued interest in the game depends on some release schedule of new NAM features. I don't mean that in a negative way, but refer to the already quite mature state of the package. It's there and it works. New features go more and more into specialty territory. I'm not keeping up to date with what is in development, but the automated transit station adaptation for non-NAM stations is something I'm looking forward to. As the NAM is volunteer work, I don't see any sense in putting pressure on the team. They will probably make what they want, and I'm happy if they do something I like to use.

 

Then again, I don't use too many NAM features. I hardly use anything from the first box of options (except diagonal streets, FLUPs, double-height monorail, pedmalls, and sometimes the SAM in rural areas) and nearly everything from the second one (except 3 things). Honestly, the stuff I liked most from the last release are all these little texture changes to standard Maxis networks and diagonal streets and intersections, which I was very happy about.

 

As I don't care for the RHW (I probably would if I could just choose a few very basic things out of the whole enchilada) and decided against the NWM (it was NWM or RTMT, and RTMT won), my NAM installation is comparatively lightweight. My NAM folder is about 175 MB, and the z_NAM one 32 MB (mostly due to stations). I use cogeo's downsized NAM RUL controller. I could probably save some more space with the SAM (I use only two of those textures), but I made a full installation of that one as a slimmer installation doesn't clean up the buttons, and I don't like menu buttons that go into Nirvana. If there's one thing I would wish for in a newer release, it is an even greater extent to which paring down the installation would work. I understand that writing an installer is boring work, and it would become an even longer installation routine, but I think the NAM got a bit too big for its own good (my computer definitely didn't like it at all without the 4 GB patch, and the loading still took ages with it).

 

I guess I'm one of the few holdouts who stick to the Maxis highways. My dream highway would be something that looks similar to the Project Symphony ones, with half the height for the elevated version (which would take care of the ramp angles) and the same set of easy to use interchanges, including the custom additions, as available for the current Maxis highways. I don't need any bigger cloverleafs, as the Maxis ones are about the size of those in my hometown. I leave the RHW stuff to the enthusiasts. But yes, as I said, as the NAM is a volunteer project and nobody on the team shares this interest, I'll keep using Maxis highways. No harm done.

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Posted

For the fourth question, I answered Semi-Annually, but it was either that or the two below it. Also, I noticed slightly over half of people so far seem to use Symphony, myself included.

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Posted

I have hardly been playing this year, so I did cheat a bit with the answers. I do not use some of the more complex options, because my cities never seem to get large enough to use these.

 

My main remark is:

Everything you make is welcome and will be appreciated, even if I don't use it. NAM makes SC4 a very versatile and good game. Without it there would be way less fun, even if I take into account all other mods/props/lots etc...

But even if you stopped right now I'd have so much to explore, my gamepaly would still take another five or ten years without boredom.

 

And I have patience. My preference is once in a year or so a new NAM instead of every three months a smaller update (except for bugs issues etc), because everytime there is a new NAM I fear I have to rebuild a lot of my stuff.

 

Thank you for everything you made already.

FlyHigh likes this

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Posted

The only thing I have to say is unless something massively cool (like P57 and the Multi Height System) happens I think an annual or close to it would be great spacing. For me it gives me enough time to play around and use it while not getting bored because its really old stuff.

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Posted

My thoughts on NAM...

There should be no pressure for the NAM team to release it, so that we would get the highest quality of work out there. The scheduled release of NAM 30 was such a disaster because of the pressure of hopefully releasing it on time (and also to find out common bugs that would be eventually be fixed in the next version).

For me, I test a lot of NAM goodies; not only that this increases the look and feel of the city, it also increases its versatility and functionality. I clearly recommend to try it all, you never know, you might really like some of it ;)

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Posted

Imagine SC4 without mods...

If the NAM weren't created along with the other mods out there, I would've not been playing SC4 up to this date. It's one of the most essential needs to keep SC4 alive.

I pretty much use every NAM component out there when I installed it. I am pretty much a NAM-boy. :P

It doesn't matter if the next release maybe 1 month, 1 year, or even 100 years. Patience is a virtue, especially when waiting for a new NAM. ;)

And here's my remark on that:

 

You will never know when the next NAM will be released. Only time teasing will tell. :P

But I would greatly appreciate it if a new NAM is released annually. But if I have to wait for 10 years to wait for the next NAM, it's okay! :D

dirtguru and fefenc like this

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Posted

I have to say I never use RHW mod. RHW mod is something that betray the original direction of highway development. Maxis highway system is somehow more suitable to other elements of the game. So I make full use of Maxis highway addon mod and hope to see more interchange pieces coming to light. Maybe RHW gives us a real sight of traffic system. But it takes too much space and is not compatible with surrounding tiles.

I fully appreciate the work dedicated by the RHW team. But I will insist on using Maxis highway only. Hope someone can catch my point.

Gn_leugim and fefenc like this

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Posted

Apparently I'm the only one who doesn't use the NAM. Huh.

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Posted

I am intrigued by the results so far, but I’ll hold back on my comments until more people have voted.

 

After looking at the NAM features, it turns out the only ones I don't use are CAN-AM, HSRP, Maxis Highway Override / Project Symphony (as it is not backwards compatible with the Maxis Highway interchanges that my older cities contain),  STR, SAM, underground rail and the rural roads plugin.

 

To everyone viewing this poll, please share this to encourage more people to vote.  We want to hear from all types of SC4 players… You don’t have to be a SC4 diehard to vote.

Tarkus likes this

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Posted

RHW for me is a headache cuz I don't know how to use it properly, but thanks to the "Project Symphony" I'm learning all the basics of RHW and now I'm making interchanges that years ago I would call myself now as Einstein. A lot of ppl still uses maxis highways, because it's very simple and compact to use. We don't need to make pressure to the NAM Team, they won't earn a single penny for all awesome work that they're doing keeping SC4 alive. DO YOU HEAR ME, EA?!

CGMozart118, ccy and data7 like this

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Posted

I am probably one of the 3 who still use NAM 30 in my cities. As to why, perhaps its a manner of my laziness on updating it or for some other reason. I think I'll wait till the next NAM is out. As for delays to fix bugs, I prefer to wait it out than wait for a bug fix patch, would reduce some tensions and my bandwidth. ;)  

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Posted

I've voted in the above poll. If I had some mopre time I'd expand on my thoughts, but I thought I should at least vote in the poll.

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Posted

Personally, I don't use all the features, and honestly there are some I use 'now and then' versus the ones I use in every city I build.

 

The things I use the most are RHW, SAM, Wide Radius Curves, Street Puzzle Pieces (to break the grid), NWM, TULEPs, Bridges and stations.  To me, these are the most useful, and most needed.  

 

On the other side of the story, I have never used the FAN, CAN-AM, or the double height systems.  Not that I think they aren't useful, I've just never had a justification or desire to use them.

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Posted

I think the NAM is the best thing that ever happened to this game. I as well as many others greatly appreciate the dedication and hard work these people do. 'nuff said! :thumb:

dirtguru likes this

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Posted

About the only features that I don't use, as of yet anyway, are the HSR, underground rail and double-height rail stuff. I am pretty sure I wouldn't keep at it without the NAM.

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Posted

Even though I don't currently use all the features that come with NAM, it's nice to know the option is there when/if I feel my city would benefit from said features. 

 

It's also nice that we don't actually have to have all the features installed just to have NAM. Being able to choose which features we want with the option to add more later is definitely a key factor in installing NAM features IMO.

 

As long as we can keep deciding which elements we want, if none other than just the traffic sim, you can continue adding more content or not, it wouldn't matter at this point. What's available is plenty of add-on for me personally.

 

But I do understand that those who use NAM in it's entirety will probably want more content added to keep them interested. Though I don't see why you need to keep running yourself ragged just to keep adding more an more features to the NAM. There has to be a point when enough is enough.

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Posted

It is great. It is amazing.

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Posted

I don't use RHW nor GLR currently, and have little use for some of the other features but would be totally lost without it.  If my playing style changes (new machine probably) then this is very likely to change.

 

It should be noted that quality programming and programs are not released on deadlines.  Also, adding personnel to a project increases the time to completion by the square of the number of people added including managers.

 

While basic quality assurance is essential, it is sometimes necessary with very large projects such as the NAM to make a release like 31.0 with the understanding that this is a release candidate and not a final release.  In this case the final release depended on community feed back, and was very successful, IMHO, with 31.2. 

 

The documentation leaves quite a bit to be desired, but programmers/implementers never write totally satisfactory documentation due to their in-status.  They are too busy working on the product.  Using what documentation is available a novice user might be able to stumble along to use things like RHW in the end but the learning curve is more than slightly stiff because of, among other things, the plethora of acronyms and shortcut names and numeric designations.  It is a matter of keenness and urgency that can encourage some users to endure.  I am sorry to say that I find the U-Tube tutorials to be poor in quality, being unscripted or at least without a story board.  The narrator on these usually wins the grunt cup.

 

In closing let me say that the NAM Team is doing a heroic job.  It is not only a job well done, but well done in the face of a lot of whining by people who have never written a line of code in their lives.  Keep up the excellent work, gentlemen.

 

John C. Winterton, CCP.

Professor of Computer Science (Retired)

nos.17, z1, Gn_leugim and 2 others like this

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Posted

I'd like to clarify that the team is not considering publicly 'scheduled' releases.  NAM 31 will probably be the only one like that.

 

What the poll is getting at is whether users would prefer these big, spaced out releases that add a ton of content, or much more frequent releases that only introduce, say, one new feature at a time.  There would of course be more bugs with the new features, but the more frequent releases would allow for faster bugfixing.

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Posted

The documentation leaves quite a bit to be desired, but programmers/implementers never write totally satisfactory documentation due to their in-status.  They are too busy working on the product.  Using what documentation is available a novice user might be able to stumble along to use things like RHW in the end but the learning curve is more than slightly stiff because of, among other things, the plethora of acronyms and shortcut names and numeric designations.  It is a matter of keenness and urgency that can encourage some users to endure.  I am sorry to say that I find the U-Tube tutorials to be poor in quality, being unscripted or at least without a story board.  The narrator on these usually wins the grunt cup.

The people with the best knowledge in the matter are often not the people who can present this knowledge the best. But most of the YouTube videos we release may be unscripted and it is never purposely a tutorial. It's more a showcase what you can do with the new content.

About the manual, we have been discussing revisiting them, because they are a monster to manage and update, especially considering the scale of the project. Again, we NAMites may fail to place ourselves into the minds of a total novice player and we may skip steps we think are obvious. There's always the "Rule of the Better Idiot" when it comes to testing:

"You try to make a program idiot-proof. But then a better idiot comes along...


Now, I have a few other notes to add here: though we may be pretty good in developing stuff, there have been chronic problems not only on the documentation side, but also on the testing side. We used to have a lot of NAM Associates to do that job for us. Unfortunately, most of them have been very inactive lately and we are facing again a shortage of testers within the team...

However, the NAM 31.0 may have been a disastrous release, we did perform an excellent feat of crisis management: the NAM 31.0 Central Bug Thread. Although the release was buggy as hell, these central bug threads did help us a great deal to iron out most of the bugs in three months time with two additional releases.

Now, I would scare some people when I say that there have been plans (nothing solid yet) under consideration to make such a release again with the NAM 32. However, this time we would announce that this is not a full, stable release, but more a kind of public beta, so people can test out the new NAM to search for any bugs when present. This way, we can iron out the bugs as quickly as possible yet again, and people from the community can actually contribute to the NAM by spotting them and reporting them. In brief, it may be a benefit for us all. ;)

Anyway, those are a thoughts of a NAMite ;)

Best,

Maarten

Fruitkweek, Tarkus, dirtguru and 1 other like this

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Posted

I voted "Somewhat important - Continuing NAM development is useful in the same way that all new custom content is useful" but only because I think at this point the NAM is already so well developed that it covers what most players would use most of the time.  I feel like future updates will mostly be icing on the cake for people who are really into transit stuff.

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Posted

I think.. I should explain the things I voted a little better here.

 

First of all, I know that people in the team are doing it for free, and that they have no responsability at all about releasing their work. I know too, that it takes a lot of time and work to get around all the aspects of such a develpment. I voted on certain things that might sound a little pretencious, but to be honest, I believe it is better for the NAM team to release every 6 months, let us do the testing work.. as Maarten said, the more people you have testing, the faster you will get the bugs and the faster we all win.

 

Im not saying that I will lose interest in the NAM, but seeing all the threads, and all the new pics and having to wait a whole year or more to actually test it myself, is somehow a bummer... Thats why I like Maartens way of thinking.. make a release, state that it is a test release, let people try it and inform, and after fixes, the final product can come out. 

 

I tend to watch youtube, but specifically, Haljackeys and Maartens channels... and I remember some time ago, Maarten started a video journal about the NORO region... and BAM I saw it.. the new railway replacement... He is testing it I believe... but in order to test it.. .he has to do it on his own... Now imagine, and forgive me for being repetitive but this is an example of whats stated above, if we could all help test it, and create the "report bugs for xxyyzz here" it would only take a few weeks to get fixes, and to get releases faster.

 

Finally, sometimes it is better to realease something really small, like little updates, to spot bugs faster and work on them before hand.. plus you give us a little taste of it, IMHO

Sabretooth78 likes this

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Posted

I've always felt that the bugs in NAM 31 were the direct result of the hard release date which limited the time available for testing.  The beta idea Maarten has outlined allows a speedy release with the consideration that bugs may be present.  There was, after all, a time in which the NAM was considered to be in a perpetual beta, mainly because new releases were always down the pipeline.  The beta designation disappeared, but the releases didn't.  To be honest, I don't consider the NAM to be a once-and-done release like a new building.  That's not to say buildings aren't revisited and re-BATted, but there's no pressing need.  To me, the NAM has always seemed more like a continually changing environment.  It has such a profound effect on gameplay, and it influences the development of other custom content.  Who would think of developing GLR stations or fractionally-angled houses if the NAM hadn't made GLR and FANs a reality?

Tarkus, kergelen and whatevermind like this

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Posted

Maarten, you know that I agree that a release candidate with appropriate announcement is the way to go because of the scale of the NAM, but I wonder how many users understand what that means?

 

A release candidate does not replace the current package but is a kind of public beta test release for the community to bash and help the developers get the actual release into shape.  In the case of NAM 31.0 (really an RC) it took two subsequent releases to get it to a satisfactory level.  A system of that magnitude will always have a few crushed beetles in it, but they may not be found by the testing in the development shop simply because of the magnitude of the required testing.

 

If the team wants to release NAM 32 as a release candidate, I can think of no reason why not.  The only thing necessary might be to tag it with the release candidature by calling it something like NAM 32-rcx where x is the number of the candidate release.  When the final release occurs then the download should be simply named NAM 32.0.  Incrementing the release sub-number generally indicates a new feature not a fix.

 

If people want to see new features in intermediate releases, this is when you can start bumping the release sub-number.  For example, if you have something snazzy that can be released without messing up the current version you could easily call lit NAM 31.2.1 implying a new feature but not a general update.

 

How many users would just slam in a release candidate version and expect it to operate without problems, I wonder?  I most certainly never do that, but then I've been in computers for over fifty years.

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Posted

How many users would just slam in a release candidate version and expect it to operate without problems, I wonder?  I most certainly never do that, but then I've been in computers for over fifty years.

 

Even in this day and age, the majority of computer users have no idea how software development works, or where bugs come from. Most of them cannot read code in any language and still treat the computer as a sort of "magic box". They are experts at the consumption side of things, but the production side remains alien to them. That's why a CS grad today can still reliably expect to pull down salaries in the neighborhood of $70,000 and upwards.

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Posted

If the NAM team release a public BET4 test for NAM 32, I would test it with pleasure. The bad thing to choice just a few beta testers is that they can stay innactive for some reason (like a meteor falling in their houses) and it can make bugfixes harder. :S

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Posted

I voted that I would prefer a release quarterly, but that is if regular release intervals are decided. It is not to place any pressure on the team.

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Posted

It was my understanding that the NAM is in continual Beta development, and that released versions are actually RCs due to the nature of the code and the inconsistencies in the MAXIS hardcoding. All of the private stuff (I thought) was alpha builds, and the reason the NAM contains bugs (that are sometimes acceptable and sometimes unavoidable) is because of an inability to reduce these to an acceptable minimum.

 

I sort of treat the NAM as the ROM on my Android phone; it's custom, it does a lot of stuff I wouldn't be able to do without it, and sometimes, there are...quirks. They irk me, but unless they fundamentally break the functionality (like missing path files, for instance) I think it's acceptable. Since it's all unfunded, and consistently supported as well, I expect some errors to arise, and I expect courteous support for problems, both of which I receive provided I follow directions. I thinks that it's hard to call something that is under a continual state of development not a BETA version (or at least an RC) because such software/code is never meant to last much longer than its successors due to new versions popping out rather frequently.

 

Windows and Microsoft try to release final versions. My understanding of NAM is that the versions are more like updates. They might finish one day, but it's unlikely since much development is towards greater realism, which is that unattainable asymptote of holy grail for almost any video game designer, let alone the modder who states such as his intended goal.

 

It's great work; I think the only reasons I don't use the CAN-AM is because I can't find a purpose for it (I never build canal-type cities) and I never build on flat ground, which is necessary for the canals to look good. It's worth noting that I installed it anyway in the event that I find some appropriate ground to use it on.

I would also prefer more frequent releases for the sake of consistency in updates and because I run into bugs that usually can be fixed until a new controller is released. On that note, I'd love to be a BETA tester, but I unfortunately cannot be depended upon for consistent feedback due to RL. Hopefully there are enough NAM associates to prevent delays.

noahclem likes this

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Posted

First of all, let me say that work done by the NAM Team is nothing short of fantastic. They have made massive leaps and bounds over the years and made the game so much more enjoyable. And they continue to push the envelope. The work currently being done on the RRW Project is stunning and I can't wait for its release. So, now that my nose is sufficiently brown :lol: , I have some thoughts for consideration...

 

1) Is it possible to make a "No $$$ Palms" option that truly works on all streets and roads available in the installation checklist? I am using Swamper's mod, but palms still show up on the SAM streets.

2) Along the same lines, is it possible to make a "No Road/Street Grass" option available as well?

3) Is it possible to make laying underground rail work like a tunnel rather than using the puzzle pieces? Maybe using the FLUPS pieces as "tunnel starter" pieces?

 

Just some ideas from an average player with no knowledge of what it takes to create this great thing we call the NAM.

 

Thanks,

 

Rick

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