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      Please help us for July   06/30/2017

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Cyclone Boom

STEX Issues - Community Report Thread

60 posts in this topic

Hi everyone, 

Continuing on from recent discussions, we think it'd be helpful to start collecting evidence about issues with STEX files.

Such as:

  • Broken formatting  [Example].
  • Errors when downloading files  (e.g. 3D161/G - File not found).
  • Corrupted archives  (e.g. broken ZIPs).
  • Invalid or missing dependency links  (e.g. [Old]  >>  [New]).
  • Missing descriptions / screenshots.
  • Irregular download counts (more downloads than views).
  • Any other abnormality, or function not working as intended.


So if you discover any of the above, please reply below with this info. The more examples of evidence we collect, the easier it'll be to determine patterns. Afterwards, it can be used for further investigation, in attempt to find solutions once and for all.

Supporting details such as screenshots, abnormalities in the HTML, or error codes are also welcome.

The following posts will form index lists.


Regarding a STEX overhaul, we've got to begin somewhere. I believe focussing on the more serious shortcomings makes sense as a starting point. Once these are hopefully addressed, it'll become a much clearer picture. Looking ahead, it may then lead onto more ambitious projects including the previously mentioned tagging, and the ideas which @rsc204 and @Tarkus discussed (e.g. here and here), amongst others. We're in this together as a community, and continuing on, any input or assistance would be welcome.

Some files are not in a good shape, much like old property that needs a little TLC. Just like an architect, although it's a fact of life, people never intended their creations to reach a state of disrepair. As a result, being fair to authors past and present, it's time to commence action for the benefit of the whole community going forward.

Thanks! :)

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I spend a lot of time going through the files on the STEX and am familiar with the unusuals mentioned above.  So I will make a shortcut directly to this thread and reply here rather than use the 'report file' button.  I will also begin a sequential analysis of the files in SC4 Buildings and Lots.   Can you also post a list of guidelines or criteria as to what is expected of a file?   For example will ST require all files to be archived, to contain a 'readme.txt' or other help file?    The criteria on SC Devotion is quite strict by comparison.   It gets to be quite a lot of work to test all the files in-game because some of the dependencies can take an hour to track down and install, so I'll only be testing easily installed files.   As well, if I start an analysis, I'll probably be bumping this thread repeatedly with posts, but whatever I report will be here for anyone to either confirm or correct what I report.

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Great! I've encountered a few of these throughout my searches, mostly broken formatting and invalid dependency links; if I can remember some specific files with any of this problems, I'll post them later this very day! Of course, I will also post regularly should I run into more issues.

And thanks to ST staff for their work running and maintaining this awesome site! ;)

 

6 hours ago, RandyE said:

For example will ST require all files to be archived, to contain a 'readme.txt' or other help file?    The criteria on SC Devotion is quite strict by comparison.

I think the post refers only to issues before downloading, that is, within the STEX, not issues the actual files have once you download them (there may be some ambiguity here), IIRC that was a whole other beast of a discussion.

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1 hour ago, Edvarz said:

I think the post refers only to issues before downloading, that is, within the STEX, not issues the actual files have once you download them (there may be some ambiguity here), IIRC that was a whole other beast of a discussion.

Got it.  I'll at least download the file to ensure its not corrupted in any way.  Actually installing and thoroughly testing is indeed vastly more complicated.   

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In any case, having an included readme is crucial for first-line support; I've found dozens of errors with poorly documented mods that would have been easy to resolve with a more verbose readme file, and in many cases I had to look for the original post or the dev thread for about half an hour, simply because is too easy to get things lost on the internet. If you ask me, we should enforce a readme-included rule here in ST.

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2 hours ago, Edvarz said:

I think the post refers only to issues before downloading, that is, within the STEX, not issues the actual files have once you download them (there may be some ambiguity here), IIRC that was a whole other beast of a discussion.

Yes for the time being, let's just focus on files with significant external errors. For example, issues which may limit or prevent them from being used entirely, such as with the download button pushed to the side, or if there's corruption. The plan here is to collect as much evidence as possible, and then down the line, find the best ways to address the issues.

I've added "missing dependencies" to the list, as there was a recent effort to track these down on selected files. Of course, if significant dependencies aren't listed, it may render an upload partly or completely dysfunctional.

Right now in this initial stage, we won't be doing any modifications to the actual uploads. No editing or physical changes for the time being -- internal stuff can always come later. Whether that be adding tags, readmes, clearer screenshots / descriptions, or even fixing errors with the content's functionality. For those types of changes, there are still many things to work out, such as the policies and ownership considerations. One step at a time...

Once we've found out what's wrong, we can look into making it right. Ideally, issues like the broken formatting may be possible to fix in batch, instead of resaving the description. For this to happen however, there would need to be a clear pattern established. Right now, we don't have one, which has meant they can only be fixed manually.


By the way, if anyone would prefer reporting issues using the dedicated function, you're most welcome. We can then still update the lists which will show below the OP in this thread (they're hidden as of this post).

Although unlike private reports, posting here carries the benefit of starting this process as a wider community effort. So if you're on the STEX one day and notice a problem, just do a quick post here with the link, along with a brief description of what's wrong. Every little helps in the grand scheme of things. :)

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6 minutes ago, Cyclone Boom said:

By the way, if anyone would prefer reporting issues using the dedicated function, you're most welcome. We can then still update the lists which will show below the OP in this thread (they're hidden as of this post).

 

Is there one method you prefer? If there is a rather high volume of reports, I'd rather submit mine in a manner easier for yall to deal with.

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If several of us are going to take on the task,  maybe we should divide up the file areas to work on.  I was planning later today to just start at the beginning of the 'lots' section for SC4, as that's where I've made most of my contributions, but that may also be true for someone else.   I also agree the 'report file' seems more so for severe conditions such as a file that may be objectionable or otherwise a security or liability issue.  Other than that, its understood, its basically a 'recon' and 'report' mission for now.

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Yes, for those reasons, I would encourage posting here instead of reporting.

You're most welcome to organise informal groups if you'd like -- that would certainly speed up the process. Although just to clarify, it's not a case of tediously plodding through all 20,000 files, but rather finding a suitable sample of each issue. So to start this marathon, going at a more leisurely pace might be worthwhile. ;)

For a few of these (e.g. formatting or 'missing' files), there is a strong possibility they could be resolved in batch. We'll see...

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Alrighty!, off the top of my head I remembered having issues downloading stuff from Glenni, so I clicked on some files of his I wanted to download and some other random ones, seems like he fixed the formatting and links on some, but not all:

Spoiler

 

First the dependency links for ease of use:

A: Glenni Mega Props Vol 1 (file id: 19096)

B: buggi's Extra cheats DLL (file id: 21118)

C: Porkie Props vol. 1 (file id: 11421)

These two files have broken links to dependency A:

This one has broken links to dependencies A and B:

This one has broken links to dependencies A and C

And this last one has a broken link to dependency C

 

 

 

That's all for now, since I don't really feel like going trough all of Glenni's content, these were just some files that appeared in the first pages, I also skipped some of them; maybe someone can pick up from where I left. :)

BTW I also remembered Simgoober's classic Simtropolis station had broken formatting, I was right, so here goes. ;)

EDIT I searched a bit more and found two files with broken formatting

Spoiler

 

And another one with broken dependency links, the first one points to Glenni's Mega Props vol. 2 and the second to Porkie Props vol. 1 (dependency C listed above)


 

 

 

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Sounds like there are a number of us with the same thoughts.  I also have made a start by providing a spreadsheet with 50+ SC4Lot files that had missing dependencies. 

The process I've been using is to unzip files from my archive of downloads, rather than trying to work with any modified files I use in game, or from files freshly downloaded.  I've only worked on those downloads I have as a start.  I'm working solely off of scans from SC4DataNode.

Of the lots that I've checked out, about 35% had dependencies that weren't listed in the download description.  Of these, only a couple so far have had dependencies I couldn't identify from those prop packages that I have downloaded.

We certainly need to come up with some method to prevent duplication of effort to the greatest extent possible. 

I offer a couple of possibilities for discussion (obviously, much depends on the number of volunteers):

Divide work by type of issue Cyclone Boom mentions in the first post: 

1.  The existence of some of these issues can be determined by a more or less visual check (i.e. existence of formatting issues either with the entire download page or just with the description, broken or non-existent dependency links,  non-existent descriptions or screenshots. 

2.  Determining if there are dependencies not listed (and what exactly is missing) is going to be much more manpower intensive if the percentages I've experienced hold true; this  effort might be divided along the lines of just determining which downloads involve missing dependencies, and then determining what those dependencies are. 

3.  Issues directly related to the download:  file not found errors, ZIP / RAR files that can't be un-archived, unreadable files within the ZIP / RAR file. 

4.  The issue of "broken" downloads still requires a lot of work before any fixes could even be worked out, and then working out a reasonable way to apply any fixes.  One of the things that can be done now would be to define "broken" (more on this in a separate post).

Before any divvying up of work is done, it will be helpful to know how many volunteers are available (i.e. if there are only a few volunteers, it might make sense to divvy up work along one direction; if there are many, divvying up work might be done better in another direction).

I will go on record as volunteering my time for this cause.

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Part of the issue of "broken" lots is that there has been lots of discussion on the "how to fix), but practically none on the "what" (i.e. what constitutes a "broken" download, or rather, a download that once unzipped and placed in someone's Plugin folder, either doesn't work as designed, or somehow causes the game to not work correctly).

I offer the following for discussion:

First, my personal opinion on things that should NOT be taken into consideration when determining what is a "broken" download:  aesthetics of the lot, unusual stats for the building, whether a particular building is considered a "cheat," ... what else??

There are some things that (in my mind) would obviously be considered "broken":  missing models (although this is maybe more properly a missing dependency), missing or corrupted exemplars, missing or corrupted PNG or LTEXT sub-files, etc.)

So in order to define a particular download as being "broken" (other than those cases of missing or corrupted files), we first need to define what a proper building and lot exemplar should "look" like.  So a series of questions for those who have the expertise / experience to answer them, since the answers generally come down to game mechanics (NOTE:  Every one of these questions comes from something I've observed in one or more downloads):

General:  As a practical matter, if a required property in the Lot or Building exemplar has no entered value, or has incomplete values, how does the game react?  Does it add some default value?

We'll start with the Lot exemplar as this has fewer property to discuss:

Exemplar Name:  This property appears to only be of value when trying to differentiate one lot from another when using the LE (either Maxis or PIM-X), or when using the PlopLot "cheat."

Growth Stage:  This property is self-explanatory.  Current wisdom appears to be to use a value of 0xFF to ensure a non-growable building doesn't grow (This is what PIM-X LE uses).  Would 0x00 also cause a lot to NOT grow?  What are the practical effects if a non-growable lot has a Growth Stage value other than 0xFF?

LotConfigPropertyZoneTypes:  The implications of this property are mostly self-evident when applied to a growable lot.  But what happens when the Zone Type doesn't agree with the RCI type in the Building exemplar (i.e. would a Residential building grow on an Industrial or Commercial lot)?  For LM and PLOP lots, what are the practical implications if the value is left blank (especially if the Growth stage is other than 0xFF)?  As a practical matter, what purpose does an option of 0x00 (None) serve?  Would this imply that the Lot would not grow on any type of zone (i.e. will NOT grow), or that it WILL grow in all types of zones?

LotConfigPropertyWealthTypes:  This property appears to only be used for RCI lots, and is not needed / used for LM or PLOP lots; For RCI lots, does this property need to match the Wealth property in the Building exemplar?

LotConfigPropertyPurposeTypes:  This property appears to only be used for RCI lots, and is not needed / used for LM or PLOP lots;  For RCI lots, does this property need to match the Purpose property in the Building exemplar?

Now on to Building Exemplars (this gets a bit more complicated):

Resource Key Type 1:  This property refers to the model being used, or sometimes to a non-existant model when a prop is being used for the building.  In the latter case, this will often lead to missing dependencies being identified for the Building exemplar (i.e. missing S3D files), even though they really aren't necessary.

Wealth:  Does this equate to the wealth of the occupants?  If so, what are the ramifications if it doesn't (i.e. Wealth property has value of Medium Wealth, while having R$$$ occupants)?

Purpose:  Does this need to equate to the type of occupants?  If so, what are the ramifications if it doesn't (i.e. Capacity Satisfied property has value of CO$$$, but Purpose has a value of anything other than Office)?

Capacity Satisfied:  What are the ramifications if this property doesn't include values for any lower wealth occupants?  Does this mean that if the environment changes causing the existing wealth occupants to vacate the building, the building immediately becomes abandoned rather than downgrading to a lower wealth building?  Since it has been pretty much proven that multi-use buildings don't work (despite there existing a property that implies they might), any building that lists more than one occupant type should be considered "broken?"  I've run into several buildings the author intended as "City Starter" buildings, and included values for EVERY occupant type (to include "civic jobs") and wealth level.

Demand Created:  We know that this property is used provide "civic" jobs, and consists of a series of equivalent values for Jobs and Amenities;  What would be the impact in-game if a set of values is missing (Jobs or amenities) (other than possibly no "civic" jobs being provided)? 

LotOccupantTypes:  LM, not having any occupants, do not need the LotOccupantTypes property.  However according to Ripplejet's post on the subject (http://sc4devotion.com/forums/index.php?topic=2378.0), any building that contains RCI occupants (whether an RCI building or a LM building with Jobs) requires the LotOccupantTypes property.  I've run into many buildings of both types that do not have the LotOccupantTypes property, so the logical questions would be:  What is the practical impact in-game if the LotOccupantTypes property is not present when it should be?  What about buildings with "civic" jobs (i.e. Jobs and Amenities)?  What would be the impact if values in this property do not match the Type values in the Capacity Satisfied property?  or Values in the LotOccupantGroups property?

LotOccupantGroups:  We know that in order for a LM with jobs building to actually provide jobs, the LotOccupantGroups property has to include a building value equating to the types of jobs being provided.  This would imply that any such building missing such a value is "broken" in that it isn't functioning as designed.

OK, I've contributed my wall of text for the day!

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First off the major issue I've experienced in perusing the STEX on the ST server side is broken links to dependencies 'This page does not exist'.   I'm intending to collect a sampling of the URL structure and believe there is a 'batch' processing solution as these URLs are probably no longer applicable since whatever upgrades may have been made.  The dependencies listed and linked most often ARE found to exist on the STEX, but no longer correctly linked.   (compiling a sample is still in the works)

On the STEX front page (http:// community.simtropolis.com /files/), there is first the 'STEX Featured' section.  As these files are being featured by Simtropolis to the world, I think these files should be required to have undergone a more thorough analysis that  - twalsh102 - mentions above.  Such would maintain respect for this site and the community of members.   

Going down the front page of our beloved STEX, the next section is 'What's New'.    These files also should be ensured to have undergone some degree of approval of basic standards so as to also maintain respect for the site and its community.    

Those of us who are familiar with this site and its community can just scan the two above sections and be reasonably assured that the files will qualify on at least an intermediate to expert level of user created content and will contain sufficient details that we may effectively use the file if we want to.   Expert user content creators especially, are usually sufficiently verbose and instructive when they post a file.

The next section of the front page of the STEX is the 'Highest Rated' section.  Now here's where ST and its community connect to the whole user base of members of this site.  You must have an account to rate a file, so all these ratings are from people who have signed up as a member of this site, that is, over at least the past 10 years.

The 'Highest Rated' file on the entire STEX, that is, the ultimate representation of what the entire fan base of this city builder community and its account-holding members is what file?

I like the Academy Awards Theater lot and do use it, but I think a site admin or moderator needs to edit and clarify the dependencies and install instructions of the 'Highest Rated' file on the entire STEX, again to maintain respect and for this site and its community.


Academy Awards Theatre 1.1

Rating: 4.76 (918 Reviews)

(http:// community.simtropolis.com /files/file/923-academy-awards-theatre/)

    Views 148,025
    Downloads 72,362
    Submitted August 3, 2003
    Updated November 23, 2003
    File Size 52.73 kB

    918 Reviews
    226 Comments


For example, only the  bldgprop_vol1 plugin IS required for this lot, but the file page has never been updated.

Okay, so all the above is my 'recon' and 'report' for the day so far...

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On the topic of broken dependency links, I made a quick converter a while back to convert from old STEX link formatting to new link formatting (you can find it here); I'll modify it at some point in the future to support batch conversion.

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Hey! me again, I noticed Harishna's content has broken formatting, it's not that bad as it doesn't prevent you from downloading, but I just wanted to report it.

Also, Harishna's not making BATs... can you fix that issue?. (I'm joking... kinda)

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Hmm, there are just three files, and just BBcode showing so it will be easy, I'll fix them outright!

(Y sobre ese otro pequeño problema, creo que no conozco a nadie en ese lado de Australia que pueda hacer de mensajero, habrá que esperar a que recuerde que hay muchos fans suyos por acá...)

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The 2nd most prominent issue I've experienced in going through files on the STEX, is where the HTML code is not rendering the page and what I get is the coded text as like below.

<h3>Hello World</h3>

I suppose this one probably has a batch processing solution as well.

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Just to be sure, your problem looks like:

<b>HTML code</b>

or like

[b]BBcode formatting[/b]

It would be more logical to find the latter, because of the formatting system on the previous versions of the site. HTML would be much weirder...

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13 hours ago, matias93 said:

Just to be sure, your problem looks like:


<b>HTML code</b>

or like


[b]BBcode formatting[/b]

It would be more logical to find the latter, because of the formatting system on the previous versions of the site. HTML would be much weirder...

I'll have to get an example because I just looked at the BBcode tags, but I'm more familiar with HTML so that's what it looked like to me.  So BBCode is a limited set of tags for message boards, okay, got it.  Bulletin Board Systems in my experience go back to echomail and fidonet.   That was HTML 2.0 I think.    Anyhow, I'll just go find a sample, cause I must of come across at least a hundred instances of this glitch. 

EDIT:

Here's an example of one the pages that is not rendering the tags, now it does look like BBCode rather than any version of HTML proper.


  Edited by RandyE

Sample
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Of my own STEX contributions, I've noticed the following have off/weird formatting in their descriptions when it comes to bold, italics, etc.

  • Surf Shacks
  • Arthouse Theatre Pack
  • Small Offices
  • Midrise Offices Vol 1
  • Midrise Offices Vol 2
  • Midrise Offices Vol 3
  • Midrise Offices Vol 4

I've been meaning to go in and fix them because it's bugged me, but if it can be done via a batch process as mentioned above, that would work, too...

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Most of Heblem's files are bugged in some way.

bb code:

Spoiler

 

 
Not signed in

Critical HTML formatting:

Spoiler

 

 
Not signed in

Mildly annoying HTML formatting:

Spoiler

 

 
Not signed in

 

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Enyati College is showing as a narrow centered column in both Firefox and Chrome. Scrolling way down (about halfway into the reviews/comments) and "Plop Cost:" is just to the left, but it seems all of the rest of the description is missing.

Edit: The Readme file does list 3 dependencies and all 3 links are broken cause they were created prior to one of the ST board software updates. Furthermore the 2nd dep appears to have two sub-deps of its own. Here's the updated list:

After installing I couldn't plop it in a new test city due to city requirements so I made a temporary tweak:

596572ebc5ead_01_EnyatiTweak.jpg.9f81481d32042bfca1b2f617bf14791a.jpg

 

Then I plopped it and clicked it with the Query Tool:

596572ec8a240_02_EnyatiCollegePlopped.jpg.1d90611c51b8a775ac62b731e96705c1.jpg

 

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Thanks everyone for all the reports so far! :)

We'll be adding these to the lists which will appear below the opening post.
 

On 09/02/2017 at 4:15 PM, twalsh102 said:

First, my personal opinion on things that should NOT be taken into consideration when determining what is a "broken" download:  aesthetics of the lot, unusual stats for the building, whether a particular building is considered a "cheat," ... what else??

Absolutely, any such effort to improve functionality should not be detrimental to what the original author intended. All creators have artistic license, and this will not be diminished in any way. Instead, only to resolve any major issues. By "major", these would be aspects which following testing, are found to prevent the content working. Whether that be missing models, conflicts, or data corruption. Doing so would be beneficial for everyone involved (both authors and the community).

The biggest challenge is to determine and categorise what are considered dysfunctional errors. So before embarking on the latter stages of such a project, we'd need a clear checklist of faults, and to ensure any fixes do no more than bring the content up to how the author envisioned. It would also be necessary to at least send a courtesy PM to the author, and give them opportunity to respond and fix anything to their own accord. If they decline of course, and prefer their files to be left as they are, we'd totally respect that.

Perhaps with the stages of testing, it could follow a similar principle to aviation, with how aircraft are checked and maintained. Here they are scrutinised for defects, and then repaired as needed. However, upgrades/alterations won't be made to the fundamental design, without being instructed by the manufacturer. Maybe not the best analogy since defects in STEX files don't increase -- they are static data files after all. But I think this gives a bit of an idea what could be achieved in the long run: A standardised process for checking a range of issues across the board. In any case, unlike aircraft, the original version can be preserved and remain available using the versioning system on the STEX.

Of course, there would need to be lots of groundwork in place beforehand, and further collaboration needed across the SC4 community. So for now, let's focus more on external issues such as the formatting, which are separate from the files themselves.

 

3 hours ago, Samerton said:

I'll try and get the rest of the reported files fixed by tonight

Great, thanks.

Can I just request that for each example of an issue with a file, please leave at least one instance which can be used for further investigation. ;)

For things like the formatting, there are so many files affected that it's impracticable to fix them all by hand, at least if we can help it. That's where a batch fix would be the ideal way forward, also avoiding the confusion of physically updating the file (changing the "Date Modified"). Since there's no way to perform silent edits, people may think the actual file has been changed.

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3 hours ago, Cyclone Boom said:

 

Can I just request that for each example of an issue with a file, please leave at least one instance which can be used for further investigation. ;)

 

Yup, of course. I'll create a list of files affected by a certain issue for referencing in the future.

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Hello! I was looking trough @tcx's content and I noticed various problems:

These four files have minor issues with broken formatting: 1, 2, 3, 4

This one has severely broken formatting

This three have broken dependency links to LBT Mega Prop Pack vol. 1, and LBT Mega Texture Pack vol. 2: 1, 2, 3

This three have outdated dependencies linked; LBT Prop packs 1, 2, and 3 were superseeded by LBT Mega Prop Pack vol. 1: 1, 2, 3

Aaaand finally, this one has a broken dependency link, this is the dependency.

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Thanks @Edvarz, all fixed except the one with severely broken formatting. Looks like some info is missing, I'll have to see if we can work that out first.

Edit: Got the final one fixed up too, don't think that download has any deps, but there are none listed in the readme.

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      Here, I wanted to create something unique with a very different story from what we're used to hear/listen to.
      So here I begin with the very first hours of mapping...
      It all began by a simple image in my mind, two cliffs at the edges of the map's bounds, a middly steep valley between 'em. A simple image that took 2hours to make both cliffs... 30 mins after, I was trying to figure out how I could make this map playable, because I don't want a very lot of water in the map.
      Back to the real world where I live at, there is no such similiar thing  around me. All I can see outdoor is the city.
    • By IvoryL96
      Hello there everyone, I have been playing SC4 for many years now, and had no problem with creating various cities with the in-game buildings, and as of recent, I have been looking online for skylines and layouts which inspire me, and couldn't help but notice all these buildings I have never even seen before, most of which are apparently downloadable. I am brand new to this community, and no matter how old the game gets it will always be among my favorite, would someone kindly explain how to download this content? I am 21 but not tech savvy as far as DLC goes and would love to join all of you. Thank you all! 
    • By CorinaMarie
      We've tweaked the SimCity 3000 Files section of the STEX to be for player created content and have added a separate SC3K Maxis Files category for the extra stuff provided by Maxis.
      So, just a general heads up announcement.
    • By daderic888
      G'day guys,
      While I am currently working on my first BAT, how does one go about making curved walls?
      I have been reading up about this and it appears that there are ways of achieving this.
      Unfortunately, it seems that the Philippo Tutorial doesn't highlight this aspect.
      What is the best way please?
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