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Interview Karoliina Korppoo, lead designer of Cities: Skylines.
Read the full interview at the source.
By Cyclone Boom
General Feedback Thread -
To help pass the time until the Awards Ceremony, here's a place to share your experiences of the new Trixies format.
What went well, and how can they be improved for next year?
As you're likely aware, this Trixies introduced various changes. Not only being the first time multiple years (2015 & 2016) were combined, but notably nominations were accepted in a special forum, allowing you to post and edit them in private. Based on your ideas, the Default Awards List was also created, and intended to provide a suitable baseline to cover the wide range of site contributions.
In summary, here's a few possible possible topics of discussion:
Total available default awards: 101 Custom Content: 34 City Journals: 40 Community: 27
Too little? Just right? Too many? Spread between categories. Coverage of types/themes? Any confusion or conflicting awards? Did the descriptions help or hinder?
How did you find it compared to years gone by? Were the instructions clear and easy to follow? Was it helpful to edit and view your nominations? Any issues along the way?
Duration of nomination period: 23 days (including the 2 day extension). Too short? Just right? Too long?
Interviews To what extent were they helpful / enlightening? Types of questions asked? Format / presentation. More for next year?
Content lists (2015 / 2016) Did they help with your decision making? Were they a useful reference? Should all content have been included in the lists? Grouping per author or per category?
Community discussion How could this work better in future?
Anything else which could be done in build-up?
Too sparse? Just right? Too excessive? When did you first become aware of the Trixies this time? How useful was the info banner at the top? Should anything else have been included? Were the countdown timers helpful? Visibility of the Trixies forum. Should any other banners have been added? Homepage features -- were they useful or too repetitive?
We're always looking to improve the Trixies, and this was really a learning experience for everyone. Hopefully it worked well as a comeback after being absent for such a long time. But like anything, there's always room for improvement going forward.
So if you've any comments or suggestions (even not on the above list), big or small, please post below and we'll take them into consideration. Feel free to post multiple times in this thread to your heart's content.
And of course, you don't have to answer all the above questions -- they're just pointers.
As part of the upcoming Trixie Season, the Staff team have been interviewing various prominent members of the community and asking them about their favorite STEX files and City Journals over the past two years, inspriation and creative workflow, along with life outside of Simtropolis. So without further ado, please welcome our next guest @Prophet42, a long time Simtropolis member and moderator. You may have seen him around the forums at some point over his 13 years here with us.
An Interview with Prophet42
Hi Prophet42, how are you today?
I'm doing great. Justing relaxing by the fire.
What do the trixies mean to you?
The trixies are a chance to showcase the great talent we have in the community. For me, it is a great chance see content from members that I may have missed and also inspire me to build better cities.
What's the best part of celebrating others achievements over the past year?
The best part is that it gives well deserved recognition to members for their contribution and hopefully inspires them to continue creating great content.
How did you first discover SimCity?
Back in the mid 90's, a friend of mine recommended SC2000. So I went out a bought a copy. I have been addicted ever since. By far, SC4 is my favorite city simulator, and probably my favorite game of all time.
What would be the most substantial project that has left a meaningful impression on you from the past two years? Why is that?
@Ln X city journal My SC4 CJ Scrapbook has really made an impression on me. His attention to detail, and realism has made me strive to be more creative when building my own cities.
What's a quality piece of work from the last two years which you think has been overlooked?
I think Modern Row Home #4 from @gutterclub has been overlooked. It is a nice detailed residential piece that doesn't seem to have been downloaded all that much.
Has anyone's content surprised you from the last two years? In what way was this a surprise?
@Diego Del Llano has uploaded some great content in the last two years. What kind of suprised me is that the quality and variety of the BATs has been good from the beginning.
Simtropolis is organized into ‘player' and ‘builder' categories. Regarding the ‘player' section, do you have any favourite CJers that you enjoy following? And what piece of content from them in the past two years would you recommend to others?
For CJers, I enjoy @Ln X's SC4 scrapbook journal and @korver's True Earth journal.
As far as content, I would highly recommend @madhatter106 Middies Office Pack 7. It fits seamlessly in with the rest of SC4 buildings and provides essential C$$ buildings.
Who is an up-and-coming member that we should look out for next year?
I think the recent work of @Aarsgevogelte is exceptional. I would look for continued great work from him in the following year.
You spend a lot of time commenting on forums, specifically forum games. Who is someone which always has a funny or witty remark?
@Toothless Stitch always seems to be able to provide humor and wit to the games.
What forums games these past two years have been exceptionally fun? And are there any that you'd recommend people new to the forum games section get involved in to introduce themselves to the concept?
I especially like "Why should the person above you be banned?" and "How is the person above you going to die?"
A good game to get started with would be "Guess who’s Next"
Lastly, if there was anyplace you'd want to go, where would you go and why?
Australia. I am fascinated with the culture, geography, and unique life forms.
Thanks for your time, here's to a great trixies season!
As part of the upcoming Trixie Season, the Staff team have been interviewing various prominent members of the community and asking them about their favourite STEX files and City Journals over the past two years, inspiration and creative workflow, along with life outside of Simtropolis. So without further adieu, please welcome our next guest @Tarkus, which many of you will know as one of the leaders of the NAM team.
An Interview with Tarkus
Hi Tarkus, how are you?
Alright, though fairly busy of late—having two jobs will do that to you.
Many people know you as one of the brains behind the NAM, but that wasn’t always the case was it? How did you get into modding SimCity?
I first picked up SimCity 4 Deluxe sometime in early 2004, and played it quite regularly in vanilla form for close to two years. And then I ran across Simtropolis almost by accident, and as soon as I saw the NAM (Version 19 back then), the early prototype of something called an RHW, and all the other content that had been made for the game, I was absolutely over the moon. My first real effort at making content was a set of road sign lots, which were on the STEX for awhile, and picked up a modest number of downloads. I kind of fell inactive for a bit after that, as I was finishing up my master's thesis, and then didn't have reliable internet access for awhile.
Once I finally got back onto the site in late September 2006, the thing that immediately hit me was that most of the transit modding community had seemingly gone silent, and a lot of the promising things that were in the works had come to a halt—including the RHW, which I had really taken a liking to, even in its early state. The NAM itself hadn't seen a release in a number of months, either. I had really come to care about these projects, and felt an urge to do see if there was a way I could contribute.
There was really just one thing I wanted to add—a puzzle piece to allow an Avenue viaduct to cross over an RHW-4 (the only RHW network back then). At that point, the only real tutorial out there on transit modding was @redlotus Interchange Tutorial, which was a pretty intense read. After a couple months of staring at hexadecimal in the Reader, and learning what RULs and exemplars were, and some help from a couple of NAMites who re-emerged from the woodwork ( @Swamper77 was especially helpful), I finally figured out how to get a puzzle piece in-game.
Of course, by that time, I started having all these other ideas, and kept learning more about transit modding to better facilitate them. Eventually, that led to my being added to a newly-reconstituted NAM Team in February 2007. I was never sent an invite PM or anything—I just suddenly had access to a new private thread, and discovered inside that I had indeed been invited onto the team. It was a very pleasant surprise, to say the least!
You grew the quality of add-ons in the NAM through your continued development of the RHW, what has been the most challenging aspect of that project as it grew over the years?
It's certainly been a challenging project over the years, but that's really what's kept me coming back to it. As far as what's been most challenging, I'd say dealing with all the crosslinking between all the various RHW networks, and between RHW networks and other NAMcomponents. There's 33 RHW networks at present. That presents an enormous number of options compared to the base game, but enormous complications as well—especially when you try to add 20 networks at once (as we did in NAM 31—it would have been 26 if we hadn't shelved three levels of RHW-12S and 10C).
What the general user may not know about how we “add” networks (really, we've just adeptly tricked the game into transforming behavior and appearance of existing networks, as we can't add true new ones), there's no high-level programming language or scripting involved. Most of it is if/then statements with hexadecimal pointers that operate two tiles at a time, like this:
The RHW, as a whole, presently consists of over one million lines of that. We actually had to change how we save the file back around NAM30, as Maxis did some strange things with compression that had capped the size at around 200,000 lines.
One of the other big challenges has been sneaking in time for my other transit modding projects. I have plenty of stories about the myriad delays on the Network Widening Mod (NWM), which, in terms of development time, is only about a year younger than the RHW (2006 vs. 2005), but didn't see its first release until 2010. The FLEX Turn Lanes (FTL) project, which is my main area of focus for the NAM 36 cycle, has actually been in development since January 2014, just after NAM 32 was released.
When you took over development of the RHW, did you ever see it being as big as it is now? What feature would you have never thought possible when you first started but that we now take for granted?
I had a flood of ideas come to me for where the project could go once I really started figuring out transit network modding. The 8-lane RHWprototype that project founder @qurlix showed off right around the time I joined the community was a huge inspiration, and I knew from that and the various conversations I had with the RHW thread regulars back then that this was a project that could go on for a very long time. That said, I never expected it to still be going over a decade later. My big proclamation back when I first started formulating the Modular Interchange System (MIS) was that I wanted to have a system that could replicate all the designs in the Kurumi Field Guide to Interchanges. It took 10 years (the stack was the killer—NAM 35 finally stabilized it, though we can still improve it further), but we've basically gotten there, in addition to covering types that weren't even out there when we started, like the Diverging Diamond.
As far as things I never would have thought possible, I still remember my shock at seeing the first FLEXFly that @Wahrheit (then Blue Lightning) developed. That development really changed the face of the game, and laid the ground work for many of the FLEX items that have shaped development in the past several releases. Amazingly enough, the FLEX functionality is going to allow us to break the longtime prohibition on fully-assembled plop interchanges, which will make the RHW far more accessible than it ever has been in the near future.
The NAM had another big release in 2016, what's the development mentality like behind the scenes now?
Right now, the team is probably the smallest it's ever been, outside of that brief “dark age” of 2006. We're down to just three fully-active developers right now, plus a small number of semi-active ones who contribute when time permits, and a handful of testing/power user types.
There are some advantages to our smaller, leaner size in terms of coordinating different projects, particularly as our small group is intensely dedicated to keeping this project going. We don't see an end in sight. The big downside is that those of us left have occasional spurts of pretty heavy RL. Given that we're also still working through some of the ongoing large-scale efforts that were started several years ago, when our development team was much larger, it's really felt when one of us has to dial back for a bit.
Through NAM v32's development, was there someone's work which you found outstanding when you first saw it?
@Droric joined the team during NAM 32 development, and was around through part of NAM 33's marathon cycle. He joined in 2013 and picked up transit modding almost instantly. Even more impressive was the fact that he wasn't afraid to pick up big projects, starting off by getting the NAM to play nice with @Daeley's Advanced Menu Navigator (DAMN), and then being a major contributor to the major Elevated Rail Dual-Networking expansion in that release, working with veteran NAMites @memo, @z1, and @jdenm8.
NAM 32 was also the marked the initial edition of RealRailway (RRW) system, an effort started by another relatively new member of the team, @Swordmaster, intended revamp the standards of the default Rail network to improve realism. While he was whisked away by RL shortly before NAM 32's release, and has only been intermittently active since, he laid the initial tracks for what has become a very substantial new area of content development for us.
Is there anyone who might not have got the praise they deserve for their role in the development of the last update?
Both @Eggman121 and @rsc204 have been an indispensable part of the NAM Team for the last three releases—NAM 33, 34, and 35. I really can't thank them enough for their efforts in keeping this project going, some 13 years after its first release.
eggman121 is almost single-handedly responsible for taking Swordmaster's RealRailway idea and fleshing it out into one of our largest projects in scale, adding the FlexTrack system and Draggable Fractional Angle Rails in the past two releases. For NAM 36, he's working on the long-awaited arrival of Draggable Rail Viaducts. He's also been instrumental in getting the Multi-Radius Curve standard implemented, which has added a lot of new flexibility into the NAM's grid-breaking repertoire.
rsc204 has been a veritable “Swiss Army knife” for both the NAM Team and the RTMT Team. He has a unique and diverse skill set, and an amazing attention to detail. We finally managed to get a NAM release out on Christmas Day with NAM 34—the first time we've successfully been able to pull that off—and I really don't think we could have done that without his efforts. He's been phenomenal to work with on the team, and in the community at large.
You help run the biggest custom creation team for SC4, what team outside of the NAM do you admire, and why?
I've always been a big fan of the BSC. I have been particularly impressed by the way in which both teams were able to streamline the custom content process, which resulted in an amazingly prolific output of really top-notch stuff. As someone who does care quite a bit about functionality, I especially appreciate how they undertook careful research on gameplay mechanics and balance, and used that knowledge as part of their creation process. I'd mention the SFBT in the same breath as well.
Do you still get time to just play the game? Or has creating mods become the game?
Right now, with RL being as busy as it is, and my desire to rebuild my plugin setup a bit more, my SC4 time has largely been limited to NAMwork. It's been that way for at least a couple years now, though I do occasionally get a little carried away with my test cities and actually flesh them out a bit. I definitely do want to get back to actually building cities and bring Tarkusian Cities back at some point (likely with a new region), though finding the time is the caveat.
Was there anyone's creations from the last two years which you've admired?
I'd say the most amazing thing to come out in the past two years was the DLL work that @simmaster07 did, particularly with SC4Fix. Piecing together an incomplete Software Development Kit (SDK) and then using it to solve the long-thought-unsolvable TE Lot/Puzzle Piece crashes after all these years is too amazing to put into words.
Beyond that, I'm impressed with @Reddonquixote's work, @Bipin's bold ideas, and the re-lot work that @nos.17 has been doing on @Bobbo662's old files.
You active on the forums with NAM development and answering questions, in the past two years has there been anyone you've noticed who has been answering questions before you get to them, or giving you continual feedback in development threads?
I'd put @APSMS near the top of that list—that trait is one of the main reasons we brought him on as a NAM Associate awhile back. He's knowledgeable, thoughtful, and makes great points, and has really helped us out with support.
Among the development team, @rsc204 has been very helpful in terms of keeping an eye on our support threads and springs into action with useful detailed responses.
Before his unfortunate passing, @A Nonny Moose always had something interesting and encouraging to say and was a big supporter of our efforts. It still feels a bit empty not seeing him around Modding-Transit Networks.
I've also been quite impressed with @matias93 recently on these fronts, too.
You had a very successful MD/CJ, do you still keep up with the CJ scene? Are there any which you just can't stop reading?
Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as up on the CJ scene as I used to be. I'd say it's largely a product of more limited SC4 hours. I will occasionally check some out periodically—I've been impressed with @Ln X's work, and I check in on @bakercity's Region of Salem from time to time.
I do watch some of the “Show Us . . .” threads fairly regularly, however—as you can probably guess, the interchange one is probably my most frequently visited there, in part because tech support issues sometimes get reported there, and it occasionally gives me some ideas of where to go with development.
While the NAM has pushed the limits of what is possible over the years, there must be something which you know is impossible but would love to add to the game?
Surprisingly, I am fairly content with what we have and are able to do with the game. It would be nice to have a little bit more control over certain network properties—namely, killing RHW auto-connect and wrangling some of the more annoying aspects of the One-Way Road network's tidal flow system.
Lastly, how often do you still read RHW as Rural Highway? For the life of me I still can't bring myself to read it as Real Highway, no matter how hard I try!
Believe it or not, back in the day—and much to my chagrin—I used to routinely encounter folks who would inexplicably say something to the effect of “this looks great, but I'm not going to use it simply because it says 'rural' in the project name.”
I don't think anyone involved with the project ever liked the old name— @qurlix himself didn't care for it—and there used to be multi-page arguments in the development threads about changing it. Personally, I cringe heavily whenever I see “Rural Highway” used nowadays, so “RealHighway” was very, very easy for me to adopt when we finally changed it in late 2009.
Thanks for your time, enjoy the trixies!
You're welcome--and thanks to the ST staff for reviving this great community event!
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