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      Please help us for July   06/30/2017

      This month we're hoping for a little bit of a boost this month or next, in addition to covering the regular bills, we could benefit from some hardware upgrades. STEX Collector's Set gifts can now be sent to you via digital download as well as regular mail if you wish! Every donation dollar goes toward keeping Simtropolis online and humming along. Your contribution counts! Hardware Upgrades As our website community software improves with more and more features, and as we bolt on additional features such as chat, the increased load to handle all these new toys is taking the server a bit to task. You may have noticed that we'd been forced to temporarily disable the chat as we worked out allocating resources for more optimal performance. Following this, we've applied a number of 'soft' changes such as caching options and experimented with server configurations (nginx as proxy, for example), so the hardware aspect is also an area we'd like to focus on. The last time we upgraded hardware was back in 2012, prior to the release of SC13. Your contribution means a lot! Your donation will go toward helping us to 1.) migrate to a newer server or 2.) at least get some ram/cpu/storage updates and any other infrastructure hardware or services. Donate and Get a Gift or Donate Any Amount Thanks so much! - Dirktator & The Admins

161 posts in this topic

It's certainly an important part of what has to be done. An option is to use the STEX tags to create categories, something that the APT system also does, but to be useful, they also should be standarised across the different exchanges. That task doesn't seem too difficult, but requires some thought, and surely its own thread (I think there is one somewhere). 

Considering that most of what is ahead in terms of implementation are things that other software distribution systems have already confronted and resolved, I think the best option is to study those systems, reducing the scope of trial and error. 

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10 minutes ago, matias93 said:

(I think there is one somewhere)

(Yep)

Edit: Tagging part really gets started in this post on page 3.

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I am a "retired" SC4 player, but I pass here times to times to take a look on a few CJs, and this topic caught my eyes on the first page. I took a time to read stuff here, and I think that my saying and suggestions would be relevant. My native language is not english but I think my english is enough to be understood.

 

I think that it would be a good idea to have a content manager (a little bit like the content manager in assetto corsa), have a program that moves the stuff in and out of your plugins folders for you and manage all the files. We could have a very large pack, as much complete as possible (some GBs isnt a problem for a hard drive today, but could be a problem for servers). The user could do the download in a few hours (or in a whole night).And then, the user launches a program (the content manager) and from there, he(or she) could select what he wants to be active and what he wants to be unactive. With hundreds of buildings, managing one by one wouldnt be much efficient, so it would be way better if the user manages packs instead. So, if I want to create a New York Style City, I would select the New York Pack. If I want to create a city with highrises, and some houses, I would pick the regular houses and highrises pack. And so goes on.

 

We could select the mods in another options area, so we could able or disable the mods included. It would be good to have some pre-setups made in this area. For example, "scenery creator only" would activate all cheats that works with money, demand, and all that stuff so you can focus on creating the scenery (supposing you are not interested in any kind of simulation). Or an option that deactivates any cheats and only keeps the MODs that doesnt mess with the game simulation.

 

Then, the content manager moves all the files, including the required dependencies, and starts SC4. We should be able to save our configurations so we could load them later. Actually, if we could link a configuration to a city we wish to load It would be even better. Another cool feature would be if the content manager gets some of the SC4 Launcher proprierties, like changing gaming resolution and other more advanced stuff. The program could have a "begginers light setup" with only essential and fixes.

 

I have not good skills at programing, I have no idea if a program of this is possible for SC4, but this program would be, at least in my opinion, a better solution instead of releasing several seperated packs on the website. And way more pratical and quite easy to use.

 

About the question of ethics... Although I think the laws of patents are quite unfair for the inventors, but they got one principle that would be fair here. I think that, for the greater good, every author that created custom content should lose the copyrights rights after some period of time. Like the patents expire in 20 years, the BAT and MOD rights should expire in a certain period of time. Otherwise, as many mentionted, there would be loss for the community. I think 5 years would be a reasonable number.

 

So, my suggestion, for the creation of the pack, anything X (lets take 5 for example) years or older could be included without any authors direct notification. Instead, before the MOD Pack releases, a topic would be created listing every old (>5 years) stuff to be included, and, if the author doesnt show up saying "hey, I dont want my stuff to be included", it would be taken that he agrees with the inclusion. Just for the old stuff, where most authors likely disappeared and doesnt care anymore.

 

For the newer stuff, we could apply the copyright rules, and the authors would be asked for authorization. If they dont answer, it should be taken as "No, not authorized", because the BAT is not old enough to lose its rights for the greater good.

 

Now, personally, I think that a Super MODPACK would bring me back. Not instantly, but I think I would be back playing SC4 after months of the MODPACK release. I had played some other games with MODs, and SC4 is the one which gave me more headaches by miles. Dozens of lost dependencies, things that doesnt work... The time downloading stuff and selecting your buildings are a pleasure for me, but the time searching for dependencies and figuring out why certain things are not working are a pain. Losing a whole city because the data became corrupted because you didnt know that X thing couldnt be used with Y is painfully, and, to be honest, it is not a good life experience go through that. SC4 plugin managent is quite a headache. I felt relief in this point when I stopped playing SC4. Sometimes, in the old days, I felt that custom content creators included dozens of dependencies so we would give up and get forced to buy the CD.

 

I, personally, would like very much a complete MOD Pack, but one that I could manage.

 

PS: Maybe the program (not the content of the MODPACK) could be "sold" for $1-5 dollars (but, please, international users should have ways for getting it) instead of selling the community CD. It would help keep the servers up (or perhaps give some few bucks for the creator).

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TMTS...That is a great post and really is the heart of what we are talking about...He doesn't play anymore because of the pain...that's sad. I hear you brother.

I think it might be important for us all to remember this EULA from maxis....without the BAT...no one can create models for the game.

http://sc4devotion.com/forums/index.php?page=6

I think many people believe they are some sort of individual "painter", or similar....anyone can procure some canvas and paint. That is individual creation. 

Without these Maxis tools (with their rules) we couldn't create these assets and get them into the game. Maxis(gone)/EA has the rights, not the individual creators. The way I read it, Its not even legal for us to make a new render method according to lawyer types.

When someone creates... using maxis tools... some 3D coordinates, and some LODs and renders it..."It's MY personal work that I hold all rights to", even though I will upload it to a public site....I think this is a very extreme point of view.

Perhaps all future uploads have a disclaimer policy about this? At least we could have a "stop it" point for the future

Cheers, Tiger

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I've felt all along that the content should be community property in the freeware category. A simple change on all relevant sites stating this is the new policy and will take effect in 30 days would put most of this discussion to bed. Anyone who uploaded under the misguided idea they owned their stuff would be given time to pack up their marbles and go home. It would be as simple as writing something like: By uploading to our server you give express consent that your work becomes the property of the entire SC4 community. Anyone who modifies or uses your content is obligated to give credit to you as the original creator.

That's how I see my own content here. I realize I've not created anything substantial, but if someone wants to take one of my mods or my latest map or one of my shoppes and re-post them on another site that's fine by me.

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TMTS I really like your ideas, the whole thing speaks to me. Well Done*:thumb:

I think what you describe is possible, on Linux, I don't know enough about windows to say. Either way it would be a huge undertaking, though It should mesh well with an apt type delivery system.

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1 hour ago, Handyman said:

TMTS I really like your ideas, the whole thing speaks to me. Well Done*:thumb:

I think what you describe is possible, on Linux, I don't know enough about windows to say. Either way it would be a huge undertaking, though It should mesh well with an apt type delivery system.

Well, if it can be done on Linux, I understand that it can be ported to Windows over Cygwin and Mac OS over Fink, so maybe one code could suffice. 

In any case, and while I feel that TSMS' proposal has the advantage of creating a full backup of the entire custom content collection available, it seems like a huge amount of data to download and store for every user. 

Yes, for us completationists it wouldn't be a huge change, but most users don't need to have 6 Gb of installed plugins nor 13 Gb of stored files. For them, this solution would still be to much load.

And while many people now have access to fast and unlimited Internet, many others, mainly on developing countries, still use mobile 'broadband' with slow connections and low caps on total traffic. Seeing how SC4 is becoming a more accessible alternative for users with less resources, I think we should shape the new solutions as convenient as they can be for them. 

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22 minutes ago, matias93 said:

Seeing how SC4 is becoming a more accessible alternative for users with less resources, I think we should shape the new solutions as convenient as they can be for them.

I agree, bandwidth has to be a consideration.

26 minutes ago, matias93 said:

In any case, and while I feel that TSMS' proposal has the advantage of creating a full backup of the entire custom content collection available, it seems like a huge amount of data to download and store for every user. 

Maybe a Lite Version?

One that doesn't backup the entire collection.

Maybe the Lite Version could work well with the Mod Packs concept?

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Hi Guys

A couple of months ago before my real life got a bit crazy I was talking to @Begabee about a program he had written called "SimCity Plugin Library" he very kindly give me pictures of the program in action and permission to post them over at CB Web so I could show @twalsh102 them, they are in a private group and @matias93 seeing you have an account over at CB Web I've given you permission to access the group, you want to look at this document

https://www.city-builders.info/cb-community/groups/groups/68-sc4lot-propcatalog/apps/30-announcements/item/31

you will see them, hopefully @Begabee would be ok with showing them here as well, alway assuming he's ok with other people seeing his program.

-catty

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8 hours ago, CorinaMarie said:

Anyone who uploaded under the misguided idea they owned their stuff would be given time to pack up their marbles and go home.

I'm afraid the natural state is authorship. Copyright is a deduction from authorship but not ownership. And therefore what's called 'ownership' here (authorship) doesn't exist by declaration or contract and can't be taken away by declaration or contract. This is relevant f.e. regarding posts with offending content. It doesn't help you say it is public property or community property and therefore author isn't responsible. You could use the label 'community content' to protect all kind of incitement of the people (there was a discussion about this in germany when Hitlers book, "Mein Kampf" became public domain in 2016, 70 years after it was written). Won't work this way. Ownership isn't a question of will/declaration. To state something is public property doesn't affect ownership. On many public property state is the owner. But there can also be private owners of public property.

Article 6 of the Berne Convention (international copyright agreement) says:

(1) Independently of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation.

(2) The rights granted to the author in accordance with the preceding paragraph shall, after his death, be maintained, at least until the expiry of the economic rights, and shall be exercisable by the persons or institutions authorized by the legislation of the country where protection is claimed. However, those countries whose legislation, at the moment of their ratification of or accession to this Act, does not provide for the protection after the death of the author of all the rights set out in the preceding paragraph may provide that some of these rights may, after his death, cease to be maintained.

 

 

So law forsees to separate the copyright - the rights about money, selling and purchasing - and a 'natural right' of ownership, that can't be sold the same way and even extends the life of the creator. Also important to understand that copyright applies on 'works' only - not on files f.e. And one had to understand what the difference is between 'artistic work' and files. Files generated by PIM-X f.e. may contain no artistic work at all and therefore aren't protected by copyright at all. Mostly laws talk about 'authorship' not 'ownership' As on files - that's owner ship, like you own a car or a T-shirt. But copyright applies on work that might be included in those files and those work is owned in a different way, one could say:  owned by authorship. You can't buy authorship and you can't sell it. And you can't change it by declaration.

Maybe this example helps - if you buy the copyrights of the Harry Potter Books and you resell them. At a certain point you don't like how the story ends and you rewrite the end of the story. As you own the rights you think, you can do that. Instead the authors rights on his work didn't change with purchasing the copyright. J. K. Rowling will forbid you to change her ending and she will win in court. And even if she wanted - she can't give away authorship. It's no right you can take or give. 

US-law says a work exists as soon you put your idear in a form and so does authorship. Berne Convention is a little different on this and apply on works as soon as they are 'published'.  You must settle autorship on a level with human rights, a very fundamental right every human being has, part of his dignity. It can't be negotiated like copyrights can.

 

But again - as long as we don't touch authorship (ownership respective copyright) and the work contained in the files - we are fine to reorganize and rebuild data. Imho - there is no violation of law. It's to understand what 'work' (the legal term) means regarding SC4 custom content. I think most of the missunderstandings are a result of a confusion between 'files' and 'work'. As f.e. a picture posted by @korver- these are oviously artistic works. If the picture was hosted here and site owner decides to move it to another section or group it together with other pictures for a special showcase, even if he would change it from jpg into another file format - all this wouldn't change the work itself. So all this doesn't touch copyright at all. As - again - copyright protects the artistic work, not the files.

This must be separated from the economic aspects of selling and reselling, the distribution part of copyright - that's another story, especially on free content. On free content it's difficult to create a case if there is no economic loss. Here it's more an ethical question - how to respect the authors wishes. But solution can't be compulsory acquisition - as this simply doesn't work on authorship. 

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It seems whatever wording is used someone will find a counterpoint. Basically we need someone smarter than me to describe what needs to happen and then put that in place. *;)

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That's why I'm trying to circumvent that, to devise a more practical obtention method that doesn't change at all the conditions on which the files and works are being displayed and distributed today. 

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Sorry, double post, but this isn't really related to the previous one :

@catty-cb thanks! I checked the document, and it looks promising. I'm any case, that would be of use server - side, to build the needed unified catalog, once complete (or up to day) it should be made accessible to end users via web, associating its entries to the corresponding repositories' links. 

Even if Begabee isn't available to get the functioning program, the categories are good enough to reconstruct a fair part of the work, so that's one less thing to deliberate about abstractly :D

* * *

I also checked once more on the APT system, and found a neat step-by-step guide on how to build a debian package and a repository to make it available to the public. 

https://blog.heckel.xyz/2015/10/18/how-to-create-debian-package-and-debian-repository/

The guide is so close to what we want that following it we could even build completely functional MODPACCs for Wine-based installations of SC4, simply working over the existing APT. The problem then would be to repurpose this for the huge majority of SC4 users, that play over Windows (as signalled before, porting from Linux to Mac is relatively easily done via Fink). 

An option would be to use Cygwin or a similar tool to make the APT applications to run over Windows and to devise a method to make them detect the OS and correct the installing adresses. Another, much more complex option, is to make a fork of APT and eventually one of its frontends (f. e. Synaptic) and to make it installable over Windows (several applications do that, apparently over a Qt port). 

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apt should be easily adaptable.

It's a simply amazing package manager....there is a reason most of the Unix world has changed over to it.  

 

Pros:  It already deals with compressed files,  it runs scripts so it can do whatever you want there, it is adaptable to GUI setups

Cons:  It runs on Linux.  Windows 10 can run bash scripts.....old windows are a no-go.  That would have to be powershell, and I'm not even certain end-user variants of Windows have powershell.   If not, you are strictly limited to old-school BAT files or somebody writing programs for each package....or coming up with a way to run a bash script on older versions of windows.

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. I found that there exists apt-cyg, which is designed to run on Windows (using Cygwin binaries, obviously). Now I'm looking on forums for an answer on of apt-cyg can install files on Windows' documents folder. If it's possible, most of the technical problems would be resolved. 

We would still need to recategorise the custom content and to package it adequately to build a repository. That surely is tedious but not complicated. 

Edit: wait, this is even better : https://chocolatey.org/

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On July 12, 2017 at 10:56 PM, Haljackey said:

 

Summarizing what's been stated in this thread so far, here's a general direction we seem to be going:

-A 'starter pack' or 'themed packs' seems to be a much more popular option than having multiple users share their own plugins pack

-A group of members should be set up to decide what would ultimately be in these packs. They would also do testing to make sure everything plays nice with each other and provide documentation. Credit for the creators could be given here in good faith.

-These packs would not be uploaded by any one member, but instead by a staff member or special group account. If the pack has a significant file size, an admin or the webmaster could do it OR we could find a host offsite to upload it. (Example being ModDB for the NAM)

 

I'd like to suggest that we start with the basics and form a foundation to build upon. My ultimate goal would be to see a starter pack that contains bug fixes, some of the community's highest rated and most popular content, and a building variety similar to the styles SimCity 4 has in it's vanilla versions.

-If this data could be packed into an installer with a checklist of what the user wants to install, that would be even better!

-----

Don't get me wrong, this is going to require a lot of work, and the community will need to work close together to get this done. But in the end I think I think we can pull this off if we put our minds to it, and we'll all be better off knowing that this project will have a huge net-positive boost for the city-building genre as a whole. It shows we care about this kind of stuff.

We can do it! You can do it!

 

That's a nice sum up, yes. The question is now who'll be part of that team. I think we can agree that some of the members have to have responsibility in both ST and SC4D, for practical reasons.

 

23 hours ago, matias93 said:

It's certainly an important part of what has to be done. An option is to use the STEX tags to create categories, something that the APT system also does, but to be useful, they also should be standarised across the different exchanges. That task doesn't seem too difficult, but requires some thought, and surely its own thread (I think there is one somewhere). 

Considering that most of what is ahead in terms of implementation are things that other software distribution systems have already confronted and resolved, I think the best option is to study those systems, reducing the scope of trial and error. 

 

Using tags for categories has already been discussed here (includes a list of tags in the link). How far was it implemented, I don't really know.

 

========

On July 13, 2017 at 1:30 AM, catty-cb said:

... xannapan give me a snowman lot to try out, if you plopped it in your city it started snowing in the area of the snowman ... spread them around and your whole city was having a snow storm always assuming your computer didn't melt ... the lot was really small and in one of my cities it always snows in one corner cos I lost the lot in a built-up area and I didn't want to delete everything to find it again

 

Interesting! I guess that's what would have become the JUPITER weather controller! I use it in most of my cities ;)

 

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I think anything other than windows is a no go. There is no way someone like me is going to learn how to run Linux/Unix systems...I would NEVER do that. I know you windows haters think I'm crazy....But I know I'm not alone.

Learning that seems as hard as doing the plugins the hard way. Running new OS's is not a "easy" path for "new/returning" users of SC4.

This is the point of our discussion here. How do we make this EASY for users. This is how we can extend the life of our wonderful community. The tech talk blows away someone who is not going into the reader to fix "balance, etc" of their content.

That's a lost player...what we need to fix.

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This topic is more complex than we think. I love to see everyone sharing there folder and give sc4 a boost. But on the other hand this is why Simtropolis is also still up and running. Cause here is the community we need this site to upload and share the uploaded files 

I dont care if someone share my created stuff. I love to see mine stuff is being used. I think if we change rules that everything can be shared else were Simtropolis and Devotions isnt so attrective anymore. We have a reason to come here...

I dont care about the creater content rules we all have the same mission to build the best city and keep the inactive stuff uploaded agaain. If there were megapacks uploaded it must be download from the server here of sc4dev.

So some creators who are active can give permissions or dont. Other who arnt active anymore need to accept the new policy so it can be shared.

I just hope to see this community is still up for the next 25 years

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2 hours ago, FlyHigh said:

.....Interesting! I guess that's what would have become the JUPITER weather controller! I use it in most of my cities ;)

I've had "frosty" since Jan 2012  :read:

15 minutes ago, tigerbuilder said:

I think anything other than windows is a no go. There is no way someone like me is going to learn how to run Linux/Unix systems...I would NEVER do that. I know you windows haters think I'm crazy....But I know I'm not alone.....

I went over to Linux Mint last year, pretty much no learning curve involved as its been designed very much with Microsoft players in mind, but there are some differences, so yes you have to want to make the change etc

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55 minutes ago, tigerbuilder said:

There is no way someone like me is going to learn how to run Linux/Unix systems...

If I understand that part of the convo it's not what the final users of the mod packs need to know.

The Linux talk is about how the gurus behind the scene can use a tool in Linux to make the easy to use updater or file getter and installer or such. That created program or script or whatever it is can be converted for use on a Mac or a Windoze comp. So, only the behind the scenes peeps would be doing the bashing around. The new or returning player would just have to click stuff in any of the three major OS's. They wouldn't even care what tools were used to make it happen.

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7 minutes ago, CorinaMarie said:

If I understand that part of the convo it's not what the final users of the mod packs need to know.

The Linux talk is about how the gurus behind the scene can use a tool in Linux to make the easy to use updater or file getter and installer or such. That created program or script or whatever it is can be converted for use on a Mac or a Windoze comp. So, only the behind the scenes peeps would be doing the bashing around. The new or returning player would just have to click stuff in any of the three major OS's. They wouldn't even care what tools were used to make it happen.

Precisely that's what I was trying to write down when my phone went out of battery :(

All the linux and APT craziness will happen behind the scenery, and the end users will just need to either click on buttons, or in the worst case, to copy and paste text lines to be run on a command line window. The installed software and the server-side configuration will do the trick, and recognise those commands as the equivalent to the user downloading and installing manually hundreds or thousands of plugins at the same time, doing that work *automagically*. 

The difficulty on this won't be much bigger than the one now demanded to end-users when recommended to use the DATpacker or the Cleanitol; both tools have internal processes that are far more complicated than they look, but no end-user is asked to learn python to use them; for them is only to select and click.

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I really like @TMTS' idea of bundling the starter packs for sale  for a nominal amount.

This is something both sites could potentially be on board with in addition to the CD/donation.

Obviously for the starter packs you could split them into multiple categories of content that is either tried and tested to work as described by the original author, or work that has been re-engineered to work correctly. Of course the first pack is the bug-fixes (as already mentioned) and then you expand from there: eg low density res/com/ind etc, etc.

In respect to the copyright laws (ugggh :dead:) the one thing that keeps on being overlooked is that the copyright (and let's be clear that this is only where financials and/or reputation that can have a deleterious financial impact upon the author) is limited by the First Sale Doctrine: i.e. to use the book example again, once a book has been sold at the book-shop (ie the first sale), the copyright holder hasn't any say what happens to that copy after that in respect of redistribution. If you've purchased the book, you can throw it away, lend it to a friend, burn it or sell at a garage sale, 2nd hand book store etc. You can't, however photocopy it and sell the photocopy. Nor of course could you alter the ending in your photocopied version.

Now how that applies to SC4 content (and really it doesn't) is that once I, as a creator, have uploaded the files, I have no control over them. And that is in addition to all of my rights having been eviscerated by various EULAs and real copyrights (as opposed to community values) along the way. If a community member takes a file of mine and alters the lot or the stats of the lot and uploads it elsewhere, then there is no recourse: it is freeware and it is entirely legal and permissible - I don't own the SC4.lot, even though I decorated & modded it.

That said, it is slightly different if someone takes the BAT file I made, extracts the individual .FSH files, paints it all bright pink and re-inserts them and then re-uploads it; that is an authorship infringement, but we aren't talking about that.

Which is why I think rather than trying to automate scripts to populate starter packs (and then try and deal with technical limitations of either the scripts, the software, the sites, the various OS or the users) we should simply package up a lot of these starter packs with content that the community believes is balanced and represents something that new players would want to have. Of course the items would still be available to download freely, but any file that has been included in one of these starter packs could be tagged with a clause that states that it was included in starter pack No X, and was either modified to fix buggy stats or unmodified. This way, the work involved by the community at least returns a few bucks to the coffers of the website - which after all - is as important as custom content in keeping our community alive.

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5 hours ago, Ernestmaxis said:

I dont care if someone share my created stuff. I love to see mine stuff is being used. I think if we change rules that everything can be shared else were Simtropolis and Devotions isnt so attrective anymore. We have a reason to come here...

Most of the creators have certain field of operation, some do lots, some do bats, some make cows and so on. Mostly, if you find one or two things you like from an author, you can browse for the rest of his stuff. @Jasoncw somewhere long above wrote that he wouldn't feel comfortable with mixed packs being some kind of compilation like some 'greatest hits of all times'. And I agree with him that it would create a mainstream - that such compilations always can only reflect a certain taste, mostly a common taste and authors doing not so common stuff may become background.

To me content creators - they are some kind of popstars, they compose and perform. And to be a fan for some of them, to become a fan - to see in the development threads what will come up next, to say - wow, this will become the next no. one hit, to be disappointed because instead of good old rock 'n roll he does a romantic tune next - all this, the close contact between fans and creators, makes up the community much more instead of automated charts and well organized playlists. 

I'm no big fan of the idear to make this more anonymiously. To turn my popstars into manufacturers.  They mostly have thoughts about their creations and on the download page, there might be a functional part, but there are often also thoughts - why he/she made this, what were the thoughts behind the creation, a story to tell, historic information.

I personally think this community consists of more than just files to download. To me custom content often shows personality and it reflects the personality of a creator.  I'm afraid - to turn the relationship between user and creator into some apparatus, a mere technical relationship, won't help the community. 

So to me - what is called an ethical task - to respect the authors 'ownership' - to me is a social task, to keep the relationship between the mind behind the stuff, f.e. to keep remembrance of people who passed away - and their creation still to be here so to honour and remember them. Some of the stuff became some sort of memorial. Anonymous memorials don't make much sense. Historic artefacts torn out of context don't make much sense.

I wrote earlier - it's a little bit sad to see 'respect' only from a legal point of view. The legal point of view is the less important imho. It's how to deal with art, with brillant minds, with people who put effort in creating things.

I don't want to be missunderstood about this. This is no argument against the project of reorganizing. It's just a reminder that buttons to click for an uncomplicated, easy use don't make up a community and won't be the key to keep it alive. 

On this I used the analogy with a museum. With the community growing older - there arises a new task to care about content. Like excavation, collecting, research, restoration, presentation, documentation etc. 

Now it seems to me this is taking another direction. Well, yes, but maybe it's trendy to replace relationships with algorithms.

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I do agree with @Fantozzi's sentiments, that's why I think a paid, compiled starter pack could work:

How it might look - after the essential bug-fixes, let's say the community decides the first packs might be growable low density/low wealth starter pack of various houses/commercials/industrials.

The community decides that the following authors are contenders: eg: Madhatter, Simgoober, JMeyers, JBSimio, Spa, etc, etc, who have all made content in this space that is generally bug-free and works as intended. Only one author is active, so unless Madhatter expressly said that we couldn't use his stuff, the starter pack would .dat pack a selection (not all) of those files in that category from the authors - one .dat per author so that it is clear whose files belong to who - and the readme would list the author and a link to their work.

In the description of each STEX file that was included in the .dat, a small moderator comment could be added that stated "This file has been added to starter pack #X" so that people wouldn't end up with duplicates. No dependencies would be included in the .dat, just a link on where to get them. That takes care of the bug-free files.

Now the trickier part - for the sake of the argument, let's say years ago I also made a whole lot of low-wealth commercials that didn't work, they grew on blank lots, brown boxes, crashed the game, used obscure dependencies from defunct korean fan-sites, etc, but the community really liked the way they were batted, and/or they are amongst the only custom content in a certain category. In that case, you would take the bat and get a competent lot-maker to re-mod and re-lot it to be included in a .dat (assuming that you enlist a competent lot maker who could be bothered to re-do other people's stuff) and then on the original file, a moderator leaves a note "This file has been modified/corrected and added to starter pack #X". This would take care of older content that just doesn't function correctly. Despite altering the .desc and .lot file of the creators work (which Maxis has the copyright of anyway), I can't see that this would pose a problem. Apart from the April 1 Nuclear Starbucks series, no creator wants their files to deliberately not work, it is just that a lot of the older creators simply didn't have access to all the tools and knowledge that has been built up today.

I believe that this would make a small fee worthwhile for a starter pack - and ensures the ongoing viability of the website - and gives life to some otherwise dusty work.

The starter packs shouldn't be all-inclusive in each category; it should just whet the appetite of the player to take a step into custom content and give the site a few $ in return.

Tarkus, Handyman, SimCoug and 2 others like this

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We have been discussing this a little bit on one of our senior staff boards at SC4D, and vortext, one of our Global Moderators, suggested offering the packs with a prompt for an optional donation (minimum of $0)--basically, the Radiohead In Rainbows model. 

While the MODPACCs (yes, I'm all in on that acronym) certainly don't need to be all-inclusive--that's beyond the scope--I would think that dependencies would need to be included, as the idea here--at least as I understand it--is to lower the barrier to entry, and beat the seedy underbelly types at their own game.  The way we do that is with self-contained, plug-and-play sets that, unlike theirs, are above the board, clean, and tested.  The use of a set folder structure will prevent duplicates from being installed, though it wouldn't inherently stop some redundancy in the packages themselves in their initially downloaded form. 

If that redundancy deemed to be sufficiently undesirable, there is the option of creating a single, combined dependency, containing all the ones shared in common between the different packs.  I don't think a single dependency would be a bridge that the potential userbase of the MODPACCs would be unwilling to cross.  As this is all in the stage of hypotheticals still, we'd probably actually have to produce some internal prototypes in order to really determine the best way forward.

Additionally, I think this thread is worth discussing in this context.

Of course, if server-side dependency tracker coverage expands, or the client-side scripting ideas that have recently been discussed take off, we may be looking at something else entirely at that point.

-Tarkus

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6 hours ago, mattb325 said:

In respect to the copyright laws (ugggh :dead:) the one thing that keeps on being overlooked is that the copyright (and let's be clear that this is only where financials and/or reputation that can have a deleterious financial impact upon the author) is limited by the First Sale Doctrine:

Copyright law is one of the most exiting areas of the law! Now, if I remember correctly, "first sale" generally applies to tangible objects in the US and that the resale of digital goods -- the transfer of a file -- constitutes unauthorised reproduction. In contrast, in Europe UsedSoft v Oracle was a major case which upheld the right to the resale / transfer of digital goods (i.e. the transfer of the licence to use the software).

Thus, in America it is technically illegal to pass on your files (i.e. redistribution is unauthorised redistribution), while in Europe I can pass on (redistribute) my single copy of your BAT file to one person, provided I do not have access to it any longer (after redistribution). This is because your copyright to your creative work is very real, whether you believe so yourself or not: The BAT is your creative work, which is protected, and the lot on which you place the BAT is your creative work, as well.

---

Now, on the broader issue of starter packs / thematic packs, etc., I wholeheartedly support that. Especially in the light of the fact that there are now so many consistent related lots, e.g. New York buildings, Parisian buildings, IRM,  seaports, airports and so on, it only makes sense to bundle these rather than requiring individual binge-downloading of them. However, two problems: Taking someone elses work infringes on the creator -- the rightholders' -- authorship rights; selling it, for whatever amount, infringes on their financial rights.

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They working on it - but a european copyright doesn't exist. Soon, maybe in 100 years. You know, it's Europe.

Doesn't matter it wouldn't apply here the same as US law wouldn't apply. Imho you'd had to look at Berne Convention first - as it's the international copyright agreement most of the countries signed we're coming from.

 

 

 

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All the legal talk...

I am pretty sure if it comes down to it Electronic Arts OWNS all the content ever created with their tools and file types. In no way are you allowed to own it or profit from their work.

Cheers, Tiger

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8 hours ago, mattb325 said:

... the starter pack would .dat pack a selection (not all) of those files in that category from the authors - one .dat per author ...

I agree within the context of what you were saying such that each author gets credit for their work.

I'm commenting on a separate aspect of this concept. I personally would like the packs to be simply zipped up and not dat packed. This then gives me the ability to remove or tweak specific ones. For instance, my playing style is I don't care about money in the game so I use the radical choice of Paeng's Age Degradation Mod which is fine for the Maxis stuff. However, I also use the 1x1 electrical substation from DK1 Power Plant(s) pack. It is created in line with the Maxis plants with regard to life expectancy. No problem for me cause I just edit one variable of it and now it lasts forever. If that were included in a dat packed Modpacc, I couldn't get to it to adjust it to my taste.

I feel the content should be nicely organized, but not smooshed into multi-item .dat files. Leave the dat packing to the end user if they so chose. Or offer the packs both ways. Or at the very minimum, offer the complete clickable linkys to the individual contents for the oddball peeps like me who can't leave well enough alone.

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