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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

I guess that is an awkward construction - "apt-get" being the classic "make me a sandwich" command for Debian Linux.

Y'all have a name for it already anyway. :thumb:

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24 minutes ago, CT14 said:

I guess that is an awkward construction - "apt-get" being the classic "make me a sandwich" command for Debian Linux.

Y'all have a name for it already anyway. :thumb:

I would have liked an apt-something too, but this thing could be also useful for non - SC4 things

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@matias93: That tileset manipulation is something highly subjective, I think. For my part, I like to play around the default tilesets: I'll start with wooden houses and old-style stuff in the Chicago 1890 tileset, go more urban / Art Deco with the NY 1940 tileset, and when I want to develop the result into a modern city, I'll switch over to Houston 1990 eventually, with Euro-Contemporary reserved for either central European or HK stuff, depending on the plugins currently installed.

It's hard to tell what your average newcomer would prefer, but many may not even be aware of the different tilesets and the way the game can be set to stick to either single one or either combination of them, or cycle through them in selectable intervals. I guess many just start playing and building, and after a while they notice new stuff popping up as their city is developing, and are happy to see that.

Actively restricting / isolating / managing tilesets, let alone manipulating them to fit into a different system, is probably a technique that only avid custom content users and highly advanced players really need - not least because it requires a huge amount of plugins and some good game knowledge to either fill your custom tileset(s) sufficiently or play around the gaps that you may have in them.

I can envision users lacking that knowledge and that amount of plugins getting frustrated because nothing grows after selecting a custom tileset, and raising lots of support queries. In fact, I've seen compaints/questions along these lines brought forth by users who did nothing more than add a Maxis blocker to an otherwise chock-full folder of plugins. Indeed, even 3 gigs worth of plugins doesn't mean that you have, for example, enough stage 6/7 residentials to grow on the lots that you zoned, effectively stalling development.

I really like that you brought it up, and it can't hurt to hear some more opinions on it. Personally, however, I must confess that I'm rather skeptical about it.

_________________

This thread has moved at mind-boggling speed while I was away... from skimming through it, I gather that there's a chance of automating much of the download ordeal. However, how realistic is that, and what timeframe are we looking at?

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I agree, changing the tilesets may please some players, but not others.  Basically, we can't please everybody.  That is why I think it's best to just stick to the basic gameplan that Maxis laid out.  

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SC4 Plugin Client

What's been said so far has kind of confused me, but I'd just like to toss out there the possibility of the plugin client being a torrent system under the hood. For example, when you get a download from Blizzard's game launcher, you're not downloading it from Blizzard, you're downloading it from other players through their torrent system. This would dramatically reduce hosting costs for the community, because only one server would need to be maintained just to ensure availability of the lesser used files. I have no idea what the programming is like for this though. 

I know there are already a few plugins folder manager programs out there and tbh I haven't used them, so I don't know what functionalities they have that should be included. But I think the basic user experience should be that someone logs into and browses a website, sees things that they like and click on an "add to collection" button, and behind the scenes the client should download the files and dependencies without the user ever having to look at their plugins folder. And likewise on the website a user should be able to view their plugin collection with a similarly visual interface, and click on a "remove from collection" button and the client should remove the files and any unused dependencies automatically. 

Tilesets

Standardization in this area is necessary for making both large packs, and user friendly content. An experienced user will know which tileset individual buildings are in but an inexperienced one won't. 

With only 4 tilesets available, the current arrangement is good, but imo people have been misusing it. The specific names and dates given to the tilesets are meant for people without architecture knowledge to understand the associated clusters of styles, but aren't a literal description. For example, Aqua should not be in the Chicago tileset.

But Maxis themselves didn't seem to fully understand what the difference between the Houston 1990 and Euro tilesets. Many BATers have used the Euro tileset for historical European buildings. imo "Euro" was intended to be "contemporary". For anyone who doesn't know, in the world of tacky American home decor, "European" is synonymous with "modern" "contemporary" "designer" "luxury" (example). When I'm modding, I personally interpret Houston 1990 as being corporate postmodernism and late modernism, because that was the reigning architecture style of that time and place, and Euro as being mid century modern and current buildings which follow in the modernist rather than the postmodernist tradition. It's not perfect but it's what I do. 

I'd like to keep the Chicago 1890 and New York 1940 tilesets the same, and clarify the difference between Houston 1990 and Euro, and tidy up accordingly. My inclination would be to move the historical European stuff to the Chicago 1890 tileset, with some of the newer pre-WW2 european buildings going into the New York 1940 tileset. Someone making a European city is presumably not making an American city at the same time, so their plugins and Maxis blockers would be set up for one or the other, and that way all players could use the more universal modern styles of the later tilesets without conflicts. Plus European players would get two tilesets for differentiation between historical building styles instead of one.

But tilesets is a big can of worms by itself. But if the goal is to really have a completely seamless user friendly experience we'll have to go through and work out as many of our standardization issues as possible. 

Stage Standardization

With our new .DLL abilities, it may be possible to add more densities (for example, "Very High") to the existing ones. My ideal situation would be to do that, and then redistribute the stages across the densities in a more realistic way. Right now low density residential is anything from rural to dense inner city, and medium density is Manhattan. High density residential practically only exists in Hong Kong and a few other places. I'd like the stages to be redistributed so that you can zone medium density and get something like a neighborhood of rowhouses or short apartment buildings, without having to abuse "make historical". If someone was able to make this happen, I would BAT a *giant* pack of growables to fill the new distribution smoothly for each tileset and common lot size. This is kind of a pet idea of mine and a lifelong complaint about SC4, so I'm just tossing it out there. 

I also think that the CAM, or maybe just a CAM-Lite (maybe just the new stages unlocked and stage 8 maxis buildings remodded, but stage 1-7 left as is) should be the standard. I view the CAM as more of a bug fix than anything else, because without it, everything about the building growing/replacement/selection process is broken at stage 8 without the CAM. The CAM is also easy to adopt as a standard because of the PIMX. 

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I couldn't agree more, Jason. But again, this could well be my megalomaniac tendency to oversize every project in which in involving (something that has wrecked havoc on my thesis, honestly). Maybe the sane option would be to define the new standard and to begin the reclassification process with the maxis' files only, to then both encourage creators to follow them for new content, and to recruit volunteers to produce overrides for the already published and inmantained files (with this, a technical doubt: it is possible to release only overrides for existing lots or out its required to modify or redo them to change their tilesets?) 

1 hour ago, Jasoncw said:

If someone was able to make this happen, I would BAT a *giant* pack of growables to fill the new distribution smoothly for each tileset and common lot size. This is kind of a pet idea of mine and a lifelong complaint about SC4, so I'm just tossing it out there. 

This really sounds like an offer we cannot refuse. Sadly I lack the abilities to do that, otherwise I would be starting right now... 

 

And about your tileset classification, I understand that it is roughly equivalent to this:

Chicago =  historical + neoclassical + Beaux-Arts (roughly s. XV to 1920)

New York = art nouveau + art decó + proto-modernism (1920 to 1945)

Euro = modernism at large, including soviet architecture and brutalism (1920 to 1980)

Houston = post - modernism + deconstructivism and anything futuristic and not dated (1980 - today) 

mattb325, huzman and CorinaMarie like this

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On 18.7.2017 at 10:44 PM, matias93 said:

And about your tileset classification, I understand that it is roughly equivalent to this:

Chicago =  historical + neoclassical + Beaux-Arts (roughly s. XV to 1920)

New York = art nouveau + art decó + proto-modernism (1920 to 1945)

Euro = modernism at large, including soviet architecture and brutalism (1920 to 1980)

Houston = post - modernism + deconstructivism and anything futuristic and not dated (1980 - today) 

I wouldn't restrict Euro to 1920-1980. Some buildings found in the "Maxis References" thread appear to be rather new constructions from Germany, probably dating from the late 1990s or early 2000s. Soviet architecture and brutalism are hardly represented in that tileset IMO, at least by default.

I guess the problem is that the three original tilesets follow a timeline in one geography, namely North America. The fourth tileset was added to appeal to European players by featuring buildings they are more familiar with. Germany as one of the biggest markets received much attention here, for example with prominent skyscrapers from Frankfurt being recreated for the game. However, the timeline-based logic used for the first three tilesets was broken up a bit by this.

The problem became really apparent when BATters started making buildings from all the different eras that make up European architecture - a much wider timespan than in the US. Not to mention the different styles that come into play here - from Scandinavian through Central European, typical Paris buildings, and Mediterranean to traditional Eastern European and then, of course, Soviet architecture and brutalism. It's quite a hodgepodge really, and next to impossible to ravel up cleanly.

I kinda like Jason's idea of making the four tilesets timeline-based and distributing European buildings over them in a similar fashion, assuming that most players would play either American or European. Then again, I often see CJ pictures with a wild mix of both, and we haven't even started with Asian or Latin American cities...

Mixing and matching styles is something that should be left to players IMO. It could also help to overcome possible BAT shortage, at the cost of having a mix of vanilla (US-American) and European / LatAm / Soviet buildings.

 

Making a "CAM lite" the default sounds tempting. Right now, buildings that are bigger than the biggest Maxis stuff are impossible to get into the game in a decent fashion. Since Maxis buildings are already pretty close to the maximum occupant/job numbers, there is simply no room for bigger stuff. This means that occupant/job figures need to be tuned down to values where a building will have fewer occupants than a Maxis building that's half its size, or every building starting from a given size would have nearly identical job/occupant numbers, from a smaller 4x4 highrise to a 12x8 city block with a supertall on it.

However, maybe it would be enough if that occupant limit could be lifted. In that case, Stage 8 would mean "Congrats, you are now qualified to grow any building, without size restriction", and only demand would be a limiting factor.

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Hey guys, I'm gonna avoid a lot of stuff being discussed here and say that when I came back to this game a few years ago and binge downloaded, it was a massive, massive amount of stuff.  Then afterwards learn that I want to use LE and PIMX and ended up having just an insane plugins folder that made it basically too time consuming and required too much attention for me to want to bother with.  I had a big problem in overdownloading here as well which didn't help. 

I think more standardization in atleast some stuff would help.  I see how this could be sort of difficult due to some people not wanting certain things but there are a lot of overlapping dependencies.  So I dont know, for example maybe get them all together in categories and have an installer sort of like NAM where you can go through and choose packs/files.  So then I knew for me after assembling this horribly huge and messy plugin folder I wanted to unify all my sidewalk and grass.  When rsc's mods came out this made that a lot easier for me.  What I'm basically saying is, going through 100+ pages of mods without prior knowledge of what can be done in PIMX/LE and the other software used for this game and really not much technical knowledge about the game really screwed me over when it came time to where I wanted to do some custom content of my own.  Ways to reduce the grind of downloading would really be great - and I know that when I see pictures from some of our communities amazing members I sit there and I'm like wow, I wish I had his plugins folder.  Lol. 

I see that stuff being developed by RSC and others looks really promising in getting into one download a massive amount of work on textures and so forth, and I'm super grateful for his work and all the work like this done by others. 

And another thing - I took a pretty good bit of time finding and downloading Japanese files as well.  I tried downloading the Japanese Street mod and failed - couldn't figure it out and it was pretty frustrating.  And I also know that some Japanese content has also been lost from websites your able to download from.  And then the whole thing with Gobias.  I had to wipe my HD sort of recently.  Not thinking I had a backup I then realized Gobias's mods were gone.  If I didn't realize I had a backup I would of probably stopped playing if they weren't reuploaded lol. So the legality arguments are interesting to me - I haven't read through all of the legal stuff but in my opinion from an ethical standpoint, I think if a profit isn't being made off someones content (or your own) then theres no problem.

I think the huge amount of time it can take going through all the downloads and extracting and keeping everything neat and tidy and making sure everything is working is a big barrier. 

But alas, I am spoiled and do not do the work of creating content or running a website with legal issues to keep in mind.  And doing the work of making a lot of these issues easier to deal with is a lot of work in itself!  This is just of what I've encountered with all this.

Tarkus, Handyman, Haljackey and 5 others like this

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I'm creator of SimxUpload (SxU) idea, which any plugin can be uploaded into other exchanges to prevent any future losses. But, the idea dropped due to lack of modding activities in general. Now, I thinking the starter pack. The starter pack should be as compact as possible but contains essential plugins. For plugins like floras, we should make compilation of them and don't forget to include them with links. For convenient sake, floras are grouped by creators & make some warning for some plugins. This is also prevents newbies to download wrong plugins which lead to plugin malfunction or (in worst case) CTD. Dependencies pack is good idea, since the most popular deps collection, Diggis' dependencies list isn't equipped with deptracker and auto-download. These lead to less time in installing and more time in gameplay.

For the idea name, I suggest it to "SimPackage". SimPak, etc is related to a SC2013 plugin tool.

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