First off, my apologies to all my loyal readers here for the lack of updates and the "roaring silence" here (to borrow from Manfred Mann's Earth Band). Between the usual case of Fall Real-Life Syndrome (RLS) and the fact that my SC4 focus has been pretty much entirely consumed with NAM projects (first, NAM 30/RHW 5.0/NWM 2.0/etc.; now "Project 0E"), I haven't really had the time/energy to update Tarkusian Cities, and I've been evaluating where to go from here with it.
Much as there's been a trend toward gaps between updates (or spurts of updates) here, there's been large gaps between NAM releases as well lately--the timespan between the last 3 releases has been 9 months on average, and it's prompted discussions within the team in terms of how we develop, package and release things. That discussion has resulted in a few changes going forward with NAM Version 31, including scrapping the so-called "modular NAM" paradigm (Core + Essentials + Components/Separate Download Plugins) we've had since 2007, in favor of a "monolithic NAM" paradigm (Core only, with Components absorbed into the Core, meaning that instead of downloading the RHW, NWM, HSRP, etc., you'll be checking a box for it in the NAM installer). This shift in thinking was largely the result of trying to "go with the grain" of our typical tendencies, and based on watching download stats, user comments and technical support cases. We're all quite curious to see how it works out, and we're hoping it solves a lot of recurring developmental process and tech support issues we've been facing over the past 4 years.
This process has gotten me thinking about Tarkusian Cities again, particularly in light of the fact that I've had folks asking what was going on with it. I've been taking into consideration my anticipated RL over the coming year or so, plus NAM development, the nature how my creative process typically runs here with Tarkusian Cities (which, despite a more "regular" first half of 2011, is generally pretty sporadic), and trends in user feedback.
My process of assembling updates can, at times, prove quite laborious, particularly with the planning of my various projects, the mapmaking process, sorting through the (typically massive) array of pictures I generate over the course of gameplay to find the ones that best encapsulate my concept for the update, and, in many cases, developing new NAM items for use in my cities (which has led to quite a features you now know and love, though it was also the downfall of my first MD/CJ attempt, Argentum, which was much too predicated on that side of things).
In looking over my typical pattern of updates, and the datestamps on the sets of images in my Albums subfolders, it's very common that I do things in intense spurts. Typically, there will be a period of 1-2 weeks where there's 3-5 updates (I've never done more than 5 updates in a month), followed by a lull of anywhere from a couple weeks to (at longest) 5 months. Occasionally, as happened in 2010 (a year which only saw 5 updates total), there will be isolated updates separated by lulls. With the exception of images generated for NAM development purposes, my game image folders follow a similar pattern.
I've also gotten the impression, both from what I've heard from readers and from noting view and reply statistics, that the mindset people take into Tarkusian Cities is not the traditional "read-and-reply" approach most take into MDs/CJs. Rather, it's "view-absorb-respond", with folks typically re-reading through updates (even during "active" periods when new updates are being added), and the responses tend to spill out beyond typical replies and into other spheres in the community, including readers' own MDs/CJs, NAM development threads, Show Us threads, etc. I don't think TC has quite achieved the status of a "meta-MD/CJ" like my good friend David (dedgren) has created with Three Rivers Region, but I've gotten the feeling TC is something different than a traditional city showcase--what exactly it is, I'm not sure.
Particularly because of one non-traditional aspect of it--the timespan between updates--I've at times wondered if I'd be able to really continue TC and continue to do it proper justice. But in keeping with the "going with the grain" idea, and trying to make that grain a bit less perplexingly enigmatic to those following it, I think I've been able to come up with some idea as to what TC should look like going forward. And just as in the case of the NAM, it involves "going with the grain". Namely, it seems like acknowledging the spurt-and-lull pattern is really the most feasible and natural way to continue Tarkusian Cities.
The way I'm envisioning this is with a gradual update-assembly process, followed by an intensive posting cycle consisting of several updates over a couple week span, detailing various projects (and sometimes including non-project "tour updates", which sometimes offer a nice change of pace) separated by a planned 2-to-4-month lull, and letting the reader absorb and respond.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this, and thank you for indulging my wall-of-text musings and your continued support of Tarkusian Cities over the years. I do have some new stuff to share (as part of one of these "intensive cycles") forthcoming, including the conclusion of the 52nd Avenue project in Chemeketa.