Please PM Dirk or STomnibus if you have any questions about this article. This guide will help you install all the custom content found on the STEX CD. Additional help is always available online, so if a problem exists that is not covered here, please visit us and find the answers you need! We are here to help! Thanks to Simtropolis moderator, DragonAnime for helping with this guide!
- How to Install STEX BATS and Lots
- How to Render STEX Maps
- How to Fix Missing Props & Buildings
- How to Organize Your Plugins Folder
- Common Definitions
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Install STEX BATs and Lots
Installing SimTropolisEXchange BATs and lots is a very simple task, first off you will need to know what a BAT is. A BAT is commonly known to the members of Simtropolis as a 3-D model that is made using what the BAT stands for, Building Arcitect Tool. If you would like to use the BAT to make your own custom content you might want to check here, and a great tutorial here*, and you remember hearing the term "lot", what is that you ask?
A lot is the entire structure of something in Simcity, including the building, fauna, decor, and ground tiles, and you may create your own lot using the Lot Editor program, which is defined as an official Maxis release that allows for customization of lots in SC4, using this program you may move props, buildings, trees, etc. This program may be found here.
You didn't want a guide explaining how to use the Lot Editor, and the Building Architect program now did you? Now that you know what BATs and a lots are, you are ready to install these two different types of custom content. Every BAT and lot you see must be unzipped and installed to the My Documents/Simcity4/Plugins folder, or a sub folder in the plugins folder. It is also very important to read the READ ME file that might come with the BAT and or lot you download to the plugins folder, because it might have different instructions to install it otherwise.
How to Render STEX Maps
SimCity 4 can create new regions from grey scale jpeg files. It does so by interpreting 256 shades of grey into a "height map", with shades closer to white being higher and shades closer to black being lower. A medium grey represents sea level.
Once again installing STEX maps is quite a simple task that is very likely to be mistaken in the Simtropolis community for a hard task to do. First off create a new folder in the My Documents/Simcity4/Regions and name it whatever you would like the region to be named (I will name it Long Beach). Next, please download the .jpg to the folder you have created, My Documents/Simcity4/Regions/Long Beach (i.e.).
You should see "config.bmp". You need this for the region in-game to be configured correctly. Install this also to your My Documents/Simcity4/Regions/Long Beach (i.e.), make sure to rename it "config.bmp" once it is in your folder.
Next you are ready to render your map to your SimCity 4 game. Now, go to the open region icon, then find your region folder you have named, once the region has loaded you should see a whole region of plains, this is normal. Hold Shift+Alt+Ctrl+R to open up a window of your folders. Navigate to find your region which should be in the My Documents/Simcity4/Regions/Long Beach (i.e.). Now, click on the jpg file, it should show an hour glass, this is normal, and then it will begin rendering the map, you will see it loading, small city, medium city, and large city tiles for the whole process of rendering. This will take any amount of time, resulting from your computer speed or the region size.
Some last quick things to know: The default location for the maps if you can not get the region to work in the My Documents/Simcity4/Regions location, try using the C: Documents and Settings"UserName"My DocumentsSim City 4Regions location for all of the steps above.
How to Fix Missing Props and Buildings
This is also very easy to fix. How do you know you are missing props or buildings? Well if you are missing certain things on the lot, whether it is trees, cars, or a whole building, it is usually when props or buildings are missing. This is because a user is missing certain dependencies which are required for the lot or BAT to work correctly. The most common solution to fixing this is reading the READ ME file, this gives links or descriptions of where you can get the desired dependency. The most common problem of missing props and buildings is a brown box over your BAT or lot with Simcity.com written along it. It is also a very good idea to have the building and vehicle props from the official site for most user created lots to function correctly. They can be found here, and here, these should be installed to the My Documents/Simcity4/Plugins folder, like all other downloadable content.
How to Organize Your Plugins Folder
This can be a very long and dreaded task, but once you are done you will be very happy with the resul. For me, the easiest way to organize my plugins folder is creating individual folders for different things I download, i.e. a seperate folder for mods, skyscrapers, low rises, miscellaneous (this can be highway lights, or highway sound barriers, it doesn't matter), parks, educational facilities, whatever you choose. From those different folders, it is a very good idea to have many sub-categories, like in your skyscraper folder you have created, I would have many ones like NDEX, jtportland, PDA, etc, etc. Also in the mod folder, it would be a good idea to keep different folders like train mods, plane mods, regular mods, your water and rock texture mods, and any other mods you may use, this is very necessary because mods can conflict with eachother, so you can quickly remove the different mod if you need, that is another reason why it is good to keep your plugins folder organized. There was a good organizing your plugins folder set here.
- BAT: Any building or other structure created with the Building Architect Tool.
- BSC: The BSC stands for the BAT Squad Certification. These are folks assigned to help BAT lot development and quality.
- Custom Content: Anything that adds on to or modifies SimCity 4, excluding official Maxis releases.
- Gmax: A stripped-down, free version of 3DS Max that allows for modeling and creating of 3-D objects in video games such as Simcity 4.
- Growable: A lot that grows on its own when zoned for in SC4.
- Landmarks: Supplementary ploppable buildings in SC4 that are based on real-world structures, and provide a boost to commerce.
- LEX: An abbreviation for the former Lot EXchange, which was replaced with the STEX.
- Lot: The entire structure of something in Simcity, including the building, fauna, decor and ground tiles.
- Lot Editor: An official Maxis release that allows for customization of lots in SC4. You can move props, buildings, trees etc.
- Maps: The layout of the terrain of your region. You can download one from the STEX, or make one yourself.
- MEX: An abbreviation for the former Map EXchange, which was replaced with the STEX.
- Mod: A file that somehow changes the game. This can range from different textures, to ordinances, to tools within the game. These are usually made independently from Maxis by modders.
- NDEX: A team of excellent BATers. NDEX is an acronym for the original members: N74704, DuskTrooper, Equinox, and an X for asthetics.
- Network Addon Mod (NAM): A mod created by modding experts to enhance the transportation capabilites of Simcity 4.
- PDA: A BATing threesome. It stands for Poole, Diamond, Ardecila. Poole is jtportland, Diamond is geoffdiamond.
- Ploppable: A lot that can be placed directly in the game without having to zone for it.
- RCI Ploppable: Ploppable building that provides jobs. It is currently not possible to account for the Residential part, because of abandonment due to high commute times.
- Region: A large plot of land comprising of many cities. Each of these cities are playable, and can make various deals with their adjacent cities.
Frequently Asked Questions
F.A.Q. The purpose of this section is to answer some common questions that may be asked about downloadable content in the SimCity4 game.
Q I see all the props on a downloaded lot from the STEX, but the building, why is this happening?
Q I see the building on a SimGoober building I have downloaded, but no cars, props?
A This is simply because you are missing a dependency that is needed for the BAT to function correctly with all the props, check the read me file for a link.
Q I am confused with these Auto Installers that BSC, and SimGoober use in most of their BATs, can you explain?
A Of course! These Auto Installers install the BAT, lot, props you download to a special folder My Documents/Simcity4/STEX downloads so you have any of that team's content you download easily and available to delete or modify if you'd like.
Q I am always getting an error saying incorrect region size, care to explain?
A You may have not downloaded the config.bmp required for that region to work correctly, that file can be found next to the .jpg greyscale file at the map download/save file page.
Q I am still getting error messages when rendering a map, what else could be wrong?
A Some things to try: make sure the .JPG is a greyscale jpeg and not simply a grey RGB jpeg. You can use an application like Photoshop to convert an image to greyscale and try again. You may want to try to resize the JPG down to no more than 1025 wide and no more than 1025 high. Some PCs may have trouble with sizes larger than this.
Q I see all these different categories on the STEX, All files, Lot files, BAT files, Prop files, 3Ds files, Textures, Maps, and one that says upload, can you tell me what these all mean?
A No problem! All files is a current listing of every single file on the STEX. Lot files are files created with the Lot Editor program that have been uploaded to the STEX for anyone to use. BAT files are those of created with the Building Architect Tool, prop files are used in many BAT and lot files design that are required for those different BATs and lots to work properly. 3Ds files stand for 3D files that are use for editing in the BAT program for anyone's use to finish, but make sure to give the original uploader's credit
If you have any questions about this article, please PM Dirk or STomnibus.