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    soldyne

    How to Organize Your In-Game Menus

    Please PM Soldyne if you have any questions about this article.

    With all the plugins and BATs and Lots and Mods we shovel into our game our menus are bound to get full with all kinds of nifty little toys.  Unfortunately that list can become quite cumbersome rather quickly.  The worst part of it is that when we install a package of lots such as a modular park set, it is quite often the case that not all the lots in the set are all nicely bundled in the same area.  Whats worse is when you have many lots that you use over a over again but those lots are stretched out over your ever expanding menus and you spend all day just scrolling through your parks so you can plop a single flower garden.

    What if you could rearrange your menus?  What if you could put all your favorite parks and tranist lots at the top of the menu and all the lesser used pieces at the bottom?  well, with a little patience and planning you can.

    What you will need is ILive's reader and this guide.

    Step 1

    Go into your game and really look over your menus.  Look at your parks menu, transit menus, land marks and rewards lists.  Think to yourself how your game playing experience could be made simpler and more efficient if only things were moved around a little bit.  Make a list of exactly what lots you want and in what order you want them.

    If you find a park lot that you just dont use, the best thing to do is delete it from your plugins folder.  If you dont use it then why spend the time to load it?

    Step 2

    Once you have the order of each menu established, you must start to assign some numbers to them.  The smaller the number the closer it will be to the top of the menu.  You can use negative numbers as well.  The range of numbers that I have experimented with is -10000000 to 10000000 although you really should not need to use such a wide range.  I use -10000 to 10000.  Granted, I don't have that big of a parks menu, but I have a personal numbering strategy that works for me and allows for future additions without me needing to renumber things later.

    Lots can have the same number assigned to them (you can assign the number 2000 for example to all of your BSC parks).  This will ensure that all those lots will remain together in the menu but their individual order may be random.

    Please note that the default maxis lots cannot (and should not) be easily altered with this method.  Because of that you should assume that all default maxis lots are numbered as 0.  Anything with a negative number will be above the default lots in the menu and anything with a positive number will be below.  Anything not numbered or numbered as 0 will appear mixed in with the default lots.

    Step 3

    Quit your game (if it is still running) and make a copy of your plugins folder.  For now you can just copy it to your desktop if you like.  This is to make sure that if you make any wrong or undesirable changes you wont have to worry.

    Step 4

    By now you should have downloaded ILive's Reader.  Get ILive's Reader from Simtropolis (or anywhere else you can find it).  I have tried this method with SC4Tool and other lot manipulation tools but ILive's reader is the easiest one for this purpose. For those that know ILive's reader you probably know where I am going with this, for those that are new to modding lots, this program can seem a little daunting at first.  Just pay attention to the steps and all should be fine.  As long as you have a backup plugins folder you might want to experiement with this progam, you may find it helpful!

    Step 5

    Open ILive's Reader and select the "Open" icon from the top left corner.  Drill down through the folders until you find the plugins folder you wish to manipulate and select one of the lot files (or a .dat file which contains the lot) you wish to rearrange.

    Step 6

    Now that the lot is loaded in the Reader, you should see three sections of the program on the screen:

    The left column has the file name with an icon.

    The middle column has a bunch of cryptic nonsense like LD File, Exemplar File, PNG File.

    The right column has even more cryptic nonsense which is different depending on what you select from the middle column.

    In the middle column you should find at least 2 lines which start with "Exemplar File".  If you selected a file with one lot there will be two of these.  If you opened a .dat file with many lots then there will be two of these lines for each lot in the .dat.

    Start selecting these "Exemplar File" lines and look at the right hand column.  One of these files will produce a large number of "LotConfigPropertyLotObjectData" lines.  This is not the correct Exemplar File line.  Keep selecting different Exemplar file lines from the middle column until you see things in the right column such as bulldoze cost, park effect, item name, and so forth.

    When you have a correct Exemplar file line, look in the right hand column for a line that reads "item order".  Chances are it will not be there.

    If "item order" IS in the right column, you can simply double click the line and a new window will appear.  In the center of this window will be a box that contains the word "value" and beneath it a strange number that looks like "0x##########".  For those of you that are not math or computer science majors this is a hexidecimal number.  Dont worry about that.  Double click on the "0x#####" thing and type in the number you want to give to this lot which you determined in Step 2.  You can enter the number in hex (not recommended) or enter it with a regular decimal number (better).  Only use whole numbers and do not include commas, decimal points or letters or leading zeros.  You can and must include a minus sign at the beginning if you wish to assign a negative number.  When you are done entering the number, simply click on the apply button at the bottom until the small window dissapears.  This sometimes needs two clicks (there is a reason for this but it is not worth explaining).  The program will translate the decimal number you entered into a hex number.

    If "item Order" is NOT in the right column, you first need to right click in an empty space of the right column and select "Add Property" from the list.  When you do, a window will appear.  At the very top of the window will be a box with the label "Name" and a value in the box which reads "!Unknown!".  Drop the list down and find the value "item order".  The list is very long but is in alphabetical order. Jjust be patient, its there.  When "item order" is selected click on the button to the right that says "add" and a box will appear to the left under "value".  Enter the number for the lot that you assigned in step 2 above.  Use only whole numbers, no commas, no letters, no points, no leading zeros.  You must put a minus sign in front of the number if you want a negative number.  When the number is entered, hit the apply button at the bottom until the window dissapears.

    Step 7

    Once the "Item Order" line in the right column has been updated to your satisfaction, click on the icon of your lot in the left column and click the save icon at the top left.  If you dont save then all this work will have been for nothing. 

    Step 8

    You can either repeat the above steps to order more lots or close ILive's Reader and open SC4 to check out your menus and make sure things are working as planned.  Continue all of these steps until your lots are ordered to your pleasure or until you go mad - whichever comes first. 

    ---------------------------------------

    It should be noted that many of the better BATer's and Lotters out there already know how to do this with their lots.  So if you have a lot of PEG lots (usually given positive numbers) or any of my Urban Beautification Lots they will already be numbered.  I use -6000 to number my lots to ensure they appear at the top of my menu.  You may want to put them somewhere else.  I say this because you may number a lot with -1000 and expect it to be at the very top.  If you use my lots they wont be, so be careful before you think that things are not working right.

    When you are playing around in ILive's reader you can mess with the other stats, however, many of the stats for a lot should not be changed.  Use your best judgement and remember to have backups!

    Good luck and happy gaming.

    If you have any questions about this article, please PM Soldyne.


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