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    Terrain mods, water mods, and the beach conundrum. Or "How I fixed my ugly beaches"

    Tools needed:

    1. Ilives reader. Several versions out there, google and get the latest.

    2. Basic knowledge of plugins, where to find them etc, which you should have anyway if you're reading this.

    Intro: This set of values I'm about to show you how to set will give you the result from the accompanying images, with varying colors and textures depending on your terrain and water mods, of course. You can achieve different results by tweaking the values once you get the hang of whats what.

    For the record I am using Columbus Terrain Snowcapped and RVT Costal Mod 2009 with yellow sand, dark cyan offshore and emerald inshore.

    You may want to make a quick backup copy of your terrain file to save you having to re-download it if we break something.

    Step one: modifying Texture39 (beach).

    Notice in the picture how the "before" image has ugly jagged edges in the sand at the point where it meets the grass. This happens where it blends with the water too, although it's not so evident in the image.

    Here we are going to modify the way the beach sand texture blends in with the other textures, this will get rid of the pointy corners in the sand, where it mixes with the shallow water texture as well as with the grass.

    a. Locate your terrain parameters file and open it with iLives reader. (This is the file you installed to change the look of your terrain. Mine is called CP_ColumbusPlayTerrainParameters.dat)

    b. Click on exemplar analyser then click "tree" in the toolbar.

    c. Now find the terrain exemplar called Texture39.

    d. Set TextureBlendStrength to 12.

    e. Copy paste this next line of numbers and paste it into all five TextureSpreadCurve values.

    0.000000,1.000000,0.000000,1.000000,16.000000,0.950000,32.000000,0.400000,48.000000,0.100000,64.000000,0.050000,80.000000,0.000000

    f. Open Simcity and check your progress.

    I'd like to take a moment here to give credit and to thank Indiana Joe for teaching me how to do this part. However, to get the best possible values I had to do some tinkering around, and eventually ended up remembering how the normal

    maxis terrain beach was decent enough. I copied the curve values from the SimCity_1.dat Texture39 exemplar and bam, done. Except for blend strength, which I doubled to 12.

    Step two: Fixing the water in Terrain Properties.

    So now that our sand is nice, we will work on the water.

    (Note: these parameters I'm giving you will achieve a similar look to the images, to get your own look you'll have to play around with these values)

    Notice how it runs right up against the edges of the beach and you can see the hard edged border of the water. The waves stop a bit before that edge so it looks ugly. Additionally we have a flat deep-sea color throughout. Blegh. Lets remedy.

    Exit simcity and open your terrain parameters file as above, but this time find the exemplar called Terrain Properties, you'll notice this has many more entries. We are going to modify a few working down the list.

    a. WaterDepthForMaxAlpha - 75

    We want to be able to see the sand on the seafloor when the water is shallow to create a nice realistic shore, which will also allow us to see underwater cliffs near the shore, and any flora/props etc you may add.

    b. WaterMinAlpha - 0x05

    This controls the transparency of the water surface, note that this isnt a normal integer value so if you want to set this higher than 0x09 you need to check the asci table for your desired number. 1 to 9 are 0x0 to 0x09, after

    that 10 is 0xa i think and all weird codes. I suggest to keep this low because this will get rid of that ugly hard edge of the water.

    c. MaxNormalYForCliff - 0.77

    Warning: This is basically the diagonal edges mod fix, most people keep it around 0.675, increasing this will increase the amount of "cliffs" or "rocks" that show, as well as other stuff, leave this as it is if you prefer, I

    like it at 0.77 because it makes the shore rockier.

    d. MinWaterDepthForDeepSeaBedTexture - 100

    At this point, water will take on the darker hues, this value you can play around until you are satisfied, I like to see the clear seafloor until the sea gets really deep, so I keep this value above 75. In my experience, for

    best effect it is usually better to have this value always be above your WaterDepthForMaxAlpha from substep A above.

    e. MaxBeachWidth - 0x02

    This is same as WaterMinAlpha in that its not an integer, so if you desire more than 9 check the asci table. That said, I keep this value below 4 most of the time, unless you need REALLY wide beaches.

    f. MaxBeachAltitude - 8

    Important: If you bring this below 8 with this setup of values I'm giving you you will get ugly green smudge stuff on rocks and grass that meet the water at a higher altitude, it seems to be related to the MaxNormalYForCliff. In fact you may still get it on some spots but they can be removed by a touch of terraforming. Please check back, I will update the article if I find a definitive fix for this.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for anything that might happen to anything or anyone as a result of you following this tutorial, it is your responsibility to take due care to backup your files before attempting to modify them. Also, I did my best to accurately reflect the steps I took to reproduce the look from the image, but as I am a human being I am liable to error, so, if for any reason you follow these steps and it doesnt work, please post a reply and I will try to remedy.


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