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3 How to develop building blockers
It is widely known that, at least in-game, there is no way to control which buildings exactly will grow in your city. Sometimes, this can be a pain – for instance, there’s always the same building growing repetitively, or a complete chaos of buildings is growing in the center of a city. Restricting growth to certain building styles doesn’t help much, since there can be only 4 building styles. Furthermore, it has been found out recently that the command “Build all tilesets at once” doesn’t actually work (please read this topic for more information); therefore, randomizing the look of your city can become even more difficult.
Fortunately, contrarily to popular belief, there really is a way to have some control about which buildings in particular will be growing – and I literally mean: You can make sure that at this damn corner a certain building and none else will show up, or a certain building that would look out of place will not grow at all. This is possible. Even without the Buildingplop cheat. Even without letting the game run for 3 hours until it gracefully decides to grow the building you want.
How shall this be done?
Just removing certain plugins from your Plugins folder won’t do the job, since there may be some buildings left in your region that won’t work properly anymore if you just remove their files. However: As some of you may know, there are some building blocker plugins out there on the STEX, like this one…
… that will prevent vanilla Maxis buildings from growing. So, theoretically, you only need to develop building blockers for all residentials in your Plugins folder and actually keep them outside from your Plugins folder until you need them. (This will, by the way, just make sure there won’t be new buildings growing – the existing ones will still work normally, they will spawn traffic and pay taxes.) In other words or for instance:
- If you want a certain building to grow, just block all others.
- If you want a certain building not to grow, just put its respective building blocker into your Plugins folder.
You have a certain degree of control about what will grow in your city.
Every change in your growth preferences (unless you find a way to skillfully use the Tilesets feature along with the blockers, but that is not part of this tutorial) requires you to leave SimCity 4, move some files around in your Plugins folder, and get back to the game.
You need iLive’s Reader to develop the blockers. You need some advanced modding skills, although you do not need to be a real pro. Most important: You need to find out the Lot configuration exemplar files of all your growables.
Most crucial: You need to know EXACTLY what is going on in your Plugins folder. I mean, you need to be perfectly organized. You may need to literally open every single file in your Plugins folder, check if it contains a Lot configuration exemplar file of a growable, extract and duplicate it, and modify it. Furthermore, you need order and structure in your Plugins folder to make sure your blockers will load last so they can work.
And, also very important: This will take time. I mean it. Last year, I sorted out all of my plugins, putting all resource files into one folder and all lot files into another; I did this with both ploppables and growables. This took me three months. But it was worth it – it’s much easier to make improvements to your lots if you can find them faster.
3 How to develop building blockers
Step 1: Recognizing and getting the growable files
As already pointed at, first of all, you need the appropriate files. And that really means: Check every plugin in your Plugins folder if it contains growable buildings. This will, of course, be made easier by thinking about it (a hospital, for instance, will most likely be a ploppable), but there is a way to recognize growables via Reader if you are not sure:
Check for exemplar files with the Group ID a8fbd372. These are always lot configuration files. You only need these files, by the way.
These exemplar files will contain a property with the name LotConfigPropertyZoneTypes. This property will have up to three reps, expressed by a number ranging from 00 to 0F. If the reps have numbers ranging from 01 to 09, you are dealing with a growable. (Check the screenshot farther below.)
Step 2: Creating a blocker
After finding out a file that contains a lot configuration exemplar file, copy this file to a location outside of your Plugins folder so that it won't do anything until you need it. Give it a name that will help you recognizing it, for instance, the name of the plugin you are actually dealing with.
Next, open this file with Reader again. Remove all entries that are not lot configuration exemplar files, and also remove all lot configuration exemplar files that are not growables.
Next, look at the Growth Stage property, and just change the value from whatever number to 0xFF. This will change its growth stage to 255, which means that it cannot grow in-game because the highest possible growth stage in vanilla SimCity 4 is 8 (I don’t know it for CAM, but I’m pretty sure it’s not 255).
Important: Do NOT modify any other setting, such as slope tolerance, let alone textures or props! If you already have some of these buildings in your cities, this may have unwanted side effects.
Step 3: Using blockers properly
If you want to prevent a building from growing, just copy your blocker file into your Plugins folder. Here comes the point where you need a bit of structure in your Plugins folder: You need to make sure that the blocker loads AFTER the original growable file to override them (without actually completely disabling them, they will still work, spawn traffic and pay taxes, there just won’t be new buildings growing anymore). I have created a folder with the title zBuilding Blockers which is currently the last folder in the loading order, but of course, you can do it differently.
Some side note: Keep in mind that residentials and commercials are sometimes restricted to less than 4 tilesets. This means that sometimes a building won’t grow although you have blocked all others – because you have enabled more than one tileset and the building is limited to only one. Furthermore, as already mentioned, the in-game command “Build all tilesets at once” does not work properly, which means that the game just rotates between tilesets as usual. For you, this means that you need to only enable one tileset if you want to grow a particular building that is limited to only this one tileset – or you need to modify the tileset settings of a growable building.
Step 4 (optional): Modifying tilesets
I’m surely not the first one to write a tutorial on this topic, but while I’m at it, I thought I might repeat this knowledge for your convenience.
Open a file corresponding to a residential or commercial and check its exemplar files (it’s not with the lot configuration exemplar files). If there is an exemplar file with the property OccupantGroups, you are at the right place.
Growable residentials and commercials need at least 1 tileset so they can grow. Add the following codes to the OccupantGroups, separated by a comma, to enable the tilesets (or remove these codes to disable them):
0x00002001: New York
By the way: Removing all tilesets from the OccupantGroups property is another way to prevent residentials from growing. Decide yourself which way you want to use.