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Prophet42

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  1. Prophet42 liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with nofunk   
     
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game?  Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    nofunk:  I must have bought the game soon after it was released, because I've been on Simtropolis since August of 2003. I remember finding the game much more challenging and realistic than SimCity 3000. In fact, I seem to remember being a little turned off by it, because I struggled initially to grow a successful city.
     
    I've played every version of SimCity except for Societies. I even have SimCity BuildIt on my iPhone. I've been playing SimCity since it's original incarnations on the PC and Super Nintendo -- I'm a veteran SimCity player! I've also played other Sims games, but none of them has kept my interest like SimCity has.
     
     
    ST:  What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    nofunk:  Hands down, the custom content is what keeps me coming back. I love the fact that you can take all this amazing content developed by some really creative individuals -- and even create your own buildings and lots -- and make your city truly unique. There are so many great maps, BATs, lots -- the NAM!! -- that together make the game so much more dynamic and exciting.
     
     
    ST:  Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
    nofunk:  Some of my favorites are Cameron Cameras, Brown & Sons, Buechner Apartments, and the Long Building. Of course, they're all Pre-War buildings similar to what I BAT.
     
     
    ST:  Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    nofunk:  I don't, but it was probably something by Pegasus. There wasn't much in the way of custom content when I first joined Simtropolis.
     
     
    ST:  What led you to Simtropolis at first?  Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    nofunk:  Haha -- that was so long ago! I remember feeling sort of unsure of what to do on the site; at that time I didn't really know forum etiquette, so I laid pretty low. It was also a much quieter site back then.
    I'm also not sure what led me to the site initially: I'm sure it wasn't for custom content, because I didn't even know what that was when I first started playing and first joined Simtropolis.
     
     
    ST:  Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content.  Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    nofunk:  I remember thinking about creating buildings long before I actually started doing so. And I experienced quite a few false starts before ever making something that bore any semblence of the thing I was trying to create. I'm not sure there was any particular BAT or lot that inspired me to start creating; I think it was more just a general desire to have in the game some of the buildings I really loved in real life. I eventually ended up joining one of JasconCW's BAT Schools and making it most of the way through. That gave me enough technical know-how to start learning and creating on my own. The rest is history!
     
     
    ST:  Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT?  Do you still have a screen shot?
    nofunk:  The very first thing I modeled using the BAT was a really terrible attempt at the Burton Memorial Tower on the University of Michigan's campus. And I do have a screen shot!

    I guess it wasn't so bad for a first attempt, but I've come a long way!
     
     
    ST:  Tell me a bit about the Barry Sanders Project (BSP).  I know that you and Jasoncw have been the caretakers of this group (and it has since been renamed mipro) for some time now, but I believe it got started all the way back in 2004.  When did you become part of this BAT group and what are some early memories of the BSP?
    nofunk:  The Barry Sanders Project was probably one of the first BAT groups organized around a city, but it took a long time for the group to actually produce anything. I think it was started with a lot of ambition, but when I first began posting in the thread (sometime in 2006) it had pretty much become a social forum. There was a lot of talk about making BATs, but very little action.
    When I really starting participating in the BSP, I think Jasoncw had just released his Detroit Free Press building, and JBSimio was working on some things as well. Wolverine was working on Ford Field or something similar. And I started small on a few buildings in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I spent most of my time. Since then the BSP has died out, been resurrected by me and Jasoncw (and later SimHoTToDDy), and then reincarnated as mipro. Since then there have been 56 uploads by the BSP/mipro!
     
     
    ST:  Most of your BATs focus on buildings found in the Upper Midwest (US).  What is it about the area that draws you to recreate some of the great buildings found there?
    nofunk:  Well, I've lived in metro Detroit most of my life, and now live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both are old, post-industrial, rust-belt cities, with a deep sense of history and culture. I guess I just really love the feel of old rust-belt cities -- the pre-war architecture, the grit and grime of the old factories and rail lines and infrastructure, and the determination and eternal optimism of the folks who still live here. I've thought about moving out of the Midwest a few times -- to Seattle or Boston or Washington, DC -- but my heart will always be in the Midwest, and I'll probably always find myself back here!
     
     
    ST:  Even though you focus on one region, you have BATed a wide range of buildings, from towering skyscrapers to small apartments, and from W2W shops to industrial behemoths.  How do you end up choosing projects?  Are you inspired by walking around a town and seeing the architecture up close, or is as simple as seeing a picture on the web?
    nofunk:   Occasionally I'll get talked into BATing something I wouldn't normally pick on my own, or I'll BAT something that fills a need in my game, but most of the time I just BAT what I like. I find inspiration everywhere, but particuarly from visiting cities and walking around and discovering buildings that really stand out to me. It's certainly easier to recreate a building that I've seen in person, been able to study, and take reference photos to capture all the little details.
     
     
    ST:  I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others.  What do you consider your least favorite part of the BATing process?  What about your favorite?
    nofunk:  Least favorite is definitely lotting -- it's just such a tedious process searching through all the poorly labeled Maxis props to find what you need for a lot. On the other hand, my favorite parts would be the excitement of first picking out a building to BAT, and then that moment near the end when the modeling is done and the textures are coming together and I run a preview render and it actually looks like the building I was trying to create!
     
     
    ST:  Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy?  How much do comments in the download section mean to you?  Do you get a thrill seeing your models pop up in CJs?
    nofunk:  The Simtropolis community is absolutely what keeps me going. I enjoy spending time developing a building from scratch and seeing it come together, but what I enjoy even more is the amazing feedback and responses I get on Simtropolis when I'm working on something! I've been pretty quiet on Simtropolis the past few years, but we really do have a great community here and it means a lot to me to be a part of that and share in the excitement of such a great game.
     
    And I sure do get a thrill when I see my BATs in people's CJs!
     
     
    ST:  You have been BATing wonderful models for almost 9 years now.  Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of?  Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    nofunk:  There are three BATs that I'm particularly proud of, all three because they required me to persevere. Cadillac Tower I started not once, not twice, but three times before finally getting it right. I also think it has some of the best texturing I've ever done.
     
    I'm proud of Carew Tower because it was such a huge undertaking -- by far the biggest BAT I've ever made -- and it required so much attention to detail in terms of both the modeling and the texturing.
     
    Finally, I'm proud of One Detroit Center, which was another big project that also forced me to step outside of my comfort zone of usual pre-war BATs and work on a building with a completely different architectural style and need for new textures and materials than I was used to.
     
     
    ST:  Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life?  Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    nofunk:  I work in the urban planning field, and BATing has definitely helped me become more familiar with architectural ideas, terminology and the design process, which comes up more frequently than I had expected when working in a big city. So much of city planning is focused on site development, which means constructing buildings, and requires you to review plans and renderings and in those cases, having some understanding of how they come together helps.
     
     
    ST:  What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    nofunk:  Stick with it!
     
    It takes time to develop the skills required to create really good BATs, and at times the process can be incredibly tedious and frustrating (I can't tell you how many times I've had to just walk away from a project for a few hours... days... weeks... before revisiting it). And keep learning and trying to improve! My BATing process and the quality of my work is dramatically different from when I first started. And I'm still learning new things! There's always room for improvement.
     
     
    ST:  On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following?  If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    nofunk:  Of course I really love the BATs that Jasoncw makes, although he has a modernist streak that doesn't always appeal to me. I also really like Aaron Graham's work -- his work has improved so much since he started BATing! I've also always loved Odainsaker's work -- he hasn't put out much, but what he has released has been just impeccable. And Spa has been making great content for smaller city and neighborhood commercial districts for as long as I can remember!
     
    ST:  SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now.  Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later?  What do you think is the secret to its longevity?  Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    nofunk:  There have been a few times when I thought that maybe Simtropolis was running out of stream, but ultimately I'm not surprised how long it's lasted: when you have a group of people who are this passionate about something, that something doesn't die easily. As long as people stil care about the game, the community, and creating for it, I don't see any reason why Simtropolis can't be around for 12 more years!
     
     
    ST:  Cities:Skylines... have you played it yet?  If not, what are you first impressions based on the mountain of feedback available here on Simtropolis or around the web?
    nofunk:  I have not played Cities:Skylines yet, but I’ve seen plenty of screen shots from it and it looks amazing! I’m excited to install it and start building my dream city.
     
     
    ST:  12 years later, many are calling this game the 'successor' to SC4 and the city building genera.  What are your thoughts?
    nofunk:  It certainly seems like the game could be SC4's successor: it’s really the first city simulation game we have seen since SC4 that actually intends to be a city simulator and not some strange Sims offshoot or awkward foray into social engineering! The graphics and gameplay seem realistic, and the opportunity for modding is exciting! And I’ve heard you can even plan out bus routes! It seems to me Cities:Skylines has many of the elements we all love about SC4 with even more realism and detail.
     
     
    ST:  It will take plenty time before C:S can rival the amount of custom content available for SC4, but the developers have really encouraged modding, and there are already many new buildings and 'assets' that can be found on Simtropolis and the steam workshop.  Are you encouraged to leap into C:S custom content?
    I've already talked to some folks who are actively working to develop custom content for C:S so I think the potential is huge for the game! I can't say whether or not I'll end up making custom content for C:S, but I also never imagined I'd make so much content for SC4, so who knows!
  2. Prophet42 liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs Interview with Aaron Graham   

    Filling a much-needed niche, our next BATer focuses his energies on midrise, medium density apartment buildings. A man who calls Aaron City his home (or at least who calls his home Aaron City- it could just be a cute name), Aaron Graham's buildings are finely detailed and have proven popular over the years. His files collect reputation points like my floors collect crumbs and the variety of designs and variations of his uploads help to ensure that repetition becomes a thing of the past, a most noble effort. And now, Aaron Graham!
     
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?

    Aaron Graham: I believe I bought SC4 back in late 2007 or early 2008. My first experiences with SC4 was amazing, I loved the fact that the graphics were good there is a day/night cycle and I can make a metropolis by combining other neighboring cities, where you can see sims walking and cars moving though out the game. SC4 was not my first involvement with SimCity. I had bought SimCity 3000 a year before SC4. I loved the game when I first starting playing, it was a lot better than playing with toy cars on the floor and making buildings out of cardboard. In SimCity the cars can move by themselves and the people can walk the street and go to work. It was a life-changing experience for me from all the manual labor.

    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?

    Aaron Graham: The aspect of SC4 I enjoy the most is the ability is to make custom content for the SC4 community and to follow other SC4 custom content creators threads in the Simtropolis forums. If I slowed down or stopped BATing for SC4 to play the game my aspect for enjoying SC4 would be to build up a New York type city and the upcoming projects to be released on STEX.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?

    Aaron Graham: I can't remember the first plugin I installed, was but it was over at SC4Devotion and it was some of Masacrs BATs. Here at Simtropolis I believe it was a New York City BAT, most likely the Don Miguel Row Houses.

    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?

    Aaron Graham: What led me to Simtropolis at first were a couple youtube videos back in the summer of 2008. The Youtube videos compelled me to find out Simtropolis and it's custom content.

    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?

    Aaron Graham: My progression into the world of SC4 custom content was pretty fast, any BATs with high quality I was likely to download. Most of the buildings I started off with were New York style buildings.

    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?

    Aaron Graham: My very first BAT was an apartment building, I do not have any screen shots of it and it was never completed. The first BAT I completed was another apartment building, part of the New York tile set and I never uploaded it to Simtropolis because of an exporting error.

    ST: Your list of uploads is populated pretty much completely by medium density/midrise style apartment buildings. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction?

    Aaron Graham: The reason for me to BAT medium density/midrise style apartment buildings is because Simtropolis is unbalanced: the Simtropolis Exchange has an over abundance of commercial buildings. The Simtropolis Exchange has a lack in a number of things, especially residential apartments and industrial BATs.

    ST: Most of your BATs are released under the NYBT banner. For those of us (including myself) who may not know much about the NY BAT Team, can you elaborate on what you guys are about/how you are organized and what your role with them is?

    Aaron Graham: My role with NYBT is to make BATs from the state of New York, my other role is to make residential BATs for NYBT and to keep a balance in the game with the apartment buildings I have uploaded to STEX.

    ST: I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others. What do you consider your least favorite part of the BATing process? Your favorite?

    Aaron Graham: One of my least favorite processes of BATing will be modeling molding details. The reason for that is that I want to make them look as good as possible for render. My favorite BATing process is starting the BAT, some may agree because I have started a number of projects and have not finished them. I looking forward to finishing them, but sometimes the smallest thing can cause me to put the building on hold.

    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Is it exciting to see your models used in the CJs of others?

    Aaron Graham: What motivates me to continue to release new creations for SC4 is the warm comments of the Simtropolis members. Another thing is the reputation thumbs up; that also motivates me. If I have over ten thumbs up I know I have done something great and worth downloading, since I do not get paid to BAT for the community the thumbs up is like a was to payment for me.
    ST: You released your first BAT in 2010. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?

    Aaron Graham: Most of my creations I am proud of, The Manhattan style apartments I am very proud of because most SC4 custom content creator does not make buildings like that, me making that style makes me unique from a number of SC4 custom content creators.

    ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?

    Aaron Graham: My BATting experience has no effect on my life as of now, but I would love to take it to architecture designing and city planning.

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?

    Aaron Graham: The advice I would give to a new member of this community who is planning on creating their first BAT will be to keep trying and keep pushing forward. There were times I thought I could never look like a professional. BATing buildings depends on the size and complexity, and that's not all you have to worry about: you will need to build your experience on texturing, that section of BATing can take time to master, too.

    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).

    Aaron Graham: I enjoy following SimCoug's CJ, I love his history timeline on the development of his cities. Another CJ I enjoying following is from time to time is Wweton1's Stone Creek CJ, I love the layout of his cities, he is definitely a CJer who makes me want to play the game.

    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?

    Aaron Graham: My favorite BATers are Marcszar, Don Miguel, nofunk, JasonCW, SimFox, Madhatter106, and SimHoTToDDy, these guys shaped who I am to day, they made me the one of the greatest mid-rise residential BATers ever. Right lately I enjoy following the JasonCW, Hutson, and Reddonquixote threads, they are the few great BATers that are still posting updates of there work. I have not played SimCity for a while, but I have started up the game to place my building on the map to get screenshots for an upload to STEX. My most recent download was TWrecks' "IRM W2W Moore Transfer & Storage Co by jestarr".

    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?

    Aaron Graham: I am surpried that this community is still alive an well and still going strong after all these years. The secret to Sim City 4 longevity has to be it's collection of custom content. The collection of BATs and Mods is overwhelming, and not just that but there are still more custom to be uploaded to STEX.

    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?

    Aaron Graham: The games I play besides SC4 are Company Of Heroes, and PS3 Call Of Duty Black Ops 2. Another hobby I have away from BATing and Sim City is making Hip-Hop Beats.

    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?

    Aaron Graham: The Questions are below.

    What made you incorporate variations to your BATs?

    Aaron Graham: The reason to incorporate variations to my BATs was to kill the repetition of growable buildings.
  3. Prophet42 liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Paeng   

    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game?
    Paeng: I got it right off the shelf on release. Then I got annoyed with it and put it back on the shelf. Until RH came out, now that was quite the day...


    ST: Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    Paeng: Nah, I played on and off since the very first version... but it was always more of a seasonal thing - none of the early versions could put me in a trance like SC4 does... not even the fabled SC3000 ;-)


    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    Paeng: In the beginning it was clearly the region play, then with RH the network stuff... Then, later again, MMPs and all the green stuff...


    ST: Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
    Paeng: Maxis defaults are quite underrated - actually I like most of it... well, after some cleaning up, I'll admit ;-) The main reason why I don't use much of it any more is the inconsistent scale. I guess I like their grungy industrials best, and still use them a lot, too.


    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    Paeng: Nope. Actually I was off the grid for quite a long time in the early 2000s, until about 2005 or 6... lots of RL, two sons in puberty... you know ;-) So basically I slept through the early custom content era... and when I woke up to it, I started downloading with a vengeance.


    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    Paeng: Well, by the time I was getting interested in city builders again, I quickly realized that there had been a lot of batting, modding and lotting going on - behind my back, so to speak LOL... so I started some in-depth research that quickly led me to places like ST, SC4D, SimPeg and many other fan sites and repositories in all corners of the world... I pretty much stayed in lurk mode then - there was so much to catch up with, so many different 'philosophies', opinions, emotions... So for the next year or two I dug in quietly, reading tons of material in all the forums, while polishing up on my playing skills and building up a first collection of custom content - really without any plan to ever start producing stuff on my own.


    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    Paeng: No, it was more a lack of particular lots and Bats - when I started building cities using more and more custom content, I kept hitting snags and dead ends, where I just could not build things the way I envisioned them. I spent endless hours on the exchanges looking for that one piece that would fit. On top of that I was already drifting away from large city vistas, tinkering with more rural settings.


    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you lotted using the LE?
    Paeng: Tehehe... I had this sleepy rural town, and there was supposed to be a bus stop with a pedestrian overpass - fit for small town... but all the textues, props and lots I found were too urban for my liking... that's when the bubble burst, I hit the forum wailing: "How the hell can I get this the way I want it?!" You guessed it - all answers were like "Get the Lot Editor", "Use The Reader", "Learn how to Bat"... So I started with the easiest obstacle to overcome - the Lot Editor.


    ST: Your first STEX upload was a in June of 2009. You started your now famous ‘Mountainview/Paengia’ City Journal about a month earlier. What prompted you to begin sharing your creations with the SC4 community?
    Paeng: Well, the moment I started lotting, I knew this is just my thing... so I started to look around for stuff that I can turn into lots... the security fences were basically a lotting exercise, and the fence props were there, hardly used - because they were "just" props. Then someone said, hey - this is a useful little set, you should put it up at the Stex... So I did, and to my surprise folks started downloading and indeed found it useful.


    ST: You have created and shared a wide range of lots over the past 6 years, but they all share some common characteristics. For one, you have a keen eye for the right details and a knack for eye pleasing designs. You also tend to focus on sets that have modular capabilities. How did this ‘Paeng’ style come about?
    Paeng: I strongly dislike the grid. I hated the fact that everything is forever bound to squares and rectangles. Now I can't change that basic SC4 principle... but I can do a lot to at least break that appearance. I can combine a couple of 1x1s with a 4x4 - it is still made up of squares, but it appears to be an irregular shape. That is the simple approach I took, and it continues throughout almost all the lots I created. Not everybody uses them that way, but if you look closely, most of my pieces can be combined any which way with other pieces, even if they come in seemingly unrelated sets... That's why I also use as few "dependencies" as possible - basically I use the same set of "essentials" in all my releases... Of course there are exceptions to that, certain specialty items would just suffer if I don't add special ingredients as well... but I rarely 'splurge'.
    As for my keen eye - thanks :-) Indeed I'm a stickler for details and not satisfied before I get that tickle in my gut...


    ST: A large number of your lots are influenced by the prolific BATer Pegasus. How did you come about to work so closely with one of the top SC4 custom content creators?
    Paeng: As mentioned I was drawn early on to rural settings... so the style of Pegasus held high appeal for me, aside the fact that he is a fantastic Batter (and taught me the ropes with the Reader). Add to that the fact that the Simpeg community is smaller and generally more quiet and relaxed than others - something I need for my mental make-up, I'm over 60 by now and the brash vigor of the very young does not always sit well with me ;-)... you can see why Simpeg.com became my home base. My early work is based on the 'Mountain Theme' - I probably turned every Bat and prop of that set inside out at least once...

    At some point Peg and I worked close together on a re-launch of the Simpeg site --being a (former) web-developer, my skill-set happened to match the needs-- and during that time we decided to finally tackle the Agricultural Mod - something that had been a long-time topic with some members of the Simpeg community, like Rebecca and Craig, plus a host of others volunteering for work and input and beta testing. The result was the - Pegasus doing the Bats and most of the modding, Becca and Craig most of the lotting, myself doing some lotting and modding as well as the documentation and packaging. Many addons followed, like Becca's Irrigation Canals, my Access Roads, Craig's Agri Industrials and many more...

    Regretfully, Pegasus has since retired from producing Custom Content - but he left us the simpeg keys... So Craig and I are sort of commissary webmasters, fortunately supported by a whole bunch of great people to help. Visit Simpeg and you'll know who they are :-)


    ST: I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others. What do you consider your least favorite part of the Loting process? Your favorite?
    Paeng: I start with my favorite... The greatest fun is to work with other people having a similar mindset for custom content. I seldom lack ideas - but it's all so much richer and rewarding when you can do it with a bunch of people who enjoy it as much as you do.
    Brainstorming, throwing ideas around, solving problems together, continuously learning from each other, or just generally shooting the s*hit - that's what makes it worth all the time we sink into this... passion. Hobby does not really fit :-)

    Then of course the actual lotting process - slowly seeing your idea taking shape, pulling together all the right ingredients until there is harmony - very zen.

    My least favorite? Probably the time between packaging and release. That time when you're all alone and need to check every lot one by one to tweak little things, finalize LTexts and Descriptions, remove the ballast, make icons, write the readme - the nitty-gritty stuff... that's time-consuming and concentration-eating WORK.


    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Do you get a thrill seeing your lots pop up in CJs?
    Paeng: The motivation - that this game is still alive after all these years, still attracts new players, and is still not depleted as far as new discoveries and new techniques are concerned... and that it still attracts people to pick up Custom Content Creation and come up with amazingly unique stuff...

    Comments - I had to learn not to let them get to me... I have spoken to producers who were about to leave it all behind (and some who actually did), just because some jerk made a snide remark, or because some troll pulled the ranking down... On the other hand it's uplifting when a comment is really "speaking" to you, taking the time to form at least a full sentence. But I can fully understand that not everybody has the time or is in the mood to do this all the time.

    So naturally - seeing one of our items pop up in a CJ is always thrilling - it's the best applause we can get.


    ST: You have been loting amazing creations for almost 6 years now. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    Paeng: Since you ask for one personal favorite, then it has to be my & - if only for versatility and size, it has something for everybody... and there are countless hours in that one, both for me and any player ;-)

    Though most credit must go to those who provide us with a sheer endless stream of models - they are the true heroes. Personally, I can't Bat if my life depends on it.

    Funny stories you don't know about? Not really - It's All In The Lots... LOL


    ST: Has your experience with loting had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your SC4 career that have helped you beyond the world of this game?
    Paeng: No.


    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first Lot/BAT?
    Paeng: Go into Lurk Modus. Get a feel for the community. Read up on the tools - everything you need to know is out there. Search for answers yourself. If you have questions left, ask them in a precise manner. Download lots of files and analyze them inside LE. Don't upload your first lot to the Stex. Have Fun!


    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
    Paeng: To be honest - I basically rely on BTT + 10... without that fantastic resource I'd probably miss out on a lot of CJs... so if you look at BTT plus its yearly top 100, then you know what I'm looking at - as much as time permits.

    Well, it's no secret that I much prefer rural settings. Once in a blue moon I get the urge and build up some "Towering Inferno", though even that will usally be a seaside resort, or a rich enclave in the middle of nowhere LOL... But mostly I like to zoom in on bucolic settings.


    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? What was your most recent download from the STEX?
    Paeng: Same as on the player's side... I'm an avid collector, and with the roughly 15Gb I have collected so far, I daresay I have seen most of it - so I know who the good Batters are, if they put up something on the Stex, it's an automatic download... If I tried to list them all, I'd surely forget half of them.

    Of course I have a soft spot for all these guys who concentrate on the smaller buildings - mid- and lowrise COM and RES, so guys like MattB or Madhatter come to mind, or the guys who make great series of props, like NBVC or Murimk or Shokthrpy... but again - I can't really single out anybody, there are just so many who make fantastic content available to us...

    My latest Downloads are -

    The latest


    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    Paeng: No, I'm not surprised - we have to remember that this game's history goes back much farther than SC4... all in all we're talking about what? Almost a quarter of a century? There is a reason for this long-time appeal - something no ego shooter can ever get near... probably because it is constructive, not destructive?

    12 years from now? Hard to say - there may still be small groups of afficionados everywhere, but the community as a whole will be totally different. Just imagining what technology can do in 2027 is kinda... mind-boggling.
  4. Prophet42 liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Heblem   
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? WasSC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    Heblem: My first contact with SC4, was in the coming months after it released in 2003. My father bought me a copy in a Sam’s Club store because I got good grades in school (I was 13 back then). My experience playing the game was mixed, I wasn’t really satisfied with the original SimCity 4 compared to SimCity 3000 due to its limited flexibility in modding. Later in 2005, bought the expansion pack Rush Hour and my experience with SC4 changed due the ability to make more transportation options and custom content.
    My first overall contact with SimCity was in 1994 when SC2000 came out for SNES, I received it as Christmas present. Ever since I was a child I loved to make cities with cereal boxes, toy cars, Legos, Hotwheels and such. But honestly the only SimCity I have enjoyed most was SimCity 3000.


    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    Heblem: Actually what I enjoy most is the ability to make huge cities in regions in a relatively short time, something impossible in recent games or other program/engines, as well as the endless possibilities using custom content. What gets me back, honestly, is all the hard work done in last 12 years of custom content.


    ST: Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
    Heblem: My favorite Maxis BAT is Chrysler building, due how it was detailed, and its correct size in game. Even today, over 12 years later, no one has made a better Chrysler building to replace the original one. That BAT helped me once in making The New York Times building, to compare both buildings in game, since in RL both buildings are similar in height, only about 2-5 meters of difference.


    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    Heblem: Honestly can’t remember, however my first experience with custom content was looking for how to install custom maps.


    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    Heblem: My first contact with Simtropolis was in 2005, after I found out I could install such buildings into the game. The first sites that I visited looking for custom content were the original Simcity exchange, the Spanish SimCity forums (CSC), and of course, Simtropolis. I only used those sites to download (but not for forums or collaborate). My initial impressions of Simtropolis were great, since its exchange was much better than the EA exchange. Later in 2006, I finally register to forums, to show my city creations (city journals) and my first BAT.
    This is the only image I found of me using Simtropolis in 2006 as Hableurg account.



    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    Heblem: The creations that inspired me to BAT were the lots and BATs made by SimGoober. I loved how realistic and detailed those are, and they made my city look more alive and suburban themed. However it wasn’t until one year later that I made my first BAT.
    At first, I looked at how to install custom maps, and then realized I could easily make my own custom maps by just editing the PNG grayscale file as my desire. Later, I saw in the forums how people make great buildings using the BAT tool. Initially I thought it shouldn’t be too difficult, because in SimCity 3000 the BAT tool was easy to use and from there you could easily put your own custom buildings into your city, which was something I often did in SimCity 3000. I decided to give the same effort to creating SimCity 4 buildings, however I was disappointed at first because the SC4 gmax BAT tool was too different than the SC3000 BAT.
    My second try in gmax BAT was in 2006, after looking at tutorials in different sites on how to do BAT modeling, lighting and export, and finally came up with my first creation, but never uploaded it.


    ST: Do you remember what the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
    Heblem: The first thing I modeled was what I been instructed in the BAT tutorial, which basically is this (only image I found of it)

    But as for my own, could be this office building, never released it due it poor aspect.

    Later my first BATs released at STEX were the and a (under Hableurg account, which lost password long ago)


    ST: You were one of the founding members of the LBT (Latin American BAT Team) which produced a wide range of very popular BATs for the SC4 community. How did that collaboration come about, and do you still keep in contact with anybody from the team?
    Heblem: The initial goal and idea was to create custom content from Latin America, which were non-existent at that time. The team was set by Berethor07, Tcxalapa and VictorGonzales at CSC forums in doing BATs themed from Latin America. Later, Debussyman, and a few others joined. The original idea and founder was Berethor07, who made some interesting landmarks from Mexico City, myself and Berethor. Initially we teamed up for MBT (Mexican BAT team), later VictorGonzales joined and suggested we change the team name to LBT, due to the fact that he was Venezuelan. The main project idea was to change every SimCity maxis growable to look like Latin American slummy homes, but as of today, we actually never achieved our goal. The proposed project is still getting dust in my computer. However, buildings models such as homes, department stores, offices, and commercials packs are available on STEX without lots since 2009.
    Unfortunately as today I haven’t hear anything from Victor Gonzales nor Berethor07 since 2009, currently sometimes I still in contact with tcxalapa.
    Since 2009 I rather do creations by my own under HBS tag, which it’s a shorten name of Heblem’s, Heblem, my real name Eblem, H for Henry, Henry Eblem.


    ST: You created a number of very popular BATs, including the Treasure Island Casino, the Super Walmart, and many other famous retail outlets, but your has proven to be one of your most popular creations. Did you ever expect flora props to become such a big hit with the SC4 community? That pack also contains plopable sand/dirt – I don’t think that had been done before, so what gave you the idea to create such a versatile MMP?
    Heblem: I didn’t expect so many people would use my ploppable sand/dirts. When I made those for a tropical region, I was looking for something that could decorate missing details over the repetitive texture pattern of the terrain mod. My first thought was to use alpha textures as BAT/props, which was a great idea to implement. After testing it myself, I then had the opportunity to share it (I still have some other ploppables for my own personal use). Thankfully, with those MMP’s I could make realistic SC4 landscapes like this one:

    Many of these props are by my own, including the creation of new terrain mods, water mods, rock mods. Many extensive tests were conducted in mid-2009, but as of now I haven’t gone back to that topic. However, my future MMP (not released) project will be a different set of MMPs that can recreate different earth biomes. I am still considering making more in the future.
    But overall my most popular and detailed BAT that I have ever made was the New York Times building, which took 2 months to create and as of now has over 30k downloads.


    ST: Your BAT library is very extensive, but you also managed to create a number of terrain and rock mods, maps and even a stoplight replacement. Many BATers like to stick to what they know, so what motivated you to step out and try your hand at other types of SC4 mods?
    Heblem: Well, most of my motivation in doing different things comes from what I see that’s missing in game. For example, one day I wanted to recreate a So-Cal city (Southern California), but the only stoplights I could find out were some Dutch-European and the original maxis one. I wanted some So-Cal curvy stoplights, which were nowhere to be found, so I decided to BAT one for myself. I found out how to replace the old one, which was as simple as changing an instance number using the iLives reader program. Later I decided to share it, including some simple props like a stop sign.
    Another example is the PWG lots I made some time ago. Those lots were very personal for doing a city fast, but I thought it could be useful to others by sharing it. Eventually I decided to remove it (including many of my creations, such office buildings and gas stations), due a compatibility bug reported. As of today, I haven’t taken the time to re-export and upload again.


    ST: I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others. What do you consider your least favorite part of the BATing process? What about your favorite?
    Heblem: My least favorite part of BATing it’s of course waiting for exporting and the darn export code error 6, hah! lost many hours and projects due the exporting procedure, mainly because of my old computer specs were insufficient, especially in memory. Initially I used a 2005 toshiba laptop, and many projects took over 20-30 hours to export. Many times the computer would overheat, turn offs, or the process failed due to an export error. I’ve lost many projects, such as the Bellagio casino, nighlight of Treasure Island, Old design of Burj Dubai Tower, office skyscrapers and many BATs due that reason. I now own a better and more powerful machine which I hope to use to complete projects and never again see the export code error, but unfortunately as I get older, other priorities are first.
    As a hobby, my favorite part of creating BAT’s it’s the ability to project something you see, and you like in RL to the game. To give it its correct textures/materials, lighting and modeling, properly match as it is in RL and share and see what others think about your creation is exciting.


    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Do you get a thrill seeing your models pop up in CJs?
    Heblem: Of course it motivates me seeing peoples comments, and watching my creations get used in their CJs. It means a lot to me. Almost every two or three months I do an extensive search at Simtropolis or other sites about how people uses my creations. I do a search of HBS, Heblem or simply looking at CJs, for example, Basted69008 - he has an amazing CJ diary called San Theodoros which mostly uses my old creations from LBT and some exclusive BATs and props I sent to him.


    ST: You have been BATing wonderful models for over 6 years now. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    Heblem: Well, I have been active in the community since 2006, and since then, I have created hundreds of models, mods, maps, textures for over 9 years, including my old account of Hableurg (2006-2009) and currently Heblem in Simtropolis. In those years I have made a few CJ’s such as (small mini cities of the world), Canatlán (a Mexican city using LBT props) and much better and personalized city and of course my https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azYEvtKjbvw, a totally eyecandy American town. I’m proud of making many of these creations, including top quality BATs and lots like the recently uploaded commercial stores, restaurants and such.
    Over these years, there has been many funny moments and collaboration with different people who share their knowledge. For example, making detailed 3D maps, general modeling help,
    rendering, seamless textures and many aspects to be better and create better custom content.


    ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    Heblem: It has definitely influenced me over my professional life. Many BATers around might be going for architecture or civil engineer careers for their professional life. In my case, video game development influenced me, and I just graduated in August 2014 with a degree in Game Design thanks to family and friends. The BATing career gave me the opportunity to be a better 3D designer, and it made it possible to learn many new things that I can apply to SC4, other games or even new games.


    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their firstBAT or mod?
    Heblem: My best advice to them, just never give it up. Give yourself a second chance, or maybe a third, the third always scores. Ten years ago I was in the same boat as you. I just gave myself a second chance and finally made it. Once you know how to do it, you’ll want to learn and do more.


    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
    Heblem: Honestly I only look at few CJs once a month because lack of time. I do especially look for those who use my custom content, such as, Bastet69008’s San Theodoros, whom I mentioned before. And for those who are asking for me to take a look into their CJ, I will gladly look at and comment. But as for myself, I don’t really use the forums often or comment much (if you see my profile I have less than 400 post in 6 years). Mostly I just visit Simtropolis to look at new comments in my mailbox, do searches, post something in my BAT thread and upload something (rarely). There was a time in which I used to be more active here at Simtropolis, back in 2006-2009, using the Hableurg profile.
    My favorite SC4 scenes are landscaping, using MPPs, mountains, river streams, trees, etc. Basically because it reminds me of nature (I love nature). But I also enjoy looking at urban sprawl, but not really a fan of towering metropolises.


    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    Heblem: Recently, the lots by nos.17 have attracted my attention because of the quality he puts into so many detailed lots. I even sent him an old commercial file stored in my computer for him to lot and upload, and honestly he did a great job! That’s my most recent STEX download.
    Lately I haven’t played SimCity 4 due lack of time. Last time I opened the game was for doing some lot testing at Mall del Sur (my latest creation), but overall in last 6 years, I haven’t played as much as I should. Most of my SC4 spent time is spent on custom creations such mods and bats. Additionally, I have been attracted to other games instead.


    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    Heblem: Yes, I’m surprised it keeps going on after 12 years. It’s longevity is mainly due to its strong community in the creation of daily new custom content, and currently it’s the only game capable of making a huge “realistic” city than any other city building game.
    I think there will be new content even after 12 years, but it depends on those who still play, and if those kids who play today will learn to BAT and contribute more into the game. Even if a new better “Sim City” like game comes out in a future and convinces us to change over to it, I don’t think it is going to kill SC4 after more than 12 years of custom content. It will be a hard to kill for years to come.


    ST: Other than SC4, what types of games are you involved in?
    Heblem: Before I got involved into the SC4 modding and bating community, I used to make campaign scenarios for Age of Empires II (from 2000 to 2006). I made famous TD games, like Warriors Defense, Empire Defense, fixed and improved many active maps, like AN’s world map, castle bloods, and cooperative. Strategy games have influenced me into pursuing video game development as a career.
    Some other games I play include Far Cry 4, Banished, Minecraft, The Crew, AC Unity, Sanctum 2 and many other games from Steam.
    And recently I’m collaborating in doing Huntington City in Minecraft, (not all work is mine) Take a look to Huntington Surface map, I think you’ll love it. It’s like SimCity but in Minecraft!
    Also I do projects with Cry Engine and Unity 3D, I have city creation projects in 3D within Unity 3D.


    ST: What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities away from a computer screen?
    Heblem: As a hobby, currently I like doing 360° panoramas of the environment and nature of some public spaces.


    ST: Will we see any new SC4 content from you in the future?
    Heblem: If I get enough time, I hope to create some more content for SC4, but eventually I plan to stop doing so.