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Benedict

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  1. Benedict 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. Benedict liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs Interview with Seraf   

    Representing Eastern Europe, let's welcome Seraf and his wonderful BATing skills to our next interview! Seraf's list of files includes a very unique selection of BATs, from gardens and greenhouses to some very classy NYC-style buildings circa 1900. If there were a BAT Olympics, his creations would always get high marks from the always very strict and severe East German judge. If there were a BAT Bowl Series (like American college football) his BATs would always play in the Rose Bowl because you can find roses in gardens like the ones he makes. If there were a BAT art gallery- wait, that's kind of what the STEX is, to a certain extent. Anyways, Seraf!
     
     
    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?

    Seraf: I vaguely remember that I stumbled upon SC4 (I think it was SC4) when I was still in primary school. It was installed on one of the computers in the computer class; I tried to play this strange version of "the Sims" as I called it back then but didn't succeed in anything more than spending money. The next time was when I was a little older - fifteen, maybe sixteen. I think I borrowed it from someone. This time the gameplay was more productive.
    But my first sim game was "The Sims", I absolutely loved building and decorating houses, in fact I still do but rarely have time for this.

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

    Seraf: I don't really know, in fact for the last few years I only turn on the game when I need to test my BATs. But I always enjoyed building beautiful cities, full of great plazas and vistas.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?

    Seraf: Oh, not really, I remember that one of the first was the Library Tower form LA. I knew this building from the Independence Day movie and liked it so it landed in my plugin folder.

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

    Seraf: I think what led me to ST was STEX. I couldn't enjoy other aspects of the site since I didn't really know English. And I think my first impression was probably something like: "dammit, everything's in English. How am I supposed to find anything in here?"

    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?

    Seraf: Not really. I remember that I wanted to recreate New York City, so I downloaded everything that I could find onSTEX. But it soon became clear that I need more of the characteristic buildings to make my city even remotely similar to real New York. And that's how I discovered BAT. And you know what they say: "need is the mother of invention" but also: "if you want something to be done right do it yourself" (and the second sentence pretty much describes my approach to BATing most of the time).

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

    Seraf: Apart from some random walls with holes that were supposed to be windows - my very first BAT was Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower. Which is still (unfortunately) available on STEX. I have a few screenshots; I seldom delete any previews so I suppose that back then I just didn't make that many. You can see a mosaic of the renders below (I must say I'm still quite proud how the clock turned out, it still looks good).

    ST: Many 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?

    Seraf: Oh my... better sit comfortably because this one will be long

    So, just looking on our group's name you can tell that we focus on the buildings from New York City area, although I think at some point we expanded it to the whole New York State. As far as the organization goes...I don't think there's much of "organization" per se. We try to keep up with what others are doing so we don't end up having two people working on the same thing - but that's about it.
    My role... well, I don't think I have one. Or if I do it's probably "this columns-and-cornices guy" I enjoy making classical or eclectic buildings and since it seems that there's not that many who want to model this kind of buildings - I make most of them. Manhattan has many great buildings in traditional styles so I think I'll never run out of potential BATs.

    ST: Your list of uploads includes a number of plazas, gardens, and greenhouses. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction?

    Seraf: Yes. You see, when I finished MetLife Tower and Macy's, my eyes turned to Central Park. If I remember correctly I was just recreating it in game, I looked at some photos of Bethesda Fountain and thought that it isn't that difficult and I could make it, just to make my Central Park a bit more real. Then I made the seats around it, then started making the terrace. And somewhere along the way I got hooked. At the same time I started making Temperate House from Kew. I intended to use it as an entrance to Olympic Ice Rink in my CJ. The Rink never made it to the game but I finished Temperate House and meanwhile I grew to love the subtle elegance of iron-and-glass Victorian greenhouses.

    I think the plazas, fountains, gardens - all of them are an important part of the space around us. We can't live in cities consisting only of streets lined with buildings, it would be unbearable. They are like paintings or figurines we place in our homes, they beautify our cities. And I have a soft spot for beautiful things.

    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?

    Seraf: I can never decide which one I like the least - texturing or modding. But recently I learned that if you plan the texturing when you model then it can be a little less unpleasant. As for the favourite... I think the end of work. When you upload your work for others to use and you know that you did a good job and it looks great.

    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?

    Seraf: I have no idea. I suppose I just like to do it. But I must say that because I usually model the buildings I like, by modelling I can really get to know them, or at least their exterior. So I guess that's important too - I learn something about things I like.
    I appreciate the comments, it's nice to know that people download (so probably like) your work but it's even nicer to read the comments (and here I'm a terrible hypocrite because I can't remember when I commented someone's finished work...).
    It's definitely exciting to see my BATs in CJs, it really tells you that people like your work and use it to make their cities which is even more rewarding than comments. I remember seeing one of my old BATs (the Waterlily House from Kew) in one of the CJ. I was grinning like an idiot.

    ST: You released your first BAT in 2008. 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?

    Seraf: I think that I'm proud of all my BATs in some way. My most recent work - the NY University Club, I think it's a great BAT in many aspects. I learned much while doing it. Another BAT that I'm exceptionally proud of is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial - for me it marks a new stage in quality of my BATs.
    Fun stories... I must say I can't really think about any, unless you count me getting pissed when some of the details I was sweating over aren't even visible on render

    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?

    Seraf: It had huge influence on my interests. As I said, while making Bethesda Terrace I got to know this structure pretty good. All the intricate ornaments and reliefs, the planning and scale of it made great impression on me. That's what started my interest in historic and traditional architecture. I started to study it on my own. Over time I noticed that some of the buildings look graceful and proud while others do not. I started to study principles of classical architecture so I could know why. From there the road to designing things of my own wasn't very long. As for now I designed a few monuments, started developing a scheme for grand opera house and some other things. And while it is all in terms of my hobby - I don't think of it any less than if it would be part of my job.
    As for the skills - I think BATing taught me how to look at classical architecture, at least in part. Most people looking at the building see just columns, random lines or parts of figures that make up a cornice. They rarely see the scheme that architect had in mind when he designed the building. Also - staring long hours at the photos of a cornice trying to determine its profile is a good exercise in classical design

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

    Seraf: Don't rush it. Take all the time you need. Also - don't choose something that would be difficult to make even for seasoned BATers, it will only discourage you if you fail. And above all: choose something that you like - your favourite building or place.

    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.).

    Seraf: Oh yes. I enjoy SimCoug's CJ and Schulmania is also great. I remember seeing many good CJs but my problem is that I see some good CJ and then can't remember its name. And of course I won't think about bookmarking it either because I'm just me. I like historical scenes but also representative spaces in the city. With government buildings and plazas (what a surprise, isn't it? )

    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?

    Seraf: Hmm, there is JasonCW and darn42. Aaron, Vlasky and Paul from NYBT. I always enjoyed the Nofunk's and Amthaak's threads but sadly neither of them is active now.

    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?

    Seraf: Maybe a little? But I think it's still a great game which doesn't have many worthy opponents in category of city-building (among new games that is). And that would be one of the reasons why it's still popular. Another one would be that there's so much custom content. And the quality of CC is still being improved. But will it be still being created in 12 years? I have no idea, maybe it will be, maybe not. Maybe there will be a miracle and EA will decide that it's better to come back to SC4 and improve it rather than make new games that mostly fail to meet the expectations of the gamers

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

    Seraf: Yes, my favourite genre is adventure games. I like spending time solving various riddles and puzzles. But I don't shy away from shooters either, although the ones set in WWI or II repel me very much. The last game I played was Watch Dogs, I got it for free so I thought - why not? It was ok.
    I have many hobbies. I draw and paint (although the latter only digitally). Ironically - mostly humans rather than architecture. I like designing buildings (or parts of them) so I guess I do draw architecture a little after all. I'm an aspiring writer so I spend much time improving my writing skills. I've been learning to sing for a few years now and recently I started training figure skating. So I have my schedule full.

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

    Seraf: I have no idea Although I think I'm glad that you didn't ask about unfinished BATs or plans for future ones. The former could upset a number of people () the latter is an ever-changing matter
  3. Benedict 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.
  4. Benedict liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs mrbisonm Interview   

    Thriving in the icy Quebec winters, we will be speaking with mrbisonm next. To borrow a bit from his own profile, mrbisonm is from Germany, passing through the Netherlands and Andorra on his way to his current home in Canada where he is currently surrounded by vast swaths of nature. On the game-relevant side, he has been uploading custom lots and BATs to Simtropolis for very nearly 12 years, adding to the variety of the game. Let's take a little while to get to know him a little better, shall we?
     
    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?
    mrbisonm: I got SC4 as soon as it came out in North-America, cannot remember the exact date though, but it surely was in early 2003. It was my third SimCity, since I started playing simgames with SimCity I. I used to build a lot of stuff for SC3K also, but it was not quite the same because we used more or less some blockbuilding technique at the time. So, I am an Oldtimer with SC.

    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    mrbisonm: What I enjoy most with SC4 is that it is expandable, kneadable and can be transformed, so to speak, to almost anything we want. Manipulating and making it different with every region I play is what makes me come back.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    mrbisonm: Oh yeah, the first plugin, it was a Maxis Plugin, a landmark, but I cannot remember which one exactly, then when the BAT came out, I asked Raphaelninja to render me a Nexis 100 flag I made because of my 100th upload of Lotmaking to ST, the first one to reach this. Gmax BAT was not yet available, but some had the ability to render models for SC4 already.

    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    mrbisonm: I came to Simtropolis by error, when I was searching in the fall 2002 the SimCity4 game. I saw the site, had a look at it and liked it, so I became a member right away. That was in September 2002 when less than 100 folks were members of the site. I did not come back to the site until March 2003. I probably forgot all about it, but then I did not remember my [original] screename nor the password.....darn. So, I became a new member in March 2003 under a new name, mrbisonm, and guess what..... I got stuck on the site, where I am still active today.

    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?
    mrbisonm: I was not the first to make BATs, but those which were made by others inspired me of doing some of my own, since I was at my 150th or so LOT and slowly was running out of ideas. So I gave it a shot and surprisingly it came out well, encouraged by myself and a good friend of mine from Simtropolis, GranPa Al, to start BATting myself.

    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
    mrbisonm: Of course I still have a screenshot of my first BAT, I have everything that I did for SC3K, SC4, Civ III, and now Farming Simulator 2013 also. I must have some 150 or so CDs and DVDs of all kinds of stuff, including thousands of downloaded files for SC4, some of them most likely do not exist anymore anywhere else. The first BAT I did was for my CJ NEXIS OF GENESIS, and it was for the construction site of the Dam in Grand Dam City. Picture below....

    ST: Your files have all been released under the Nexis name. Can you tell us a bit about your Nexis of Genesis City Journal?
    mrbisonm: Most of my files were called Nexis, some of them do not bear the name of Nexis and others were uploaded by others under a different name, such as Vlakhaas and his CSX lots.

    The Nexis of Genesis CJ was an inspiration to deliver something new and diffenrent to the community, a CJ with a story, action, and new, never-seen-before BATs and LOTs. Also it was a CJ that started with the creation of a new planet and the evolution of life. It was the first CJ to have done like this. Then after awhile I tought that it was a good idea to involve other players into the story and give the new characters a name and a lifetime story which helped to build up the region of Nexis of Genesis. Again, this was a first and it gained a lot of interest by members from ST and even other sites. Nexis became a name, a legend and then an example for many other CJs that followed it. Somewhat strange to say, but I still play the region sometimes.

    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?
    mrbisonm: My favorite part of BATting is to let my soul wander on its own and create just models as I see them. I have more than 5000 models made, of which most are not finished or not uploaded. My favourite BATting models at the moment are the ones that I am working on for more than 2 years, the MFP1 set, Modern Farm Props, which will have approximately 600 to 700 big models and will change SC4 to SCFarming. It should be ready before summer 2015. The models and modeling can be seen on SC4Devotion.com under...

    The FrankU and Nexis CO-OP

    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?
    mrbisonm: Yes, somewhat it pleases me that others use my LOTs and BATs in their CJs. Comments of others also keep me going and encourage me to continue BATting. I make all these for others to use in their play of course, some are for me and personal use though, for my CJs. BTW, I will start another CJ here on Simtropolis as soon as I finish my farming sets. It will be innovative again and surely something new and interesting. Look out for Tymbactou, my world.

    ST: You released your first file in 2003. 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?
    mrbisonm: I will be proud of the set that I am working on right now. FrankU is fully involved and he will be doing the first lots with my BATs. The MFP 1 should change a lot how we see and play the farming community of SC4.

    Not really a fun story, but I must confess that some of my BATs turned out well by simple pure luck..... lol... some of them I cannot reproduce because I do not know how to make them. They just happened. lol.... it is just that I clicked on this and that and then all of sudden.... “Wow... I'll keep this one!”

    ST: Has your experience creating SC4 content had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed while creating that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    mrbisonm: The experience surely changed my way and understanding of computer knowledge, private and also professional. I am, or should I say, I was a Loghome Designer, owning my own well-established business from the seventies and having done all my work with my pencils and tools, no computer. Since I am not very active anymore, after my second heart attack and operation last year, I left 95 percent of the designing to my followers, who use computers, but since BATting gave me experience with modelmaking, it really helped me to understand their designing on the computers.

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    mrbisonm: The only advice I can give to new BATters is to get to know the 3D program first, not giving up and understanding that it looks and sounds more difficult than it actually is. The reward is great, creating models that you like is the most important, and of course... Having fun... that is what this is all about. If it does not come out right, just put it aside, make a copy and put it on a CD or DVD. Later you will know how to finish it. And please, always ask for help on the Forums if nothing is working right, there will always be someone to help you.

    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.).
    mrbisonm: I do not really have the time to look at todays CJs a lot, but sometimes I peak into any random one showed on the highlighted starting page and slowly go through them, sometimes seeing some really good concepts and excellent stories. No preferences though. My favourite scenes differ a lot, I like to look at roadworks, city lines , downtowns, nature, farms and even just landscapes terraformed by our members and players, and anything that SC4 and the Players can come up with. So many possibilities. Like I always say, the limit is your imagination, which sometimes can become mammoth-sized.

    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?
    mrbisonm: Again, I do not have that much time to look much into other BATters works, but I enjoy anyone who is BATting decently enough. There are some Legends out there, really good ones, some still quite active.

    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?
    mrbisonm: No, I am not surprised that SC4 is still going strong, along with the site. Both are one today and will continue for long time to come. And yes, there will still be uploads in 12 years from now... hey... I am planning to do an MFP2 set later........

    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
    mrbisonm: I play regularly these games, almost every month or so: Civ III, Farming Simulator 2013, The Sims 2, Serf City, The Settlers 7, Anno 1503, Tropico 4 and Banished.

    My other hobbies are painting, hunting, collection all kinds of things, reading, nature and animals and taxidermy. And most of all, I am interested in everything that is interesting...

    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?
    mrbisonm: Ah, you have probably asked everything possible for this interview, now I am somewhat tired......need my evening nap.

    ST: Thank you for taking the time to read through our questions, and extra-special thanks for taking the time to answer some of them. We appreciate your participation with this!
    mrbisonm: My pleasure....


    Fred
  5. Benedict liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with madhatter106   

    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?
    madhatter106: I remember getting the original SimCity for the Commodore 128 back in the spring of 1990. I've played that and SC2 and SC3 a bunch, in college and afterwards. I like sandbox style games, so SC4 was a definite buy; I think I picked that one up in 2005 or so when I was on a hiatus from work.


    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    madhatter106: I think seeing a great new BAT pop up in the game, especially if it's very cleverly done or perfectly modeled or textured. Those are the moments I enjoy. I must say that I BAT much more than I play the game - I would guess that 90% of my time is spent outside of SC4, making content for it. I think I'm more of a content provider than a player, because I like making the kind of stuff I like to see in-game – that is, in those rare moments I am actually playing.


    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    madhatter106: It must have been off the original SC4 Exchange on the Maxis site. I remember looking for carwashes, so it was probably something along those lines. I still haven’t found a carwash plugin that I really like; maybe I’ll make one someday. I'm guessing that I might even still have those early downloads somewhere on a backup hard drive, now that the desktop I originally used is long gone.


    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    madhatter106: I don't remember how I found Simtropolis. I do seem to remember finding it soon after using the original Maxis exchange. I don't recall my initial impressions, but I'm sure I spent more time surfing the STEX than I did in the forums. I was searching for good plugins, rather than reading about the game and its intricacies.


    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?
    madhatter106: I remember getting and installing gmax/BAT when I first started with the game. And then I didn't use it at all. It sat on my computer for a couple of years, and I kept thinking, "oh I'm never going to use that, I'm not playing SC4 at the moment, I should just get rid of it and save some hard drive space," but I never took it off. And then I picked up SC4 again after a long, long hiatus, and on a lark started reading the phillipbo tutorial and then thought, "why not give it a try?" There were a couple of BATters whose style I admired (and probably inadvertently emulated at first), so I guess that was also a push.


    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
    madhatter106: I messed around a little bit in gmax to learn the interface. Making piles of standard primitives with very basic manipulation, you know that sort of thing. I do remember sorting through the phillipbo tutorial as I was making my first BAT; I didn't want to create that specific tutorial BAT, but did want to apply what I was learning to what I was creating. That finished BAT did end up getting uploaded to the STEX, and it was my first upload.


    ST: Skyscrapers tend to get all the glory in SC4, and many BATers gravitate to them as well, yet your first upload on Simtropolis was a tiny CS$ shop called You followed it with a number of small commercial packs, including a massively diverse set of low wealth commercial shops. What led you to take this ‘road less traveled’ BAT trajectory?
    madhatter106: It's partly because those are the kinds of BATs I like seeing when I am playing the game, and it's partly because of how I play. I start lots of small cities all the time (I’m a total Aries that way), and I usually don't end up with a population that is too high, so I rarely see the tallest buildings growing on their own; I think the highest population city tile I may have ever made is in the 80K range and it amazingly only had a single incarnation of Wren Insurance. So when you play like that and build like that (lots of smaller areas and towns), the Maxis content gets very, very repetitive. The Sim IQ rating is really low when you start a new city tile, so you don't see a lot of offices or high tech industry or high wealth residential growing at first, and so there's a lot of industry and low wealth commercial that is needed. That means that you could have a plugins folder full of skyscrapers, but you won't see them for a good long while - so you need to have little guys, the low wealth commercials and smaller buildings to get you going. Also, there's a lot of stuff that hasn't been really explored by other BATters - some types of businesses are sorely under-represented on the STEX, and those are the ones that really interest me. I mean, I was amazed that not many liquor stores existed on the STEX before . Likewise, no one had done surf shops, so . Ultimately I make the types of buildings that I like to see grow in my cities; skyscrapers don't interest me that much, as so many other (and better) BATters have those covered and those BATters are working in better software than i am (ie. 3dsMax).


    ST: One aspect of all your creations that I really like is the unique names and descriptions that you include for each of your models. Your models and lots are already colorful in their own sense, so what possesses you to go the extra mile?
    madhatter106: I don't know; it's just part of my nature and style. I rather appreciate anything that's clever, so when I create stuff like this, I like to include little "in-jokes" or sideline things or Easter eggs to give them a little extra layer or meaning. A lot of the time it will whiz past people's heads, and that's fine. The goofy stat response curve that is included with all my uploads is straight-up Maxis style, whose humor I find similar to mine; and since I like keeping in the vein of some of the Maxis stuff, including those in my uploads seemed like a given. Anything a custom content creator can do to give you a laugh or breathe life into the game is good by me; there are lots of boring buildings out there, and you want to make your stuff memorable. The office packs have each had an underlying theme given to the names - mysteries and cryptozology were one of my interests since I was a little kid, so a whole pack of references to those seemed fitting. The old Leonard Nimoy-narrated program In Search Of was probably (for me) the greatest thing on television when I was eight years old, as well as the history of old silent era Hollywood, true crime, etc. At one point, I was tempted to do a more modern true crime pack, but I think I shelved it because I thought it might be in bad taste; I think naming BATs in a building pack after serial killers or mass murderers or truly despicable people would be glorifying their deeds in some way, so I scrapped that idea. I had also done a paper on the Lindbergh kidnapping in high school, so famous kidnappings and disappearances seemed like a fitting theme for a pack. I might do a pack with naming conventions around the idea of exposed and discredited hoaxes - the Hitler diaries, the Piltdown Man, etc.


    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?
    madhatter106: My favorite part is the first few hours of a BAT. When you get the modeling and the proportions right, and when it starts to really come together, that's a good part. The texturing is hit or miss - sometimes I can sail through it and sometimes it's a long slog to get all the balances right; is this too dark, or is this too light? What happens when I change the contrast on this texture, does it mess up the other two? Is this too blue or is this too red? Too saturated? Not saturated enough? Thankfully I am pretty quick with Photoshop and I have a good library of standard textures from which to build, but sometimes I can't get the right effect without a lot of swings and misses. Nightlighting is the least fun, and this is partly because I'm working in gmax; it's a lot of trial and error, and a lot of preview renders, particularly if it's a multi-story building. The little buildings were easier to nightlight, but the taller ones (the offices in particular) were usually a bit of a hassle. I must also say that by the time I am at the testing stage, I'm kind of over it; luckily with the small commercials, they're easier for me to test. Sometimes these are affected by the way the BAT is modeled - there are different ways of doing things were the modeling is messy but the texturing goes quickly, or there are situations where the modeling can be very clean and precise, but will require lots of work when it comes to textures. (Minimizing the number of objects and polygons will make for a great precise BAT but will mean that I will spend forever making the textures and unwrapping the UVW maps.) I think the last great joy once all that is done is dropping in all the details and little tidbits that give a BAT life and personality – vending machines, window signage, payphones, HVAC equipment, and all that. These kinds of details can really make a difference, and I wish newer BATers would pay attention to that; but since I come from a theatrical design background, where those details mean character and story and that fancy word “verisimilitude,” that stuff is second nature to me.


    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?
    madhatter106: Truth be told, I rather appreciate the commentary in the BAT thread for my stuff more than the comments sections on my uploads. The comments section is fun, and I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm. It's difficult to read something silly or dopey that's written as a comment, but I try to ignore those sorts of things. I'm a small business owner, and it's really difficult to read critiques of your business online, so it's a similar situation. I do like seeing my stuff in CJs, though I rarely spend time in the CJ section (partly because there are so many and partly because I don't have lots of free time.) People usually relot them and they look even better (because I’m not much interested in lotting), so that's a good feeling.


    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?
    madhatter106: , as is the teriyaki joint in the same pack. I love , but I should mod it so that it grows more often; it doesn't show up nearly as much as I'd like in my cities. The surf shops are all fun, too, because of their details. I love the front details of - they take a boring building and really give it life and vibrancy. I made a property rental shop that I haven't uploaded yet, and that's another case where the details make the building sing. I usually have a favorite or two in every pack; some of the offices turned out really well. A lot of my inspiration comes from just going about on my normal day-to-day business. Buildings like , , and the were inspired by buildings that I would encounter while driving around Los Angeles (where I live). I also associate certain BATs with certain movies or pieces of music that I was listening to while I was making them. The movie theaters, diners, and coffee shops I will always associated with certain work projects, because I would do a ten or twelve hour day at work, then go home and decompress and BAT them for a couple hours.


    ST: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
    madhatter106: Apart from driving around Los Angeles as I had already mentioned, I have a huge "swipe file" of stuff that I find online that I think might be good to include in BATs. Everything from HVAC units to windows and whatnot, as well as folders of building types - the office packs had a lot of buildings that were based in part on stuff from my swipe file. I usually don't recreate things exactly as shown in the pictures; I'll use a shape or size or window configuration, but change the ground floor design, or I will shorten the height of the mezzanine, or something along those lines. Rarely do I ever completely recreate something I've seen.


    ST: Why is your stuff made in gmax? Why not make the jump to 3dsMax like so many others?
    madhatter106: It’s partly the time to learn something new (though there’s a lot of carryover from gmax to Max) and partly the expense. And partly the fact that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – I’m dug into working with gmax; it’s a deeply ingrained habit. And since SC4 is over a decade old, if archaic gmax was good enough for it back in 2005 or 2006, it’s still good enough for it now. I suppose I could learn it if I picked it up and applied myself, but that’s more determination or discipline than I can muster. Of course, when I see all the cool tricks you can do with Max that you can’t get with little old gmax, that’s frustrating. But I make out all right with gmax, I guess.


    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?
    madhatter106: I don't think so; if there are any aspects along those lines, it's something of which I'm unaware. I do look at buildings differently, and am always figuring out, "how would I BAT that?" when I see something interesting. Or I will think, "oh that's a different window detail, I should remember that on the next BAT," or some such.


    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    madhatter106: Start small - you're going to want to follow the tutorials out there, but try making something small, like one or two stories max. You're going to be working incredibly slowly, since you're learning the ins and outs of the program, so getting bogged down in a super tall building means it's going to take forever. A short little one story commercial shop or office is the best aim, and see it through to the very end - modeling, textures, nightlights, modding, etc. Then once you get the hang of things, you get faster - I bet I could knock out a small commercial shop in a few hours now, as I know what I'm doing and I know my way around the program, versus taking all day to do one when I first started out. Also, I'm saying it constantly (and even made it part of my Simtropolis signature) that "good textures are made, not found." You rarely can take an image from an online source and have it 100% perfect and ready to be added to a BAT without some form of change. Textures can make or break a BAT, and for many things I’ve seen on the STEX I’ve liked the modeling, but have not pressed the download button because the texturing is substandard or too extreme.


    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.)
    madhatter106: I don't really read the CJs, partly because of what I mentioned before. I wish I could, as there's lots of lovely stuff in there; I just don't find myself there very often.


    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?
    madhatter106: As far as I'm concerned, jmyers2043 (of the BSC) is the best BATter there is; hands down, without any question, jmyers2043 is the king. I love his style, I love what he chooses to BAT, I love his textures and details; I don't have a lot of BSC stuff in my plugins folder, but his stuff is essential. His stuff is so thoroughly modeled and tested and lotted and perfectly crafted; if there were a BATter whose career I would replace my own with, it would be his. dk1 is another BATter whose stuff I like, though I wish he had a touch more detail in his stuff. Sadly he seems to have moved on, there hasn't been a new upload from him in a long while; I’m always nominating him for the “We Miss You, Come Back!” Trixie award and I’m always floating over to the STEX in the hopes that he’s uploaded something new. I do like the stuff that spa has made, and greatly appreciate how he took his hometown and made it a part of the game; the BATs are great, but I only have a few of them, as his textures are so distinct, they don’t jive with a lot of what else I have in my plugins folder; though, come to think of it, an entire CJ of spa’s stuff would look stunning. I like the smaller BATS that SimGoober has made, particularly his NIMBY ones, which I think are beautifully textured and detailed; when he focuses in on the little BATs, that’s where he really shines (in my humble opinion). BATers like jasoncw and nofunk and TWrecks also do stuff that I really like. I don't remember the last BAT I downloaded, as I haven't played much of late; it had to have been something from two years back. My plugins folder is not that large and with my aforementioned style of playing the game, it doesn’t really need to be.


    ST: Is there a BAT you’ve seen that makes you say, “I wish I made that?”
    madhatter106: Apart from the people whose work I’ve already mentioned, I wish I could texture BATs as good as jasoncw – there’s a subtlety to his work and “deftness to his hand” that I wish I had. I particularly like the , , , and uploads that he did. I can’t sing the praises of jmyers2043 enough – just about every BAT he’s created has made me say, “I wish I made that.” He’s another custom content creator who does top notch textures; he also has his stuff modded very well, but that’s not surprising as he is a charter member of the BSC. Some of JBSimio’s stuff makes me swoon also; there are a couple of his BATs that have really been inspirations for my later stuff. The great thing about this feeling and what I come away with in my own work is the inspiration to try my hand in a similar vein; maybe partly out of emulation but also partly out of trying my own “spin” or take on it.


    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?
    madhatter106: I think it's a testament to how good the genre is in general, and this iteration of the game is in particular. It's like a model train set, but in digital form; we can create these great scenes - small towns to sprawling metropolises. And with all the custom content and mods that people have created over the past 12 years, it really doesn’t surprise me that this game has had such a good shelf life. It doesn’t even seem to have abated – there are newcomers proving their worth every year; the STEX hasn’t dried up and the NAM hasn’t stagnated. I can certainly see new content being created years from now ; we have such a dedicated community for the game in general and on Simtropolis in particular, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see other BATers and modders coming along in the mold of SimGoober or Pegasus or SimFox, so it’s exciting to see what they could come up with. And I do hope that groups like the BSC and NYBT and the NAM team are going to continue to provide us with all manner of goodies to make the game look, feel, and play better.


    ST: What are you working on now? And what else might be in the pipeline?
    madhatter106: I have some more offices to do or finish; I wanted to get some 2x3 office buildings, as there aren't a lot of those available on the STEX to compete with the Maxis ones. The ones that come with the game are fine, they're just repetitive unless you have a bunch of plugins to help dilute them, so that's part of my next goal. Like commercial services, I don't think I could ever tire of doing offices, and you can never have enough of either type in your plugins folder. I have some industry that I was working on a long time ago which I haven't picked up in ages; there's the from several years back, which is still waiting for its nightlights. (I think that's probably partly the reason I put it down and haven't picked it up since. Nightlighting for me is the least pleasant in gmax.)


    ST: Is there anything you haven't BATed yet that you would like to?
    madhatter106: I would love to do some packs of medium wealth commercial shops - along the same lines as the earlier packs of low wealth, but offering services like plumbing or electrical, bookstores and little mom-and-pop shops, that sort of thing. I have tried my hand at pawn shops, but every time I get one worked up it just doesn't coalesce - there's something that just doesn't make it happen, as much as I might like to do some. There’s a whole host of other packs I would love to try my hand at, should I ever find the time; I would love to do some Mexican restaurants (ranging from taco stands to more flashy places), and I’ve been thinking of doing a pack of car repair places – auto body shops, places to get your transmission repaired or your windows tinted or oil changed, etc. I've always wanted to do what I call the Burbs Pack, which would be a set of American style Craftsman homes and small suburban houses, to add variety to the Maxis ones; jmyers2043 did it far better than I ever could have with a pack along the same lines released a while back on the LEX. One day I might try to do some larger apartment buildings, but the folks over at the NYBT do them so well already; I look at theirs and think my stuff can’t even compete. And I'd love to do a pack of tiny industrials, to add variety - sheds and storage units and weird machines and tanks and whatnot, but I would have to do a lot of research and dig up a lot of pictures to make them seem authentic.


    ST: Are there any of your BATs that you might like to redo or remake or improve upon?
    madhatter106: If I were doing them now, some of the low wealth commercial shops would be much better. I would definitely load in more details on some of them, though they kind of work in a generic, non-specific sense. I don’t think I’ve ever released a BAT on the STEX that I didn’t like; if I didn’t like it, I doubt I would have ended up sharing it with others. When I was doing the first office packs, I was making them look similar from all angles (that is, the elevation was practically the same on all four sides) but that’s not how a lot of buildings are designed, so there’s room for improvement there. Though with a lack of free time in general, I doubt I would ever remake any of them; but I am diligent about hanging on to the original gmax models in a folder labeled “Done,” so they are always available to me should I ever get the urge to do so.
  6. Benedict 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.
  7. Benedict liked an article by NMUSpidey, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with MandelSoft   
    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?
    MandelSoft: SimCity was not my first introduction to the simulator genre. I once got two sim games for my birthday: Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 and Transport Tycoon Deluxe (yes, the original DOS game). Back then, RCT was already hard to install 135MB on a 4GB hard disk on a Windows 95 PC (boy, those were the times). I had many hours of fun with Transport Tycoon (including the chiptune music in all its glory) and I still play OpenTTD today. More people on this website are familiar with OpenTTD, but I don’t think many have played the original game.

    My first introduction to the SimCity series was SimCity 2000. Since I never really got track of that game (I was really young then, probably 6 or 7 years old), I ditched it aside pretty quickly. SimCity 3000 felt a lot better and I enjoyed that game, though I made some quite beginner mistakes.

    Then SimCity 4 came along in 2003. I had the vanilla game, but I didn’t got the hang out of it at the first try and I ditched it aside. Yes, a fan like me ditched aside SimCity 4 once for quite a while. But I was just 11 years old back then, and I was probably not old enough to really “get” the game…

    Then 2006 came along. I picked up the game again and I finally got how the game works. And I have loved the game ever since! In 2007 I bought Rush Hour (second hand, best purchase ever!) and in October 2007, I discovered Simtropolis. Since then, SimCity 4 has never been the same for me...
    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
     
    MandelSoft: SimCity 4 offers you a toolkit not just to make any city, it offers you the tools to make YOUR city. There are so many ways you can construct a city, how to design the layout, what services you offer, what style of infrastructure and architecture you're going to use and more. With the amount of custom content we have today, the possibilities are endless! I can see that most familiar SimCity 4 players have a distinct style.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    MandelSoft: I think it was either the Streetlight Colour Mod or the Network Addon Mod, I can’t recall…
    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    MandelSoft: The custom content, of course! I was searching for more possibilities, and especially to make my cities look more Dutch. At first, I only was here to download, but after a while I started browsing the forums. I never could have imagined that I would ever become such an integral part of the community. Everybody has to start somewhere.

    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?
    MandelSoft: Pffft, I don’t know anymore. I think it was the possibility alone that adding custom models to the game was enough inspiration for me to do my own work. I had some troubles getting gMax to start BATting, though.

    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
    MandelSoft: My first BAT was my own house. But it looked horrible, and for a few years I tried to clear them from my cities. My first serious BAT was a Dutch signage pack (and this was released, and deleted again). This one was overscaled quite a lot and poorly modelled. I don’t have pictures of it anymore, but it took me another three versions to get the proportions right.

    ST: Your list of uploads is populated by a large number of road mods. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction, beyond just general roadgeekery?
    MandelSoft: Most of these things are easy to model. Most signs only use basic geometry, especially boxes and cylinders. By combining them in a clever way, you can still get a large variety of shapes. One thing you do have to take care of is texturing, which is important with signage. Streetlights are a bit harder to model, but these things are small props, so one model is not really that complex.

    However, I didn’t do just easy stuff. Road texture sets are a lot of work. Not because it’s hard, but because there are so many textures to modify. It took me three and a half months to prepare the RHW Euro Texture Set for the RHW 3.0 ready. The Ontario Texture set took me a month (because I had the basic set ready in vector format).

    ST: What do you find fascinating about roads and their signage, lighting, etc?

     
    MandelSoft: It’s hard to explain. I just have that odd twitch in my head

    ST: What is the thought process behind choosing what to create next?

     
    MandelSoft: There is not much thinking about it. I just choose whatever I like to do next, whatever I can motivate myself for. In some cases, it’s about what I feel missing in the game and what I am able to make.

    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?

     
    MandelSoft: Some would say rendering is the least favourite part of the BATting process, but my least favourite part of the process is the finishing of the lots. This means getting the lot descriptions right and adding icons to the lots. Keep in mind that I usually make signage packs of dozens of signs, which means a lot of icons. This becomes a huge pain to make everything look right.

    My favourite part is the modelling itself. Just like in SimCity 4, I like to create stuff, to see things come from the mind into reality, regardless if this reality is virtual or not.

    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?
    MandelSoft: I really like to see my stuff coming back in other people’s CJs. Then you see that other people really appreciate your work, and that gives me satisfaction. This is also what motivates me to make new stuff, other than the fact that there are some things I really like to see myself in-game.

    I usually don’t read many comments, but I do want to take action if somebody comments on a bug.

    ST: You released your first file in 2008. 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?
    MandelSoft: The thing of quite a few of my creations is that no one really took the effort to do something similar. The Light Replacement Mod (not just replace the light cones, but the lamp posts themselves too) , the Stoplight Replacement Mod, the ploppable streetlights, the Highway Re-Styling Mod. No one has ever really tried and released such a feat. Also, there were a few signage sets in the past, but I really expanded the choice with a lot of European signage styles. I’m also very fond of my NAM creations, but that’s pure teamwork and I never got that far without help of my wonderful team mates.

    I’m also particularly proud of the Pactagon building. It is a funny looking building, but not too unrealistic. It is a quite original building design to fit on a roundabout center. A worthy headquarters for the NAM Team!

    One fact people may not have known before is that one of my mods was inspired by a mod that turned out to be a hoax. There was a project called the M25 Project. Basically this was a quite beautiful looking reskin of the Maxis Highway. At one point, development just stopped. I decided to start over again and make my own set, the Highway Re-Styling Mod. Later, it turned out that my inspiration was a Photoshop hoax. The member who pulled that off has made such a bad name that it may never be mentioned ever again. The same member also worked on a streetlight mod which inspired my Light Replacement Mod. So two hoaxes were eventually realised “properly” by me.

    Some other fun facts about some of my other downloads:
    Everything in the Frickinhuge Signage Set is either a pun or a reference.
    My latest release, the Carthamia Imperial Tower, was made for a friend.
    There is a brony advert on the Pactagon Building, as well as a PacMan advert.
     
    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?
    MandelSoft: SimCity 4 had one big influence on my life: I became a Civil Engineer because of SimCity 4. I completed a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering in 2013 and I’m getting my Master’s degree in the specialisation Transport & Planning this year. Thus far I’m the only NAM member with a degree in the field

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    MandelSoft: I would give three important points to remember:
    Start small. Before you can make full-scale buildings, it’s best to start with small stuff like props. This will let you get to know the tools better. If your first project doesn’t succeed, you are more likely to quit. Larger projects often have a larger chance of failure than smaller ones. Therefore, start small.
    Never cease experimenting. Change some settings and see what it does, try something new, or just do things without knowing what you are really doing. Experimenting is an important way through which I learned all the skills I have. By experimenting, you get to understand the tools better.
    Failure is an option. Yes, you will fail quite a lot along the way when experimenting, but that’s all right; failure is an option. Each failure brings you one step closer to success, since you know what works and what doesn’t work. You have truly failed if you didn’t learn from your failures. So try a lot, fail a lot, but eventually learn a lot.
     
    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.).
    MandelSoft: My favourite SimCity landscapes are old cities and night scenes. I have a weak spot for both. In SimCity 4, it’s quite hard to make a city look centuries old. People who pull off that trick earn my deepest respect. These old cities have a very strong own unique character, I like that. I also like night shots, since this shows how the city is alive at night with all the pretty light effects.

    I don’t really follow CJs; I usually look around at the “show us your …” sections. I have some people that have inspiring creations. McDuell is completely mad when it comes to building interchanges; he builds one mind-blowing interchange after the other. Haljackey’s “Building a City from Scratch” is a huge undertaking that helped with popularising SimCity 4 again. Both of them should get a lot of respect, but let’s not forget all the other CJers out there that make great and unique content!

    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?
    MandelSoft: I still have huge respects for the NYBT. The team still produces some high quality BATs for everyone to admire. I also respect Reddonquixotte’s work a lot. Each release of his is a masterpiece!

    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?
    MandelSoft: I think the secret of the longevity of its community is its general attitude. From what I’ve seen, the SimCity community is highly tolerant, intelligent and respectful. Everyone respects each other, mods are rarely stolen, people have intelligent discussions, not a lot of people ask obvious questions answered hundreds of times and aside from members who have really misbehaved, no one is really hated here and there is always someone there to help you if you have a problem. This is what keeps our community strong. The custom content for this game stretched out the life span of the game too, and the creators are backed up by such a great community!
     
    I still would like to come back to SimCity 4 one day…

    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
    MandelSoft: I haven’t played SimCity 4 lately, due to my work at ProMods for Euro Truck Simulator 2. I’m still building cities and roads, I’m still modelling streetlights and signs, but just for another game. The good thing is that this game offers you a completely different perspective, namely of a driver. This is a quite relaxing game, and I’d recommend to play this game with the ProMods map mod.

    I’m also a music producer in the trance genre. I have quite a passion for music making. My work can be found on YouTube and Soundcloud under the name MandelSoft. I have quite some tracks I’m proud of. I can most definitely recommend “Aurora Borealis”, “Moonrise”, “Day of Pi” , “Waves” and “Drifting in Dreams”.

    I’m also working on Geofiction projects. Geofiction is the art of creating and maintaining fictional countries. I’m part of a Dutch geofiction-community who share a geofiction-world together. I can use my InkScape skills for various aspects, like drawing maps, flags, infographics, etc. It’s an unusual but interesting hobby. I have met these people in real life and we are a fun group.

    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?
    MandelSoft: Maybe what “player” project I participated with I’m the most proud of? That would be the NORO Co-operative. This is a huge multi-player region on SC4Devotion.com with the crème de la crème of the SimCity 4 building community. It’s a high-quality region with a lot of challenges. I’d recommend everyone to take a look over there. You’ll find some great inspiration how to make your cities look a lot better!

    Best regards from your head-banging NAM-Pony,
    Maarten (MandelSoft)
     
    Interview questions by SimCoug and NMUSpidey (but mostly SimCoug), MandelSoft interview conducted by NMUSpidey