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Cyclone Boom

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  1. louismoreira liked an article by Cyclone Boom, [INFO] Windows Update KB3086255 prevents SimCity 4 from starting   
    Following the trend of Windows 10, Microsoft has released security update KB3086255 for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 & Windows Vista.
    Due to "security concerns", this intentionally disables the service which runs the secdrv.sys driver -- a component of the SafeDisk protection which SC4 uses.
     

    As a result, this prevents the disk-based (CD) version of SimCity 4 from running, and you may receive an "Access Denied - Please login with administrator privileges and try again" or similar permissions error. Many other legacy games are also affected.
    It would seem the update simply disables the service, rather than removing secdrv.sys completely (like Windows 10 has).
    NOTE: This shouldn't impact users of the digital game, such as from Amazon, Steam or Origin, as this doesn't rely on the same copy protection.

    Full details of the update are as follows:

    Security update for the graphics component in Windows
    September 8, 2015 (KB3086255)

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/kb/3086255



    Workarounds
    1)  Purchase SC4 digitally

    Online retailers such as Amazon, GOG, Steam, Origin or GamersGate offer a digital version of SC4 Deluxe.
    This comes as a download without the need for the CD to start. It's also fully patched and doesn't use the same method of copy protection, so you can install KB3086255 without issue and play the game as normal. In the case of Amazon & GOG, the game is currently sold DRM free, meaning it starts by itself without a client service (e.g. Origin, Steam).
    During seasonal sales, you can often purchase the game for as little as $5.
     
    2)  Redeem your SC4 Serial Number

    You may be able to redeem your original Serial Number (product key), found at the back at the CD's manual. This may entitle you to a free digital copy of the game, with the same benefits of not needing other workarounds.
    With Origin you can try contacting customer support, who can usually assist with this. As well as the serial number, you may need to provide physical evidence that you own the boxed copy, such as screenshots of the game's case & disks.
    Other online retailers may also offer a similar option, so it's best to contact them directly.
     
    NOTE: Use at your own risk! 
    The following suggestions will allow SimCity 4 to run, although they could potentially expose your system to security vulnerabilities (which the update intends to bypass). Therefore it's your own responsibility should any issues arise from not installing KB3086255, however the risk level of security flaws being exploited.


    3)  Uninstall KB3086255
    If updates are set to install automatically, you may have this update already installed.

    In which case, to allow the CD game to start again, without the need for any workarounds, you'll need to uninstall the update:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24373-windows-update-uninstall-update.html
    A quick way to check if it's installed:
    Enter KB3086255 in the "Search Installed Updates" box at the top right.

    Note: To reduce the risk, it might be worth disconnecting from the internet whilst the game is running. Also it's recommended to ensure your anti-virus has the latest protection definitions.
     
    4)  Hide KB3086255
    If you haven't installed KB3086255, it might be worth hiding it from the list of updates:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24376-windows-update-hide-restore-hidden-updates.html
     
    5)  Enable secdrv.sys on demand
    However if you wish to retain the update, the below instructions (from the knowledge base article) describe how to start the service on demand, which should allow SC4 to run from the CD when you require:
     
     
    Using a script
    Alternatively, see the following link for a way to start the service using a batch file:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/simcity4/comments/3kmfmi/quick_and_dirty_solution_to_recent_windows_update/
     
    List of systems the update is offered to:
     
    Feel free to post any comments, questions or suggestions below, or in the dedicated support thread.
  2. Cyclone Boom liked an article by rsc204, What is Hex... Numbers don't hurt me...   
    Intro
    So here I'd like to just very quickly explain the differences between the Decimal numbering system, you know, the one we use everyday for money, counting, calculations etc, and Hexadecimal. I suspect, few out there would have need to use the latter of those. But let's say you want to make mods for SC4, at this point Hex (short for Hexadecimal) is something you may need to understand. It's really not that complex, you just need to think differently, because in Hex, we also use letters for numbers. Rather than try to pick that apart badly, I think it's much easier to show you how that works in practise. We'll get to that, but quickly, I should explain the basics first...
    So in SC4, we have three groups of Hex IDs for every object/item used by the game. In many cases you don't need to know anything about them, lots for example are all assigned them automatically, as are BAT models. But, certain objects you might wish to create, will require a reserved range of IDs, which you must request. You will only be able to use those IDs you are allocated, but there seems to be a lot of confusion about how to use these most efficiently. For now, I'm going to attempt to simply explain this. But I hope in future to expand this tutorial a little, along with providing some useful tools to take all the complicated parts of using such IDs out of the equation.
    So let's quickly see which objects will require a dedicated ID range:
    Game Textures for Lots or Transit Networks Prop/Building or Flora Families MMPs (Mayor Mode Ploppables). I plan to update this section with more info and links to reserve a range in due course, bear with me.
    A quick note about TGI's (ID's/IID's)
    What is a TGI? That simply stands for Type, Group and Instance. Instance IDs are sometimes referred to as IIDs.
    Type, Group and Instance numbers for SC4 are each in 8-digit Hexadecimal format. Here's an example of that:
    0x7AB50E44 - 0x01234567 - 0x89ABCDEF
    You can simply think of the three groups of eight digits as a telephone number. The game looks for an object, by "dialing" its ID number. Think of the Type, Group and Instance parts, as much like an International Dialling Code, Area Code and Local Number. Sometimes you just need the local number. Others times you'll need the Area Code as well, sometimes you need all three.
    Usually both the Type and Group IDs are set, that is to say, you have to use specific ones, depending on the type of item. So for example, 0x7AB50E44 as a Type ID, means the item should be a texture. The group ID is like a subcategory, in the case of textures, those for game networks, like NAM's roads use 0x1ABE787D, whereas Lot Textures use group 0x0986135E. But, it's the last ID, the instance or IID we're most interested in here.
    That's a unique instance for your objects. If you are provided a range, almost certainly, you will be using the IID only. One thing to mention here, each 8-digit ID above is prefixed by 0x, I should explain this before continuing. This is just the way that Hex numbers are formatted. Depending on the application used or method of entry, you may need to include it, you may not. I know that seems less than helpful, but it'll make sense when you get there. If you are having problems, always check the format, perhaps you've missed or accidentally included the prefix, either can be a potential source of trouble.
    Why Hex in the first place?
    The answer to why computers use Hex is remarkably simple, it provides orders of magnitude more "space", using the same amount of data. But rather than trying to dwell on that too much, let's jump to an example that everyone can follow.
    When you get assigned a range of IDs for the IID, you will have a "family" or multiple "families" of IIDs. Much like with our phone number example, a family is simply the first few digits that remain the same for each ID. For this section, let's assume you've been assigned the family AAAA####. Where the # characters are digits you will need to decide upon to make your unique IDs.
    Let's look at how that would work, if the last 4 digits were using a traditional Decimal system:
    AAAA0000 - AAAA0009 = 10 Unique IDs AAAA0010 - AAAA0099 = 10x10 or 100 IDs  AAAA0100 - AAAA0999 = 10x10x10 or 1,000 IDs AAAA1000 - AAAA9999 = 10x10x10x10 or 10,000 IDs
    (Note that these calculations are cumulative, i.e. each includes the # of IDs from the previous line in the total) Now, let's look at the difference, just from adding 6 new numbers, i.e. a BASE 16 numbering system or Hex. Because we only have numbers 0-9 in the real world, Hex uses A through F to represent 10 through 16, whilst only using one character. Also note that 0 = 1 in this system, which makes sense if you think about it, 0 is after all a number. Don't focus on that too much, it's not so important.
    AAAA0000 - AAAA000F = 16 Unique IDs, no big change AAAA0010 - AAAA00FF = 16x16 or 256 IDs, look at that, already we've over twice the number of IDs the decimal system would offer. AAAA0100 - AAAA0FFF = 16x16x16 IDs or 4,096, now it's four times as many. AAAA1000 - AAAAFFFF = 16x16x16x16 IDs or 65,536, and we're up to six and a half times the number.
    If we follow this through all 8 digits, in decimal you've have a total of:
    100,000,000 IDs
    That's a lot, but with Hex, we end up with:
    4,294,967,296 IDs
    So for the exact same amount of data or space used, Hex gives us orders of magnitude more IDs to work with. So Hex is a very useful system indeed. Now think about this, each object in the game must have a unique ID. By having so many possibilities, it greatly reduces the chances that two will accidentally end up the same. Almost every time this happens, it's not the computer, its users using IDs they shouldn't have.
    If you have an assigned range for something, use those IDs ONLY.
    If you are working on something without assigned IDs, DO NOT manually create IDs yourself unless you have no other option.
    Mathematically speaking, the odds of a randomly generated ID conflicting are infinitesimally small. You've literally more chance of winning the lottery. But people, unlike random generators, often think alike or like to use similar patterns. So if the option exists to have a random ID, use it. Almost certainly it will be better for you and the wider community. Conflicts can be a big pain to find when they do occur.
    Speaking of conflicts, actually, sometimes those are useful, we may want an ID to conflict with another. Why? Well let's imagine you want to override an object in the game or from another creator, because you've altered it somehow. If your version has the same ID, it will conflict with the original. But SC4 is smartly designed, if it notices this, it will only use the last item loaded with the same ID. I.e., SC4 will override objects where conflicts occur. The only caveats here are that the object must load later than the one you are overriding. Also that some very specific instances will not work this way. For example, that's why the I-HT fix must be DAT-Packed to work, you can't override that particular file.
    How to use Hex efficiently?
    For now I'm going to cut this here... consider this a WIP. But when I resume work on this guide, I will cover all you need to know about using a range assigned to you in the best possible way. Remember that numbers, Hex or otherwise increment from the right side. When the last digit reaches 9, instead of moving one digit left and using 10, we jump from 9-A. Then through B to F, only after F do we use 10, which is actually 17. That seems like a really complicated thing to understand. But try to remember, you don't need to know what the decimal equivalent is in most cases, you only need to input the correct IDs in order. So 9, A, B, C, D, E, F then 10, it's really quite simple when you don't focus too much on the actual decimal numbers.

  3. Cyclone Boom liked an article by nos.17, AutoHotkey as a Modding Tool   
    For those who are not familiar with it, Autohotkey is a fantastic open source program designed to replicate repetitive keyboard or mouse actions. As with any sort of coding, the possibilities are technically limitless, but so far I have used small script (about 20 lines) to save and open new exemplars in LeProp, and add/remove properties dozens of props in the Reader. What would have taken probably 20-30 minutes, one is able to achieve in under 5 seconds!
    As I said above, the possibilities are limitless, so I will make this tutorial as general as possible while showing examples of scripts I have created.
    This tutorial will be continuously updated as suggestions for inclusions are offered.
     
     
     Introduction 
    This tutorial is aimed towards any custom content creator who regularly, or semi-regularly has to perform repetitive tasks in the Reader or any other application. Simple text scripts can be used to quickly and easily automate such tasks. Skills learned can also be applied to any program or procedure outside of Sc4 also.
    This tutorial is worded simply so those with zero programming experience can complete their first script. This tutorial only covers a few of the basics. There are hundreds of more advanced functions for more experienced users. The AutoHotkey Help file is a great resource for this.
     
     
     Getting Started 
    Download AutoHotkey here. You will notice that there is no interface to start up and code into. This is because everything is done through simple text files.
    The first step is to identify a procedure you would like to automate, for example, adding Prop Family properties for a collection of 80 props. You will need to know exactly what you are doing for the task at hand. As you go through the process manually for the first few times, make careful notes of when and where you click, what you type in, etc. It may be helpful to write a procedure down on paper as you go.
    The second step is to create a new *.txt file that will be used for the script. It is not important at all what it is named or where it is placed. As long as its file extension is changed to *.ahk at some point, it will become associated with Autohotkey and everything will work fine.
     
     
     Sending Key Presses 
    The most basic command is the Send command. Typing
    Send asdf will, upon execution of the script, will type out asdf automatically. Not very useful you say? Yes, you’re right.
    Some special keys can be activated by enclosing their name in braces { }. Be careful here. Typing
    Send Enter will literally type out Enter as text: that is, the letter “E” followed by “n,” “t,” “e,” “r.” This does NOT have the same effect as pressing the enter button (obviously, typing “Enter” into Word will not put the cursor on a new line – the same concept applies to scripts). To simulate pressing the Enter button,
    Send {Enter} should be used instead. Other examples include {Shift}, {Delete}, {Tab}, etc.; for the arrow keys, {Up}, {Down}, {Left}, {Right} are the appropriate commands. Any of the other special keys are called using special characters instead:
    !  .......... Alt
    #.......... Windows
    +.......... Shift
    & ......... Used to combine two keys to a single new one (eg. f&g = hold “f” and press “g”)
    ^ ......... Ctrl
    < , > .... If there are a pair of keys, <! Signifies Left Alt and >! Signifies Right Alt; ! would trigger when any Alt is pressed, for example.
    From this, we can refine our script a little more:
    !u:: Send asdf Will type “asdf” when Alt and the 'u' key is pressed. A little more useful, don’t you think? Note the double colon after the statement. This demarks the start of the code that will be executed when those buttons are pressed. Adding a
    return demarks the end of the code for that hotkey. For simple scripts, it is not strictly needed, but for good practice, we will amend the code to include it anyways:
    !u:: Send asdf return  
     
     Sending Mouse Clicks 
    Every page can technically be operated without a mouse, but using 50 Tabs or Shift-Tabs to advance focus to the button you are looking for is inefficient, time-consuming, and dumb. There are numerous ways to do this; by far the simplest method is to use mouse clicks. The syntax
    Click xx, yy or, for a right click,
    Click right xx, yy simulates a left or right click at xx and yy, where xx and yy are the x and y coordinates of the button on the window you are using. Figuring out these coordinates will probably be the most time-consuming part. Fortunately, there is a tool which comes packaged with AHK that makes this process simple. Navigate to the AHK installation folder and run au3_spy.exe (or type it in the start menu).
    Among other things, the program will give you a live readout of the x and y coordinates of your mouse pointer for the current window and your overall screen. USE THE COORDINATES FOR THE CURRENT WINDOW. The “On Screen” coordinates are marked “less often used,” which is apt. You want to use the mouse position in the active window for numerous reasons, the largest being that if you drag the window around your screen, the Active Window coordinates will remain constant while the Screen coordinates will change.

     
    This is where careful notes come in handy. Going through the process manually with au3_spy open in the background, recording somewhere the x and y coordinates of any buttons needed in your task. For example, we could write a script that (in notepad) will paste something from the clipboard with minimal effort:
    !u:: Click right Send {Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Enter} return NOTE: In the example above, it is possible to use a mouse click to press the paste button instead of pressing Down 4x and enter, however, this method will be dependent on coordinates of the initial right click. Thus, many times it may be easier to chain arrow key commands instead of locating mouse positions.
     
    To transition to the next topic, suppose we have the following code:
    #s:: Click right Send {Down}{Down}{Down}{Enter}{Enter} return Which, when run on my internet browser (Chrome) will right click where the cursor is, open the save dialog box, and hit “Enter” to finalize the save. Run it, and you will notice that it does not entirely do what we want it to do. It will open the save dialog box, but the second enter (to finalize the save) does not seem to execute.
    This is a simple error in timing. When the script executes, all of the commands are sent instantaneously. This is the ideal condition; in real life, however, it takes some amount of time to do everything. Even a time of fractions of a millisecond is enough to throw your code off. If you manually right click and hit save, there will indeed be a small delay until the dialog box appears. Syncing everything may seem like a difficult fix, but the code required is quite simple.
     
     
     Opening New Windows 
    AHK sends its commands very quickly (as it is supposed to do). If click on any buttons that activate new windows or dialog boxes, you may run into problems. As mentioned above, the script will execute correctly, but not as intended; rather, it will send some (or all) of the commands in the time it takes for the message box to appear and become active. The solution is to wait until the new window is active and ready for input. Simply use the command
    Winwait, xxxxxx where xxxxxx is the full or partial title of the window. It is important to note that this string can either be the full exact title or just the first few characters. For example, if I am editing a file called nos.17_VehiculosFamilias_1c90deg.dat, I could type
    Winwait, nos.17 Using just “nos.17” is enough for the script to recognize which window it is waiting on.
    If the title is not explicitly stated in the window like it is below,

    Windows Task Manager can give you the appropriate name.

    Remember, only the first part of a window name is required. If the name is long or complex, the first few letters should suffice.
     
     
     
     Loops 
    To repeat tasks multiple times, one could either copy and paste the commands the necessary number of times, or use loops. Loops, if you are not familiar with them, will simply repeat the tasks within the braces { } a specified number of times for example,
    Loop, 4 { Send ^v Send {Enter} } would paste whatever is in the clipboard five times on a new line (another description). For obvious reasons, this method is preferred for larger numbers but is also easier to read and debug for small numbers (like 4) too. NOTE: The number in the loop control starts at 0. So if you want something to happen 4 times you will need to enter 3 (0 1 2 3), and so on. The general equation for the number of times you want to loop: n-1. If you’re interested why, (1) and (2); if not, just try and remember that.
     
     
     
     Comments 
    Comments are used for your convenience. Comments are bodies of text that the computer skips over and will not execute - their purpose is to either explain what should happen when some code executes or anything else the programmer wants to say. As such, they are never required but always recommended. In AutoHotkey, everything after a semicolon (;) on the same line will not parse (they will be completely ignored by the computer). An example:
    Click 380,590 ; Click Apply Everything after the semicolon ( Click Apply) will be ignored by the computer. It is only for my benefit to remember what each line is supposed to do. Comments in no way are required on every line. I've merely included them for sake of clarity so others can read my code.
     
     
     
     Saving and Running the Script 
    Whenever you are finished. Simply save your notepad document. If you haven’t already, change the extension from *.txt to *.ahk. Windows might give you a warning telling you that changing the extension may make the file unstable – this is generally a good warning but not applicable here and can be ignored. Changing *.txt to *.ahk will in no way change anything in the file – it will simply associate that file as an AutoHotkey script instead of a lowly text file.
    Once the file is renamed, right click on it and you should see some additional options in the menu.

    “Run Script” will make the script become active. Hit whatever hotkey(s) you assigned, and your script will execute every time you press the key(s). You will see an icon appear in your system tray. Right clicking there will allow you to do a few different things, including closing the script so it will no longer run (Exit). “Compile Script” will automatically convert the script to a *.exe file. It can be exited in the same fashion from the system tray. “Edit Script” opens the notepad file and allows the script to be edited. Note that just double clicking like normal to open the file actually has the same effect of “Run Script.” This is one of the other results of changing the file extension to *.ahk.      
    “Open” “Help” opens the AutoHotkey help documents which can be a great help in finding the correct syntax. “Window Spy” launches au3_spy.exe. See the "Sending Mouse Clicks" subsection for an explanation of its purpose. “Reload This Script” recompiles the script. If any changes were made, they will now be active. “Edit This Script” opens the notepad file and allows the script to be edited in whichever editor you assigned as default for the *.ahk extension. “Suspend Hotkeys” will keep the script active but disable any hotkeys mapped within the script. Useful if the key combination you assigned is actually used in some other program. The H tray icon will be replaced with a similar looking icon, but with an S. “Pause Script” prevents any part of the script from running until it is manually resumed. The tray icon will be replaced with a red one. “Compile Script” will automatically convert the script to a *.exe file. It can be exited in the same fashion from the system tray. “Exit” completely closes and ends the AutoHotkey process.  
     
     Examples 
    There is simply an immense amount of things one can do with AutoHotkey scripts. However, the things outlined above should be enough to complete most of your scripts for SC4 modding (they’re all I’ve used so far).
    To make your own, identify something repetitive that you do that can be easily scripted. The two examples below detail my method of solving these problems. As with coding, a multitude of approaches exist, and the only incorrect one is the one that does not work (or perhaps takes an inordinate amount of time).
     
    LeProp_SaveClose.ahk
    For those that do not know, LeProp has a peculiar bug where it can only save one action at a time. As such, one needs to close and reopen to edit multiple things on a lot. It can be quite tedious having to save, close, navigate to, and run the LeProp executable. This script is designed to fix that.
    !x:: Click 380,590 ; Click Apply Click 550,120  ; Click Save WinWaitActive, LEProp ; Wait for “Save Successful!” dialogue box Send {Enter} ; Closes “Save Successful!” dialogue box WinWaitActive, iLive ; Waits for main window to be active (“Save Successful!” dialogue box is fully closed) Send {Esc} ; Close LeProp run, C:\Program Files (x86)\iLives\LEProp.exe ; Opens LeProp WinWaitActive, Ilive ; Waits for main window to be active Send {Enter} ; Opens the “Open File” window
     
    Reader_Add_BuildingPropFamily.ahk
    #a::     ; Hit Windows-a to activate Click right 1200, 600        ; Right click in the right pane Send {Down} {Down} {Down} {Down} {Enter}  ; Select “Add Property” WinWaitActive, Property :             ; Wait for Property editor to appear Click 425, 50      ; Click to expand the Name menu Send buil ; Type to scroll list to Building/prop Family Click 250, 105     ; Select Building/prop Family Click 450, 255     ; Select Add Click 40, 635      ; Click in the Values as text field Click 40, 635      ; Not sure why I have this twice Send 0x5f85e126    ; Your prop family IID goes here Click 435, 635     ; Hit first Apply Click 190, 700     ; Hit Second Apply WinWaitActive, Reader  ; Change to Reader main window name; partial name is acceptable Click 1200, 235   ; Click on Building/prop family property Send ^c ; Copies that property to the clipboard Click 870, 1000   ; Click to place focus in the left pane Send {Down}       ; Move down to select next exemplar   Loop, 257     ; Change to number of exemplars starting count at 0: e.g. if last num is 65, use 66 { Click 1200, 600   ; Click to place focus in the right pane Send ^v            ; Paste the property Click 870, 1000   ; Click to place focus in the left pane Send {Down}       ; Move down to select next exemplar }                  ; Repeat
     
     
     Conclusion 
      If anyone has questions or needs help on their scripts, I will be happy to help. If I don't start a thread, just shoot me a PM and we can work out your problems together. Happy modding! ...
  4. Cyclone Boom liked an article by 11241036, How to make a visually pleasing slope   
    How to make a visually pleasing slope

    …exactly the way you want it, without the help of a slope mod.
    Yes, it‘s right. We’ll attempting the almost impossible: Creating a slope that looks good, exactly the way we want it, without resorting to a slope mod. The goal of this tutorial shall be: We will be (for demonstrational purposes) making an overpass with the height of 7.5m over a railway line, where the terrain rises exactly by 1.5m per city tile. (This requires making a slope that takes up 5 city tiles.)
    In this tutorial I will frequently use the term height increase per city tile. This mostly means what it implies: The height distance (im m) between the lowest point of a city tile that is not flat and its highest point.
    This tutorial is also supposed to be part of the "How to Do It" Simtropolis Challenge, Season 3. I hope posting it will suffice, if not, I'd appreciate if someone tells me.
    Let’s first start with a little thinking:
     
    1. Which possibilites do we have?
     
    We could manually raise the terrain with the terrain raising tool, either with the one that comes in the Mayor Mode Menu, or the one from the God Mode Menu. But, as you might have already thought, it seems to be impossible to make it look accurately right. We could also just simply use a slope mod. But however, you might definitely want a slope to feature a defined height increase, not just any, and perhaps no slope mod available is meeting your demands and you also might not want to leave Sim City 4, modify your slope mod, return, drag your traffic route, leave Sim City 4 and so on… Fortunately, there’s a third way to make slopes. This tutorial will be all about making a slope by resorting to this way.
     
    2. What do we need?
     
    The Network Addon Mod, which is available here. It comes with the only required tool, the Hole Digger and Raiser Lots. We will be using these lots. This tool unfortunately is a puzzle piece, which can trigger the bug that causes SC4 to return to desktop when hovering the mouse cursor over a transit-enabled lot. You might want to install this plugin that fixes this bug. Probably the Extra Cheats Plugin, which is available here. It isn’t really mandatory, but quite helpful, as it allows you to plan your slopes according to what you actually want. And, most important: The brain.exe, which is available in your head. Most importantly, you will need to use a bit of mathematics (for instance, if you want a road to take 5 tiles to climb a height difference of 7.5m, you need to calculate: 7.5m/5 = 1.5m), especially considering that with the tool we are using, you are unfortunately limited to height increases per tile of 0.5m, 1m, 1.5m and so on (it increases by increments of 0.5m). Also, please note that the Hole Digger and Raiser Lots destroy subterranean water pipes and subway tunnels – so, after using them, it is highly recommended to check your water pipes and subway tunnels, lest you end up disconnecting parts of your city from the local water supply (this happened to me once).
     
    3. The theoretical process
     
    This part is rather easy to explain: As you might have already noticed, you can use the Hole Digger and Raiser Lots to raise/lower a tile, as well as raise large parts of your terrain (for instance, to create terraces). The choice of how much you can raise/lower your terrain seems to be low, since the tool itself only offers the possibility to raise/lower the terrain by increments of:
    15m, 7.5m, 8m, 10m, 12m, 14m, 15.5m, 24m, and 30m
    You can actually increase your possibilities if you raise the terrain by a certain amount, then lower it by another amount. For example, raising it by 15m and lowering it by 14m eventually raises the terrain by 1m. And, most important for this tutorial: If you stagger those cleverly, you can create slopes.
     
    4. A practical example
     
    Perhaps a few pictures explain more than words. Let’s now focus on the goal topic of this tutorial, namely, the 7.5m overpass that we will be making exactly here:

    I’ve placed park lots to label the place where the slope will be in the future. Let’s now first grab the Raiser Tool and press TAB until we get the 15.5m raiser tool (15.5m-14m = 1.5m).

    Place it exactly here (red dot):

    This will create a mound with the height of 15.5m. Next, press SHIFT+TAB to return to the 14m tile and press END to switch to the digger piece (it should be glowing red instead of blue). Place the tool exactly on top of the mound and the result will look like this:

    Now, use road stubs to lengthen the raised terrain to the opposite side:

    I’ve marked the next spot where you should place the raiser tool again with a red dot. This will, basically, allow you to make slopes if you continue this pattern. You can, by the way, at least in this case speed up the process if you make a "wall" like this with only the raiser tool…

    …and then lower the terrain. All of this will eventuall lead to this result:

    Now, all that is left is creating a trench for the railway and then dragging the railway through it and placing the 7.5m Road overpass puzzle pieces. This is the result:

     
    5. Final words
    Looks complicated – and in fact, it is. It’s rather time-consuming, but it is the only way I’ve ever been able to figure out to make a slope exactly the way I want it. This is especially useful in making overpasses/underpasses – for instance, overpasses with not the same height increase per tile but gentle in the beginning, more steep in the center and gentle in the end, like it would be realistic (try to make this with a slope mod)…

    …and sometimes useful in making nice mountain roads like these:

     
    Especially for the latter purpose, you might want to install the Extra Cheats plugin, and use it by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+X and then typing in terrainquery to actually find out which height difference you have to deal with. That’s the point where you need to use your brain.exe: 1. To calculate how many city tiles it will take your slope to climb this difference, and 2. by how much meters you will have to raise every tile.
    That’s all for now. I hope you liked this tutorial.
  5. Cyclone Boom liked an article by BC Canuck, CAROL'S LIST - An index of SimCity 4 Tutorials and Resources   
    Commonly Available Resources Of Lovely Stuff Like Instructional Specialised Tutorials
    aka
    C.A.R.O.L.'S.L.I.S.T.*
    *Acronym created by CorinaMarie
    The following article has links to various threads, tutorials, websites etc for any new players or others who are a little overwhelmed with information overload on the Simtropolis site.
    Be aware you will have to do some reading on the threads but there is some very good information in them and I think you will find them helpful.
    Have fun with the game and happy hunting!
     PLEASE Feel Free to Make Your Own Suggestions 
     
    MODS YOU WILL WANT TO HAVE
     
    NAM (Version 35 just released) - Here
    This will actually fix bugs in the game. Even Vanilla players should have this.
    There is a custom installation available so if you don't want all the bells and whistles you can get a pared down version if your computer can't handle the entire mod.
    When using NAM it's highly recommended to get the SC4Fix.dll because that prevents crashes when hovering a puzzle piece over a TE lot. They say it's a good idea even without NAM installed.
    Here is another link to the SC4D Wiki: NAM Tutorials section. It's not anything like complete, but hopefully in time this will be home to all the NAM documentation online.
     
    INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION MOD (IRM) by @T Wrecks - Here
    FILLER SET FOR IRM - Here
    Essential for good looking industry.
    He did a fantastic job with this and I gather it took two years to complete. A big thank you to T Wrecks; it really makes a difference.
     
    SPAM - SPAM MOD for all those farms you want to create - found on the PLEX
    EXTRA CHEATS PLUGIN - Here
    You will want this for sure even if it is just to plop a commercial or industrial building in your city. Sadly Residentials cannot be plopped as they will abandon. It does way more than that!
    HiTech Industry fix. - Here What is this?
    Below is the blurb from the file download.
    Short summary: due to a presumable rounding/arithmetic error, almost every IH lot in the game didn't offer any high wealth ($$$) jobs so far, while still creating demand for R$$$ residents though.
    Tutorial for applying the HiTech Industry fix - Here  
    MARSH'S EXTENSIVE MAYOR-MODE PLOPPABLES LIST - Here
    This has stuff you are going to want and should know about.
    Note:#1: SimPeg's files along with Paeng's files are available on the PLEX, here at Simtropolis. Marsh crossed them off the list as sadly SimPeg disappeared in July/2015 due to server issues.
    Note#2: SC4Devotion LEX requires you to be a registered member in order to download.
     
    LIVIN IN SIM'S TOP TEN MODD SUGGESTIONS - Here
    Some of his suggestions are already listed here such as the NAM and the Extra-Cheats but his other suggestions are quite useful.
    City Tile Background - Blue skys with/without clouds - Here
    Replaces the ugly grid background on the edge of your city tiles. Below is a small blurb from the file download description.
    This mod replaces the default Maxis city tile background by the realistic sky texture. Sky Background Mod Day Set 1 contains 7 different textures (various colors, with and without clouds).
    You can choose only one texture at a time. Please read the enclosed readme carefully.
     
    Cori's Shoppe Series:
    A great way to personalise your region, is to install mods that alter the Terrain, Rock, Water, Beaches and Trees used. With just these few mods, you will totally transform how your game looks. Cori / @CorinaMarie has been kind enough to create a series of "Shoppe's" where you can browse through all the available options to find your perfect set. Check those out with the following links:
    Cori's Rock Shoppe (Linkys to and Pictures of every Rock Mod) Cori's Water Shoppe (Linkys to and Pictures of every Water Mod)
    Cori's Beach Shoppe (Linkys to and Pictures of every Beach Mod)
    Cori's Terrain Shoppe (Linkys to and Pictures of every Terrain Mod)
    Cori's Jolteon's Tree Shoppe (Linkys to and Pictures of almost every Tree Mod)
    C.O.R.I.M.A.P.S. - A Tutorial for SimCity 4 (Quick alternative realistic map making method)
    Want unique maps? Try this! Her tutorial for map making is brilliant! No hyperbole intended.
    I wasn't interested in making maps myself but as I was creating this article I thought I should read up on it. Who knew clouds and map making went together. I'll have to try it myself.
     
    TUTORIALS
    Check out @rsc204's* tutorials - These are really good and worth your time.
    New to the NAM? Check out my tutorials on YouTube. Latest upload: Guide to new NAM 35 features.
    *p.s. - I'm MGB over on SC4D and a member of the NAM team.
     
    Another tutorial recommended by rsc204 (not his) Tutorial here
    Note: The tutorial is playing at Intermediate level; recommend beginners use the "easy" level but will give you a good overview.
     
    The two tutorials below are actually in the Simtropolis Omnibus - I found these very helpful:
    Creating-straight-edged-coastlines-canals-and-ports by Rochfort
    Making-money-the-easy-way  by soldyne
     
    THREADS
    “Can't Find It? Ask Here” - Here
    This Simtropolis thread is a “Must Read” IMO. You will find all sorts you didn't know you wanted. As well, if you include a screenshot of a building or whatever you saw and can't find the file etc. someone will most likely know what it is and give you the file link. How cool is that?
     
    Plugins Folder Management
    Links:
    Plugins Folder
    Show us how you manage your plugins folder
    Links to discussions about managing your plugins folder - highly recommend doing this "before" you download masses of content.  If you don't think about organising this beforehand you will regret it.  Advice from someone (me) who didn't know about this and now has to spend too much time sorting things out...so be warned.
    The two threads are relatively recent and the second thread has actual pictures of people's plugin folders.  This will give you some very good information about how to manage your plugins.  These are suggestions only as everyone has their own way of thinking but it will give you an idea of how some of them manage an astronomical 7 GBs of content.
     
    CasperVG's Custom Content lists - Here
    Thanks to @Yarahi for the recommendation.
    Categorised by type - eg:
    Ports, Harbour and Industrial Railways and Stations It's a treasure trove even if it is a bit old. It will keep you busy with downloading.
    “Disclaimer”: The STEX links do not work and it is beyond the scope of this article to fix anything, however you can Google the creator's name ie: “frogface on STEX” and at least one file will come up, click on his activity, click on “files” and you will get the complete list of his files on the STEX. I tried this with 2-3 creators names and it seems to work fine.
    LEX links seem to be working.
     
    BACK TO SC4 - Here
    @CorinaMarie suggested this thread which has some more information.
    Initially when I looked at it quickly, I thought I would simply delete the duplicates, however I didn't realise there was a rather longer list than expected.
    An Example:
    @RandyE's DOS directory list (Do look up some of the files mentioned)
    (More) Basic Fixes
     
    WEBSITES WITH CUSTOM CONTENT
     
    City-Builders website by @catty-cb - Here
    Many SimPeg files and others are over there. Her website has other goodies you may want to investigate as well. Do browse!
    (to download you need to register on the site)
     
    Working Man Productions website - Here - some good content there.
    Non-English SC4 Custom Content Sites - Here
    Thanks to @Yarahi for this recommendation which was posted by @Haljackey. Some will need Google translation. Worth looking into.
    I pulled out some of the links as they were scattered about in the thread.
    Polish: SimCityPolska - Here
    French: Toutsimcities - Here
    German:  SimCityKurier - Here
    Not Sure: Capital SimCity - Here
    *Japanese SC4 site links - Here
    *Note about the Japanese sites listed above at SC4Devotion - not all of the links work and I understand they frequently change or disappear.
     
  6. louismoreira liked an article by Cyclone Boom, [INFO] Windows Update KB3086255 prevents SimCity 4 from starting   
    Following the trend of Windows 10, Microsoft has released security update KB3086255 for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 & Windows Vista.
    Due to "security concerns", this intentionally disables the service which runs the secdrv.sys driver -- a component of the SafeDisk protection which SC4 uses.
     

    As a result, this prevents the disk-based (CD) version of SimCity 4 from running, and you may receive an "Access Denied - Please login with administrator privileges and try again" or similar permissions error. Many other legacy games are also affected.
    It would seem the update simply disables the service, rather than removing secdrv.sys completely (like Windows 10 has).
    NOTE: This shouldn't impact users of the digital game, such as from Amazon, Steam or Origin, as this doesn't rely on the same copy protection.

    Full details of the update are as follows:

    Security update for the graphics component in Windows
    September 8, 2015 (KB3086255)

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/kb/3086255



    Workarounds
    1)  Purchase SC4 digitally

    Online retailers such as Amazon, GOG, Steam, Origin or GamersGate offer a digital version of SC4 Deluxe.
    This comes as a download without the need for the CD to start. It's also fully patched and doesn't use the same method of copy protection, so you can install KB3086255 without issue and play the game as normal. In the case of Amazon & GOG, the game is currently sold DRM free, meaning it starts by itself without a client service (e.g. Origin, Steam).
    During seasonal sales, you can often purchase the game for as little as $5.
     
    2)  Redeem your SC4 Serial Number

    You may be able to redeem your original Serial Number (product key), found at the back at the CD's manual. This may entitle you to a free digital copy of the game, with the same benefits of not needing other workarounds.
    With Origin you can try contacting customer support, who can usually assist with this. As well as the serial number, you may need to provide physical evidence that you own the boxed copy, such as screenshots of the game's case & disks.
    Other online retailers may also offer a similar option, so it's best to contact them directly.
     
    NOTE: Use at your own risk! 
    The following suggestions will allow SimCity 4 to run, although they could potentially expose your system to security vulnerabilities (which the update intends to bypass). Therefore it's your own responsibility should any issues arise from not installing KB3086255, however the risk level of security flaws being exploited.


    3)  Uninstall KB3086255
    If updates are set to install automatically, you may have this update already installed.

    In which case, to allow the CD game to start again, without the need for any workarounds, you'll need to uninstall the update:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24373-windows-update-uninstall-update.html
    A quick way to check if it's installed:
    Enter KB3086255 in the "Search Installed Updates" box at the top right.

    Note: To reduce the risk, it might be worth disconnecting from the internet whilst the game is running. Also it's recommended to ensure your anti-virus has the latest protection definitions.
     
    4)  Hide KB3086255
    If you haven't installed KB3086255, it might be worth hiding it from the list of updates:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24376-windows-update-hide-restore-hidden-updates.html
     
    5)  Enable secdrv.sys on demand
    However if you wish to retain the update, the below instructions (from the knowledge base article) describe how to start the service on demand, which should allow SC4 to run from the CD when you require:
     
     
    Using a script
    Alternatively, see the following link for a way to start the service using a batch file:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/simcity4/comments/3kmfmi/quick_and_dirty_solution_to_recent_windows_update/
     
    List of systems the update is offered to:
     
    Feel free to post any comments, questions or suggestions below, or in the dedicated support thread.
  7. Cyclone Boom liked an article by rsc204, Alter the driving side (LHD-RHD / RHD-LHD) of SC4/NAM   
    Please note: This Tutorial is currently a WIP (Work in Progress). Please bear with me whilst I get things fully completed.
    RHD and LHD Explained
    I figure before getting into this, it might be useful to explain just what the heck we're talking about, eh?

    RHD - Right Hand Drive
    Where traffic drives on the right hand side of the road.
    Usually this is the default setting for users in the US, Canada, Continental Europe and most of the world. LHD - Left Hand Drive
    Where traffic drives on the left hand side of the road.
    This setup is suitable for the UK, Japan, Australia and other countries where drivers use the left side of the road.
       
    How to Switch Driving Side for SC4
    CD Versions:
    Choose US English during install for a RHD Game Choose UK English during install for a LHD Game Note: If you do not have these options (not all discs support all regions), you may want to try the alternate method below.
    Digital Versions (Alternate Method for CD users also):
    Switching from RHD to LHD:
    Find the install directory, where you should have a subfolder "English". Make a copy of this folder, then rename it to "UKEnglsh".
    Note: there is no typo here, you need to omit the "i" in English.
    Then find your SC4 Shortcut, right click, select properties and add the following to the end of the target line "-l:"UK English".
    Switching from LHD to RHD:
    Find the install directory, where you should have a subfolder "UKEnglsh". Make a copy of this folder, then rename it to "English".
    Then find your SC4 Shortcut, right click, select properties and add the following to the end of the target line "-l:"English".
    Important Info for Steam/Origin Users:
    To find the shortcut for Steam versions, you must alter this in the Steam Client as follows:
    Find SC4 in your Steam Library. Right click and select properties. Click "Set Launch Options". To alter the shortcut for Origin versions:
     <To be updated>
    What if I don't have either an English or UKEnglsh Folder?
    This is totally possible and not a problem. What exactly is inside these folders? Simply just locale files, i.e. the localised or translated text of your installation choices. So if you have a folder for example Spanish, you can still copy that to another named either English or UKEnglsh, this procedure will still work and you'll even still see the Spanish text in game.
    In short, if you install a country that is supported, which uses either LHD or RHD, the game will mirror that. So if you installed a Japanese version of SC4, it would already be LHD. But if you want to change it, SC4 needs to see a locale file in a directory it expects to find. Therefore I've used English and UKEnglsh here as examples. But others will work too. The key point is that the folder exists with a locale file present that supports your choice of RHD or LHD play. Whichever language locale file you install in this folder, will be the language the game displays.
    For directories other than English or UKEnglsh to work, the target switch must be altered from "-l:"English", to the equivalent language. For details of other available languages, see here.
    Bear in mind here, not all versions include all locale files. So you may wish to play with Japanese Text, but without the locale file, you won't have the Japanese translation to do so. The disc versions had at least 5 SKUs which were intended for different regions. Some digital versions include more than one locale option, others only work based on the location you purchased it from.
    Can't you change this using Windows Registry too?
    Technically yes, but why mess about with the registry, when it's so simple to do it with the other two methods outlined above? As such, I won't be going into this here.
     
    How to Switch Driving Side for the NAM (Network Addon Mod)
    If you switch the driving side for SC4, you must also update the NAM to reflect this change. This will require running the installer once more for NAM. The reason is because the installations for RHD/LHD are completely different, so you need a LHD specific controller, which can not be simply switched on the fly.
    It's painless enough however, run the installer, select the custom installation option. The look under "driving side", make sure the NAM has correctly detected your changes. If not, you can override the default setting here:

    If you don't want/need any further changes to your previous NAM configuration, you can continue to install NAM with your new driving side selected at this point.
     
    I want to go LHD, what limitations/problems will I encounter?
    Speaking as a predominantly LHD user and NAM Developer, I can tell you LHD has been an uphill battle for me. Support for LHD in the NAM can sometimes be a little flaky, mostly stop lines on the wrong side of the road, paths that don't have LHD variants and very occasionally, features with no LHD support at all. Things are improving though, not to mention, most of what the NAM doesn't cover can be rectified by using some additional mods.
    Stop Lines / Textures
    It would probably help if I explain how LHD works in practise within the NAM/SC4. Typically for textures, you need a special set, although the defaults are mostly neutral without stop lines, so it's not the biggest problem. Not to mention, some pieces don't support mirroring, this means if you drag a diagonal from top to bottom over a road for example, the stop lines will be one way. But dragging from bottom to top over the road, the stop lines reverse instead. This is an issue that affect both RHD and LHD installs, so it's not strictly a LHD problem. Most pieces however do flip correctly, so provided you have LHD textures, they display fine.
    If you use my TGN (Terrain Grass NAM) and SWN (Sidewalk NAM)* mods, I've tried my best to fully include LHD support:
    * = Currently unreleased - However the SEN (Sandstone Euro NAM) mod it's based upon can be found on the STEX.
    Alternately, you can use the preview version of my Automated Sidewalk Mod (SWN), which can be found here.
    Of course these are big changes, but together you will get a very compatible LHD setup.
    TGN only makes sense if you use one of the four supported HD Terrain Mods.
    SEN only works with Paeng's Sandstone Sidewalks and EU textures currently. But when SWN is released, many more sidewalks will be supported, in addition to US textures also. SWN will additionally allow anyone to create a custom version, using automation. As such, it's theoretically possible to support any custom sidewalk.
    Paths
    The next problem you'll likely encounter is with paths. Typically, SC4 knows you are using LHD and simply reverses the paths automatically. However, rail-based networks were never supported by Maxis, these require dedicated paths for LHD. So any piece with Rail, El-Rail or Monorail as part of it can be affected, including overrides like HSR and GLR.
    This is a minor issue within the NAM, but there are gaps. Actually, if you find one, just let me know about it, I'll either have patched it or I'd happily do so. The paths don't break anything, it just stops automata or UDI from acting normally, the former of which I dislike intensely and am only to happy to fix.
    I am slowly pushing all these fixes into the NAM, so the more problems that get reported, the better LHD support will become.
    T21s
    You might ask what the hell is a T21? Well you know when you connect two roads in a 4-way intersection, you'll see traffic lights? The props that display In such situations are handled by T21s. By default all stop lights are on the wrong side of the road, but this fantastic mod by Maarten fixes that:
    The other thing that's on the wrong side, are the crossing barriers on Rail/GLR Crossings. Again, simply fixed by this fantastic mod by Jondor.
    Not to mention that both these mods look so much better than the default props too. There are other T21s out there, but few where LHD/RHD matters, things like placement of trees really don't need to be LHD specific.
    Custom TE Lots
    A TE is lot is a lot that allows transit networks to pass through them. This includes any station where you drag the network through it. When modded correctly, these should almost always support LHD, but sadly not all are. Some have complex custom paths, in which case if the modder does not include LHD variants, it won't work.
    However, it's a two second job to switch paths directions if you know what you are doing. So again if you do come unstuck, feel free to ask for help.
    Summary
    I really hope this whole raft of potential pitfalls does not put anyone off LHD. I wanted to explain the issues, but show that there are many solutions to them. When I started playing, I considered ditching both EU Textures and LHD for the longest time, because I was frustrated with their coverage. Instead of doing that, I dedicated myself to fixing the problems instead. As a result, I'm confident that these days things are nowhere like as bad. It does take a little more work to setup, but both EU and LHD are so intrinsic to the style of my cities, I'm glad I didn't ignore them.
    With the exception of TE Lots / NAM networks, there is no content out there that won't work with LHD. Since those are the only things that require LHD support.
  8. Cyclone Boom liked an article by andisart, Custom building foundations in 3DS Max   
    Custom building foundations in 3DS Max
    Tutorial level: Intermediate; general knowledge of BAT creation and modding required.
    There are two effective methods to create custom building foundations in 3DS Max.
    The first is creating building foundations the traditional way in the same fashion they work in the game (assigning a foundation model as a foundation in the Pluginmanager (PIM)), the other is using building and foundation as props.
    Both methods have their pros and cons:
    Traditional method
    + automatic matching of building and foundation in game
    + convenient to use in PIM when creating the lot
    - nightlights not possible for foundation (which then can create abrupt breaks if lights in scene illumine both building and foundation)
    - not suited for cases where LODs of building and foundation differ (impossible to match foundation to building in Lot Editor (LE))
    - possibility of a bug occuring requiring manual texture ID fix
    Method using props
    + nightlights on the foundation possible
    + foundation can extend beyond building as both can be matched manually in LE
    - matching process not 100% clean if LODs differ
    - extra step in lot creation needed: since building and foundation work as a prop, an empty object needs to be assigned as the actual building
    - if slope is too steep, slope can move into building because it functions as a prop. More finetuning in slope settings of lot required
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    Traditional method
    Create building and foundation as separate geometry.
    Make sure foundation geometry does not exceed ground level (0 on Z axis).

    Render seperately. When creating the LODs, make sure they sit on top of each other and have the same width and length (height can differ).
    If they don't building and foundation will not line up later in the game.
    Foundation LODs may not exceed ground level (0 at Z axis).

    When rendering the foundation LODs in gmax, make sure to select the option for "Foundation" in the BAT options tab:

    It is not necessary to render the nightview of the foundation, since nightlights don't work with this method anyway.
    Render building as normal.
    After rendering, assign the foundation model as a "Foundation" in the PIM:

    Afterwards assign the building model to a building type of your choice.
    In the properties options under the Advanced tab you can now select the building foundation you created before:

    When creating the lot in the LE you can just create your lot normally, the building foundation is already assigned to your building through the PIM.
    There is an option to change the foundation within the LE, however, when I tried that it didn't work properly, so better leave that option alone.
    Lastly, you need to make sure the lot can actually have a slope in the game. As an orientation: for the example model with a foundation of approx. 3m depth a good value for the threshold is 8. This is subject to fine-tuning.
    In the game it should then look like this, left on flat and right on slope with foundation:

    You should be done!
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Possible bug:
    If you don't see the foundation but instead just green, blue and red colors then the beforementioned bug hit you.
    In this case the material IDs of the foundation model need to be corrected. They need to say 0x00030xxx, and not 0x00031xxx or anything else.
    You can find the ID's in the Reader in the "Mats" tab of the S3D files of the model.
    Note: Every S3D file has to be fixed.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    Method using props
    The two advantages of this methods are nightlights and the possibility of having differing LODs between building and foundation.
    The following model has a foundation that is wider than the building and a nightscene which illumines the foundation as well. So this method is the prefered choice.
    Foundation extends beyond building:

    Nightlights shine on the foundation (stairs going down), windows lit on foundation:

    LODs of foundation and building have different footprint:

    You start off as with the traditional method above with separate geometry and LODs for your building and foundation.
    However, the foundation LOD and geometry must be slightly below ground level, otherwise there will be glitches with the base and overlay textures on the lot. A value of -0,01 meters on the Z axis will work (values below that don't seem to work without glitches).
    During the rendering process there are the following differences:
    - you render the foundation LODs in gmax without the "Foundation" option ticked, that is as a normal model.
    - if foundation extends beyond the building footprint: when rendering the foundation leave the building in the scene to avoid false lighting of the extened foundation parts (if building not present the correct shadows cant be cast onto foundation parts).
    - if applicable, also render the nightscene of your foundation. As with for the dayscene inlcude the building as well, especially all lights shining onto the foundation
    In the PIM assign both models as props with the necessary options. Important here are to set IsGroundModel and QueryAsMainBuilding to true for the building model.
    (Note: Options changed for foundation were only Lights and AppearanceZoomsFlag. Changing other options hasn't been tested for foundation.)
    Now, because our building is a prop, we need a blank model that serves as the acutal building exemplar.
    For example create a small cube with LODs, then before rendering delete the cube and render LODs only.
    Use this blank model in the PIM to assign to the building type you want your lot to be.
    In the LE replace building with the blank model:

    Then add foundation and building props.

    In order to be able to allign the props you need to remove the base and probably the overlay textures as well.
    It's a bit tricky to match the two, if not impossible to perfectly allign. What helps is to not emphasize vertical elements between building and foundation. So it's advised to make the design so that the foundation is more independent from the building, i.e. without vertical elements reaching from building down to foundation.
    On the other hand, if your LODs have the same width and length the matching process is very simple in LE, just allign them on top of each other and it will look perfect in game.
    After adding base textures back, the foundation should be completely covered like this:

    When you're done with the LE you can mod your lot as usual.
    Important here:
    in order to avoid any Maxis foundations from showing change the foundation ID in your lot to 0x194B1000. as with the above method you need to finetune the values for maximum lot slope. Again, a good starting point is threshold value 8. This is the more important since with the building as a prop the slope can reach into the building if it's too steep, which will not like so nice You should be done!
    In the game it should look something like this:

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
     
    Special thanks to Aaron Graham, c.p., callagrafx for their help
  9. Cyclone Boom liked an article by CT14, Gmax: How to reset viewport cameras   
    This is a method to let you reset cameras in Gmax with a right-click on the viewport as in 3ds Max. This is useful when after previewing different views with BAT scripts you are left with an ortho view locked in where perspective used to be, or you accidentally shift one of the top/left/side views into perspective and want it back.
    In Gmax, go to Customize menu > Customize User Interface > Quads tab, then drag from the left side list under "All Commands" over to the right side list, under "TRANSFORM" here.

    Here, the following items have been added to the top of the "TRANSFORM" section of the menu: Perspective User View, Left View, Top View, Front View, Separator.

    As a final step to make these changes "stick" between program launches, click Advanced Options under the right side list and click the Save as Startup button, accepting the "are you sure" dialog.
    Now you can right click in the "Camera Z5" viewport and select the Perspective view to get back to work quickly, after previewing different angles of your model.
    Other uses for this general method
    Add commonly used actions like "Boolean" and "Convert to Editable Mesh" to the right click menu, to eliminate repetitive actions.
  10. Cyclone Boom liked an article by rsc204, Modding Automata into Props   
    Have you ever wanted to use one of the in-game automata as a prop in lotting? Well it's actually really simple, all you need to do is create a prop exemplar that links to the installed automata model. You can even duplicate the model and make rotated versions. Unlike normal SC4Models, automata are special because fully 3D models are used in game.
    However to aid you in making automata as props, I've included here a template for the Bus Automata. I will use this as an example, and walk through the modifications required to make whatever bus automata you are using. But the principles explained here can be adapted to props for any S3D 3D model that you want as a prop. Note all models are S3D, but not all S3D models are the 3D ones.

     
    In the example above you can see the Basic Prop Exemplar for the default Bus Automata. The IID* of this model is 0x10620000. This is the same ID used in the Resource Key Type 0 field of the prop exemplar.
    *IID = Instance ID, as in Type, Group and Instance. For all 3D models the same Type and Group ID is normally used, hence we only need to worry about the Instance ID when dealing with these models.
    Any models which over-ride the Maxis defaults, must have the same ID as the originals. Therefore it's usually easy to know which IDs we are looking for. Vester has compiled a handy list of most Maxis Automata here.
    The example shown above references the default Bus Model. Without further modification, you can now use this prop to place your Bus Automata on lots. But in the included template DAT, there are a further 3 Prop Exemplars, linked to 3 S3D model files. These S3D files need to be replaced by duplicates of the actual Bus Automata you want to make into props. Since those included are merely templates.
    Copying your custom Bus Automata.
    These additional prop exemplars need to link to rotated models. At FAR-L, FAR-R and Diagonal positions. If you want to use these, you need to find the DAT containing your Bus Automata. Open that file, whilst keeping the included file opened as well.
    Copy the S3D of the Bus Model. Be careful to get the whole bus, not the model with the lights. Paste this below an existing S3D model in my file.  Right click the template S3D model and select "Copy Entry ID".  Right click the replacement S3D model and select "Paste Entry ID".  Right click the template S3D model, select "Remove File". We don't need this anymore. So that's one S3D model replaced with your custom one. If you do it this way, all the prop exemplars and textures from the existing model are now automatically linked together, saving a lot of work.
    Repeat the process for the remaining two S3D templates. Save your modified file. You can optionally rename the Prop Exemplars to better suit your model.
    Rotating unique model instances with Model Tweaker.
    Now we need to rotate the models, because right now our copies are still straight. For this, you need Coego's Excellent Model Tweaker. Open the modified DAT file using Model Tweaker.
    Highlight the following S3D models in turn and use the Rotate Models option with the following settings for each:
    S3D IID 0x20620000 FAR-L       -    Counter-Clockwise / Free = 18.5 S3D IID 0x30620000 FAR-R       -    Clockwise / Free = 18.5 S3D IID 0x40620000 Diag          -    Clockwise / Free = 45 Now save the file. Your props will now appear in the Lot Editor for use. Bear in mind that such props may not show correctly in the Lot Editor. But they will appear in game, all four props link back to the original model's textures. So to use them, you must keep the file with the automata installed.
    BusAutomata_as_Props.zip
  11. Cyclone Boom liked an article by BLANKBLANK, A Brief Introduction to Diagonal City Building   
    A brief introduction to diagonal city building

    So from time to time I will post some walkthroughs/explanations about creating realistic/beautiful/interesting cities. It's nothing lengthy, just simple tips and ideas. The first one is a rather nasty area of the game- diagonals.
     
    {---}
    1.

    Every player wants to gridbust- build in directions other than up, down, left and right. Vanilla SC4 only has orthogonal buildings, parks and fillers. Now the game has diagonal roads and the Network Addon Mod (NAM) has enabled players to go into FA (Fractionally Angled) territory, but the diagonal BATs and LOTs have not kept up with the various orthogonal options SC4 presents. It is possible to create several diagonal areas in a large city tile without it becoming repetitive. Ideally a city should feel like it is going in eight directions, not just the usual four.

    What about FA? I have only seen a few dozen FA BATs and LOTs. If you think incorporating realistic diagonals in a city is hard, then try exploring the dark art of FA design. It's something only the most skilled SC4 players use and very sparingly because the FA options are tiny.

    For now though let's focus on this rather nasty diagonal area. Adding in orthogonal buildings when there are diagonal roads and wide curves would look ridiculous. It's all very well laying down diagonal roads but without the means to incorporate them into the city, and masking the jagged diagonals (see the top left of the picture), then one should may as well stick to the grid in urban areas. Fear not though, there is a way to make diagonal areas look smooth, flowing AND connect with the orthogonal areas of the city.

    Note: I keep saying orthogonal, it just means right angles, or for SC4: up, down, left and right directions.


    2.

    For starters clear the area, get out the grid and start counting the width of the diagonal area- number of squares. I've found that a diagonal building on its own, complete with a back-door filler, takes up two squares/tiles of width. The thinnest diagonal city block is three squares in width. Finally, to bound a diagonal building between a road and some kind of barrier takes between two or three squares width. Note: technically two rows of diagonal buildings, which don't connect, could be considered a city block. However, I've found it usually looks pretty weird.


    3.

    This is really important because to complete a diagonal area one must know how much space there is available. There is nothing worse than demolishing the diagonal buildings because there was not enough space; it means many lost minutes as many inner-city diagonal buildings are scattered throughout the landmarks menu.


    4.

    Having laid out a street template I have gone ahead and plopped in most of the Wall-to-Wall (W2W) buildings for this area. Fuse orthogonal with diagonal buildings, this really does give the impression that the city extends in eight directions/angles. I have compiled a small list of diagonal buildings, one link for each diagonal BATter. But that's all fine and dandy; what will stop the buildings not connected to a road from becoming abandoned?


    5.

    The answer to this is pedmalls. Just one pedmall next to a building and it will never become abandoned. I don't believe this will work for residential buildings though, the Sims need to access the road network to find a job. Connected pedmalls though will ensure a connection. In the middle left you can see the pedmalls in action. For the player just starting to use these pedmalls I will say this- you will see that Maxis white pavement texture. I use a sidewalk mod and Paeng's pedmall parks to bring the sidewalks to life. A word of warning about pedmalls- when you plop them next to streets/roads the sidewalks will not appear. Plop any lot or building, on the other side, to make the sidewalks appear.

    Another consideration is the jagged texture tiles of the street. Do you want grass or pavement? Pavement works best for inner-city areas. But plopped buildings always cause the street to show jagged grass textures. Worse still, if you want to expand the pavement with pedmalls or diagonal pavements, it will only reinforce the jagged appearance. Here I will let you in on a little secret- the NAM has the SAM (Street Addon Mod). The SAM contains two streets which will always have jagged pavement textures: SAM 6 (cobbled streets) and SAM 10 (Japanese Moonlight textured streets). I use these streets often for diagonal inner-city areas. In this picture I used SAM 6. But a word of caution- use SAM 6 sparingly because cobbled streets imply old areas; pre-20th century and older. Think of the Old World and Europe, think of narrow streets and pre-modern architecture. I am building an American-styled city and I have used the SAM 6 sparingly because cobbled streets in American cities are, I believe, rare to see.


    6.

    Fillers are important for making the area behind these diagonal buildings look convincing. Diagonal buildings often come with 1x1 lots which have a variety of textures. SFBT's diagonal pavements and pedmalls can make the appearance of these back areas more uniform and consistent. I will be applying two layers of diagonal fillers: 1. a half pavement/half grass lot and 2. a half forest/half transparent texture with a fence running through the middle. This will give the appearance of the area being closed off and mark a clear separation between building, road and whatever else borders the area.


    7.

    In the bottom middle of the picture I improvised together a park since I was running out of space. I even snuck in some FA! I would say that this area has been reasonably filled in, fits in smoothly with the bordering roads and looks like another part of the city. But a special part because it is a diagonal area. Additionally the FA pavement, the numerous diagonal roads/rails and the curving highway all create the impression of grid-busting. In the area I filled can you see any jagged diagonal edges? THIS is an example of a seamless diagonal area.

    This was a small area about two hundred squares worth. This took me roughly 45 minutes to complete. For someone starting on diagonals for the first time it will take a couple of hours. Diagonals are rather tricky to get right, it does not help that the selection of diagonal fillers and BATs is far smaller than the selection of orthogonal fillers and BATs. Finally, to conclude, I recommend the following method for constructing diagonal areas:

    1. Work out the width of the area.
    2. Place in the necessary streets.
    3. Plop in the buildings; be that diagonal, orthogonal and diagonal/orthogonal transitions (BATs which are as rare as gold dust).
    4. Add in pedmalls and consider using SAM 6 or SAM 10.
    5. Infill diagonal blocks with trees/pedmalls/fillers/concrete/paths/parks/car parks. The fillers can be a mixture of orthogonal and diagonal.
    6. Extend the back area of a diagonal row of buildings with diagonal fillers, lay in at least ONE diagonal layer and then choose between further diagonal layers or extending the back with orthogonal fillers such as trees, grass tiles, etc...
    7. Fill in spare space with either more buildings or parks or something unique. Be creative with how you fill in empty squares.
     
    {---}
    List of goodies:

    Diagonal buildings:
    xannepan's content- http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=1613 (LEX).
    Glenni's content- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/22357-transition-from-long-to-short-diagonal-buildings/ (STEX).
    prepo's content- http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=1324 (LEX).
    Ferox's content- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/18809-diagonal-euro-buildings/ (STEX + his other files are largely W2W).
    zero7's content-http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=1174 (LEX).
    Paeng's gridbusting warehouses- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/27701-paengs-gridbuster-warehouses-vol01/.
    Motokloss's content- http://community.simtropolis.com/profile/422335-motokloss/content/?type=downloads_file.
    Reddonquixote's content- http://community.simtropolis.com/profile/68861-reddonquixote/content/?type=downloads_file.
    --Quite a few of his buildings have diagonal versions of them.
    Darknono35's content- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/29566-nybt-605-third-avenue-ny/.
    SimCity Polska links: http://www.simcitypolska.pl/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=47, http://www.simcitypolska.pl/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=145 and http://www.simcitypolska.pl/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=83.

    Fillers:
    SFBT diagonal filler lots http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=1197.
    MGB - diagonal fillers http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/29797-mgb-diagonal-filler-set/.
    T-Wrecks's IM IRM filler set - http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/28298-industrial-revolution-mod-i-m-filler-set-1/.
    Diagonal industrial fillers- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/27699-nightowls-diagonal-industrial-fillers-and-extenders/.

    Bonus:
    Paeng's Pedmall Parks- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/26454-paengs-pedmall-parks/.
    The latest NAM (more support for SAM 6 and 10).
    RRP Wooden Fences- http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=1888.
    KOSC diagonal parking- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/30953-kosc-sp-modular-parking-diagonal-set/.

    AND Gobias' sidewalk mods. NOTE (29/04/2017): The administrators of the BSC LEX have restored Gobias' files: http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=2850.

    PLUS grab the rest of T-Wrecks IRM fillers and while you are at all of his IRM files.

    FINALLY- If you are a real die-hard then type in "diagonal" into the LEX and STEX searches. Scour these exchanges and nab everything which says diagonal. It will probably take several hours but the reward of more variety is always worth it.
    {---}
    Additional content (edit- 16/04/2017)

    Simcoug's R$$ Diagonal Homes:
    Simcoug's Diagonal W2W Tenements:
    Rivit's RUM-http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/29279-rum-for-rrw/.
    --This is for transparent railway textures.

    MGB - Terrain Grass NAM (TGN) for Gobias Berner Oberland- http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/30159-mgb-terrain-grass-NAM-tgn-for-gobias-berner-oberland/
    --Replaces all the road network grass textures with the Berner Oberland styled grass. There is also a Sudden Valley, Appalachian and Pyrenean version of this mod to.

    Selecting the base texture replacement option for the Berner Oberland, Sudden Valley and Appalachian terrain mod installers. This goes hand-in-hand with the TGN. For Berner Oberland and Sudden Valley you can find them on the LEX.
  12. Cyclone Boom liked an article by rsc204, Instalation and Configuration of the Japanese NAM Facelift Mod   
    Introduction
    What is the Japanese NAM Facelift Mod, and why do I want it?
    Well at it's core, this mod is smartly designed to add your sidewalk onto many of the NAM puzzle pieces that without it would remain bare, or show the default Maxis White sidewalks. Support includes many features of the NAM, such as PedMalls, FLUPs, WRCs, Overpasses and much more besides. Additionally, it features many custom options that transform the general appearance of NAM features. Many of the components of the mod have different options for you to set things up just how you want them. Although recent developments have helped to avoid baked-in sidewalk textures in the NAM, this mod is still phenomenally useful for covering the legacy pieces many of us still use. As such, it's still relevant, plus in my opinion, one of the must have mods for everyone.
    PART I - Installing the Basic Mod
    In this first part I'm going to explain how to install the base of the Japanese NAM Facelift Mod. In subsequent parts, I will expand this to cover every option that is available. If you don't want or need a specific Add-On, then just skip that part of the tutorial. But keep what you do install in the same order listed here, to ensure you don't run into problems.
     
    So first off you will need to download the file "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod.zip" from here. Please rename this file "01_NAMFaceLiftBaseMod.zip" either before downloading or after you have done so. This is very important since many of the different Add-Ons for this pack have the same filename, so do this now and you'll avoid any problems later. This part of the Japanese Facelift serves as the base part of the mod, and will add your sidewalk texture onto the Wide Radius Curves (WRC) and Fractionally Angled Road (FAR) puzzle pieces (all found in the Roads Menu). Although technically it seems you can get away without using this part of the NAM FaceLift Mod, I would recommend everyone using the mod starts here, especially considering how much nicer WRC and FAR looks compared to the original bare curves.
    Before we install this mod, it is very important that we are able to test it in a simple environment, so that any problems can be tracked down easily. In short, the best practice would be to remove all the files/folders in your Plugins, with the exception of the "Network Addon Mod", "z___Nam", and your chosen sidewalk mod's folders. Move them somewhere safe where you can find them later, you now have a test setup, it should look like this:

    Temporarily moved items are shown on the left, the current Plugins folder is shown on the right.
    Note: When running SC4 with a test setup it is recommended to play in a new, blank region.
    Now open the .zip file from earlier (double click the .zip file), where you will find a folder called "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod", you need to copy this folder into your
    "My Documents\SimCity 4\Plugins" directory. Rename this folder "z____NAMFacelift" it is very important to use at least 4 underscores " _ " to ensure this mod loads after the NAM. Otherwise some of the pieces will not work as expected.
    Note: Previous versions of the NAM worked differently, using a lot of zzzs or a z# numbering system will NO LONGER WORK.
    Open your newly renamed folder and you should find 4 folders, "Props", "Readme", "Textures" and "WideRadiusCurves". Open the readme (inside its folder), and find the section "Usage". From here you need to choose which of the Wide Curve styles you would like this mod to use. Open the Props folder: You can remove "Side walk style Add on.dat" and "Side walk style.dat" ONLY if you are going to use the Overall Pavement Style option, Otherwise keep all the files inside. At this point I can also recommend installing the patch "Overall Pavement Style Fix.zip" attached to this tutorial. It fixes a display issue in Z3 which causes parts of the sidewalk to look brighter than they should. Just place this file in the Props folder, and it will work correctly. In the "WideRadiusCurves" folder keep the folder "Common". Then remove the three Wide Curve folders, that are named after the sidewalk styles you are NOT intending to use.
      Note: If your sims drive on the Right in-game, you MUST remove two files both named "zFractional Angle Road-Straight over rail LH.dat". One is located in the "Common" / "Road" folder, the other is found in whichever WideRadius folder you kept installed.
    My advice for removing such additional files during this mods installation, is to delete the files you do not need. You will have the originals in the .zip file you downloaded, should you ever want to change options. Therefore it is easier to test various options in-game (move the folders you are not using temporarily), and decide on what to use before continuing. Remember to test in a new city/region and with the "test setup" explained earlier. At this point, if everything is working then the WRCs & FAR pieces should all have sidewalks that match your sidewalk mod like so: 

    Note: You may need to zone next to such pieces before the sidewalks appear.
    For some reason it seems that one piece, the Diagonal to FAR Avenue, seems not to be supported by this mod. Support for them is provided by my soon to be released SWN (Sidewalk NAM) mod.
     
    PART II - Overpasses
    The link for the three mods discussed in this part can be found on this page.
    There are many different options to make this set compatible with a number of other (mainly Japanese Mods). To start, I'll quickly go through them:
    z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod.zip (02_NAMFaceliftOverpasses.zip)
    This is the base set that adds the new style overpasses, it will also change the white bases to match your sidewalk mod. Other_Mod.zip (03_NAMFaceliftOverpassOptions.zip)
    This file contains options for users of certain mods, see section 2 for more details. Neko_Overpass_AddOn_Lot.zip (04_NAMFaceliftOverpassNekoParking.zip)
    This file contains four new ramps, and some pieces with under bridge car parks for the 7.5m Overpasses. Note: For the files you download, you should rename them to match the filename in brackets above, otherwise you won't understand which I'm referring too later.
    1 - Main Overpass Mod
    Open the file we renamed to "02_NAMFaceLiftOverpass", then open the "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod" folder. You should also have a second window with the folder we created in the last lesson "z____NAMFacelift" in your Plugins folder. Move the 4 folders from the zip into your z____NAMFacelift folder. If this is done correctly, you will see a message pop up asking you if you want to merge/overwrite files or folders. This is perfectly safe to do, as the mod was designed to work in this way. Each separate package that contains the same textures/props has them included, so if we overwrite files here, we will only be left with one of each. So tell Windows it is OK to do this for every occurrence of the message. To save time you could tick "Do this for all current items" in Windows 7/newer. When finished, both readmes will be in one convenient location, all you need to do is select a few options. Open the "Overpass" / "T21" folder where there are four further folders:
     Select_GuardRail - Remove the file "zGuardRailProps.dat" if you do NOT want white gaurdrails on the road edge of Overpasses.  Select Pavement - There are three options:       "noBlankLotPavement.dat" - Tiles under overpasses always remain transparent.       "noTransoirtLotPavement.dat" - Show Sidewalks under overpasses, except for where transit networks cross.       "zOverallPavement.dat" - Show sidewalks under overpasses and where transit networks cross.
          Keep ONLY ONE of these files.  Select SecurityFence - Remove the file "zSecurityFence_Props.dat", if you do NOT want security fences on the bottom edge of Overpasses.  Select Streetlight - Pick the streetlight colour for your overpasses, by removing all the ones you do not want to use. 2 - Overpass Option
    Due to the complexity of some of the mods here, I will only briefly explain what each one is and how to install them.
    Open the file we renamed to "03_NAMFaceliftOverpassOption.zip", then open the "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod" folder. You should also have a second window with the folder we created in the first lesson, "z____NAMFacelift" in your Plugins folder.
    Note: Re-start at this point after installing each mod, if installing more than one.
    Japanese Signal Mod
    If you have this mod installed, which makes the stoplights appear on the left at junctions, this Add-On will add those same stoplights to the intersection pieces of your overpasses.
    To install open "Overpass" / "T21" / "Full" in both the extracted files window and also the Plugins windows. Copy the folder "zz_JapaneseSignal" into your plugins. Japanese Sidewalk Mod2
    For users of this mod, this will change the Overpasses to blend in better.
    To install open "Overpass" / "T21" / "Full" in both the extracted files window and also the Plugins windows. Copy the folder "zzzJpn_SideWalk_Mod2" into your plugins. The following three mods by Moonlight should only be installed, if you have the respective NAM features also (see image below):

    ML Shinkansen Mod (NAM Feature)
    If you installed the Bullet Train Mod (1) then you should install this Add-On. ML El Rail Mod 2013 (NAM Feature)
    If you are using ML's Alternate El Rail (3) then you should install this Add-On. ML Jap Canal (second download button on page).
    If you have installed Moonlights Canal Set, this will update the CAN-AM mod, so that the canal overpasses are replaced with models matching the ML Canals. Note: You need to also have the CAN-AM (2) installed for this to work.
    To install these mods by Moonlight, open the "OverPass" folder in both windows, then copy the folder "z_zMLModFile" into your plugins. Open the newly copied folder and remove any of the three options that you do NOT want installed.
    Note: All of the above add-ons only make sense if you have installed the respective mod. If you have not, these features may not work, or worse, cause problems with your game.
    3 - Neko 7.5m Ramps and Parking Add-On
     
    Open the file we renamed to "04_NAMFaceliftOverpassNekoParking" and simply copy the folder "Neko_Overpass_Addon_Lot" into the "z____NAMFacelift" folder in your plugins.
    Note: This download requires the following additional dependency, Jim CarProp Pack 1.2
    These items will appear in your Misc. Transit menu in-game, here is a brief guide on how to use them:
    Road 7.5m Parking
    Draw the network using the NAM 7.5m Road Overpasses FIRST. The 3 parking lots can be simply placed on existing sections of the overpass. You must then draw a line through the parking lots with the Road Tool. Road 7.5m Ramps
    To connect the ramps, the higher part should overlap an existing section of 7.5m overpass, push the piece as far as it will go into the overpass and click to place. Draw road into the ramp as far as you can. Avenue 7.5m Parking
    The Carpark lots are the same as the road lots, just use the Avenue tool to drag through them instead. For 2-tile parking just click once, no dragging needed. Avenue 7.5m Ramps
    To connect the Ramps is tricky, build the avenues so that you've got the overpasses on one side and an avenue on the other, with a big enough gap for the ramp you wish to use. If you can't plop it, keep removing one avenue tile at a time and try again. Once it's in place, connect up with One Way Road, NOT the Avenue tool, on both sides of the road. Note:
    These OWR's must be in the correct direction of traffic. You can not plop the parking lots next to each other or a ramp, there must always be at least one tile of space separating them, or traffic will be prevented from using the overpass. You can open the pictures in the installed folder, these can help you understand these instructions with visual clues.  
    PART III - FLUPs and Pedmalls
    In this part we will cover three more mods that will add your sidewalks to the FLUPs and PEDMALL pieces from the NAM. The three mods listed in the tutorial can be found on this page:
    z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod.zip (05_NAMFaceliftFLUPs.zip)
    This Add-On will update your FLUPs to match your sidewalk. z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod.zip (06_NAMFaceliftPedmall.zip)
    This mod adds a variety of different pedmall styles. z_zNAM_PedBridge_Chg_JPN_Mod.zip (07_NAMFaceliftPedbridge.zip)
    This mod contains replacement pedmall bridges. Note: For the files you download, you should rename them to match the filename in brackets above. Otherwise you won't understand which I'm referring too later.
    1 - FLUPS
     
    Open the file we renamed to "05_NAMFaceliftFLUPs.zip", then open the "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod" folder. You should also have a second window with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the 4 folders from the zip into your z____NAMFacelift folder. If this is done correctly, you will see a message pop up asking you if you want to merge/overwrite files or folders. As before, you should overwrite any files it says are duplicates and merge the folders. When finished the new readme will be in the same convenient location as the other mods. All you need to do is select the correct road textures. Open the "FLUPs" / "Road" folder. If you use US Road Textures, remove the file "zRoadTexturesEuro.dat" from here.
     
    That's it, you are done, so open SC4 and test your results. Remember to also check the Tram FLUPs, which are in the Misc. Transport Menu. As usual, you may need to zone before sidewalks appear.
      
    2- PedMalls
     
    In your Road Menu, there is an item named "Pedestrian Mall Tiles". Here are a number of single-tile pieces, that can be placed together to form a pedestrian-enabled walkway. Further information on the usage and limitations of which, are provided in the NAM documentation.
    This mod will make the first two of these Pedmalls match your Sidewalk. It will additionally replace the light pole pedmall, with a more flexible piece. Every time you plop one, one of over 20 possibilities is chosen at random. If you move away from the tile after placing such a pedmall, then return to the same spot and click once more, you can cycle through the options.
    Open the file we renamed to "06_NAMFaceliftPedmall.zip", then open the "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod" folder. You should also have a second window with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the 4 folders from the zip into your z____NAMFacelift folder. As in previous parts, overwrite any files it says are duplicates and merge the folders. When finished the new readme will be in the same convenient location as the other mods and you are ready to go and test the results. 
    Note:
    Due to the way Pedmalls are designed, if the wealth of surrounding buildings change, then any adjacent pedmalls will change design. If you want to try a different set of Pedmalls, check out Paeng's alternate version (Add On). 3 - PedBridges
    As part of the NAM pedmalls, there are some bridges included. This mod will replace those with more attractive bridges for Roads, Streets, OWR, Rail and Avenue. In case you were wondering, after selecting the Pedestrian Mall Tiles, just keep pressing the TAB key and these bridges will eventually appear.
    Open the file we renamed to "07_NAMFaceliftPedbride.zip", then open the "z_NAM_FaceLift_Mod" folder. You should also have a second window with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the 2 folders and the 5 dat files from the zip, into your z____NAMFacelift folder. As in previous parts, overwrite any files it says are duplicates and merge the folders. When finished, the new readme will be in the same convenient location as the other mods and you are ready to go and test the results. 
    Note:
    The included props for this set, are essential to it's correct operation. Just as with the PedMalls set, you can re-click to get different bridge designs. Once more though, they change if the wealth of surrounding buildings do. There is an additional Mod by Magneto, here (find the attached file  "z_ped_overpasses_signs_cancel.zip"), to remove the road signs if you dislike them.  
    PART IV - SAM and Rail Optional Mods
    Two optional mods for SAM streets and your Railway network will be covered in this part, you can download these mods here. 
    Note: The first two mods for GLR listed on this page, will be covered in the next part of this tutorial.
    z_SAM_NoGrass_Mod.zip (08_NAMFaceliftSAMNoGrass.zip)
    This Add-On will change the grass textures of 4 of the SAM sets to Sidewalks. z_Alternate_Railway_Mod_Add_On.zip (09_NAMFaceliftAltRail.zip)
    This Add-On is for users of the PEG Railway Mod, and adds a similar texture to WRC and FAR pieces. Note: For the files you download, you should rename them to match the filename in brackets above otherwise you won't understand which I'm referring too later.
    1 - SAM No Grass Mod
     
    Open the file we renamed to "08_NAMFaceliftSAMNoGrass.zip", you should also have a second window open with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the folder "z_SAM_NoGrass_Mod" from the zip, into your z____NAMFacelift folder.
    Note: This mod does not function like previous mods and needs to be given it's own folder. You should not see any messages relating to duplicate folders, if you have done it correctly.
    Inside the folder you just moved, will be 5 further folders:
       Readme    SAM2    SAM7    SAM8    SAM9 This mod will make every tile of SAM2, 7, 8 and 9 show full sidewalks without any grass. Remove the folders for those SAM types you do NOT want to be changed. You can of course keep all 4 if you wish. You can now test your results, as that's everything we need to do here.
    Note: If you use the US road textures, you will need to enter each SAM folder and delete the file "zSAM*_NoGrass_Euro_Textures.dat". Where * is the SAM network type.

    2 - Alternate Railway Mod
    This mod will add textures in the style of PEG's Alternate Railway Mod, for STR, FAR and WRC rail curves,
    Open the file we renamed to "09_NAMFaceliftAltRail.zip", you should also have a second window open with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the folder "z_Alternate_Railway_Mod_Add_On" from the zip, into your z____NAMFacelift folder.
    Note: Once again this mod needs it's own subfolder, so don't overwrite anything.
    Folders "STR" and "WideRadiusCurves" contain the STR and WRC/FAR textures respectively. Remove either if you don't need them.
    The folder "FLUPs" contains transparent FLUPs for PEG's Rail Mod. However, the NAM FLUP models do not support transparency, causing the water bug to be triggered. If you wish to use this feature, just install the attached patch "FLUPs Transparency Fix" in the same folder. Otherwise simply delete the "FLUPs" folder.
    Simple as that, you should now have nice textures on your rail curves and FAR sections.
    Note: An additional MOD created by Ebina, will also add matching rail textures where rail goes under Overpasses. You can download this from here (AlternateRail_EPOverpasses_v201a.zip), it says outdated, but it works just fine.
     
    PART V - GLR/GLR Options
    This mod changes all your GLR, including Tram in Avenue, Tram in Road and Tram in Street to have SMP Sandstone Sidewalks. Users of other sidewalk mods may also find that a warmer sandstone for their GLR network, is preferable to the original Maxis white.
     
    You can download these GLR mods here. 
    Note: The third and forth links on this page were covered in part IV above.
    z_GLR_SandStone_Textures_Mod.zip (10_NAMFaceliftGLR.zip)
    This Add-On will add Sandstone sidewalks to the GLR Networks. Opstion.zip (11_NAMFaceliftGLROption.zip)
    Contains two alternate options for the above GLR Mod. 
      Note: For the files you download, you should rename them to match the filename in brackets above, otherwise you won't understand which I'm referring too later.
    1 - GLR
    Open the file we renamed to "10_NAMFaceliftGLR.zip", you should also have a second window open with the folder we created in Part I "z____NAMFacelift" in your Plugins folder. Move the folder "z_GLR_SandStone_Textures_Mod" from the zip into your z____NAMFacelift folder.
    Note: This mod does not function like previous mods, and needs to be given it's own folder, you should not see any messages relating to duplicate folders if you have done it correctly.
    Inside the folder you just moved will be 4 further folders.
       Corefile    Readme    zEuroTextures    zzLeft_Hand_Version Users of the Euro Textures where sims drive on the left do not need to do anything further. 
    Note:
    If you use the US road textures and sims drive on the right, you will need to delete two folders, "zEuroTextures" and "zzLeft_Hand_Version". Users of Euro Textures where sims drive on the right should remove just the "zzLeft_Hand_Version". Finally users of US textures, but where sims drive on the left, need to remove the folder "zEuroTextures". Then enter the "zzLeft_Hand_Version" folder and remove an additional folder named "zEuroTextures". You can now test your results as that's everything we need to do here.
    Note: This mod will not replace many of the diagonal Tram in Avenue pieces, you may also find there are a couple of other (mainly tram in road) pieces, that will remain white too.
    2 - GLR Options
    There are two options for the GLR Mod, one which changes the street intersections of the Dragable tram to SAM 8 textures. The other adds a complete sidewalk to the tram loops, rather than the original rails with transparent bases.
    Open the file we renamed to " 11_NAMFaceliftGLROption.zip", you should also have a second window open with the folder we created in Part I, "z____NAMFacelift", in your Plugins folder. Move the folder "z_GLR_SandStone_Textures_Mod" from the zip, into your z____NAMFacelift folder.
    Note: This mod is part of the above GLR mod, and the folder you copy should be merged with it's original.
    Open the folder we just moved there are two files inside, you can remove either if you only want to use one of these mods.
     
    And that's pretty much all there is to it *phew*. Bear in mind this is a modified copy of the tutorial I originally posted on SimPeg. Since that was lost with it's demise, I wanted to finally bring it over to ST, so that new users would be able to get this essential mod working. I try to keep my tutorials up-to date, so if you notice missing images or broken links, please send me a PM and I'll fix them where possible.
    MGB.
     
    Fixes outlined above are available here:
    Overall Pavement Style Fix.zip
    NAM Transparent Rail FLUPs Patch.zip
  13. Cyclone Boom liked an article by rsc204, Slope Mods: A Brief Guide   
    I was asked about slope mods by Dreadnought today. Halfway through replying to a PM, I realised this would be better posted here for all to see. If anyone can think of something I've missed, I'd be happy to consider it's inclusion at some point. For now though, this will just cover some of the basics.

    What is a Slope Mod?
    A slope mod just adjusts the allowable slopes, at an individual network level. What does that mean?...
    Without any additional mods, if you have a big hill and draw a network, the game has a default setting for the maximum slope of each network. Maxis deliberately made this pretty unrestrictive, for ease of play. If you want to create more realistic looking cities, especially with hilly terrain, you will probably want to install a mod that adjusts the default slopes, making them more restrictive. This will help to avoid the bumpy uneven roads, that are very common when playing without such a mod.
    Each network in the game has it's own settings, that dictate how steep the slopes can be when dragging that network. These networks are:
    Street Road OWR (One Way Road) Avenue Maxis Highway Rail Elevated Rail Monorail Dirt Road (RealHighway [RHW]). It should be noted that override networks do not have separate settings. So for example, if you are using the Network Widening Mod (NWM) or Street Addon Mod (SAM), which are overrides of the Road and Street networks respectively, they will use the same settings as the base network.
    Dirt Road is so called, because it was an additional unused network left in the game's code. Whilst it has been repurposed by the NAM team to be used for the RHW mod, technically it's the Dirt Road network. From here on in, I will refer to dirt road as RHW, for the sake of clarity.
     
    A Slope Mod sounds just up my street...
     
    Hopefully if you've made it here, you'll be thinking right now about installing a slope mod. As always with mods for SC4, there are far too many options out there to go into every one in excruciating detail. They all do pretty much the same thing, but there are two important factors you should consider when selecting one.
     
    What networks does the mod support/change. How restrictive is the slope.  
    For example, you may decide you only want to have restricted slopes for some of the supported networks. So if a mod bundles everything together in one DAT, unless you know how to remove those you do not want, (really not very hard, even though it does require the Reader), you should be mindful of this.
     
    A very restrictive slope mod will totally transform how you build and terraform in game. Whereas a very unrestrictive mod, could end up looking like the vanilla experience. If you are new to slope mods, then it's probably best to try a few out and get a feel for how they affect things. Especially before you start using one in a cherished region. For example, a really restrictive slope can mean a 15m height difference, would take something in the region of a whole large tile for the slope. Obviously that's an extreme example, most of them are much more balanced for general play.
     
    For the purposes of this tutorial, I'm going to show the three mods I'm using:
     
    BRF's Tunnel and Slope Mod RHW Slope Mod BTM Slope Mod  

     
    And here is a comparison shot, to give you an example of how these changes affect your slopes. Each of the networks in this picture are transitioning from a 15m high hill. Even with the slope mod by BRF, the street network takes only three tiles or 48m to descend by 15m. For math aficionados, that's a slope of around 1:3. This is pretty steep, but probably not completely unrealistic in some places. The road takes 4 tiles or 60m by comparison, which is 1:4. As you can see, I've cunningly laid these out from bottom to top, in the order of the slopes gradients. From steepest, to the shallowest slope. If you are still wondering why you need a slope mod, this picture should hopefully show you how much nicer your slopes can be.
     
    Note: I've used Rail stubs to indicate the first three tiles that are at ground level for each network. I've also used PedMalls to help see the slopes better. As you can see, rail has the most restrictive slope of all, so much so, even with my fairly reasonable grades, it doesn't fit in the screenshot.
     
    Using your slope mods more flexibly
     
    Whilst you could have multiple slope mods for a number of different situations, that's quite a complex setup and requires you to close SC4 and move files about. Let's say I want a road to have a slope similar to that of the El-Rail network shown above. Rather than switch to a slope mod permanently with those settings, there is an easier way. Just use the El-Rail tool to draw the slope first, delete it and drag the road down your nice new slope. Using the above picture as reference, you can do this for any network which appears lower down the screenshot, than the slope you require. To put that another way, if you made a slope using the Avenue tool, but then wanted to use it for the Rail network, this would not work. Since the rail network is more restrictive. Using this setup though, you can have quite a bit of flexibility for a number of networks. Note how the Rail networks, including Monorail and Elevated Rail, have the most restrictive slopes of all. That makes a lot of sense when you think about it, since in real life, the gradients they are able to support are much less than cars and other traffic are able to deal with.
     
    Some final hints and tips
    Sim City 4 can be unforgiving at times, it's all too easy when making other changes, for your hard work creating slopes to become unravelled. Just as I have shown above, using PedMalls next to the slope, will lock-in the slope, making it impossible for development and other networks to alter them further.
    Of course, if you wanted a junction halfway down the slope, that now be impossible too. Here's where some planning really comes in handy. Using the four steps shown on the right, you can easily form intersections as part of your slopes.
    Drag the initial slope, here I am using the El-Rail tool for the slope. I have placed pedmalls and used a rail stub to completely flatten the tile where the junction will be. Now you can continue to drag your slope, in this case in two directions, from the stub. I've placed the pedmalls here before I built the road. As you can see, the slopes are working very well. Lastly, I've dragged the street tool, anything with a less restrictive slope would do, parallel to the new road. This makes the surrounding tiles match the slope used for the road. This is useful if you want to zone next to the road, or sometimes for blending into the terrain better. Note: I have not dragged next to the road junction, a gap of one tile must be left here. Because I've used pedmall to lock-in the slope, there would be no danger of messing up our hard work. But if the pedmalls were not present, dragging either of the parallel streets closer to each other, might mean you'd have to start over.
    Another useful thing to know, when zoning next to slopes, the game can actually alter the slope of the transit network. Either when zoning or when buildings develop. Often this is quite undesirable, but there is a way to avoid it. By holding the CTRL key when zoning, the game knows not to change the slopes in either scenario. It does require some thinking about how you zone each area, but is a very handy way to stop the game messing up all our hard work, to keep slopes looking good.
    If you make a partial slope, you can then level off areas using "stubs" as required. Stubs are made by clicking only once with the network tools, such as the Street, Road or Rail, in each tile. As opposed to connecting or drawing them in a line. I prefer to use rail stubs myself, because they do not feature auto-connect. This can catch you out on occasion, causing problems, especially when using the RHW or Streets tool.
    Leave these stubs in place whilst you are building your slopes, to incorporate many different things, that might otherwise look undesirable on uneven terrain. This can be especially useful for incorporating WRC's, TE connections and many other possibilities into your slopes.
  14. Cyclone Boom liked an article by SimCoug, Making lots water compatible   
    1)  Using ILives Reader, select the lot exemplar file ... you should see a screen similar to this what you see below.
    In the empty space below, right click with your mouse and select 'add property'

     

    2)  In the pop up box, select 'LotConfigPropertyWaterCompatibility' under the 'name' field.

     

    3)  In the 'values as text' field near the bottom, type '1', then push the first 'apply' button, then the next 'apply' button.

     

    4)  You should see a new property under your lot exemplar.



    5)  Finally, under the 'sub files' tab, select the 'ReIndex' option, then again under the 'sub files' tab, select 'Rebuild Directory File'. 



    6)  Last but not least, save your file (or save as).   
    Fini!!
  15. Cyclone Boom liked an article by TMTS, How to: Cars appearing in all cameras OR disappearing completely from view (better perfomance). And more about graphicrules.sgr   
    NOTE: The traffic will be processed normally. The changes are only visual.
     
     Viewing cars in all cameras, the same for pedestrians, is a good resource for better picture taking, useful for video creating and make your city appear more alive. The cars will appear very small on the maximum altitude camera, which make this just a detail. But for SC4 everything is about detail, right? However, it will make your game heavier in high altitude cameras.
     
    On the other side, you can turn off all cars and pedestrians from appearing, without ruining any other graphic options, which is good for better perfomance, but bad for pictures.
     
    I had included a picture as attachment but when the vehicles are not in motion, they are very hard to notice and I dont know how to create GIFs on big resolutions (if someone can do this please post on the comments with an example).
     
    Ok, let get this done:
     
    1) Go to your maxis Program Files folder (for example, mine is C:\Program Files (x86)\Maxis\SimCity 4 Deluxe).
     
    1.1) Find your way to open the step 2 file with the notepad. If you already know how to do it, skip steps 3 and 4.
     
    2) There is an archive called graphicrules.sgr, it can appears as "Graphic Rules" SGR archive type. If it is not there, it might be hidden. If you have just installed but never had run SC4 you wont see the file. You must had start the game at least one time to see it.
     
     

     
    3) Select the file, then right click on it. Select the an option called something like "Open with" or "Open As" or similar ( my windows version is brazillian and the message in portuguese is "abrir como").
     
    4) This screen below will appear. You have to select the notepad (the icon is a blue notepad). If it doesnt appear, you will have to look for it on the windows. If you dont know how to do that there are more detailed tutorials about it on the net, just google something like "How to Open with NotePad".
     
     

     
    5) Now open the file.
     
    6) Surprise!  Not encripted. You will see several options. The first phrase you should see is "property groups for options set via the UI", with several # coming before it.
    NOTE FOR ADVANCED SC4 USERS: I had not explored all things and stuff graphicrules.gsr can do. There are some stuff that can be explored that are not on this tutorial.
     
    7) Look for:
    "optionGroup $CarsSims
    # Sadly, we have no off"

     
     
    What graphic options do you use on SC4? It all depends on it. Normally, everybody use high. Notice that for this to work you must know which option is selected for "Car Sims" or related.
    8.1) If you want to make cars and pedestrians appear on all views, set "property minVehicleZoom" and "property minPedZoom" as 1.
    8.2) If you want to make cars dissappear completely from view, set the same options from 8.1 as 6.
    P.S. : There is an unconfirmed possibility that your SC4 is inverted on this rule compared to mine. For example, your camera "1" could be my camera "6".
     
    9) Now save your file. It is recommended to have a backup of this, however, most SC4s will re-write this file automatically if it is not on the folder.
    You probably be forced to "Save As" option and, when trying to replace the file, get "Access Denied" message. If that happens, move your old graphicrules.gsr to somewhere else then save the version you opened and edited with the exactly file name and make sure the extension keeps the same.
     
    10) Open your SC4 to notice the changes. Everytime you edit this file you must restart SC4 to apply the changes.
     
    FINAL OBSERVATIONS
     
    I had not patience to explore this archive entirely and explore all its potentials. Be free to do yourself and to share your discoveries on omnibus and/or in the comments section.
  16. louismoreira liked an article by Cyclone Boom, [INFO] Windows Update KB3086255 prevents SimCity 4 from starting   
    Following the trend of Windows 10, Microsoft has released security update KB3086255 for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 & Windows Vista.
    Due to "security concerns", this intentionally disables the service which runs the secdrv.sys driver -- a component of the SafeDisk protection which SC4 uses.
     

    As a result, this prevents the disk-based (CD) version of SimCity 4 from running, and you may receive an "Access Denied - Please login with administrator privileges and try again" or similar permissions error. Many other legacy games are also affected.
    It would seem the update simply disables the service, rather than removing secdrv.sys completely (like Windows 10 has).
    NOTE: This shouldn't impact users of the digital game, such as from Amazon, Steam or Origin, as this doesn't rely on the same copy protection.

    Full details of the update are as follows:

    Security update for the graphics component in Windows
    September 8, 2015 (KB3086255)

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/kb/3086255



    Workarounds
    1)  Purchase SC4 digitally

    Online retailers such as Amazon, GOG, Steam, Origin or GamersGate offer a digital version of SC4 Deluxe.
    This comes as a download without the need for the CD to start. It's also fully patched and doesn't use the same method of copy protection, so you can install KB3086255 without issue and play the game as normal. In the case of Amazon & GOG, the game is currently sold DRM free, meaning it starts by itself without a client service (e.g. Origin, Steam).
    During seasonal sales, you can often purchase the game for as little as $5.
     
    2)  Redeem your SC4 Serial Number

    You may be able to redeem your original Serial Number (product key), found at the back at the CD's manual. This may entitle you to a free digital copy of the game, with the same benefits of not needing other workarounds.
    With Origin you can try contacting customer support, who can usually assist with this. As well as the serial number, you may need to provide physical evidence that you own the boxed copy, such as screenshots of the game's case & disks.
    Other online retailers may also offer a similar option, so it's best to contact them directly.
     
    NOTE: Use at your own risk! 
    The following suggestions will allow SimCity 4 to run, although they could potentially expose your system to security vulnerabilities (which the update intends to bypass). Therefore it's your own responsibility should any issues arise from not installing KB3086255, however the risk level of security flaws being exploited.


    3)  Uninstall KB3086255
    If updates are set to install automatically, you may have this update already installed.

    In which case, to allow the CD game to start again, without the need for any workarounds, you'll need to uninstall the update:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24373-windows-update-uninstall-update.html
    A quick way to check if it's installed:
    Enter KB3086255 in the "Search Installed Updates" box at the top right.

    Note: To reduce the risk, it might be worth disconnecting from the internet whilst the game is running. Also it's recommended to ensure your anti-virus has the latest protection definitions.
     
    4)  Hide KB3086255
    If you haven't installed KB3086255, it might be worth hiding it from the list of updates:
    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/24376-windows-update-hide-restore-hidden-updates.html
     
    5)  Enable secdrv.sys on demand
    However if you wish to retain the update, the below instructions (from the knowledge base article) describe how to start the service on demand, which should allow SC4 to run from the CD when you require:
     
     
    Using a script
    Alternatively, see the following link for a way to start the service using a batch file:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/simcity4/comments/3kmfmi/quick_and_dirty_solution_to_recent_windows_update/
     
    List of systems the update is offered to:
     
    Feel free to post any comments, questions or suggestions below, or in the dedicated support thread.
  17. Cyclone Boom liked an article by beebs, For the Eager, Yet Overwhelmed Newcomer   
    For the Eager, Yet Overwhelmed Newcomer
    New to SimCity, Simtropolis, or been out of touch for a few years? Wondering what the heck a NAM or a BAT is? And just what the heck is up with those brown boxes?! This article will take you through the basics of registering your game, whether from a hard copy of the disc or from Steam, the essentials of Simtropolis, and a jumpstart into the world of Custom Content, to bring your game to a level beyond what you could imagine is possible.
    I would like to thank A Nonny Moose for his contributions and influences on the creation of this article.
     
    Rush Hours, Deluxe Editions, SimCity Boxes, Oh my!
    Before starting on registration information, we should make a clarification on just what the differences in these versions are. The short answer is nothing. When Maxis released Rush Hour, the expansion pack to the original SimCity 4 game, they released two versions: one simply the expansion (SimCity 4: Rush Hour); the other, a version that included both the original game and the expansion pack (SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition). It makes absolutely no difference to the game whether you own the Deluxe Edition, or Rush Hour.
    Now, just what is the SimCity Box? After the release of SimCity Societies in 2008, EA released this version which contains SimCity 4, SimCity 4: Rush Hour, SimCity Societies, SimCity Societies: Destinations, and The Sims Carnival: SnapCity. The story here is the same with Rush Hour and the Deluxe Edition: it makes absolutely no difference.
    In the event that you happen to be a long time player who does not own Rush Hour or the Deluxe Edition, it should be noted that the expansion pack is required to make use of 99% of the custom content available on this site. I will explain that further later on.
     
    Registering and Updating the Game
    Before playing, you need to pick up the two (2) necessary EA-released patches to your game for it to work correctly. In recent months, it has been noted that the official EA SimCity 4 Deluxe site has been taken down. So as not to leave these players hanging, some mirrors have been set up containing the assorted official updates.
    Important note: If you purchased your game from an authorized download source, you may not need any further updates. Check the properties of the game's .exe file. If it indicates you have version 1.1.641.0 or if you already have version 1.1.640.0, you will not need further updates.

    For the standard, PC version updates, check out here:
    SC4Devotion
    Own the Mac edition and can't open .exe's? Check out this thread:

    Bought your copy off Steam?
    Steam comes pre-patched! Yay!

    You should apply the two updates to the game in this order: EP1 to fix bugs, and the BATupdate to allow nightlights.
    When you are finished, you should check to see that the version number of the .exe file for the game in Program files/Maxis/Apps has been updated to 1,1,640,0. This is proof that your updates worked.

    Optional Upgrades and Tools
    You may notice on the mirror sites, a number of other downloads available. Among these are new landmarks, new rewards, the Lot Editor, and Building Architect Tool (BAT). These are all optional, and are not necessary for the games function or the addition of but do add content, and functionality.

    So, just what do these BAT and Lot Editor things do?
    The Lot Editor allows you to construct new lots, using the buildings, textures, and assorted prop pieces included within the game. The Building Architect Tool (BAT) allows you to construct new 3D models, and is what is used to create new buildings, trees, seawalls, spaceships, and everything inbetween. Using the Lot Editor and the BAT in tandem, the world is yours to create.
    It should be noted that both these tools have a sizeable learning curve. We do have a number of tutorials here to get you started, the most notable of these being the BAT Essentials Tutorial in the Omnibus.
     
    Unleashing the Game
    At this point, your game is ready to go! The appropriate patches are in place, and the game is as optimized as Maxis and EA could make it.
    So where to now?
    Many players are happy to play the game without any custom content, relying simply on what Maxis has provided. It is indeed very possible to create beautiful cities using only what content Maxis provided. But, many would also point out that the game can be so much more. In the 8 years since the release of the game, the amount of custom content available brings the game to an entirely new level. Players can recreate their hometowns with stunning accuracy, watching roads twist and curve, with even the correct corner market in place. Players can build in the desert, in futuristic settings, or on Mars. The custom content community has taken a finite game and given it infinite possibilities. And the question I'm sure you're asking by this point is, where do I begin?
    There are a number of exchanges available for you to browse. Here on Simtropolis, the STEX is perhaps the largest, and one of the oldest exchanges devoted to SimCity 4. The other primary English exchanges are SC4Devotion LEX and the PLEX (now on the STEX). You could say that SC4Devotiion is the high-tech site, and that Pegasus is the theme site, and you wouldn't be far wrong. Most community exchanges both require free registration in order to download, as Simtropolis does. The SimCity community expands far beyond English speakers, however - other communities include German and Japanese sites.
     
    Growable? Ploppable? What?
    As you browse the exchanges, you'll notice these phrases on assorted files throughout. The answer to this could not be simpler. A growable lot means that it will grow on its own with the appropriate zoning, as if it were any building created by Maxis. Ploppable lots allow you to plop the building as if it were a landmark. Some ploppables retain their commercial/industrial nature and provide jobs as though they were grown.
    It should be noted that at early points in the exchange, you may run across residential ploppables.
    These do not work, and will abandon some time after plopping.
     
    So, I've Downloaded Some Stuff. Now what?
    Installation of downloads really is simple. This article by our fearless Dirktator outlines the process of installation. Some downloads now come with .exe installers, which simplifies the process even more - the installer does all the work for you.
    The next question you may have is where the heck do I find my ploppable items in the game? Some items will be pretty intuitive as to where they are located - Educational facilities are located in the Schools menu, policing facilities in the Police menu, etc. But what about that great skyscraper advertised as a ploppable? Those will generally be located in the Landmarks menu. Nearly everything else (parks, churches, etc.) will be located in either Parks or Rewards. And if you just can't find it anywhere, consult the ReadMe that should have been included with the download. It should state where it is located in the menu system in game.
     
    Brown Boxes, Everywhere!


    Uh oh! This may look tragic, but it doesn't mean your game is wrecked. You just missed downloading some dependencies. Wait, what? Dependewho?
    Dependencies are separate files that a lot uses to complete itself. If Download A cannot find the appropriate dependency, it reverts to the lovely boxes you can see in the picture above. It may not look like it, but each lot is actually filled with bits and pieces of other files to make the bigger picture. The trees, the benches, the garbage cans, the swimming pools you see on assorted lots are all individual pieces, that come together to create a house, a park, or a shopping complex.
    All downloads on the SimTropolis EXchange are required to list all dependencies needed to work properly. If you've looked everywhere and just can't find that dependency, or if the dependency package is locked, please make a post here, and one of our friendly members will help you out.
    You may have further questions in regards to dependencies. As with installation, I would like to refer you to another article that goes into much further detail. The Dependency Debate by north_country_dude goes into great detail about the pros and cons of dependencies, and answers a few of the common questions you may have about them.
     
    So what should I download?
    Building tastes vary from person to person. Personally, I prefer the drab, 1970's concrete buildings, while many prefer the sleek, glass modern skyscrapers. Because of this, I'm not going to recommend any particular buildings - but I can recommend some mods that are considered the best and the greatest.
     
    Network Addon Mod, or the NAM. This mod was first conceived with the discovery of an unfinished road network Maxis left in the game. The talented modding community has taken this and turned it into entirely new road networks, gave us roundabouts, and allows us to create true metropolitan cities with roads to match. This can be found here on the STEX, or at SC4Devotion.

    If you're interested, here is the "official" NAM FAQ Thread with links to the different parts used with NAM & answers to common queries. If any issues come up while using NAM, there's also a support thread here. Various NAM Team members including Tarkus frequent the thread and gladly help out.
      A terrain and water mod. When you first launch the game, the grass and water seems realistic enough. A bit off perhaps, but hey nothing can be perfect. Not true - modders have been able to create new textures for the terrain and the water, which makes the Maxis textures look like off-coloured drawings. Cycledogg has made a number of varying terrain mods, and there are assorted water textures on the STEX, each varying for the kind of water your city needs.
      SimMars. Certainly this mod is not for everyone, but this article would be deficient if it weren't mentioned. SimMars transforms SimCity to Mars, complete with textures, buildings, road networks and music to match. The work done on this is exceptional, and it sits with the NAM as the greatest projects to improve the game that SimCity has seen.
      Everything else listed here. Livin in Sim has created this top ten list of great mod's that should be essential. A few other members have listed their contributions as well, and I would highly recommend them all!
    From there you could look through the CJ section to get ideas or run through the STEX and other exchanges to see if anything "jumps" out at you. As I mentioned before, if you can't seem to find something, make a post here and someone is bound to help you out.
     
    How do I win?
    SimCity is different from most games, as there is no set end point. Your success is based on goals you set. For many, a balanced budget and proper governance of a successful city without "godly" intervention (ie. cheats) makes a successful game. For many, the accurate recreation of a real life city is the goal, generally with the assistance of assorted budget cheats. For others still, it's simply to create the best city they can. Set your own goals and adjust as you achieve them.
    For all flavours of player, however, we do have an assortment of tutorials here on Simtropolis to help you on the Omnibus. The sections that will interest you most are SimCity 4 Reference and SimCity 4 Tutorials. Check back from time to time, as we do continue to add articles!

    Hopefully, this article has helped you get started. If you have any further questions that this article didn't answer, the folk in the forums and the chatroom are always eager to help, and any member of the Simtropolis Help Squad would be more than happy to give you some tips to the right direction.
     
  18. Cyclone Boom liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs Interview with Jasoncw   
    As one of the most prolific, experienced BATers out there, my next interviewee worked hard to bring the Midwest to life in SimCity 4 with the Barry Sanders Project, which has since become mipro.  Calling the great (and underrated) American state of Michigan home, Jasoncw has been BATing for longer than I have even been active.  His buildings are realistic, detailed, and look just awesome in my cities, and probably yours, too!  So, without wasting any more of your time, Jasoncw!
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: My first involvement with SimCity was the original. I had to have my brother start the game using the command line in DOS. I’d start a new city (usually Jasonville or something similar), plop the airport, and then fill an area with roads, because a cluster of 4-way stops looked like a parking lot. And then I’d have no money and that would be the end of it. For SC2K I was old enough to actually play the game.
     
    Before SC3K came out I was so blown away by the graphics that I told my friend the resolution was so high that you could even see inside the windows. That wasn't completely true, but compared to SC2K's graphics it might as well have been. I had a demo of the game where you could build a city, but only for about 20 minutes before it would kick you out, making you start over next time. I played it for hours on end before finally getting the full game.
     
    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
     
    Jasoncw: Considering how rarely I actually play the game, the answer would be BATing, but the truth is that if it weren't for the community I wouldn't be BATing, so it’s the community that keeps me coming back.
     
    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
     
    Jasoncw: I don’t, but I do have fond memories of certain early plugins. The Liberty Building, Buffalo City Hall, and Niagara Mohawk Building, by Sabrethooth78, the Chicago Tribune Building by Prepo, and Western Investments by ONeil_1. Pegasus’s Garbage Chute was both very useful and very funny.
     
    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
     
    Jasoncw: Despite being an active SC4 player and a lifelong SimCity fan, my reason for coming to Simtropolis had nothing to do with SimCity! I wanted to learn 3d modeling and found gmax, and needed the BAT gamepack in order to render things. I came to Simtropolis for gmax tutorials.
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: SimMars was close to my original intention of modeling science fiction stuff, so I started making things for SimMars, but it didn't take very long for me to start making normal 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?
     
    Jasoncw: I’m pretty well organized and I keep everything, but somewhere along the line I lost a lot of my early stuff. Below are the earliest things I was able to find, I believe from fall and winter of 2004. My first upload was in spring of 2005. The BATs to the left were intended for SimMars.
     

     
    ST: Many of your BATs are released under the mipro (originally BSP) banner. For those who may not know much about mipro, can you elaborate on what you guys are about/how you are organized and what your role in it is?
     
    Jasoncw: mipro is dedicated to recreating buildings from the US State of Michigan, including Detroit.
     
    During the time that I was getting into BATing I was also getting into Detroit’s architectural history and development news, the BSP thread was very active, and a lot of the early BSP members were the same people I was interacting with on other urbanism/Detroit forums. So a lot of different things converged, and it was inevitable that I got involved. Unfortunately by the time I was producing BATs the original group was pretty much gone, but nofunk came along soon after, and JBSimio did our early custom queries.
     
    ST: Your list of uploads is populated by a large number of buildings from the Midwest. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction?
     
    Jasoncw: To be honest I didn't realize that until you pointed it out! Obviously my mipro BATs are from the Midwest, but the rest I think are just a coincidence. A lot of my fictional BATs are loosely based on buildings from outside of the Midwest.
     
    ST: What is the thought process behind choosing what to create next?
     
    Jasoncw: It’s a combination of how much I like the building (or a style, if I'm going to make a fictional building), how well it fits into the game’s 16x16 meter grid, and how easy it would be 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?
     
    Jasoncw: I hate lotting, and I avoid projects where I have to do it.
     
    When I make a BAT I start off with the facade, which is the fastest, funnest, and most immediately rewarding part of the process. After that there’s a point where the entire building is modeled and the BAT is no longer a cluster of floating facades, and it’s nice to see the building come together as something close to its final form. I also love seeing the transformation from an untextured BAT to a textured BAT. And of course I like plopping the building in the game for the first time.
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: You’re going to throw me into an existential crisis! Why do I BAT??
     
    I absolutely appreciate the positive support I get. BAT releases are like a party, and comments, ratings, and downloads on the STEX are like confetti. In my thread, comments and upvotes can be encouraging when I’m struggling to be productive. And then there are times, especially during the Trixies, when people go beyond typical commenting and write very kind things. Most people go through their entire adult lives rarely experiencing the good will and appreciation that I experience regularly. People have been very generous to me.
     
    ST: You released your first BAT in 2005. 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?
     
    Jasoncw: My early BATs. For those, each one I worked very hard on, learned a lot, and I was improving a lot from BAT to BAT. My first uploaded BAT was Poirer's Pictures, and I probably spent 6 hours in Photoshop just trying to make a peach color that was similar to ones used in the game. Fisk Insurance was similar, I spent absurd amounts of time literally matching my BAT’s facade with Maxis’s Fisk Insurance. I’m also proud of Fisk Insurance (and some WIPs that never made it) where I first developed my glass texturing technique.
     
    After my early BATs, I’m most proud of the Penobscot Building. I started it in 2006, restarted it several times, and finally pushed through the difficult task of finishing it in 2014. Even counting my early BATs it’s the most hours I've put into a BAT.
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: There were things like LEGO and drawing, but SimCity most specifically lead me down the path to pursuing a career in architecture.
     
    But unfortunately I’m very unemployed. If you work in architecture, are located somewhere in the world where I can get by with English at first, and would like to consider hiring me, please contact me (I’m not joking!). I bring the same dedication to quality and personal engagement to architecture as I do to BATing.
     
    On a personal level I've become friends in real life with Nofunk and a few others, and I've enjoyed online friendships as well. If you get along well with someone here and live in the same area I recommend meeting up.
     
    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
     
    Jasoncw: The most important thing is that you have to feel it in your heart that you are capable of making great BATs.
     
    Then you have to understand that at first you’ll be bad, but you need to be patient and keep working and learning until you’re good. You can’t accept ‘bad’ as your final result.
     
    And then, more practically, start a BAT thread, follow other people’s BAT threads, and learn how to find existing information (be a resourceful self-learner). And don’t be afraid to ask questions. As long as you've done your due diligence, BATers won’t mind helping you out, and it’s a nice way to build relationships.
     
    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.).
     
    Jasoncw: Over the years there have been certain CJers whose work I've enjoyed, but I don’t follow city journals closely enough to be able to list names without the risk of leaving out great CJers that I’m simply oblivious to. I like CJs that contain realistic urban areas, and that do a good job of using my BATs. I've never been able to get into story-based CJs though.
     
    You've probably noticed that most BATers don't follow city journals, and that most CJers don't BAT. I respect the few that are able to do both well.
     
    I enjoy seeing my BATs used, so if you’re happy with the way you've used one of my buildings, you’re welcome to post it in my BAT thread.
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: When I see Odainsaker's BATs I think I get a glimpse of what it’s like for other people to see my BATs... especially those years-long “almost done” WIPs! Nofunk is an obvious answer to this question. Aaron Graham is very important to my cities. Vlasky does a great job. Don Miguel was very influential early on.
     
    My plugins folder is in a perpetual state of disrepair, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised about the types of things I have in there.
     
    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?
     
    Jasoncw: If you’d have told me all those years ago, I would be surprised. But moving forward from year to year there’s never been any indication that the community was about to die. At this point SimCity 4 has gotten so big that even when the day comes that it’s not very active, I think it will still linger on for a very long time.
     
    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
     
    Jasoncw: I mostly play older games, a lot of RPGs on the SNES. The Earthbound/Mother series is one of my favorites. I play StarCraft 2 casually. I play the guitar. I like architecture of course. I used to draw and it’s something I’d like to get back into.
     
    Thank you very much for your time and for your great answers!
     
     
  19. Cyclone Boom liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs Interview with bixel   
    SimCity 4 is a game that appeals to people living all over the world who want to build cities in wildly differing styles. Some have added content to enhance American-style building all the way back to colonial times. Others have created BATs for building classical European towns. Our next interviewee helps to make this possible with his incredible Hong Kong BATs. bixel's buildings are essential downloads for making any city with a hint of East Asia. They are what rice is to fried rice. They are what Peking duck is to Peking duck. They are what bell peppers and beef are to bell peppers and beef. Anyways, let's give a warm welcome to bixel!

    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?

    bixel: I think it was 2 years after SC4 was released. It was actually browsing the internet on SimCity 3000 modding that got me to purchase Simcity 4, and through that of course lead me to simtropolis.

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

    bixel: The aspect to SC4 which extended the play-ability was actually [url="http://go.simtropolis.com/6242628/http://www.simpeg.com/forum/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=6"]Sim Peg's Garabage Chute!!! Without this mod, SC4 was similar to the earlier versions of the game, chasing down fires, fixing water problems, etc etc. While it is always a good method to keep players engaged with random scenarios I don't think SC4 would have been able to evolve into the "City Garden Building" game, which I feel is what the community actually uses SC4 for. Hence, city diaries and hours and hours of ocd-like city pruning and beautifying that we enjoy.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?

    bixel: The 1st plugin were the official ones, like South Koreas 63 building.

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

    bixel: That thirst for more buildings led me to Simtropolis to download more.

    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?

    bixel: NDEX plugins were, by far, the biggest influence. I had by then been learning 3DS Max and had been playing with the BAT at the time, so I felt I was ready. I wanted to do something NDEX-y but since commercial-office buildings were being made by several power artist groups I decided to try my hand at residentials.

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

    bixel: The 1st release was a terrible, terrible residential skyscraper called the Liberte. It was very tall and pretty ugly, but had some detail that appealed to some users. This encouraged me more to release better and do better. It went through 3 versions I think in over 4 years. [NMUSpidey: Here's a link if you're curious.]

    ST: Your list of uploads is populated entirely by Hong Kong buildings. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction? Are they based upon real buildings, or are they true-to-life recreations?

    bixel: Since I was committed to adding much needed high density residentials to the game, I needed to find a style that was both realistic and exciting to look at. I had a couple of attempts of making fantasy buildings but they were ugly, so I used the internet to find inspiration. Right away I found Skyscraper Diagrams website and Hong Kong is the 4th featured city of architectural drawings. I chose HK because it was not Chicago or New York, which I felt the content was already saturated.

    ST: Most of your BATs are released under the HKABT banner. For those of us who may not know much about the Hong Kong/Asia BAT Team, can you elaborate on what your role with them was?

    bixel: Once I latched on the HK style, immediately my work improved and I met some friends through my work and other HK content that was being uploaded. Particularly Paul v. Montfort, Simfox and T-Wrecks. Paul and I formed the team and quickly gained some very amazing talent to help us populate the game with some visual style and content. My main role was simply encouragement and teaching some skills and methods when needed.

    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?

    bixel: When it comes to making content for Simcity 4, it is very different from making content for almost any other game. Simply because SC4 is NOT a 3D game but very cleverly uses images rendered at fixed angles to create an illusion of 3D, the camera is orthographic at preset angles. Because of this you must render your building at all 5 zoom levels at 4 different directions. For large buildings this can take hours, and if your lighting is bad, you have to render it again. My biggest projects were so huge I had my PC running for 2 days! By far the rendering process is the most tedious and stressful for me. Simply modelling the building gave me the most joy.

    ST: You released your first BAT in 2005. 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?

    bixel: For a short while I had many dedicated followers in HK sending me photos of buildings when I asked for them. They were very enthusiastic and would travel to many different locations to snap a few photos. Several times they would reply that they live in the building and where overjoyed to see them in game. That meant a lot to me and I was glad to bring them such joy.

    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?

    bixel: Making 3D custom content for SC4 has definitely allowed me to acquire new skills and land me some pretty interesting jobs. I think game modding is really a good starting point for any hobbyist looking to increase their skills and enter the industry. Counter-Strike is still one of the most played multiplayer games and it was a mod, same with DOTA.

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

    bixel: My advice to anybody wanting to make content for SC4 or any 3D game is to watch and learn from Lyndia tutorials. I learned by myself and I picked up some very bad habits that are hard to get rid of. The worst is modelling solely from splines... because of that I would have to re-train myself to do anything other than a box. I can't do characters or curves at all! Broaden your ability to work in different platforms, Modo is very popular now as well.

    If you want to do more than just SimCity 4 seriously consider sharpening your UV-Unwrapping skills, upcoming generation games like Cities Skylines are different from the way they did things for SimCity 4. It will also help you find a job in the industry.

    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.).

    bixel: I don't follow any CJs but I do check them from time to time for inspiration and how to use NAM effectively . My favourite CJs are of course the HK re-creations and stuff with a lot of clever train and public transportation schemes.

    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?

    bixel: Most BATs I download are Euro/Asian style. I have no idea why but I can't do NY or Chicago stuff. I also am keen on parks and city beautification sets. I think there are many new content makers out there that have greatly increased the quality of output thanks to members ability to help each other and of course Simfox's BAT tools.

    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?

    bixel: I am NOT surprised SC4 has lasted this long. This game appeals to young and old and is also casual and OCD (Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder)(like Minecraft) at the same time. It is such a great game. Additionally, I don't want to get too socio-economic here but SC4 is able to expand with new players with an old PC or laptop, they don't need to spend $2000 on a new rig. For this reason i expect to see more people playing in many different parts of the world. New content in 12 years? Sure, SC4 still looks great, and the skills of the custom content makers have surpassed the default content.

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

    bixel: My biggest hobby right now is programming games, hopefully I will mature to an indie developer! games I find myself playing mostly are Guild Wars2, Hearts of Iron III, and World of Tanks. I also enjoy small indie games like FTL. I'm really looking forward to Cities: Skylines. I have been following the dev guys closely and I will be making content for it.
  20. Cyclone Boom 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!
  21. Cyclone Boom liked an article by NMUSpidey, STEX 100,000,000 DLs Interview with Sabretooth78   
    While it has been a while since he has uploaded a file, our next BATer was creating custom content in our website's infancy. He was creating BATs before it was cool. Well, no, that's not true, creating BATs was always cool. Anyways, Sabretooth78's efforts center around the area he calls home in western New York state, with many BATs coming from Buffalo including the impressive Buffalo City Hall. Go ahead and check through his files, there is sure to be something there that you'll find interesting. But not yet, we have an interview to conduct. And now, Sabretooth78!
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: I pre-ordered SC4, so I had it right at the beginning. I remember learning of it and pretty much instantly abandoning SC3k in anticipation. My involvement with the game dates back to SC2000 Deluxe on the Macintosh.
     
    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
     
    Sabretooth78: The fact that it's constantly changing; that you can come back to some point in the game a million times and it doesn't get boring. There's always something to fix or redo. It's like a sandbox or model railroad, only faster.
     
    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
     
    Sabretooth78: Not quite, but aside from the official download packages it was probably an "American Flag Park" from the official exchange.
     
    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
     
    Sabretooth78: I don't remember, there must have been some reference to it on the official forum. I remember having a tough time trying to figure out where things were so I left. A few months later (would have been August 2003) I came back and finally registered.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: BAT had recently been released and I was curious about it but hadn't done anything with it. I was living in New Hampshire at the time and had a postcard tacked to my wall at work showing an aerial view of Buffalo, NY. I remember looking at it and thinking the then-HSBC tower should be a pretty easy building to pull off.
     
    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
     
    Sabretooth78: The first thing I actually modeled was a set of highway sound walls. There was a lack of good BATed walls available (there were some that had been made using Maxis props in Lot Editor) so I decided to attempt that myself for something to cut my teeth on.
     
    Unfortunately, any screen shots I had are long gone. I've changed ISPs several times in the intervening time. Haljackey had pulled up a couple images of an interchange I was modeling for the NAM back in 2005 over on SC4D, but I'm not sure if any others still exist.
     
    ST: Your list of uploads is populated by buildings from Buffalo, NY. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction?
     
    Sabretooth78: A few reasons. First, it's my hometown and where I now currently live, so there's the familiarity aspect. Another reason is that for being a relatively small city it has a pretty rich architectural heritage so there are plenty of different styles available to choose from. Another reason is simply that nobody else was doing it. This was around the time that quite a few city-centered groups were forming, with the Barry Sanders Project (Detroit, MI) and the Portland, OR groups probably being the most well-known.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: My least favorite part is that I tend to get too particular and bogged-down in details. Blowing a dimension of some feature which just cascades into other problems down the road is frustrating and I just don't have the freelance creativity to run with it; also as I like to build recreations as faithfully as possible given the limitations of the game. The best part, aside from finally uploading it and seeing it in use is just seeing it progress and develop.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: Ultimately my motivation is to see the finished product in the game, to build something that nobody else has. Comments are usually satisfying but it's not the basis of motivation. I build for myself, but I figure if I'm doing that then why not share it? It's quite satisfying to see the models in CJs, the "Show Us ..." threads and even if one just happens to show up in the background of some completely unrelated post like a bug thread or something.
     
    ST: You released your BATs in 2004. 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?
     
    Sabretooth78: My favorite is easily Buffalo City Hall. It's a very complex building and it was a lot of fun to make. I'll venture a guess that it was probably one of the premiere BATs available at the time of its release.
     
    I don't really have any interesting stories about the BATs themselves, but they did indirectly get me my current job. A few forumers at Skyscrapercity had seen my work and eventually through one of those connections I started at my current position in 2008. Same line of work as before, just a better place to work.
     
    ST: Have you considered going back and revisiting any of your old BATs, or perhaps adding to your works?
     
    Sabretooth78: Yes, that was actually the basis of deciding to get back into BATing. Honestly, when I returned to the game almost 2 years ago, I didn't really want to have anything to do with it, but eventually the itch returned. I currently have 2 all-new projects in the works (shown in my thread) and another which I've only put one night in so far in order to get started. Ideally, I would like to release all-new models for all of my old BATs to bring them more in line with the current standards for BATs. Things have come a long way since 2004.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: Not so much, if anything it's the other way around. I deal a lot with CAD on a professional basis, so if anything it enables me to be able to pick up a 3D modeling package and be able to find my way around perhaps a little better than if I didn't have that background. Interestingly, we do have a guy in the office who spends a lot of time making renderings in Sketchup and he was pretty impressed with what I showed him. That said, it's a hobby and not something I think I'm good enough to actually be able to do as a career.
     
    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
     
    Sabretooth78: Take your time, do the tutorials and listen to feedback. The software is intimidating, but you don't need to know it all right away, and for the most part you'll never touch 90% of its capabilities no matter how advanced you get.
     
    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.).
     
    Sabretooth78: My favorite CJs at the moment are probably packersfan's "District of Wenzel" and wwetom1's "Stone Creek", but there are several that I follow on a consistent basis. I like journals that are realistic, believable and generally parallel my own playing style. I get bored with skyscraper jungles and prefer to see gradual transitions, well-planned out developments and good transportation networks. As a roadway engineer myself, that's easily the most interesting part of the whole game to me.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: RDQ, spa and the mipro team are the ones that come to mind immediately but I've been following most of the active threads on-and-off over the past half-year or so. Apparently, my most recent download was Don Miguel's "Storefront Church". I haven't been able to get into the game much this year on account of gearing up my CJ reboot as well as just being generally busy.
     
    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?
     
    Sabretooth78: If I had told asked 12 years ago that it would still be going strong today, I might have been surprised but really there was no point along the line where it seemed an end was in sight. I think the secret is that SC4 is, despite its many shortcomings, the best and most complete offering in the genre. I think there probably will still be new content 12 years from now, but who really knows? While the community doesn't seem nearly as active as it was back then, it's still strong, new content is constantly coming out and there always seem to be old-timers returning. I think as long as people can still run or emulate Windows XP, it'll be around.
     
    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
     
    Sabretooth78: I like to play Civilization IV and the Rollercoaster Tycoon series - other old games. Civ is nice for when I want to get in-depth with a game without all the "overhead" of SC4 in the form of maps, spreadsheets, etc. Yeah, when I play SC4 it's all-in. As for RCT, I haven't actually played that in a while but it's up there with the classics. I used to also be big into MS Flight Simulator, and have occasionally thought about trying out X-Plane.
     
    Other hobbies mostly involve projects around the house and eventually I want to get moving on a model railroad. I have over $1000 worth of kits in a closet that I've just never gotten to.
     
    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?
     
    Sabretooth78: I think that just about covered it. I can't think of anything else at the moment.
     
    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!
     
  22. Cyclone Boom liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with T Wrecks   
    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?
     
    T Wrecks:  I think I first borrowed SC4 (pre-RH) from a friend a short time after its release, liked the graphics, but had a hard time really getting something going. It was before even the first patch, and I guess the radical change in terms of cost management made things difficult for me initially. In SC3K, if you could afford zoning/plopping something, you could afford its upkeep easily. In SC4, all of a sudden plop/zoning cost was nothing, but maintenance cost... jeez, a few basketball courts too many could break your neck. Then I lost SC4 from my radar somehow. When the RH addon came out, I wanted to get both finally, but while the basic game could be bought anywhere for a few bucks, RH was incredibly hard to come by. I finally managed to buy both in 2004, though, and immediately started to get really involved in the game. I know SimCity right from the start - played the original SimCity first with a friend on his PC/XT with amber monitor, later on my own Amiga 500 - and even later on my first PC. Naturally, SC2K followed. I also liked a "multiplayer" edition of SC2K where you could buy land on which to build your city. The SCURK (SimCity Urban Renewal Kit), which enabled you to replace in-game buildings with your own (or other peoples') hand-drawn stuff is also the first time I discovered custom content for SimCity. I dipped my toe in it a little, but it didn't amount to much. SC3000 was the logical next step, and SC3K.  I also got the BAP (and later the BAP+) to make custom buildings. SC3000 marks the first time I went hunting for custom content on the 'net in addition to fiddling around with it on my own PC. I didn't contribute anything, though.  
     
    ST:  What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
     
    T Wrecks:  What I like most about the game is that the city behaves almost like something alive. You control many parameters, and yet a city can always surprise you. Turn your back on a totally uninteresting spot to take care of something, only to find something totally surprising has developed in the meantime. That, and the fact that it is totally not based on levels, scenarios, a story, fixed goals or anything - you have zillions of possibilities, and the resulting cities and regions are as individual as your handwriting. I also like how relaxing it can be. Sometimes I like to sit back and just look at those tiny cars driving around in my city. Last but not least, the vast modding possibilities keep me coming back more than the actual game these days. There is always so much more you could add...  
     
    ST:  Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
     
    T Wrecks:  Phew, that's a difficult one. I don't think I have THE favourite building. I like several that are very well done IMO, even if they are not too spectacular. Many of the small family homes are really decent IMO. Other buildings I (almost) always like when they pop up include White's Clothier, Brown & Sons (a very rarely growing building), Mace Co., Schnittjer Printing, Strang Deeds Office Tower, Kanarowski & Co., Futa Consulting, Goldman Building / Hourvitz Accounting (really pretty much the same building), West & Co., The Pratt, Hi-Rise Apts (Chicago tileset), Simon Manor, Jolly Manor, Wallace Manor, The Long Building, Butts Condos, Russo Condos... The lots are mostly pretty poor, but Maxis had to make ends meet with a severly limited amount of props and textures - not to mention that RCI lots needed to accommodate several buildings of a family. When you mass produce, you can't work wonders... I know that myself because some of my projects (such as the IRM) also involved a high degree of mass production. 
     
    ST:  Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
     
    T Wrecks:  No, I'm afraid not. No idea, really.  
     
    ST:  What led you to Simtropolis at first?  Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
     
    T Wrecks:  I was looking for custom content, of course! I must have visited Simtropolis long before I registered, because when I finally signed up, I know I had vague memories of the site, even though it looked much different back then. I don't remember any particular first impressions (it was more than 10 years ago, give me a break!), but I do remember that I found not only a place to download stuff, but also a promising community. When I commented on a CJ posted by an Austrian player, michi5, he invited me over to the German-speaking community - an involvement that would lead me to becoming a member of the SFBT. However, I'm no longer active in said German community, but I never felt like leaving ST.  
     
    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?
     
    T Wrecks:  I don't think so. It was probably more the sheer possibility. As I mentioned above, I also tried my hands at the SCURK for SC2000, the BAP / BA+ for SC3000 / SC3000 Unlimited, and I also tried other custom stuff before. After playing through Duke Nukem 3D, for example, I was more interested in the level editor. I have also made waypoints for a Counter-Strike (1.5/1.6) bot before, and the Half-Life level editor is not unknown to me, either. Guess I just have a tendency to get fascinated by editors and their potential. It's not so much about any particular item.  
     
    ST:  Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you lotted using the LE?  Do you still have a screen shot?
     
    T Wrecks:  I don't have the slightest idea, let alone a screenshot, sorry. :/  
     
    ST:  You’ve been creating unique and beautiful lots for quite some time, but if members were to search your library of STEX files they would only come up with about 2 pages worth.  Yet, you are constantly creating the lots for many of the great BATers on this site.  So best guess, how many of your lots are on the STEX?
     
    T Wrecks:  Argh, another difficult one. Counted in STEX uploads (and not in actual .sc4lot files), I guess there may be up to 100 in addition to what I have released under my own name. Add to this a further 50 or more over at kurier.simcityplaza.de, where I used to be involved in the modding, lotting, translation, and packaging of uploads. All the NDEX files you can find there, for example, have been tweaked and often re-lotted by me. In the end, I don't care about numbers that much. I'm rather glad that I could help several great BATters to get their stuff on the STEX!  
     
    ST:  As a lotter myself, I find lotting can put me in a peaceful Zen state.  What do you enjoy about lotting and what keeps you firing up the LE after so many years?  
     
    T Wrecks:  Peaceful Zen state? Hmm... I don't really know if I share this feeling. I guess it can be close to that if you're not doing a boring routine task, and if things are going together all right. Other times, it can be tedious and a bit boring. The actual act of lotting is pretty ok, I guess, but what motivates me most is when I see how I can make the lot complement a building as seamlessly as possible, and - in the case of a re-lot - when I check out the lot in game and see how it's much better than the original lot, at least according to my taste. Ultimately, it's not the process of lotting itself, but the satisfaction of getting a result that conforms to my taste and liking that motivates me.  
     
    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 lotting process?
     
    T Wrecks:  Sometimes it's the very beginning: Sitting in front of an empty lot and not knowing what to do with it, trying out many designs that don't work... sometimes it's repetition: one down, five more versions to go... However, the parts I like least in general are all the activities that don't have to do with the actual lotting: determining stats, recording them in my ever growing database, fixing file properties, and worst of all: documentation, packaging and uploading. I really hate that part. Did I mention making menu icons? No? Well, then: making menu icons.  
     
    ST:  Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy?  How much do comments in the download section mean to you?  Do you get a thrill seeing your lots pop up in CJs?
     
    T Wrecks:  Hm, I figure since I have taken so much and since I mod the heck out of my plugins anyway, it would be only logical and fair to give something back and share some of the stuff that I have on my HD anyway. It's nice when you post a question because you're trying to do something, and people not only help you, but also take interest in that project of yours - that's how it started for me. That's what convinced me that my stuff may be interesting for others initially. These days, what I enjoy most - more than STEX comments, although I do appreciate these! - is players actually using something I made. It shows me that I haven't uploaded those files for nothing, and as a bonus it's often interesting for me to see how players will use my creations. Sometimes I see applications that I would never have thought of myself.  
     
    ST:  You have been lotting for almost 10 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?
     
    T Wrecks:  Hm, I kinda like the relots of . IDS Offices may also be one of my better lots. But that's only the optical side of affairs...On a larger scale, I'm most proud of the fact that I contributed a little bit towards taking more care of the stats of BATs and lots, and I also think the is not too shabby because it has expanded into an entire lot family - and a big family at that! Now that I think about it, those low-wealth mega lot sets I made based on 645978's buildings were pretty popular in their time, and my first modular set of lots. I still have fond memories of them - and even a screenshot from the day the first one became a STEX feature! I hope you can excuse the crappy quality and low resolution:
     

     
    Fun facts or stories? I'm afraid there are none that I remember, and if I don't remember them, they probably haven't been all that interesting in the first place. It's really boring work, haha.  
     
    ST:  Has your experience with SC4 custom content had any influence on your personal or professional life?  Are there any skills that you have developed over your lotting career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
     
    T Wrecks:  Yes, there has been some degree of influence. The German SC4 community has brought me into personal contact with several people, and I mean not only contact over the 'net. What began as a pleasant, but absolutely unintended side product evolved into a chain of acquantainces and friendships up to and including a girlfriend - these days, we're no longer together, but still good friends even after many years, although she's the only one who remains from that time. So much for personal life... As far as my professional life is concerned, I'd say that there have been indirect influences. Obviously my incredibly spectacular skills at pushing props around in the Lot Editor and clicking on boxes (*gasp*) have not led to my running a blue chip company now, and neither has my ability to convert from decimal into hexadecimal on a very low level (2A = 42) without using a calculator resulted in a position as CIO. Lotting IS a pretty trivial task, after all, and there's not much "RL carryover", as you might call it. However, hanging around in an English-speaking community for 10 years is certainly not detrimental to your language proficiency, and as a professional translator, I can always use that. In this respect, my hobby lotting/modding has certainly been more helpful than jazzdance or collecting stamps. Private life and job life aside, such an international community also gets you into contact with a very broad variety of people and widens your horizon. This may not result in any direct benefits, but I still think it can be an important lesson for life in general.  
     
    ST:  What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first lot?
     
    T Wrecks:  Three words: Start a thread. Next to that, be prepared to read a lot.There's vast knowledge floating around, but it's not very well catalogued. Old hands may be able to direct you towards useful resources, or they may point out stuff that's hard to find in writing out there. Starting a thread is very useful to gather feedback, and if you're doing it right, you will learn more than by merely asking. How so? Well, if you ask something, you'll get a solution - hopefully. If you present your progress in a thread additionally, people may suggest things and mention stuff you haven't been aware of before. They may cause you to consider solutions that you wouldn't have considered by yourself or that you didn't even know about. Ultimately, however, you should take care to do what you like best, or you may end up being torn between different options favoured by your thread followers and not knowing which way to go.By the way, the Lot Editor comes with a manual. It's in your root SimCity 4 directory, and Maxis doesn't really rub its existence in your face, but it is there. This should be enough to teach you the basics. The rest is patience, ideas, and some hints found here and there and/or provided by other community members. You should also be prepared to use , and possibly as well.Finally my catch phrase: Always start with an empty plugins folder! Get to know your props and textures, and use them sparingly.  
     
    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.).
     
    T Wrecks:  I don't really follow anything in particular. If it's on the frontpage and catches my interest, I'll take a look. Otherwise, not so much. It's not that I don't respect the CJers' work (many of them are amazing!), but I'm simply not into that "following a CJ" thing. I do find myself taking a look into Ln X' "" pretty often recently because we now have CJ features, this particular CJ is often featured these days, and Ln X often uses stuff I made. It's a good way for me to check out some of my stuff "out in the wild". If it wasn't for the features, however, I might not even know that this CJ exists.  
     
    ST:  On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following?   What was your most recent download from the STEX?
     
    T Wrecks:  All of the above! Seriously, if there's a BAT thread, then I'm following it. Usually when I turn off my notebook and go to bed, not a single BAT thread here on Simtrop has unread replies.I don't exactly remember the most recent download because I don't download that regularly these days - no need to because I haven't actually played the game in years. I do download whatever is relevant to my interests every now and then, but the intervals tend to be long. One person I'd like to highlight is C.P. aka Cycledogg. Especially from a lotter's point of view, his work is awesome. In addition to great BATs, the use of custom foundations for slope-friendly buildings and the "invention" of shaded props (which I like to use a lot), he has organised his props into hundreds of prop families, making it so much easier to add variation to a lot. There are cars that appear and disappear at certain times of the day or have a certain probability of appearing in general, there are prop foundations, there are seasonal props, there are angled versions... and he even took it upon himself to go through most of his flora props again, re-render and re-organise them, updating the packages, and even making cohort files for the prop families so that a proper name shows up in the list instead of a hexadecimal ID. That's an insane amount of work, and I can only begin to imagine how much dedication, diligence, and persistence must have gone into that. He's by far not the only one who has made valuable contributions for the community, but I think he deserves particular praise from the perspective of a lotter. 
     
     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?
     
    T Wrecks:  Not that surprised, actually. Open up a game to additional custom content, make that game one that ages well (i.e., a game that doesn't depend on visual effects that much), fail to release a successor deemed worthy by the fans, and you have a pretty decent chance of a fan community taking things into their own hands. I'm also thinking of Chris Sawyer's Transport Tycoon right now, a much older game than SimCity 4. It has been "re-released" as fully open source software, OpenTTD, and the community keeps making great mods, just like the SimCity crowd. These can't be the only examples, either. Another aspect that certainly helps is the attitude that all content is offered free of charge, made by fans, made for fans. This eliminates barriers, helps to attract newcomers, and ensures good circulation of the files. Otherwise we may have a situation where downloads rot away behind paywalls on several private websites that become inactive as soon as their owners disappear from the community, and eventually vanish as well. I've witnessed some pretty nasty quarrels over paid downloads for the Sims games. That was quite a shock for me because I thought all custom content communities were like the SimCity crowd more or less.12 years from now? EA will surely have released a great successor in the vein of SC4 by then! Ok, silly jokes aside: 12 years are a lot, so there really is no telling. I see more than enough strength in the community to last for another 5-6 years, that's for sure. We'll see about the rest. With C:S being out now, I sometimes get that sad feeling that the SC4 community might fall apart sooner than we think. While I'm happy for all those players who eagerly anticipated a true "3D SimCity" experience and wish them tons of fun with this new game, I have always had other priorities for a SimCity successor (deeper regional concept, non-rectangular lots, procedural lots, shopping and tourism traffic, surface water, mixed-use buildings, defined W2W areas and other zone-specific regulations, non-rectangular maps / definable city limits, to mention just a few ideas). This is why C:S is not simply a great relief for me: "Finally 3D!" "Finally no longer SC4!" - just like many players may think. For me, however, it also marks the possible departure from something that I have always liked, and that ended up playing an important role in my free time. It marks what may be the autumn in SC4's life cycle, and this thought makes me a little sad and nostalgic. I know I will miss the discussions in BAT threads when it's finally over. But here's to hoping that we'll be able to keep SC4 alive as a long-time niche game!  
     
    ST:  Speaking of 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?
     
    T Wrecks:  I don't even have a PC capable of handling it, and won't have for several months. Even if I had one, my primary goal is getting back to actually playing SC4 again after a long hiatus. So no, no first-hand experience with C:S yet. From what I see, it looks rather different. So far, the overall aesthetics don't really appeal to me since I tend to prefer highly detailed 2D over low-poly 3D. This may change as further mods are being made, but for now it's not causing me to hyperventilate. It is, of course, one of the games on my "watch list"!  
     
    ST:  12 years later, many are calling this game the 'successor' to SC4 and the city building genera.  What are your thoughts?
     
    T Wrecks:  Apparently the creators did a much better job than even EA themselves and managed to accommodate many of the primary wishes of the SimCity fan community. So yes, I guess it could be called a "successor" in spirit - just like the Age of Wonders franchise can be called a "successor" of Microprose's Master of Magic, or Freelancer a "successor" of Wing Commander: Privateer. We'll know more once the dust settles, and I won't comment very much without having played the game myself.  
     
    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?
     
    T Wrecks: Not in the foreseeable future. I got a few months' worth of SC4 content on my 'to do' list, and then I want to PLAY some SC4. Afterwards, and when I have a better PC (if I even buy one instead of rediscovering yet another retro game that captures my limited free time!), we shall see. The retro gaming aspect really holds some importance. You see, the last time I bought a game was in early 2014 - and it was a retro game! The last halfways up-to-date game I bought? I don't even remember that. More than 5 years ago for sure. This is just to explain what some may perceive as an odd lack of enthusiasm. I just have a tendency to enjoy old games with a high replay value, and since I don't have much time on my hands, me buying a new game is something of a snowball in hell event. I must say, though, that the possibility to build intersections and turn the entire structure into a pre-fab element strikes me as an admirably smart move by the developers. Looks like they also thought about the aspect of getting these assets into the game, with some user-friendly features such as using the editor itself to take a screenshot of the finished asset and introducing it into the game as the menu icon for this new asset - quite a progress compared to the tedious process of making in-game icons for SC4 content! I can guarantee, however, that you won't see my name attached to a C:S upload any time in 2015. Maybe later.  
     
    ST:  Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from lotting/modding and SimCity?
     
    T Wrecks:  Although I did play first-person shooters when I was younger, I always had a liking for round-based RPGs and strategy games, 4X games, occasionally some RTS. Notable examples of other games than SimCity that I really liked are Master of Orion 1 and 2 (round-based 4X in a sci-fi universe), Master of Magic (think of Civilization 1 with heroes, spells and magical creatures) and its inofficial successors, the Age of Wonders franchise. Transport Tycoon (these days, OpenTTD) certainly deserves a mention, as does the Earth 2150 franchise (innovative 3D sci-fi RTS with modular units, research, experience system, ammo, etc.). I'm so retro! In my defense, however, I can say that they just don't make them like this any more, and that's not a lie. What I'd give for a subtly improved Transport Tycoon with up-to-date graphics! And don't even get me started about SimCity... Away from my SimCity-related hobbies, I occasionally build scale model ships - non-military stuff like ocean liners or tug boats because they're more colourful and involve fewer repetitive tasks. I have enough of that in the Lot Editor! As a counterpart to that indoor stuff, I really like to ride my bike out of the city and go swimming. I prefer lakes over pools because I like to be out in nature, and preferably not surrounded by people. Too many people around me make me aggressive in the long term, so it's a great way to recharge my batteries. I also like to go hiking. Doing sports in a way that's focused on performance (faster, longer, higher) is not my way at all, but I need to be on the move occasionally.I also like music, so I go to live concerts and festivals a lot.  
     
    ST:  What question have I not asked that I should have?
     
    T Wrecks:  Hm, maybe about my future plans or my goals in terms of SimCity. Tucked away deep inside my mind is that little hope that one day I might actually play the game again. But the way I know me, after a few days I'll find that something is sorely lacking, and go back to the drawing board...
  23. Cyclone Boom liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Tarkus   

    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?
    Tarkus: I first picked up SC4 in the spring of 2004, sometime after SC4 Deluxe was released. I had intermittently had some experiences with the SimCity franchise before that, first with the SNES version in 1991 (my dad pulled an all-nighter with it!), and sometime in the late-90s, with Streets of SimCity, which happened to include SCURK (a stripped down, sandbox SC2000). I wound up spending more time with SCURK that with Streets (which was notoriously buggy, sadly) and meticulously plotted out a multi-tile region over several years, using TXT files to map out the coordinates for neighbor connections.
    When I ran across SC4 by chance at the store, and saw they had actually implemented multi-tile regions, it was instantly a must-purchase. After that, it was a game where I went through spurts of intense play. I didn't know there were mods out there until I ran across Simtropolis by accident in December 2005, and the rest is history.
     
    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    Tarkus: I think the two biggest things are the open-ended and (for all intents and purposes) infinite nature of the gameplay, plus the massive amounts of custom content out there, and the ability to add even more yet. SC4 isn't one of those games you “beat”, and I've never really considered any of my cities “completed”. While the advisers may try to push you in one way, I've always found it's ultimately up to the player to decide the goals, and that's something I find appealing. Believe it or not, I've never built a city over 350,000 population, because I've never really had the desire to build a skyscraper jungle.
     
     
    ST: Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
    Tarkus: That's a good question. I'd have to say it's probably tied between a few of the high-tech buildings, like the Accelerator and Cryo Testing. They're probably the shiniest buildings in the Maxis defaults, and I was always happy to see them pop up back when I played vanilla.
     
     
    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    Tarkus: It was NAM Version 19, which I picked up about two months after its release in late 2005, shortly followed by the first RHW alpha. Absolutely blew my mind to have all that transportation functionality added.
     
     
    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first?  Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    Tarkus: I recall getting bored one day in December 2005 and browsing the fansite listing at the official EA Maxis SimCity 4 site. I had run across SimCityCentral and a couple other sites quite some time prior, but there wasn't much there on the custom content front, and I had kind of forgotten about my search for mods and such until I decided to look again that day. Eventually, I found and clicked the link to Simtropolis, and it was like SC4 Disneyland, with a bunch of custom content I had only dreamed of—like the NAM—plus a forum that seemed way more level-headed than some of the ones I'd followed for other games. Eventually, I bit the bullet and officially joined the site in February 2006.
     
     
    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content.  Was it a particular mod, lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    Tarkus: It all started with the NAM. From there, I downloaded quite a bit of custom content, mostly BSC Team stuff in the suburban vein. I was really fond of building suburbs, but found Maxis' building selections on that front lacking. It was probably the potential of the then-brand-new RHW mod (the “R” still stood for “Rural” then), and the burgeoning roadsign development stuff, like artforce1's Generic Highway Sign Development Project (GHSDP) and Ryan B.'s stuff that got me thinking of getting into the content business myself.
     
     
    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you attempted to mod?  How did it turn out?
    Tarkus: My very first upload was a pack of roadsign lots, with Oregon-style “speed” signs—without the word “limit” as has been the practice in my home state for many years (though ODOT now seems to have a Commie plot afoot to convert us to the standard “Speed Limit” verbiage). They came as standalone grass lots, plus “space saving” transit-enabled lots. They ultimately got a couple thousand downloads, as I recall. I eventually deleted them as “youthful indiscretions”, as they weren't modded all that well, and there had been some controversy about the effect of TE lots on traffic simulation in the late-00s.
     
     
    ST: The NAM team was founded way back in 2004, and you joined shortly after in 2007.  What was it like being a new member of the team?  As a freshman on the High School swim team, we had to run through the school in nothing but shoes and our speedos.  Was there any NAM initiation of the new members?
    Tarkus: Being brought onto the NAM Team was just like the sense of “SC4 Disneyland” I felt when I first discovered ST. I had actually been working on RHW content for about 4 or 5 months before I got added to the team. One day in February 2007, I looked in the old private topics area that used to be on the site, where I had an ongoing thread with jplumbley, Ryan B, and beskhu3epnm about this crazy thing called an NWM, and I noticed the sudden appearance of a “NAM Private Discussion” in there. I was basically added to the team without a peep, which made it a very pleasant surprise. That silent addition is still a tactic we'll sometimes use when adding new members to the team—most recently with Durfsurn.
     
     
    ST: What was your first contribution to the NAM?  What motivated you to spend the hours digging through the inner workings of SC4, attempting to make it a better game?
    Tarkus: The RHW project had really caught my attention when I first arrived in the community. At that point, it was still in what we know today as Version 1.2—a rough alpha with a very limited feature set, but I could tell it had potential. At that point, it wasn't even technically part of the NAM, but a loosely affiliated side-project. There was pretty much just one thing I really wanted to add to it—an Avenue-over-RHW-4 piece—and maybe a couple more along the same lines. Eventually, I ended up releasing those pieces as part of RHW Version 1.3 in April 2007. I found that once I had invested the time into learning the ropes, I got quite a bit of satisfaction out of it, so that one puzzle piece turned into 8 years of NAM development for me.
     
     
    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 moding process?  What about your favorite?
    Tarkus: As far as a least favorite part, I don't think anyone enjoys bugfixing, but from a personal standpoint, I've gotten to the point where I don't really enjoy making standard puzzle pieces anymore. That process has become rather tedious. Fortunately, because we're on the cusp of getting the FLEX stuff dialed in, and I haven't had to make one in some time. As far as favorite parts, it's always things like getting the first prototype of a new override network or FLEX piece into functional shape—enough that I can use it in an actual city. It's been quite fulfilling getting the new elevated ramp interfaces in place for our upcoming NAM 33 release.
     
     
    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 creative uses of the NAM pop up in CJs?
    Tarkus: What's kept me motivated is my vision for projects like the RHW and NWM that I had right as I was first starting to mod. There's still stuff I'd like to add to the game, and there probably will continue to be for some time. Most of the comments in the download section we get now for the NAM are tech support-related, but looking back over my infamous April Fools' upload, the , I really get a kick out of those comments. I still get a thrill out of seeing people playing around with stuff I designed in “Show Us” threads, CJs and MDs, and I still remember how ecstatic I was once the RHW's Modular Interchange System first starting showing up there. Especially once McDuell got a hold of it.
     
     
    ST: You have been moding for the NAM team for over 7 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?
    Tarkus: It's 8 years this month, which I still find hard to believe. I'm probably the most proud of the modular interchange concept for the RHW. Before that time, just about every other post in the old NAM Requests thread was asking for new highway interchanges, but the problem was that the process of making the big pre-fab interchanges for the default highways was ridiculously labor intensive. With the clean slate of the RHW, it made sense to build up a new approach, which did everything differently from the Maxis Highways. Rather than spending 6 to 12 months developing a single interchange to add to the NAM, the modular approach broke things up into smaller chunks that could be easily produced, and then assembled by the users into thousands of different combinations. This allowed all the would-be highway engineers to take matters into their own hands, creatively, rather than sitting around in the request thread. While some folks out there may not be fond of the RHW's complexity, once the RHW 3.0 release in 2009 added elevated components (thanks to the modeling efforts of my good friend Swamper77), and true RHW-to-RHW interchanges became possible, without having to fudge things with tunnels or one-way roads, the whole request backlog fell away. We only see maybe one Maxis Highway interchange request every couple years now, and the lessons we've learned from RHW development have paid dividends with implementing the NWM and other components, so I feel that it's been an enormously successful transit modding initiative. And we could probably keep adding to it for many years to come.
    Probably the funniest fact I can think of relating to NAM development was the nickname we had for the RHW neighbor connector pieces. Before we added those, the only way to get commuter traffic to continue onto the next city tile with a multi-tile RHW system was to build a loop connector, a visible perpendicular stretch of road that went between the two halves of the RHW and broke the override, in order to get around a limitation in the game's simulation engine. It did the trick, but it was rather unsightly. Internally, on the team, as the present-day NC pieces you know today were being developed, we called them NREEs: Nicole Richie Effect Eliminators, as Ms. Richie was well-known at that point for driving the wrong way on a California freeway, much as the sims using loop connectors did.
     
     
    ST: Has your experience moding had any influence on your personal or professional life?  Are there any skills that you have developed over your moding career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    Tarkus: As far as my personal life, not really—pretty much no one in my RL know about my SC4 activities, and I actually keep that on the downlow for the most part. Professionally, my experiences with modding actually inspired me to take about two years of computer science coursework while working on my doctorate, and I've been putting some of those skills to use of late, developing Java-based music theory utilities.
     
     
    ST: I understand that you delved into the world of local politics recently.  Do you think your interest in city simulations has played a part in that?
    Tarkus: Yes, I ran for a city council seat in my home town, and while I didn't get in, I was pleased with getting 10% of the vote as a virtual unknown. And I'd say it's the other way around for me—I think my interest in local politics, and particularly, in transportation and land use policy, was what got me into SC4. I spend quite a bit of time researching those issues in my spare time, looking over a lot of technical documents—transportation system plans and the like—and that's heavily influenced my approach to the game, as evidenced by Tarkusian Cities. I'd also say that the policy research I did during my campaign will influence my approach to the game going forward—for starters, discovering the dismal safety records for Oregon's multi-lane roundabouts will cause me to steer clear of those in the future.
     
     
     
    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was interested in joining the NAM team?
    Tarkus: The way that most of us have gotten onto the team is by virtue of starting on transit modding passion projects on our own, and then invited to the team once we've shown enough skill. My advice is to find something you're interested in seeing in-game, reading up on the various modding tutorials and the like (which are far more abundant than when I started), and learning how things work. We're usually happy to provide some technical assistance and answer questions for new transit modders giving it an honest go. That's how I ultimately started out—Swamper77 and qurlix were two members who helped me out as I was first getting going. Also, if you find a buddy in the community who is also giving it a go—as happened with me and jplumbley—that can also make the experience more enjoyable.
     
     
    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.).
    Tarkus: Admittedly, I haven't been able to follow CJs as much of late—heck, my own has gone MIA—but I've typically enjoyed the ones that kind of get heavy on planning and roadgeekery. and are two authors on ST today that I think do a good job with that. Going back in time, things like dedgren's Three Rivers Region, haljackey's , , and pickled_pig's Travels Down I-85 appealed to me. I'm normally drawn to the more suburban settings, but really, anything that's done well and focuses on thinking about the game stands a good chance of piquing my interest.
     
     
    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?
    Tarkus: I'd say that probably the most distinctive BATer for me nowadays is Bipin. He's got some interesting ideas, and executes them well. I've also been pleased to see Bobbo662's lost work coming to light, through nos.17's efforts. As far as all-time favorites, I like a lot of the old BSC stuff—SimGoober and mattb325, especially. Most recent STEX download for me, technically, was this month's challenge region. I've been considering a strictly exhibition entry for it, with the idea of siccing some new toys 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?
    Tarkus: I'm maybe a little bit surprised, mostly at the fact that it's been 12 years, but I've always pegged this community as being in it for the long haul. It's crazy to think that most of the pioneers of the SC4 modding scene, from the 2004-2005 era, thought we'd have “jumped ship” to the mythical SC5 by 2007—and we're 8 years past that date. I think there's been a few things that have led to the longevity. First, there's just so much custom content out there, and it's still coming. The rate of production isn't nearly what it was in the mid/late-00s, but it's still coming. The game's still readily available and is selling well on Steam and other digital retailers, and that's bringing a steady stream of new players in, which is astonishing for a game of this age. Also, the other attempts at making city-simulators haven't quite captured the balance of SC4. People find the new SimCity, and that actually becomes somewhat of a gateway to SC4.
    As far as 12 years from now goes, that'll be 2027. I'll be turning 42 that year (yikes!). Retro gaming is a huge phenomenon—one I'm into, personally—and as this generation gets older, provided Steam and the like are still around, SC4's going to become a big nostalgia trip for people. Consider that SC4 will be the same age then that Super Mario World and the original Sonic the Hedgehog are in 2015. I could see at least some diehards continuing to make content then.
     
     
    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?
    Tarkus: I have not played it yet--RL has been absolutely insane recently--though I am certainly curious about it.  A lot of people in this community, whose opinion I trust, some of whom are as hardcore about SC4 as they come, have had very positive things to say.  And I've been impressed with what I've seen.
     
     
    ST:  12 years later, many are calling this game the 'successor' to SC4 and the city building genera.  What are your thoughts?
    Tarkus: Colossal Order and Paradox have been very smart about how they've handled things, and while I haven't personally been able to play it yet, the approach they've taken and the widespread support they've gotten seem to suggest that Cities: Skylines may in fact be "the mythical SC5".  As soon as I heard they were entering the market, I had a feeling about this game.  Being a smaller operation with a proven track record, who seem to learned from SC4, I think really allowed them to avoid the pitfalls that plagued the other post-SC4 city simulators.  They didn't try to make it an MMO or an online game, or build it around some other sort of gimmick.  It actually fits with the current direction in hardware and OS development by properly supporting multi-core processors and 64-bit architecture, which is really critical if you're going to produce a city simulation platform that can handle the sort of complexity and depth that many of us enjoy.  And it's very fairly priced--the standard edition is only $10 more than SC4's MSRP, which is pretty astonishing.
     
    I don't think SC4 is going to die off--there's still people playing SC3000 and earlier out there, and the NAM Team still has the gears turning for NAM 33--but this game is getting an unheard of adoption rate among the real core of the SC4 community.  I have no doubt it is going to change the face of the community across the board, here at Simtropolis, on Reddit, and over at SC4 Devotion.  In fact, it already has, in just a week after release.
     
     
    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 by the leap into C:S custom content?
    Tarkus:  I think that the content side of things, and how it's already exploded in just a week's time, shows that Colossal Order really gets what made SC4 tick, and they were smart in getting Steam Workshop set up for the game.  And consider that it took the SC4 community sometime to really crack that game open.  NAM Version 1 didn't see the light until over a year after the game's release, and the content development scene didn't really resemble what most of us recognize today until the second year after release, when you had the BSC, the NAM Team, NDEX, and Pegasus firing on all cylinders.  Given that the developers seem to be indicating they'll be opening up more stuff in the near future, I think the C:S community may very well have an accelerated trajectory, compared to how things unfolded with SC4.
     
    As for whether or not you'll see me enter the modding scene with C:S, it's too early to say at this point, especially as I don't yet have the game.  I'm also not normally one who buys games with a predetermined intention of modding them--it was 2 years between when I purchased SC4 and when I started developing content.  But the way things are integrated, as far as I can tell, the way they've done it, the modding is kind of a seamless part of the game with C:S.  I'm certainly interested to see how it all works in practice, firsthand.
     
     
    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?
    Tarkus: Just kidding on that one—I could certainly go another 12 years without hearing it, as could about half the site.   Thank you for the interesting questions, and to ST and its staff for continuing to foster the SC4 community—congratulations on this significant milestone!
  24. Cyclone Boom 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
  25. Cyclone Boom liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with rivit   
    Can you hear the steam hissing? Our next interview guest spent the better part of a year painstakingly upgrading the SC4 railroads so that sim mayors everywhere could build railroads like true barons. The (Railway Upgrade Mod) gave rail enthusiasts a chance to cheer, but rivit has been contributing amazing custom content on the STEX for many years, and with over 175,000 downloads, there’s a good chance one of his creations has snuck into your plugins folder. From a to , and from to a , rivit’s library of content has something for everybody, and we are lucky enough to have a little chat with this Modder from down under. Please give a warm welcome to rivit, and thank him for participating in the next STEX 100 million interview series.

    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?
    Rivit: I think I first got Simcity4 as soon as it came out, before the later Rush Hour Add-on turned it into SC4 Deluxe. I remember being quite disappointed because the PC that I then had (which was quite high end but a few years old) couldn't run it very well and it just didn't look very good - so dark and gloomy after SC3000. So I didn't play it very much at the time (in fact put it aside for a couple of years). I rediscovered it when I got the addon cheaply somewhere and (by now 2005) finally got into it. I have played Simcity since SC1 (flatland) in 1989 on my Amiga. Then played SC2 and SC3 too. In fact almost all of the SimX programs (but not The Sims) and Spore got a run too. Simcity was the one that stayed.


    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    Rivit: Ultimately it's the open ended nature of the simulation that appeals most - that is if you let things evolve and just tweak as you go the final outcome is only partly predictable. Obviously its a hugely simplified model but clever. Probably too the humour embedded in it. I also have a deep technical admiration of the product - what was done at that time was phenomenal. The foresight (and discipline) of separating code and data has meant we have been able to modify and extend the game without touching the code.

    ST: Before we jump into the all the custom content questions, I’m curious… what is your favorite Maxis lot/BAT?
    Rivit: The Red Railway bridge. Something very solid and gritty about it.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    Rivit: I don’t, but I looked it up - way down in my archive it looks like a series of Churches by gshmails - the , the , the , The were the first. - and they are still in my current setup!. I also seem to have gone looking for other Civic buildings - Fire stations, Police stations and the like. And way down in the depths an early Water Mod. What also shows is that as I was on a 14.4k modem at the time I only downloaded very small things.

    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    Rivit: I think I found it by accident - in early 2005 - when I went looking on the web for SimCity. To be frank, I can’t remember what I thought at the time, but I signed up as rivitoz (Ive forgotton that password) and kept coming back. Still my favourite SC4 site.

    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?
    Rivit: I remember seeing Trolca had made some brick streets which I liked, and I thought maybe I could make some too. Also the very first water mods got me thinking.

    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you attempted to mod in SC4?
    Rivit: The first thing I tried to do was load maps from greyscale images and improve someone's Water Mod - one texture. I hadn't the foggiest idea of what to do or how to do it. However gradually, by dredging the online forums wherever I could find them, finding out about iLives Reader and FSHman I was able to cobble together enough info to make a herringbone brick road texture and overlay it on some high wealth streets. It took me months. It was my first upload to Simtropolis and was quite popular and eventually led to being used in SAM.

    ST: Some BATers and Loters have a particular style or genera that they stick to, but a quick look through your STEX library tells a different story. You have dabbled in automata, terrain textures, transportation textures and even stand-alone programs. How did you develop such a wide range of content for SC4?
    Rivit: The library reflects my learning process in SC4. At its core is the game texture - I started there and I'm now pretty good at that. Reader was how I came to understand how models and textures and automata worked and so I was able to learn how to make automata by hand-editing models. Through the Reader and the community forums I came to understand how the larger parts worked and so I was able to progress to bigger works. Laziness was the real reason I wrote the as it enabled me to make very large texture sets with minimal effort by generating rather than drawing things. The was an attempt to simplify auditing my plugins and summarise my knowledge of how the game worked. I've many more experiments that haven't made the grade yet.

    ST: Many of your contributions fall in the railroad category. In fact, the (Railway Upgrade Mod) is one of your most popular files. Do you have a particular interest in railroads, and what spurred you to take up such a massive project?
    Rivit: I think I do have something about trains - I can just remember travelling on steam engined trains and we had a Marklin trainset when I was about 8 or 9 and it must have left a deep impression. SC4 is a bit like having a trainset with working scenery. As I got better (and fussier) at making textures it started to dawn on me that Maxis had put nowhere near the quality into the rail part of Simcity when compared to other parts. The NAM extensions were much better, but different, and so the whole had become fragmented. I started on the Maxis textures as they were the dodgiest but eventually ended up doing them all (otherwise I would have made the problem worse). Took me about a year before they were done to my satisfaction, but I really wasn't comfortable with releasing them. It took prodding by a community contact who saw them by accident and went lyrical on me when I was helping him work out something else, that I finally put them up. RUM has stood the test of time quite well - its still a massive change to the way the game looks.

    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 Modding process? Your favorite?
    Rivit: The creative part of discovering how it works and then inventing and experimenting is the buzz, but the drudgery of repetition of the idea over the sometimes hundreds of instances of things can get you down. There is also the administrative aspect of making sure you've got everything and the dots on the i's that can wear you down. Both parts are necessary and let’s say it’s a character building process... you come to learn where your limits lie very quickly.

    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 mods pop up in CJs?
    Rivit: For me it’s the best way I can give back for what I gain - I believe information should be freely exchanged - and in this sense what the community is doing is sharing its information through what it creates and shows of what it has learned. I do get a buzz from the comments I receive - brickbats too - and its all part of the learning interaction - learning how to deal with criticism is part of the deal. I have to say though that seeing my creations in someone's pictures, or CJ, is the biggest return - particularly when they've done something with it that defies my skills with the game.

    ST: You have been modding spectacular content 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?
    Rivit: I'd have to say the rates for me - making a water texture that tiles as neatly as it does was a bit of a holy grail found and a lucky break. RUM was mind over matter. The is my ultimate favourite because it was a first, but the have the best download comments. They've all had their little challenges and that's what makes them worth it.

    ST: Has your experience with modding SC4 had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your modding career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    Rivit: The main influence modding has had on my personal life is that I've spent a lot more time than I should have in front of a computer. However, it was a valuable diversion given that I had been made redundant from a senior IT role. So ironically a lot of my skills (analysis, modelling, reverse engineering, application design and programming) proved to be useful when modding and I had the time to use them.

    ST: As a very productive member of the SC4 custom content community, I imagine you have developed a number of relationships with other members of this community. Can you talk a little bit about the friends you’ve made through the years?
    Rivit: Overall I have to say I've been a bit of a loner - even online. However, an exception occurred with Doc Rorlach, who unfortunately is no longer with us. He was an intense, funnily abrasive character in that he was merciless in his feedback but equally enthusiastic about pushing the limits. Without him RUM might never have been published, and I certainly wouldn't have learnt what I know of how the game works as quickly. He would try something out, then start asking questions about why it hadn't worked as he'd expected and ask me to explain. No chance to say "I don't know". Since his memory was nowhere near as efficient as his imagination this often ended up as a looping process. One of those loops led to discovering how to make STR tunnels. He was an excellent BATer and I couldn't BAT my way out of a paper bag - he had little time for "fiddly things" as he called them (read Pathing, Transit Enabling, Hex Editing). All up we had a lot of fun and were able to bump each other’s productivity a lot. Overall I've always had friendly interactions with community members and that’s one of the reasons I stayed.

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first mod?
    Rivit: While many, many things have been made the SC4 world is never complete. Configure your setup with things you like from the community. Learn how to use Lot Editor, and Reader. Fiddle things. Find some aspect of the game you really like and get deep on it. Ask. The more you play and learn, the more you will come to a conclusion you would like to change something and then you have the seed and motivation to try modding. It doesn’t matter whether you are a game player, game artist, story teller or tech there are ways to make what you want in the game - and modding is the way there - all it takes on your part is willingness and effort to try and learn.

    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.).
    Rivit: I like two kinds of CJs the most - the scenic art landscape variety - cannot ever get over just how good how good the artists with their MMPs are in creating their masterpieces - and the story, be that historical, the development of the city or even the detective story. I think it’s because there has to be quite some planning, visualization and perseverance to get either of these categories to work well - and because while I might be able to tackle the latter class, I almost certainly can't do the former.

    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? What was your most recent download from the STEX?
    Rivit: I tend to go looking by theme. So some time ago I had an Art Deco phase where I collected all sorts of those. I also had a shot at collecting Australiana, and Scenery. I've recently started to take a deeper look at industrial areas and so have discovered (albeit late) . These are proving to harbour a number of surprises so its fun trying to understand exactly how these work.

    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?
    Rivit: The longevity of the community is rooted in the huge collection of items for the game, and the variety of uses to which the players put it - this keeps people interested. There are still secrets to be discovered even if the game is largely understood. After the release of Simcity 2013, which seems to have failed to meet what avid SC players imagined would be next, it looks like a lot of people said "enough", stopped playing SimCity and left the community. A year on there is a new group joining and there are good signs its picking up again, and it will take this group to drive it back on. Good to see that there is also a SC2013 community alive and well.
    Unfortunately I do think that there is a limit to how long SC4 can retain its appeal without change - the community has seriously expanded the content but the executable is, technically speaking, getting very old and unlike (say) Excel has not been regularly renewed. However, any successor that can make use of the current content and enhance gameplay, be played together online/alone offline and give what SC4 has given us socially would do the trick. If ever the source code should surface there is half a chance.