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Ln X

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  1. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  2. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  3. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  4. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  5. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  6. Cyclone Boom liked an article by Ln X, 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- For some reason Gobias removed all the files, ask someone who has these files to send a copy. There are a total of ten different sidewalk textures he created with each containing a bonus generic plain texture to replace all the Maxis white.)

    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.
  7. Ln X 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!
  8. Ln X liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Paeng   

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

    My latest Downloads are -

    The latest


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

    12 years from now? Hard to say - there may still be small groups of afficionados everywhere, but the community as a whole will be totally different. Just imagining what technology can do in 2027 is kinda... mind-boggling.
  9. Ln X liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with madhatter106   

    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    madhatter106: I remember getting the original SimCity for the Commodore 128 back in the spring of 1990. I've played that and SC2 and SC3 a bunch, in college and afterwards. I like sandbox style games, so SC4 was a definite buy; I think I picked that one up in 2005 or so when I was on a hiatus from work.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Do you get a thrill seeing your models pop up in CJs?
    madhatter106: Truth be told, I rather appreciate the commentary in the BAT thread for my stuff more than the comments sections on my uploads. The comments section is fun, and I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm. It's difficult to read something silly or dopey that's written as a comment, but I try to ignore those sorts of things. I'm a small business owner, and it's really difficult to read critiques of your business online, so it's a similar situation. I do like seeing my stuff in CJs, though I rarely spend time in the CJ section (partly because there are so many and partly because I don't have lots of free time.) People usually relot them and they look even better (because I’m not much interested in lotting), so that's a good feeling.


    ST: You have been BATing wonderful models for over 6 years now. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    madhatter106: , as is the teriyaki joint in the same pack. I love , but I should mod it so that it grows more often; it doesn't show up nearly as much as I'd like in my cities. The surf shops are all fun, too, because of their details. I love the front details of - they take a boring building and really give it life and vibrancy. I made a property rental shop that I haven't uploaded yet, and that's another case where the details make the building sing. I usually have a favorite or two in every pack; some of the offices turned out really well. A lot of my inspiration comes from just going about on my normal day-to-day business. Buildings like , , and the were inspired by buildings that I would encounter while driving around Los Angeles (where I live). I also associate certain BATs with certain movies or pieces of music that I was listening to while I was making them. The movie theaters, diners, and coffee shops I will always associated with certain work projects, because I would do a ten or twelve hour day at work, then go home and decompress and BAT them for a couple hours.


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


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


    ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    madhatter106: I don't think so; if there are any aspects along those lines, it's something of which I'm unaware. I do look at buildings differently, and am always figuring out, "how would I BAT that?" when I see something interesting. Or I will think, "oh that's a different window detail, I should remember that on the next BAT," or some such.


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


    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.)
    madhatter106: I don't really read the CJs, partly because of what I mentioned before. I wish I could, as there's lots of lovely stuff in there; I just don't find myself there very often.


    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    madhatter106: As far as I'm concerned, jmyers2043 (of the BSC) is the best BATter there is; hands down, without any question, jmyers2043 is the king. I love his style, I love what he chooses to BAT, I love his textures and details; I don't have a lot of BSC stuff in my plugins folder, but his stuff is essential. His stuff is so thoroughly modeled and tested and lotted and perfectly crafted; if there were a BATter whose career I would replace my own with, it would be his. dk1 is another BATter whose stuff I like, though I wish he had a touch more detail in his stuff. Sadly he seems to have moved on, there hasn't been a new upload from him in a long while; I’m always nominating him for the “We Miss You, Come Back!” Trixie award and I’m always floating over to the STEX in the hopes that he’s uploaded something new. I do like the stuff that spa has made, and greatly appreciate how he took his hometown and made it a part of the game; the BATs are great, but I only have a few of them, as his textures are so distinct, they don’t jive with a lot of what else I have in my plugins folder; though, come to think of it, an entire CJ of spa’s stuff would look stunning. I like the smaller BATS that SimGoober has made, particularly his NIMBY ones, which I think are beautifully textured and detailed; when he focuses in on the little BATs, that’s where he really shines (in my humble opinion). BATers like jasoncw and nofunk and TWrecks also do stuff that I really like. I don't remember the last BAT I downloaded, as I haven't played much of late; it had to have been something from two years back. My plugins folder is not that large and with my aforementioned style of playing the game, it doesn’t really need to be.


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


    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    madhatter106: I think it's a testament to how good the genre is in general, and this iteration of the game is in particular. It's like a model train set, but in digital form; we can create these great scenes - small towns to sprawling metropolises. And with all the custom content and mods that people have created over the past 12 years, it really doesn’t surprise me that this game has had such a good shelf life. It doesn’t even seem to have abated – there are newcomers proving their worth every year; the STEX hasn’t dried up and the NAM hasn’t stagnated. I can certainly see new content being created years from now ; we have such a dedicated community for the game in general and on Simtropolis in particular, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see other BATers and modders coming along in the mold of SimGoober or Pegasus or SimFox, so it’s exciting to see what they could come up with. And I do hope that groups like the BSC and NYBT and the NAM team are going to continue to provide us with all manner of goodies to make the game look, feel, and play better.


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


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


    ST: Are there any of your BATs that you might like to redo or remake or improve upon?
    madhatter106: If I were doing them now, some of the low wealth commercial shops would be much better. I would definitely load in more details on some of them, though they kind of work in a generic, non-specific sense. I don’t think I’ve ever released a BAT on the STEX that I didn’t like; if I didn’t like it, I doubt I would have ended up sharing it with others. When I was doing the first office packs, I was making them look similar from all angles (that is, the elevation was practically the same on all four sides) but that’s not how a lot of buildings are designed, so there’s room for improvement there. Though with a lack of free time in general, I doubt I would ever remake any of them; but I am diligent about hanging on to the original gmax models in a folder labeled “Done,” so they are always available to me should I ever get the urge to do so.
  10. Ln X liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Heblem   
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? WasSC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    Heblem: My first contact with SC4, was in the coming months after it released in 2003. My father bought me a copy in a Sam’s Club store because I got good grades in school (I was 13 back then). My experience playing the game was mixed, I wasn’t really satisfied with the original SimCity 4 compared to SimCity 3000 due to its limited flexibility in modding. Later in 2005, bought the expansion pack Rush Hour and my experience with SC4 changed due the ability to make more transportation options and custom content.
    My first overall contact with SimCity was in 1994 when SC2000 came out for SNES, I received it as Christmas present. Ever since I was a child I loved to make cities with cereal boxes, toy cars, Legos, Hotwheels and such. But honestly the only SimCity I have enjoyed most was SimCity 3000.


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


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


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


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



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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


    ST: Will we see any new SC4 content from you in the future?
    Heblem: If I get enough time, I hope to create some more content for SC4, but eventually I plan to stop doing so.
  11. Ln X liked an article by NMUSpidey, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with MandelSoft   
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    MandelSoft: SimCity was not my first introduction to the simulator genre. I once got two sim games for my birthday: Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 and Transport Tycoon Deluxe (yes, the original DOS game). Back then, RCT was already hard to install 135MB on a 4GB hard disk on a Windows 95 PC (boy, those were the times). I had many hours of fun with Transport Tycoon (including the chiptune music in all its glory) and I still play OpenTTD today. More people on this website are familiar with OpenTTD, but I don’t think many have played the original game.

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

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

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

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

    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    MandelSoft: Pffft, I don’t know anymore. I think it was the possibility alone that adding custom models to the game was enough inspiration for me to do my own work. I had some troubles getting gMax to start BATting, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Is it exciting to see your models used in the CJs of others?
    MandelSoft: I really like to see my stuff coming back in other people’s CJs. Then you see that other people really appreciate your work, and that gives me satisfaction. This is also what motivates me to make new stuff, other than the fact that there are some things I really like to see myself in-game.

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

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

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

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

    Some other fun facts about some of my other downloads:
    Everything in the Frickinhuge Signage Set is either a pun or a reference.
    My latest release, the Carthamia Imperial Tower, was made for a friend.
    There is a brony advert on the Pactagon Building, as well as a PacMan advert.
     
    ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    MandelSoft: SimCity 4 had one big influence on my life: I became a Civil Engineer because of SimCity 4. I completed a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering in 2013 and I’m getting my Master’s degree in the specialisation Transport & Planning this year. Thus far I’m the only NAM member with a degree in the field

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    MandelSoft: I would give three important points to remember:
    Start small. Before you can make full-scale buildings, it’s best to start with small stuff like props. This will let you get to know the tools better. If your first project doesn’t succeed, you are more likely to quit. Larger projects often have a larger chance of failure than smaller ones. Therefore, start small.
    Never cease experimenting. Change some settings and see what it does, try something new, or just do things without knowing what you are really doing. Experimenting is an important way through which I learned all the skills I have. By experimenting, you get to understand the tools better.
    Failure is an option. Yes, you will fail quite a lot along the way when experimenting, but that’s all right; failure is an option. Each failure brings you one step closer to success, since you know what works and what doesn’t work. You have truly failed if you didn’t learn from your failures. So try a lot, fail a lot, but eventually learn a lot.
     
    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
    MandelSoft: My favourite SimCity landscapes are old cities and night scenes. I have a weak spot for both. In SimCity 4, it’s quite hard to make a city look centuries old. People who pull off that trick earn my deepest respect. These old cities have a very strong own unique character, I like that. I also like night shots, since this shows how the city is alive at night with all the pretty light effects.

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

    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    MandelSoft: I still have huge respects for the NYBT. The team still produces some high quality BATs for everyone to admire. I also respect Reddonquixotte’s work a lot. Each release of his is a masterpiece!

    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    MandelSoft: I think the secret of the longevity of its community is its general attitude. From what I’ve seen, the SimCity community is highly tolerant, intelligent and respectful. Everyone respects each other, mods are rarely stolen, people have intelligent discussions, not a lot of people ask obvious questions answered hundreds of times and aside from members who have really misbehaved, no one is really hated here and there is always someone there to help you if you have a problem. This is what keeps our community strong. The custom content for this game stretched out the life span of the game too, and the creators are backed up by such a great community!
     
    I still would like to come back to SimCity 4 one day…

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

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

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

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

    Best regards from your head-banging NAM-Pony,
    Maarten (MandelSoft)
     
    Interview questions by SimCoug and NMUSpidey (but mostly SimCoug), MandelSoft interview conducted by NMUSpidey
  12. Ln X liked an article by STomnibus, Building and Rendering SimCity (2013)   

    Building and Rendering SimCity
    By Ryan Ingram, Maxis Graphics Developer
     
    Hi everyone – I’m Ryan Ingram, Graphics Developer on SimCity. I’m excited to present our building rendering technology, the part of the game I’ve personally poured my heart and soul into over the past few years. I’m proud of how it looks and I hope you’ll enjoy this peek into the mechanics of SimCity’s rendering. Here’s the building we’re going to look at – it’s a mansion that your high level wealth Sims might live in.
     


     
    How do we get there? Well, it all starts with triangles (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6100528/why-are-there-always-triangles-used-in-a-3d-engine). One thousand, two hundred twenty triangles, to be specific.
     


    Not much to look at yet. Let’s fix that.
     
    Here are the texture pages that the art team put together for this class of building. They have all the architectural elements needed for a particular building style.
     
     
     

     
    To get the best performance, we re-use the same facade texture set on all the buildings of that style. This lets us render lots of buildings in the same batch, which is crucial given just how many buildings there might be in your city.
     
    The first texture is the color map. We use a palette on it. Palletizing is a technique that allows re-use of the same texture with all sorts of different colors. The colors can be changed on different buildings, or even on different parts of the same building.
     
    The second texture is a normal map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_(geometry)). You can kind of see the shape of the texture in the normal map already, and it’s used for exactly that reason.
     
    Here’s how this building looks before and after it’s been colorized with one of its possible palettes:
     

     
    I use interior mapping for the insides of the buildings – you can see lots of examples of interior mapping in Creative Director Ocean Quigley’s night videos where the lights come on inside skyscrapers. The building is split into rooms and I render the appearance of the floor, ceiling, side walls, and rear walls into each room.
     

     
    The mushy grey areas are actually lots and lots of very tiny rooms – the art team didn’t tune those areas since they have no windows and aren’t visible. Putting this all together, a building finally emerges! A pretty flat looking one, but it’s starting to look recognizable.
     

     
    The next step is lighting. Using the normal map to figure out reflection angles, our light model gives us the contribution from the atmospheric light (moonlight, in this case), along with the lights on the building itself. This also includes our ambient occlusion and shadowing.
     

     
    Putting it all together, it’s starting to look kind of pretty:
     

     
    You can see a nice specular highlight on the windows from this angle.
     
    We weren’t satisfied with just this, though. The stairs felt flat, and the windows and doors are missing something. So if you are running on our recommended spec (“Medium” lighting or higher), it’s time to bring out the big guns: relief mapping.
     
    Here’s what I want to show:
     

     
    We didn’t want to store a high resolution mesh for every building though – for one thing, that’s a lot of vertex memory, and it’s wasteful to repeat that same mesh for bricks, stairs, windows, doors, and so on. Not only that, but storing highly detailed geometry makes it a lot harder to scale the memory use down for lower-spec machines.
     
    Instead, we kept all of that data in a texture so that a high-resolution mesh can be reconstructed on the fly. The flat low-polygon mesh is ray-traced into beautiful high-resolution geometry with hundreds of thousands of tiny virtual polygons.
     
    We have a debug mode that lets me take the texture and re-construct the 3D mesh it was originally exported from. Here I’ve taken the door on the bottom right of the original texture and turned it into a real 3D mesh:
     

     
    This isn’t just a lighting trick. For example, if we’re looking up at the door from the ground, you can see the underside of the doorframe:
     

     
    Here’s that earlier screenshot with relief mapping turned on. Notice that the building’s facade has actual surface relief.
     

     
    These two zoom boxes are showing exactly the same location relative to the camera and the building polygon. The center of the “flat” one shows the window, but with relief mapping you see past the recessed window to the edge of the door.
     
    So to find the target, we’re going to step along that ray from the viewpoint, asking the mesh “what do you look like here?” There’s a tradeoff, however – querying the mesh takes time, so we want to do it as few times as possible.
     

     

     
     
    To facilitate this, we pre-calculated a cone for every point in the mesh. We made the cone wide enough to intersect with the geometry around it, and maybe a little bit more. It’s a cone of “guaranteed coverage” because no ray coming down and going through the cone’s center-line can pass all the way through the surface mesh and come out on the other side without hitting the insides of the cone.
     
    In this case, the cone just barely intersects the surface. Of course, we want the widest cones that we can make – wider cones allow for bigger steps, making the technique more efficient. Big steps means fewer samples are required to find the target, making the shader less taxing on your graphics card.
     
    Once the ray goes inside the mesh, we have both our old point that’s on the outside and the new point that’s on the inside. Now we know that the mesh surface is somewhere between them. To find out exactly where that surface is, we use a Binary Search. With each step, we divided the space between the points in half, always keeping one point on the inside and the other one outside. This narrows down the space really fast; it only takes a few steps to get as close to the surface as we need to.
     
    This is what the whole process looks like:
     

     
    Zoomed in, notice that the center of the light blue cube is almost exactly on the edge of the surface:
     

     
    Now from the top, the target has been hit exactly at the right spot.
     

     
    Here’s another example – this time we run out of cone tests before quite reaching the edge, so we gave up at that point. This can lead to minor artifacts, but it’s not usually noticeable in-game. It’ll look like the surface curves towards the edge, instead of being a clean cut.
     

     
    The amazing thing is that your graphics card will do all this calculation for every single pixel of every building in the game, every frame.
     
    That’s it – I hope you enjoyed reading about how we render buildings in the game.