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CT14

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  1. CT14 liked an article by 11241036, How to make a visually pleasing slope   
    How to make a visually pleasing slope

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

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

    Place it exactly here (red dot):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    Especially for the latter purpose, you might want to install the Extra Cheats plugin, and use it by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+X and then typing in terrainquery to actually find out which height difference you have to deal with. That’s the point where you need to use your brain.exe: 1. To calculate how many city tiles it will take your slope to climb this difference, and 2. by how much meters you will have to raise every tile.
    That’s all for now. I hope you liked this tutorial.
  2. CT14 liked an article by andisart, Custom building foundations in 3DS Max   
    Custom building foundations in 3DS Max
    Tutorial level: Intermediate; general knowledge of BAT creation and modding required.
    There are two effective methods to create custom building foundations in 3DS Max.
    The first is creating building foundations the traditional way in the same fashion they work in the game (assigning a foundation model as a foundation in the Pluginmanager (PIM)), the other is using building and foundation as props.
    Both methods have their pros and cons:
    Traditional method
    + automatic matching of building and foundation in game
    + convenient to use in PIM when creating the lot
    - nightlights not possible for foundation (which then can create abrupt breaks if lights in scene illumine both building and foundation)
    - not suited for cases where LODs of building and foundation differ (impossible to match foundation to building in Lot Editor (LE))
    - possibility of a bug occuring requiring manual texture ID fix
    Method using props
    + nightlights on the foundation possible
    + foundation can extend beyond building as both can be matched manually in LE
    - matching process not 100% clean if LODs differ
    - extra step in lot creation needed: since building and foundation work as a prop, an empty object needs to be assigned as the actual building
    - if slope is too steep, slope can move into building because it functions as a prop. More finetuning in slope settings of lot required
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    Traditional method
    Create building and foundation as separate geometry.
    Make sure foundation geometry does not exceed ground level (0 on Z axis).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LODs of foundation and building have different footprint:

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

    Then add foundation and building props.

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

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

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

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

    As a final step to make these changes "stick" between program launches, click Advanced Options under the right side list and click the Save as Startup button, accepting the "are you sure" dialog.
    Now you can right click in the "Camera Z5" viewport and select the Perspective view to get back to work quickly, after previewing different angles of your model.
    Other uses for this general method
    Add commonly used actions like "Boolean" and "Convert to Editable Mesh" to the right click menu, to eliminate repetitive actions.
  4. CT14 liked an article by phillippbo, BAT Essentials Part 3   
    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1, part 2, part 4
    Minute Details continued
     
     
     
     
     

    Next, we'll create some simple exhaust pipes (these are usually what's on the other end of the exhaust fan in a bathroom). Just like with the HVAC, it'll be much simpler to hide everything. In the top view, create a tube of any size (tube can be found in the same place as box - Create Tab >Geometry) and adjust its settings like shown. Just a little note here, "Radius 1" is the outside radius and "Radius 2" is the radius of the inside circle. When you create a tube, you first have to create the outside circle (click and drag), then you'll create the inside circle (move the pointer around until you've got it something like you want it) and click again to set it. Just like all other geometry, you also have to give this one depth, so pay attention to your other viewports.
    Rename the tube "Roof Junk - Exhaust Pipe".

    We've got the pipe done, but it wouldn't look right just sticking out of the roof. To make it appear to have "flashing" (the piece of material that covers the area where the pipe pokes through the roof - water-proofs the hole so that rain doesn't get in), clone your tube and make its settings like so. There is no need to adjust X, Y, and Z because everything is sitting on the ground already (gmax is going to see the bottom of the tubes as the "top" because that's the first part that was created). I changed the color of the base so it's easier to distinguish between the pipes in the perspective view.
    Rename the new tube "Roof Junk - Exhaust Pipe Base". (if you end up with a lot of these, it's very helpful to be able to distinguish between the bases and the pipes themselves when it comes to texturing)
    Now, group both of them and name the group "Exhaust Pipe". Just like with the HVAC, we're only going to make one of these for now, so move them up onto the roof like shown:

    We're not quite finished with the roof yet. To spruce up this big expanse of roof, we're going to add duct work. While it is unusual for smallish building like this to have much on the roof, it's mostly what we'll see in the SC4 environment, so it's OK to fudge reality to make something a bit more interesting.

    In the top view, create a box, change its parameters like shown, and move it up to 5.3 meters. For this particular object, it really won't matter where you put it on X and Y so long as its 5.3 meters in the air (so it will sit on the rooftop). Rename this box "Roof Junk - Ducting Endpiece".

    Next, clone your first box, adjust its parameters like shown, and move it until its approximately like that. If you restrict movement to the Y arrow, it will make that much easier. Be sure to rename this box "Roof Junk - Ducting". (I did change the color of this object so that it's easier to see in perspective.) Continue cloning your pieces (rotating if necessary) until you end up with something like below. Placement for all roof junk is not critical at this point, because you'll probably just end up moving everything around later. I created the ducting like this because it's simple (and ducting is pretty simple-looking in real life) and because it'll make you're life much easier if you plan to re-use this ducting on another model.
    Now would be another good time to save.

    So far we've been focusing on the roof, but there are some other minute details that need addressing. While our model looks good, it couldn't hurt to do a little sprucing up.

    Remember that unsightly gap on the back of the side walls? I said before I was going to show you how to fix that, and I'm going to do that now. Instead of playing around with the wall until the windows line up correctly (cause that could take a lot of messing around, including the glass and window frames), I'm just going to fill it in with something that'll look good. For this wall, we're going to put a small electrical box. It won't have to be anything fancy, because it'll probably only be a few pixels in the game anyway.

    For small details like this, don't worry about getting just the right placement. In the left view, create a box and change its parameters like this. To put it on the left wall, do an X move to -8. Rename this box "Misc - Electrical Box".

    How many electrical boxes don't connect to wiring in some way? Since the SC4 City Council has decided that all wiring within the city limits is underground, simply clone your box, rename it "Misc - Electrical Wiring Tube", change its parameters, and move it down until its about like I have it. It is perfectly OK for the box to stick below the building, as that will not show in game anyway. If you were so inclined, you could clone both these objects and move them to the opposite wall at this point, but I wouldn't think that'd be necessary as most smallish commercial buildings don't have several electrical connections. But what do we put on the right wall? I'm not going to put anything, because later we'll move a couple of roof pipes back there. This gives the illusion that you have a Mechanical Room on the left side (most modern buildings have one - its where all the telephone lines, power lines, and gas lines come in and connect to various equipment - also, many of these rooms will also have air returns and numerous other things that make the building live and breathe). The pipes on the right side will give the illusion that behind the blank wall-space lies the bathrooms. Your Sims have to relieve themselves some way, don't they?

    We're now going to create a light fixture to stick by the back door (the front door will have a light under the overhang - but I'll get into that later). In the top view, create a sphere (it's in the same place as the box, cylinder, and tube - click and drag) and adjust it's parameters like shown. It's perfectly OK to guesstimate the X, Y, and Z here as exact placement isn't critical (unless you're a control freak - LOL), but I set mine as shown. Rename the sphere "Lighting - Back Door". You could go into more detail on the light, but it really isn't absolutely necessary. Well, now, we've got a bit of detailing, but our windows look a little plain. Let's create some sills for them, shall we?

    In the top view, create a box and set its parameters as shown. Take special care to make sure that "Length Segs", "Width Segs", and "Height Segs" are like this (will become important in a few moments). You can try eyeballing where to place it, but it'd probably be easier to just trust me and put X, Y, and Z thus. You do trust me, don't you?
    Rename the box "Windows - Sills".

    This is where the segments becomes important. First and foremost, apply an edit mesh modifier to the box and change your selection method to "box" (see earlier on this page for how we changed it to "circle"). In the left view, drag-select (drag the box) around the middle set of vertices - notice they turn red. It's very important to select the vertices this way, otherwise when you click on vertices you'll select only one at a time instead of the middle set all the way across. Now, Z move them up to 1.4. Next, drag-select the vertices on the lower right-hand corner and make sure that you see only one red dot. You'd Y move them to -0.2 (this puts them directly on top of the bottom middle set of vertices, so they'll look like they disappear, but they're still there). Be sure at this point to click on Edit Mesh in the rollout so you exit the vertex editing mode. You now have a nice, basic window sill, but it seems to be lacking something. Next, we'll spruce it up a bit.

    Just like we did for the overhang over the back door, we're simply going to outline the top of this sill. In the top view, snap a line on the front and sides of the top and make its parameters like so. Don't forget to add an edit mesh modifier or it will not show in the render.
    Rename the line "Windows - Sills Decoration".

    We're not quite done yet. It'd be a good idea to highlight the bend on the front (you will probably have difficulty seeing it in SC4 - but this will help). In the front view, snap a line across the "bend" (the two middle vertices directly below the top) and change its parameters as shown. Make sure you add an edit mesh modifier to this line or it won't show in the render.
    Rename the line "Windows - Sills Edge".
    Select both the new lines and the sill and group them as "Windows - Sills". Just like we did for the window openings, clone and array your new sills around the building. Notice that with them grouped you can see the X, Y, and Z for the group. A little tip, if you want the sill to protrude exactly the same way on all walls, the X for the left wall would be -8.225, the right would be 8.225, and the Y for the back wall would be 32.225. This is because your lines added some size to the entire sill.

    We're still not done modelling yet. I know what you're going to say, "Jeez, I just want to upload something to the BEX. Why do I have to go through all of this?" Simple. If you want a building that's going to actually look like a building, then you can't scrimp on the details. The sad thing is this building will not even get anywhere near as detailed as something as seemingly simple as Vu Quest or Vu Med!
    Now would be a good time to save again.
    Next, we'll put some concrete in front of the doors. Very simple, so shouldn't take me much to explain.

    In the top view, create two boxes and adjust their parameters like this (you don't have to create both of them at the same time). If gmax wants to give them the same length, width, and height segments as the window sill that was created, that's perfectly fine, but they're not needed so I changed that. I did hide the front overhang so you could actually see the concrete on the front.
    Rename the boxes "Foundation - Front Entrance Concrete" and "Foundation - Back Entrance Concrete" respectively.
    See, that wasn't so hard was it?

    Promise, this is the last bit of detailing. To round out the building, we're going to put decorations on the corners. Since I'm trying to keep this simple, create a box in the top view, and make its parameters and X, Y, and Z as shown. Rename this box "Misc - Corner Decorations". All you'd do now is clone the box and move it to the other three corners (X for the right is 8.0, and Y for the back wall is 32).
    Save your file yet again.

    Congratulations! We now have a completed building model ready for texturing and lighting. What I've just shown you how to do took me weeks to learn. Don't worry about the "tessellations" and weird things you see happening in the perspective view. The more detail you add and the larger your model gets, the more likely perspective will get "choppy". It's absolutely nothing to worry about, it's just that perspective view is sort of like a low-quality preview. If I were to render this building right now, you'd see it looks pretty good so far.
     
    Texturing - The Essentials
    We've now got a completed model, but to avoid it looking like some nightmarish cartoon creation, we'll need to texture it. If you have your own textures you'd like to use, you are perfectly free to do so. Below, I included all of the textures that I've used for this model. Take a moment to download them and put them in:
    C:\gmax\maps
    This is assuming that you let gmax install to the default path. If not, you'll need to change the above path to wherever you installed gmax.
    Texturing can be very simple, or extremely complex depending on your level of skill and what it is you want to come out with. I'm not going to tell you everything that texturing can do, and in some places I've simplified the options available to better explain it to a beginner.
     
    Please Download:
    TexturesA.zip TexturesB.zip
    Now that you have all of the textures we're going to be using, let me give you a quick overview of texturing and the Material Editor.

    First and foremost, you'll need to apply a UVW Map to the object you want to texture. This is not absolutely necessary for solid geometry (such as a box), but it can save a lot of effort later on.

    Above is the illustration of the texturing rollout. Under UVW Mapping, you'll find the "Gizmo", but don't feed it after midnight. *crickets chirp* Yeah, I know, bad joke. At any rate, you can manipulate the UVW gizmo to do all sorts of things, and can be very useful if you're trying to get a texture to line up just so. It's way too much to explain, just play with it and you'll see what it can do. Down in the Parameters rollout, you'll find all sorts of new goodies. Under "Mapping", you can choose the characteristics of the map. Breakdown:
    Planar
    Creates a flat texture - good for flat objects or plain textures, bad for anything else. Cylindrical
    Awesome for getting perfect alignment on cylinders. Spherical
    Same as cylindrical, but for spheres. Shrink Wrap
    Does some strange things - haven't played with it much but I'm sure it's good for something. Box
    Probably the one you'll use the most - great for just about anything, but perfect for boxes. Face
    Can be very useful - places one copy of the texture on each face of the object. XYZ to UVW
    I'm sure it's good for something, but I've never used it. Under those choices, you have several important boxes. I really don't mess with length, width, and height, but if you're looking to manually change the size of the UVW Map you can do that here. The next three are probably the most important boxes in this rollout:
    U Tile - tells gmax how many "copies" of the texture to place left/right. V Tile - tells gmax how many "copies" to place up/down. W Tile - haven't got a clue what it does - I've made changes but it doesn't seem to affect anything. If you make changes here, you'll notice that it's not quite the same as tiling in Windows (like on your desktop, for example). If U and V tiling are set to 1, then the texture will be stretched across the entire UVW Map. If you set U tiling to, say, 2.5, then gmax will copy the texture across the map two and a half times, but it will only stretch it up one. I'd suggest playing with them so you can see what they do, it's kinda difficult to explain.
    The bottom of the rollout can give you some important options. I've never played with the Channels, so can't really tell you what they do. Under Alignment, the X, Y, and Z radio buttons will rotate the UVW Map to align with the different axes instead of aligning with the object. The only two buttons I've used here are Reset and Fit. If you've played around with the UVW Map and screwed it all up, you can hit Reset to undo some complex rotations you've done with the Gizmo. If you've messed around with the different Mapping options and now the UVW Map no longer fits your object, you can hit Fit and it will automatically re-size the UVW Map to fit the object.

    Before we can get into actually texturing this bad boy, we need to become a little more familiar with the Material Editor. The first time you open it (by clicking that round button highlighted above), you'll get the window titled Material Editor, click "New". You'll then get the New Material window, select "Standard" and hit "OK". Once the gmax Material Navigator window opens, highlight "Bitmap" and hit "OK" (or you can double-click on "Bitmap"). In the Select Bitmap Image File window, navigate until you find the texture you're looking for, pick it, and hit "Open".
    NOTE: You can use the following formats for textures: bitmaps (.bmp extension), JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg extension usually), PNG files (.png extension), Adobe PSD Reader (.psd extension), Targa Image File (most commonly with the .tga extension), and TIF Image File (.tif extension). Bitmaps and Targas are the most used texture types, and tend to not cause issues. I'd recommend, if you have to choice, to use bitmaps exclusively, but Targa files will do (and most people don't have software that can convert Targas to Bitmaps).
    Also, while going through the textures, you may get a window that tells you there was an error reading a certain file. This only seems to happen to me on .tga files. I just click the "cancel" button as it's not anything to worry about. The funny thing is that if you apply that .tga file as a texture in gmax, the program suddenly doesn't have any other problems reading it. Go figure.
    Once you've gotten through all that rig-a-ma-roll, you'll end up with the window below:

    There's a whole lotta stuff in here, but I'll only explain the basics you'll need to know. First, the big buttons:
    "New" - lets you start a new material (texture). "Pick" - gives you an eyedropper-like pointer to choose the material (texture) already on an object. "Apply" - puts the material on all selected objects.
    (you can also drag and drop the "ball" onto objects to do this - the objects do not have to be selected). Next, the numbered items:
    1 - Allows your texture to show in the perspective view - if the object shows as just plain gray, make sure this button is clicked.
    2 - Lets you go back up to change diffuse, opacity, and the like (explained below).
    3 - Lets that multi-colored background show behind the texture - very useful if you're making a window texture.
    4 & 5 - U and V tiling. Note that while you can change the UV tiling from here, I would strongly suggest that you don't - it's much more easily accomplished from the UVW Map on the object itself. Also, you can choose here to mirror the U and V (U is left/right, so a mirror would flip it so it goes right/left, and V is up/down, so a mirror would make that down/up).

    If you hit the "up arrow" button described in the last text section, then you get this window. Everything at the top functions the same, but I'll explain the numbered ones below:
    You can select from "Blinn", "Metal", or "Phong" here. Supposedly, selecting metal is better for metals, but I honestly haven't noticed much difference. The default is blinn, so that's where we'll leave it. Do NOT click this box, unless for some reason you really need to. With this box checked, the texture will apply to both sides of an object with no back (like a flat rectangle), but if its on transparent windows, strange things happen when you try to do lighting. If you are trying to make a simple window texture that doesn't need a bitmap, or pretty much any simple color texture, then you'd hit the big gray box so that you can use the Color Selector (not shown). The Color Selector is pretty much self-explanitory, just pick the color you want and fine-tune it. You won't need to worry with this box unless you create a new material (hitting the "New" button). When you do that, you'll have to hit the little box with the "M" (wouldn't be shown on a new material) to pick your bitmap - incedentally, if you hit the "M", it will take you back to the previous picture. I wouldn't worry with this one at all. It will make your objects "glow", but it really doesn't look that great. Opacity is how "see through" your object is. You can put any number from 0 to 100 in this box, 0 being completely clear (not visible at all) and 100 being totally solid (not letting you see anything behind it). If you hit the little box, you can pick an "Opacity Map", which will give you the same approximate results as putting a "Diffuse Map" (number 4's little box) and turning the opacity down (but it does do some complex things we don't really need to get into). Specular Level is how much light your object will reflect. Don't get too carried away with this unless you want people to be blinded by your object! (The little ball at the top that shows you a preview of your texture will change accordingly to give you an idea of what it will look like.) Glossiness is basically how "shiny" your object is. When used in conjunction with specular level, you can get pretty impressive shininess to your objects. Again, don't get too carried away. (The little ball at the top will change with this one too.) I've said it before and I'll say it again, texturing can be very complex. I have simplified the above operations to an extent to be able to explain them to you as quickly as possible, but still be thorough. You will discover things can operate differently than I explained, and you'll probably find better ways to go about things yourself.
    Before we get started, just a little tip. When you texture an object, even though you can see it in the perspective view, that's not necessarily exactly how it will show in the render. It's been my experience that the BAT render will lighten any textures you make up, and the SC4 environment will tend to lighten them up even more. Keep this in mind as you select textures, because you'll probably need to pick a texture a few shades darker than what you actually want it to look like.

    We'll begin at the beginning. Start by creating a new material and follow through above to select "mjbB00002.tga". Make sure the little box that lets the texture show in the perspective view is clicked on. Select "Wall - Front", apply a UVW Map to it, and pick "Box" from the rollout. Hit "Apply" in the Material Editor to put the new texture on the wall.
    Wait a minute, just who the heck made those bricks?

    Well, since the up and down looks fine (ie - the bricks look like the correct height), then we'll need to adjust the left to right tiling, which means we change U Tile. Change it like so. Why 2.5 you ask? Don't have an easy explanation, I just played with the number until it looked about right. Notice that, just like mirror in the Material Editor, you can check "Flip" and it will do exactly that - turn the material over.

    To finish out the walls, select each one individually, apply the UVW Map, and apply the texture. Be sure to make the U Tile on the back wall to 2.5 and both side walls to 5. Why 5 you ask? This one's actually easy. Since we tiled 2.5 on the front wall, and the side walls are double the length, then we'd need to double the tiling to get the same effect.
    You might notice that the bricks don't look right in the picture above. This is due to the perspective view in gmax, if you want to see what they actually look like, then you'd need to rotate the perspective view until you're looking directly at the object.
    NOTE: When I'm texturing a building, I usually make the perspective view the maximum possible by hitting the Min/Max Toggle in the lower right-hand corner.

    Next, we're going to texture the foundation and the roof overhangs. Create a new material (hit the "New" button), navigate until you can select "marble22.bmp".
    NOTE: When you create a new material after you've already created your first one, it will not follow through the same way. When you click "Standard" and then hit "OK", gmax will take you back to the material editor with a blank, gray material. You'll need to hit the little box next to "Diffuse" (#4 in the above example - the box with the M on it - it only has the "M" when you have a created material) to pick your texture.
    Pick one of the foundations on the front, apply a UVW Map, pick "Box" and hit apply in the Material Editor. For this texture, we'll need to change V Tile like follows (select each object in turn and apply UVW Maps and the texture like we did for the first object):
    Foundation - Decoration: 10 Foundation - Decoration01: 10 Foundation - Decoration02: 40 Foundation - Decoration03: 40 Foundation - Decoration04: 10 Foundation - Decoration05: 10 We'd now do the same thing for the "Roof - Overhang". Again, we'll need to change V Tile as follows:
    Roof - Overhang: 50 Roof - Overhang01: 50 Roof - Overhang02: 25 Roof - Overhang03: 25 You should now have something that looks like the above picture. Take note that I assumed here that you had followed the instructions for cloning and arraying your decorations exactly the way I wrote them. If you did not, then you will need to adjust the above numbers to reflect where your overhangs and foundation pieces are.

    Next, we'll do something a lot easier. Create a new material and pick "marble2.bmp". Now, pick "Misc - Corner Decorations", apply the UVW Map, pick "Box", change the V Tile to 5, and apply the texture. Repeat for the other three corner pieces. You should now have something like the above.

    This one's going to be even easier than the last one. Create a new material and pick "gravelroof2.bmp". Pick "Roof - Surface", apply the UVW Map (leaving it as "Planar" is fine for this one), change U Tile to 16 and V Tile to 32 (we're making this map tile in 1 meter squares) and apply the texture. You should end up with something like this.
    Pretty easy so far, huh? Well, good, cause now we're going to start getting into the hard stuff. Don't worry, I'll try not to let you get lost.

     
    Lighting - Make the Night Yours
    So, now we've got a completed building just crying to be exported, but there's one important detail missing. Lighting. You can have the best BAT building in the world, but if it doesn't light at night, it'll be pretty bland, right?
    By the time you finish with this page, you should have a general idea of how night lighting works. I will by no means cover each and every single possible topic (again, tutorial would never be finished), but I think this will get you off to a good start.

    First thing's first, if you still have the Material Editor open, it may be a good idea to go ahead and close it so it doesn't get in our way. Good. Now, you should be pretty familiar with the above tab for Splines and Geometry, but now we're going to hit the next button, "Lights".
    This looks deceptively simple. I mean, after all, there's only 5 buttons. Trust me, it's a little more to it than it looks like, but it's nowhere near as complex as you may think. We'll now explore what the difference between the lights are:
    Target Spot
    Well, it's a spot light (begins at a single point and expands as it gets farther away from it's origin). This is great for simulating the light coming from light fixtures, but only effectively illuminates the surface its shining on. As the name implies, this light has a "target", which makes it easy to aim just so. Keep in mind that when creating this light, you have to create the light itself and the target. Free Spot
    Also a spot light. This one has no "target", however, and simply shines in whatever direction you point it. I never use this one as "Target Spot" is much easier to control. Target Direct
    Direct light can best be thought of as similar to sun light. Unlike the spot, which starts at a point and expands outward, the direct light is uniform in size. In other words, the illumination area (or "hotspot", explained below) is the same size at it's origin as it is when it ends. Just like the name implies, this one has both the light source and a target. Also, just like the "spots", it's only really effective for illuminating surfaces within it's shaft of light. Free Direct
    The same as "Target Direct", but has no target. Omni
    "Fill" lighting. Remember how I said that the spots and direct lights aren't effective at anything but lighting the surfaces they're "aimed" toward? This is the light that does the rest. This one gives a nice "fill" effect to the lighting, illuminating surfaces not touched by the spots or directs. Don't get too carried away with these, else you'll end up with something that looks like it's four inches from the center of the sun at night!
    Now things start to get a little more complicated. This is the rollout for the lights and has a whole mess of stuff in it! I'll explain what's here as best I can.
    On Box
    If checked, your light will be turned "on" and will render (it shows in the viewports as yellow). If unchecked, your light will be turned "off" and will not render (it shows as black in the viewports). Cast Shadows Box
    Will allow your light to cast shadows of the objects they fall on. With it off, no shadows are cast by the particular light this box is unchecked for. With this box unchecked, the light will paradoxically (ooo, I'm using big words) shine through walls, even if they have no opening. RGB Boxes
    Allows you to change the color of the light - I haven't got a clue what the HSV boxes do, I've never messed with them. Multiplier
    Affects how bright your light is. The default is 1, and you can use decimals. Don't get carried away here, this box will indeed multiply the brightness of the light by whatever's typed in - very easy to make a new star this way (LOL).
    (Note that the Affect Surfaces area was skipped - I've never played with it, but it can do interesting things from what I understand).
    - The "Spotlight Parameters" area is titled differently depending on the light - Show Cone Box
    Will allow the light cone to show, but doesn't work very well (or at all, depending on who you ask) in the SC4 enviroment. Shows for Directs and Spots. Overshoot Box
    Allows your light to "overshoot" it's cone. In essence, it will cast light in all directions, regardless of it's "cone". I don't use this box, it does bad things. Shows for Directs and Spots. Hotspot
    The brightest part in the center of your light cone/area. Basically, its the evenly-lit area directly underneath a light source. Shows for Directs and Spots. Falloff
    How far the light extends beyond the hotspot. This is the area where your light will gradually dim until it fades out. Shows for Directs and Spots. Circle/Rectangle Radio Buttons
    The shape of the light. Pretty self-explanitory. Shows for Directs and Spots.
    - Skipped Aspect because I never use it. - Projector Map
    Allows your light to project a "map", or picture, similar to a movie projector. Shows for Directs, Spots, and Omnis. Target Distance
    Will tell you, or let you adjust, how far away from the light source the target is. For "Target" lights, it tells you how far away the target box is. For "Free" lights, it will let you manually type in how far you want the "target" to be. Near and Far Attenuation
    Affects how your light fades in and out. Basically, the Far Attenuation is how far the light takes to fade to darkness (similar to the Falloff) and the Near Attenuation is how far it takes the light to obtain full brightness. If you click the "use" box, then gmax will use whatever settings are here, and the "show" box will put a representation in the viewports of what the settings will do. Don't worry if you don't completely understand these, it can take some getting used to. Decay
    I wouldn't use this, but if you so chose you can set the light to get brighter the farther away from the source it gets with this. Shadows Parameters
    With the "Cast Shadows" box checked, the "On" box here will also be checked. You can also play with the way shadows are cast in this box.
    Now I'm going to explain the difference between the methods of applying night lighting to your buildings.
    Default Night Windows
    The same type of night lighting Maxis used on their buildings for SC4. Doesn't look too terribly realistic, unless it's applied to rather small windows/objects. It will only show the texture, although Maxis did include a few different colors with the BAT (Beige, Blue, and Green - found on "Utilities tab >BAT button >Parameters" rollout). Pretty limited in scope, but does, indeed, light up the windows. This is the most basic type of night lighting. To get this to work well, you will need to model each individual pane of glass. (See Vu Burger for an example.)
    Mixed Lights/Default Lighting
    Gives you a bit more realism. With this method, you can use the night lights discussed above to light vestibules or around the exterior and the default textures for the window panes. Works well for larger models where interior detail is unimportant (and where you've "faked" interior detail with textured rectangles behind the glass). To get this to work well, you will have also had to model each individual pane of glass. (See Vu Med for an example.)
    All Night Lighting
    Gives you the most realism. With this method of lighting, you will spend much more time on this section of your model, but you will also be able to have more control over your lighting's colors, brightness, and areas affected. This will also allow you to still be able to see inside of the building during the night. This works very well for buildings where all of the windows are transparent, and you've spent a lot of time modelling the contents. For this to work really well, you will have also needed to model interior walls. It is unnecessary to model each pane of glass with this method - a single, large pane of glass within the wall will do nicely. (See Vu Quest for an example.)

    Since I don't think it's necessary to go through modelling the interior walls and such for this tutorial, we're going to use the "mixed" method of night lighting. First, we're going to put a spot light under that front overhang.

    We're now ready to create our first light. Since we're going to place a light underneath the front overhang (it is not necessary to model a fixture as you'd never see it in SC4), pick "Target Spot" under the Lights button. In the front view, click somewhere near the bottom surface of the overhang and drag downward - you'll get something like the picture. When you first click, gmax places the "lamp" wherever you clicked (looks like a cone), and as you drag moves the cube-shaped target downward. When you release the mouse button, the light is created. Notice that the light cone is also visible - the lighter inner circle is the "hotspot" and the darker outer one is the "falloff". The lamp and the target are objects that you can move around indepedent of each other. Take note that no matter where you move the target, the spot will point towards it. You will now have two new objects, "Spot01" and "Spot01.target". Be sure to select the "Spot01" (and not it's target) to change the parameters.
    NOTE: When you're placing night lights like this, the default lighting is disabled so that you can see what you're doing. Don't panic when your model turns black, it's supposed to do that. Also, do not use the perspective view to fine-tune your lighting. Trust me, the perspective view will give you a general idea of what it will look like, but only a render will show you more precisely.

    Move "Spot01" and "Spot01.target" until both are approximately centered on the concrete. Now, be sure that the target is sitting inside or just below the concrete's surface (so that the light targets the concrete). Be sure to check Cast Shadows, and change the Hotspot and Falloff as shown. There, see. That wasn't so hard, was it? On to the back door!

    Next, we're going to create the illusion that our light fixture on the back door actually lights up at night. This is actually a two-part process. First, create a Target Direct (note that it's easier to do this in the left or right view). Since we want the light to shine towards the wall so that it casts a circular glow on the wall, click somewhere behind the wall and drag towards the light fixture. Gmax will name the light "Direct01". This will light up the entire model in perspective view! To correct that condition, check cast shadows and change hotspot and falloff as shown. Next, move the target so that it sits on the wall centered within the light fixture (hotkey "H" is very important, it's nearly impossible to pick that tiny little target by clicking in the viewports). Now, move your light source (in the case of directs, the arrow-looking thingy) until it lines up with the target (try to make sure it's pointed directly towards the target) and is approximately at the edge of the concrete.

    Remember I said this would be a two-part process? To finish the illusion that the light fixture is actually lit up, create a new target spot. Place the lamp on the light fixture, and the target on the concrete just in front of the edge of the foundation. Gmax will name this one "Spot02". Why in front and not directly underneath? Because if you shine a spot directly down on a solid object, the only light will be on the object with Cast Shadows turned on. Be sure to check the cast shadows box and change the hotspot and falloff to what I show. It's important to remember to do this, because gmax will remember the hotspot and falloff for the last light you created.
    I have no idea what kind of measurements the hotspot and falloff correspond to since they are different for spots and directs. Trust me, after playing with lights for days on end, these will do just nicely.
    I'll get a little more in-depth with lighting like this later on (in the advanced tips section).
    At this point, add the preface "nitelite" to all of your new lights. This way, they will only be turned on at night. If you don't, then they will always be on, making your model way too dang it bright.
    ex. Change "Spot01" to "niteliteSpot01" - gmax will automatically change the name of the target.

    If all of those yellow lines and such for the night lights is going to be in your way, you can go to the Display tab (the screen-looking thing) and check the objects you want to hide. Take note that the model itself will stay dark. We're going to light up the windows the easy way (for now), so click on the Utilities tab (the hammer), click on the BAT button, then expand the Parameters rollout. Under Night Windows, change the drop-down box to "Blue".
    Next, select random panes of glass on your model and preface the name with "nite". This tells gmax and SC4 to replace that window texture with the default night lighting texture (in this case, the blue one) instead of the window texture. Take note that when I'm lighting windows like this, if I ever light a window on a corner, I also light the one on the other side of the corner to give the illusion of a "corner office". For this model, I picked 14 windows listed below:
    Windows - Glass Windows - Glass02 Windows - Glass04 Windows - Glass06 Windows - Glass07 Windows - Glass10 Windows - Glass11 Windows - Glass12 Windows - Glass15 Windows - Glass16 Windows - Glass20 Windows - Glass23 Windows - Glass24 Windows - Glass26 You might also notice that I lit some windows in groups. This is because I think this building's rooms, for the most part, will be more than one window wide.
    You'll also want to change add nite to the front of "Lighting - Back Door".
    Now would be an excellent time to save.

    Time for some fun! Make sure the perspective view is the port that's active, click on the Utilities tab, the BAT button, and expand the preview rollout. From here, you can pick what your preview render will look like. You can pick from zooms 1-5, and views from north, south, east, or west (S is the front, N is the back, E and W are the left and right walls). We don't want to really see the detail in this model, we just really want to get an idea what it looks like, so under "Preview", make sure quality is set to low, the view is South, and hit the Day & Night button. You'll get the front view of your building in both day and night renders, something like this:

    You will need to move the night render window to see the day render. Looks pretty good, huh? At this point, you could render all four sides and fine-tune your lighting if you'd like. I think it's going to look fine, so we won't do that (but you can if you want to).
    We're almost ready to export. If we exported right now, then when you got to the Lot Editor the building would be doing all sorts of "floating" (the box showing the building would be in one place, but the actual model would show somewhere else). Don't worry, we're going to fix it. I don't expect you to do all that modelling for nothing!
    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1, part 2, part 4
  5. CT14 liked an article by phillippbo, BAT Essentials Part 4   
    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1, part 2, part 3
     
     
     
    Getting It In Game
    Exporting, the PM, and the LE
     

    Well, now, we've got a model all ready to go, but now what? This next part is by far the simplest thing you're going to do in the BAT.
    If you haven't already, save the file.
     

    On the Utilities Tab, pick the BAT button, and on the Export rollout hit the Export button. The default for export is "High", but if you're simply doing a test export to see what it'll look like, you can pick from Medium, Low, and Draft. If you pick anything other than "High", gmax will ask if you're sure.
     
    The next step is to sit back and wait. Or, if you have an extremely large or complex model, you'll wait, and wait, and wait, and wait..... While rendering, the computer can run other processes, but I'd recommend shutting down anything else running. The BAT's renderer can be so picky about things, so I prefer not to take chances.
     

    On my computer, this export took about 17 and a half minutes. Yours may take longer, or may take less time, depending on your particular system.
     
    Excellent! Now that you're through with gmax, go ahead and close that program. It may prompt you to save (it always does for me), it's completely up to you whether or not you do that. I have heard that if you save after an export, and then try to change the model later, you'll run into MAJOR problems. I would recommend clicking "no", unless you forgot to save before the export (better to have a few issues than lose all changes, right).
     

    Now, open up the SC4 Plugin Manager. You'll be presented with a window that looks something like the one above. It's actually a relatively simple interface:
    1. The Navigation "Tree" - This is where you'll drag and drop your model. Every single possible type of building is listed here. Wherever you "drop" your model is how it will be defined for SC4 and the LE. If you drop it into "Fire Station", for example, the building will be recognized by SC4 as a fire house and react to it accordingly.
    2. The Navigation "Window" - At first, this is where all of your models are listed. This is based on what's in your My Documents >Sim City 4>Plugins folder.
    3. The Toolbars (not numbered) - Not actually a whole heck of a lot you can do here. You can change how the information shows in the navigation window, "refresh" the screen (if you added something into the Plugins folder after the PM was opened), and view the PM's settings. You can not actually change the settings (and for good reason - you wouldn't want it to stop working, would you).
     

    Since BAT Tutorial, Inc is going to be an office, but surely isn't fancy enough for §§§, then we'll need to make it a CO§§. Scroll down the navigation tree until you see "R-C-I >Commercial Office >(CO$)Medium Wealth". Now, find your building (I named mine "tutorial") and drag it into the medium wealth commercial office spot. The PM will pop up with the next screen.
     

    The Properties Editor allows you to make changes to this building's attributes. Take note that this is the CO window. R, C, I, Landmark, Parks, etc will have different values here depending on what they do. I simply don't have the space to explain them all to you, but if you have a question don't be afraid to ask me. This is a breakdown of what you can do here:
     
    Building Value - How much this building is worth in Simoleons.
     
    Bulldoze Cost - How much it will cost the city to tear it down.
     
    Capacity Satisfied - Actually, pretty complex. This is a pair of values: the first is a hexidecimal code that points to a certain demand or capacity (in this case, CO), the second is how much of that capacity this building satisfies. In the case of this building, the second number is how many people will be employed (this can change depending upon which capacity or demand the hex number points to - check out the Mods section for the hex codes). You can check the box next to "Hex" to display in the hexadecimal format (hex is shown like 0x00000000).
     
    Construction Time - How long it will take for the construction crew to finish.
     
    Exemplar Name - How you will find your building in the LE - also, the name that will show when you query the building.
     
    Flammability - How likely the building is to catch fire (the higher the number, the more likely).
     
    MaxFireStage - How long it will take the building, once on fire, to burn completely down (not sure as to how it converts to real-life terms).
     
    Pollution at center - How much pollution this building produces broken down by air, water, garbage and radiation, in that order - don't get carried away here!
     
    Pollution Radii - The radius of pollution - ie the size of the circle this building will pollute, expressed in "cells".
     
    Water/Power Consumed - How much water and power this building uses, I assume it corresponds to the same units the in-game buildings produce, but haven't tested enough to be sure. Do not get too carried away!
     
    Worth - If this building is levelled by the robot (or any other disaster) how much it will report to the disaster tally - ie, if you have 1000 here, if you lose the building to a volcano, §1,000 will be added to the disaster total.
     
    The little window at the bottom just above the OK button gives you a short description of what the boxes do when you highlight them. Remember that some boxes let you type directly in them, some are drop-down menus, and the rest are lists (you have to hit the "ellipses" button - it looks like it's got 3 dots on it - to change the values). For now, we're just going to change the Exemplar Name to "BAT Tutorial, Inc" (without the quotes) and leave everything else alone. Take note that the PM will assign default values it feels are appropriate for the building based on its volume.
     
    The Common Tab lets you assign the building to a Building or Prop Family (it's a lot to explain if you don't know what they are - the help file for the LE should help you with this), Advanced Tab lets you choose what foundation you want on this building, Plugins Tab tells you what plugins this description file depends on (it will usually only be your model, unless you've done some tweaking in the Reader or DatGen), and the General Tab tells you all kinds of stuff that may or may not be important to you. Note that you can make no changes to Plugins and General.
     

    Once you've made all the changes you'd like to make, hit "OK" and the PM will give you the above window. If you ever want to make changes, you can always come back to the PM, click on the category in the navigation tree, and double-click your description file to make changes. You will not have to re-build the lot or re-export the model for the changes to take effect.
    That's it for the PM, so you can go ahead and close it. Next, the Lot Editor. I'm going to explain to you very basically how to put your BAT creation on a lot. If you need to know how to use the LE itself, I'd suggest looking for the guide included with it. It will either be in:
     
    Start >Programs (All Programs in XP)> Maxis SimCity 4 Lot Editor Manual
    -or-
    C:\Program Files\Maxis\Sim City 4\Lot Editor Manual (HTML document)
     

    When you open the Lot Editor, you will need to pick a lot to modify. Be careful what you pick here. The lot you pick must be the same type (ie - CO, CS, R, etc) and at least large enough to accommodate your building. The wealth level (ie - §§§, §§, or § is unimportant. I always pick a lot at least a bit bigger than what I'm looking for.
    NOTE: If you get into the lot and can't locate your building, double-check to make sure you are in the right type and the lot is definately big enough to accomodate the building. Sometimes, if I can't locate my building, I make the lot way too big for what I'm trying to do just to make sure it's not that the building is out of scale.
     

    To get your building on this lot, first go to the Building tab, click on "Replace Item", find your building and click on it, click "OK", and create your lot as you see fit. Notice I made this one a 2x3 instead of a 3x3 like I said I would? That's a matter of personal preference, but when I looked I thought this building would look better on a smaller lot. Besides, it's my tutorial and I can do what I want. So there. (LOL)
    Once you're ready to save, click the "Save As" button (this is very, very important - otherwise you will overwrite whatever lot you picked to begin with). Give it some kind of appropriate name in the "Select Name" box. The LE will automatically give you the type, wealth level, growth stage, and lot size of the lot you originally picked. You can change them to something more appropriate like shown (I like trying to stick with the already established naming scheme - makes everything easier for me, but you can pretty much do whatever you want here as long as its unique).
    We're almost done!
     

    The very last step is to test your lot in the game. I believe this is even more important than getting the perfect-looking lot, or getting that front overhang just so. Nothing in the world is worse (well, there are worse things, but this is an example) than uploading a lot that you say does X, Y, and Z, but it doesn't. This is also part of where the temptation comes to make a ploppable. Ploppables are a dime a dozen, but growables will get noticed. There is absolutely nothing wrong, however, if you make a ploppable version (you may want to look into getting the RCI Plop Mod from ST by RalphaelNinja), but you must test both. What you'll be looking for here is little out of the ordinary things, like the query name isn't right, or the number of jobs is way out of proportion, or things like the circled foundation. In addition, you'll want to make sure that the building turned out like you wanted it to.
     
    Remember how dark everything looked in gmax? It will not quite look the same in SC4. You may notice most (or all) of the textures turned out lighter than you anticipated. I chose some of the textures on purpose to demonstrate this. At this point, you'd probably want to go back to your model and tweak it. Whenever you pick textures, just remember to get it about 2 or sometimes 3 shades darker than you actually want it to look (if you have a high-falutin' program like Fireworks or Photoshop, they can really help with this).
     
    Take note that if you get the lot into the game and find out that something isn't quite right with the model, then it's perfectly OK to change the model and re-export. At least with all the files I've used, the export will overwrite the old one (which means it keeps everything you had originally changed to the description and lot, so no need to recreate them). It would also be a good idea (and I usually do this) to define the model as a park just so I can plop it down in the game before I finalize a lot or descriptions just so that I can see what it looks like.
     
    To take care of the foundation, you have a few choices: go back and make your building a perfect rectangle, create a custom foundation, or make it so the lot doesn't conform to slope (or does it very slightly). I wouldn't want to go back and change the model at all. I've heard nothing but trouble comes out of the foundations (though, I've never tried it). The best (and easiest) solution would be to simply make sure the lot either doesn't conform to slope, or that it doesn't do that very much. See the LE manual for help with that.
     

    (In the first export, I had to fix a problem and forgot to change the windows back to blue - sorry if that caused any confusion.) I replaced the a couple of the offending light textures with darker ones. I think it looks a lot better! (In case you're wondering, the corners and window sills were replaced with the same texture that was used on the foundation/roof overhangs - the foundation/roof overhangs were replaced with this texture.)
    Of course, this little building doesn't come very near Maxis quality, but it'll get you off to a very good start!
    Happy BATting!
    Please Note: This texture is not presently available to download... it should be available within a few weeks.
      Appendix
    Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting
     
    This page will cover a (very limited) few more advanced tips, some time-saving tricks, and a little troubleshooting.
    First, the troubleshooting.

    Don't you just hate it when something like this happens? This one is simple, the building was not centered on the origin before it was exported. Simply go back into gmax, center the building (group the whole building and X/Y move it to 0). They get harder, I promise.
     

    What if in the render, or in the LE and SC4 all you see is something like this sitting on your lot instead of your nice, beautiful building? This one's simple too, the LODs are too small for the model. Refitting LODs in the BAT rollout will fix this one. The difficult ones are coming, I really do promise.
     

    If you get something like this, watch out cause your model is done for...
    No, just kidding, it can be fixed. Maxis suggested that the above problems could be a lighting rig or LOD problem and suggested that the lighting rig should be deleted, then re-fitted, and the same for the LODs. For me, that didn't work. Instead, I did the following (can be considered a general "fix-all" solution for something really wonky that nobody seems to know what it is):
    1. Select your entire model, leaving out any cameras or lights you didn't add;
    2. Go to File >Save Selected and give your building a unique name (this is the same as exporting just roof junk);
    3. Open a completely clean BAT file (the best way to make sure this happens is close the BAT and re-open);
    4. Go to File >Merge and select your building model;
    5. Re-export.
    Problem solved! Something like this is just like Maxis suggested, an LOD or Lighting/Camera Rig problem. Since it went all buggy for no apparent reason, it's a good idea to start with a clean slate. Note that first, you may want to double-check to make sure you don't have any geometry or splines unexpectedly sticking way out of the model.
     

    If you export your new skyscraper, and then notice to your dismay that the lights don't seem to go all the way up, it can be heartbreaking. This is usually (not always) a lighting rig problem (ie - the rig isn't big enough for your building). To fix this, delete your current lighting rig by going to File >XRef Scene and removing whatever's there. Next, hit the "Add" and navigate to:
    C:\gmax\gamepacks\BAT\scenes\CamLightRigs
    There are four lighting rigs - Rig (default), RigMedium, RigBig, and RigHuge. Maxis seemed to indicate that these rigs should accomodate all possible sizes of buildings, but it is possible to create your own (I'm not even going to begin to get into that - check the BAT help files for more information). My suggestion would be that if the huge rig is still too small for your building, then your building will probably cause all kinds of problems in game due to its size. Scale it.
     

    Suppose you've gone through all the hard work of creating a building, exporting it, and putting it in the game only to find out it's way out of scale? Or, suppose you want to re-use your gorgeous HVAC unit and turns out it looks way too big on your new building? Select and Scale will help here.
    - WARNING -
    This becomes very tedious. It's always better to try keeping the correct scale in mind at all times.
    The first thing you'd want to do is decide exactly what needs scaling. Does the entire building need to be taller? Shorter? Wider? Or maybe that overhang is too small after all? What you'd want to do is select everything you want to scale (most likely it's going to be the entire building) and group them (not absolutely necessary, but it really helps). Next, you'll need to pick one of the scaling options:
    1. Select and Uniform Scale - keeps the object's proportions while scaling - so if you make the building narrower, it will also make it shorter and smaller front to back.
    2. Select and Nonuniform Scale - does not keep the proportions - will give it a "stretched" or "squashed" look - whatever you change will be the only scale changed.
    3. Select and Squash - seems to do just about what Nonuniform Scale does, but I've never really used it.
    Once you have your scaling option selected, and your objects grouped, it's now time to scale! Unfortunately, scaling doesn't seem to be an exact science as shorter buildings in SC4 have been exaggerated to show detail and taller ones have been scaled back so they're not overwhelming (but if you model the way I showed you, this shouldn't be a problem). What you're going to do is type in whatever you want to change in X, Y, and Z. Just like with moving, X will always change left/right, Y front/back, and Z up/down. The numbers in these boxes are percentages, so if you want to increase the height by 10%, then you'd type 110 in the Z box. If you make a mistake, it's easily undone by changing the number back to 100. Just be forewarned, you can spend hours scaling something and still have it turn out wrong. Also, if all you need to change is the building itself and none of it's detailing, you will need to manually move the detailing back to where it should be. See, told ya it can be very tedious.
    NOTE: If you change the value for Z, you will have to place the building back on the X/Y plane (2d world), or else you'll lose that part of your model underground!
    With enough attention to detail, with just the information I've given, you can model some pretty amazing stuff.
    Some tips:
    1. Detail, detail, detail - almost every detail you put in will show in the render.
    2. Text - for any kind of text to show well at all, it needs to be extruded (just like any other spline) - for something that's "painted on", an extrude of 0.1 or a little less will do nicely.
    3. Textures - they need to be at least 2 shades darker than you think they need to be to show like you expect them to.
    4. Realistic buildings - avoid faking detail like the plague! Yes, the above model has faked detail, but just like MaxisBrian (I believe it was) suggested, detail should never be added with textures, textures should accentuate the detail.
    5. Don't overlook the lot - you can have the bestest BAT building in the whole wide world, but if your lot is grass with a tree or two, people will likely ignore it.
    6. Windows - it is OK to place a rectangle behind the glass of a window to give it the illusion something's going on inside - how insane would it be to model every single room of a 55-story office building (note that you can put one huge rectangle behind the glass and use a bitmap with lots of little squares going on)?
    7. Window glass - instead of modeling every single pane of glass, why not put one huge rectangle centered in the wall? This is great if you're going to do the night lighting inside modeled rooms, not so handy if you're going to use "nite" to light up the glass.
    8. Never release before you're ready - no matter how much other people are pressuring you to release your work, remember that the building and the lot reflect on you. If it's not exactly how you want it, keep working and ignore the beggars! After all, what's most important is that you're happy with it, right?
    9. Save often, and in multiple places - you never know when your file will be corrupted or your computer will lock!
    10. If you don't know and can't find it, ask - the only way you'll ever know is to ask if you can't find the answer on your own. The only stupid question is the one never asked!

     
    Now that we're just about finished, a few tricks:

    If you're creating a taller building, like this 20-story office building (well, the wall of one), array is your best friend. Just like when you arrayed the window openings on BAT Tutorial, Inc, you will need to array your windows across. Unlike the tutorial building, however, you will also need to array the windows up. To accomplish this, you'll set your 1D array just like you would if it were only 1 floor, and change the 2D array (make sure to select the radio button) to the number of floors. Note that here, it's only necessary to make the Z for 2D the height of the floors. A few seconds later, you have a wall full of window openings! (After an extrude, of course.)
     

    Let's suppose that you have something like the upper left-hand picture, but you want it to look more like the night render? You'd need to light it, of course! (I did this one in a bit of a hurry, so it looks like crud - but anyway.) I'm really not going to explain this in explicit detail, but I included a screenie of the settings I used for this particular model. In this model, there are 6 spots and one omni light. Also, if you want shadows to cast onto the ground, you'll need to put something on the ground in the BAT - otherwise no shadows for you!
    The lighting above is for example only. Whenever I'm lighting a model, I usually end up playing with the settings and doing test renders over and over. Just remember that for this, unlike the texturing, SC4 has a tendency to make lights darker. That means you'll need the lighting to be a bit brighter than you actually want it to turn out. (For Vu Quest, I think I did about 30 or so test renders, and 4 exports.)
    Now, a few tips about editing your splines.
     

    Let's say you want a nice, bendy shape like this one? All you have to do is put an edit spline modifier on a spline (like a rectangle), use the selection method of "Vertex" in the edit spline rollout, and move the verticies up.
     

    If you move those little green boxes around, you can change the curve of the line.
     

    You can also delete verticies to create interesting shapes. If you delete a vertex, gmax will connect that side between the two verticies that the deleted vertex used to lie in the middle of. Be careful, though. If you delete all of the verticies, they will disappear, but the spline will still be there.
     

    If you want to create a quick and simple arch (this can be a little tedious if you don't have a good eye for it) you can simply edit the spline. All you have to do is apply an edit spline modifier to the rectangle, and (using the selection method of "Vertex") pick individual verticies to move the green boxes around until you get a pretty good curve out of it.
     

    Lastly, if you don't want the sides to be curved, but don't want to mess around with changing the curve of the line, an edit mesh modifier is for you. Slap an edit mesh modifier on your spline, choose vertex or face in the rollout, and move until your heart's content. There will be no curvature to the faces, they'll just use the shortest possible distance.
     

    That looks complicated, don't it? Well, I'll explain it. Let's suppose you wanted to make a roof like what's on top of Vu Med farther up the page. You'd follow these steps:
    1. Set Grid and Snap Settings to "Vertex" and "Grid Points".
    2. Assuming you already have an extruded rectangle on the roof, snap a pattern of lines like so (note that you have to complete each side - ie, the shapes on all four sides are complete polygons). When you snap that last vertex, window 7 will appear. Click "Yes" so that the shape becomes one poly.
    3. Put an edit mesh modifier on each of your roof sides, and you can either use the "Vertex" or "Face" selection method in the edit mesh rollout to move the tops of them up like so.
    4. Snap a rectangle into the opening in the top, and move it down a bit. Also, in this step, you'll need to snap rectangles in the empty space between the rooftop and the upper edge of your side roof pieces (4A). For these, the rectangle will be made facing you. So, if you snap the rectangle in the left view, the rectangle will be facing left. So you don't have to go through messy extrudes, simply rotate the rectangle 180 degrees to face the opposite direction. Clone and/or create new rectangles until you have all of the empty space filled.
    5. So there's some kind of edging to this roof, snap lines with the Generate Mapping Coords and Display Mesh boxes checked. Note that for this, you only snap the lines where you don't already have one - you don't want them to overlap.
    6. SUCCESS! You now have a complex-looking, but pretty simple to make, rooftop for your new buildings.
     

    Remember when we deleted part of our bend pipe for the back of the HVAC and I said I'd show you how to fill in the empty spaces later? I didn't lie, it just took me awhile to get to it. (Go back to Minute Details if you don't remember about this.)
    OK, I took a cylinder, put an edit mesh modifier on it, and using select "Vertex" deleted all but the outer 3 rings. This will leave the back part of the object empty and see-thru. To fix that, you'd need to pick "Edge" selection in the Edit Mesh rollout, and rotate one of your viewports until you can clearly see just the back part of the cylinder (like the picture with the yellow circle on it). Very carefully, select the edge that's over the empty area (it will turn red). Next, in the "Edit Geometry" rollout, change the Extrude to the negative of the height of your shape and hit the Extrude button (ie- if your geometry was 120 meters tall, then the extrude would be -120). Do this for all the remaining edges until the back is filled in.
    Remember also that if you fill in the back of the cylinder this way, the back will be one face. This means that if you put a texture on it, it will be stretched across the back face. Just thought I'd warn you so you didn't get the same nasty surprise I got.
    When you're done, you will notice some very strange shading on the geometry. Do not worry about this at all, it doesn't show in the render.
    Well, I could go on and on and on with tips and tricks, but I suppose that's about it for now. Using all of the methods I've shown you, some pretty impressive buildings should begin to appear on the STEX.
    Remember our deal, though, NO DUPLICATES OF BAT TUTORIAL, INC. Please - I don't wanna get in trouble with Grampa Al or dirk.
    HAPPY BATTING!
    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1, part 2, part 3
  6. CT14 liked an article by SimGoober, Making A Functional Landmark Lot   


    Skill Level : Intermediate
    Please PM STomnibus if you have any questions about this article.



    The purpose of this tutorial is to help lot builders build the most functional lot possible, so that it functions as closely as possible to a Maxis made lot. The most common type of plop made is a commercial lot, so I will use that as an example. Commercial Offices and Services (CS & CO) lots are made almost identically, so the steps are the same. Residential plops will not work properly in game; they tend to abandon over time. This is a known problem, and does not seem to be able to be fixed, so I wouldn't start there. Industrial plops are also possible; the steps should be very similar. Ploppable industrials may not function quite as well as a Maxis lot, but get pretty close. For this exercise, I will make a Cs$ Lot.

    To complete this process, I will use four programs; Plugin Manager, Lot Editor, Ilive's Reader and Ilive's LEProp. Reader can do everything that LEProp can do, but LEProp is simpler for some steps. You could also use DarkMatters DatGen, it should work just as well. I started modding using Reader, so am most familiar with it, which is why I'll use it for this. You should be fairly comfortable with these programs before attempting this, as you will do a lot with them. The Plugin Manager and the Lot Editor are available at the official Simcity Site : SimCity.Ea.Com. Ilive's Reader and LEProp are both in the Mods section of SimTropolis.

    There are numerous methods used to do this process; this happens to be the method I use, and find the easiest to deal with. It also eliminates the chance of the plop lot "growing" on it's own, which other methods sometimes have a problem with.

    A note on lot wealth. It is easy to want to assign your lot to a higher wealth group (Cs$ instead of Cs$). Be realistic here; many jobs out there are lower income, so the buildings should be as well. And demand for high wealth lots is low in newer cities, so only established cities will have higher wealth lots needed.


    The process of doing this will be done in stages, as follows :

    Part 1) Build Your Model
    Part 2) The Plugin Manager
    Part 3) Building the Lot
    Part 4) Modding your Lot
    Part 1) Build your model

    If you haven't figured out the BAT yet, then this is not the place to learn it. Once you have a model of your own, or one you have down loaded and wish to change, then continue. The only thing I will mention here is before you start, make sure your model has an appropriate name. For the ease of everyone involved, start a naming convention along these lines: Begin the name with a "tag" unique to yourself. Generally, a few letter abbreviation of your screen name works well. I use "SG_" as a prefix to all my lots, as my screen name is SimGoober. After that, follow it with a name that accurately describes your lot, and is unique to it. "SG_Store" isn't very helpful when trying to remember what file is what, but "SG_ToysRUs" is. You can edit the name of the file once it is created, but it would be better to rename the model before export, so the name of your GMAX file is the same.


    Part 2) The Plugin Manager.

    If you are converting an existing lot, you can skip this step. Just be sure the lot you want to convert has a landmark and growable version, as you will convert the landmark using the values from the growable. If you don't have both, you may want to start from scratch. For a new creation, follow along.


    Make sure your model file is in the root directory of your My Documents/Simcity/Plugins directory, and not a sub folder. Your directory name may be a variation of that, but it should be similar. If your model is not there, it won't show up in the Plugin Manager (PM). Open the PM, and you should get a screen similar to this:





    If you are not getting the full menu of building choices down the side, then you have a problem with the PM, and need to resolve it before continuing. Most likely, you will need to update your game, and reinstall the PM from the Maxis website.


    Now, in my picture there is only one model showing, for SG_ToysRUs, so I will use that for our demo here. You may have numerous files showing yourself. If your file is not showing, then one of two things has happened:

    1) You didn't put the file where you should have.
    2) You added special characters (#,$,%,^,etc) to the name. PM only recognizes numbers and letters.

    First, we will make a desc file for a growable lot. If you don't want a growable as well, you can delete this file and the lot we create later afterwards, but this helps to get a baseline for some of the values you will need for your functional landmark lot. You can also open this file later to copy some of these values over, which might be simpler than adding them in on their own. Click on the model file, and drag'n'drop it over the Cs$ branch of the File Types tree. This will start the process of making a desc file. If you just click on "OK" at the bottom, you will get a desc file with all the default settings. Don't do that yet, we need to make some minor changes.


    You should get a screen that looks something like this

    There are five tabs across the top, but we are only concerned with the "required" one. This is where we will do all of our changes. On this screen, I will go down the options one at a time:

    Building Value : You can ignore, or change to your liking.
    Bulldoze Cost : You can ignore, or change to your liking.
    Capacity Satisfied : This is what tells the game how many occupants (in this case jobs) the building supplies. It will be 2,4, or 6 numbers, depending on the wealth level (Cs$, Cs$, or Cs$). These numbers are paired; each pair set to a lot wealth. The first number tells the game which lot wealth these occupants go in, the second how many. Don't mess with the first number in each pair, only the second. You can edit the 2nd, 4th, and/or 6th numbers to what you like. The PM generally puts fairly accurate numbers here, but they may differ from what you want.
    Construction Time : Generally ignore, unless you want to change.
    Exemplar Name : Edit this, and add "_Grow" to the end. This is not necessary as the game goes, but makes it easier to tell which desc file is which later, as they all share the same names for the same model. Trust me, just do this for simplicity sake.
    Flamability / Max Fire Stage : Generally, leave as is.
    Pollution at Center : Generally, leave as is, though edit if you feel it is necessary for your lot. The third number is the amount of Garbage this lot produces, and the PM tends to make it pretty big; you may want to reduce it.
    Pollution Radii : Generally ok as is.
    Power Consumed / Water Consumed : Edit if necessary, the water value tends to be high.
    Worth : Generally, leave as is.

    This info will help you make a lot that functions more realistically in the game, as you will apply this information to your landmark desc file as well. You can now hit Enter to save this file.


    Ok, now we will make the landmark desc file. Go back to the top of the left hand menu, and click on your model file again. Now drag'n'drop it over the Landmark branch of the File Types tree, and you should get this screen :





    I'll Go through these options as well. Several of these could be edited to match the growable now, but it is easier to do in the Reader later, with fewer keystrokes. That also reduces the potential for mistakes.

    Budget Item Cost: Generally, Landmarks have a cost per month, but Commercial buildings do not. You can edit this if you like, or ignore it. We will fix that later.
    Bulldoze Cost : Edit as you see fit. Personally, I generally make that 10% of the plop cost, but it can vary a lot.
    Exemplar Name : Again, edit this name, and add _LM to the end.
    Flammability : Ignore for now
    Item Description/Name : These are fairly self explanatory, just be brief with both. The name should be just that, and the description a brief tag line. You can get creative here.
    Landmark Effect : I'd leave this alone, as you probably won't want it on a functional lot. We will remove this property later.
    Max Fire Stage : Ignore for now.
    Mayor Rating Effect : Similar to Landmark Effect.
    Plop Cost : Edit this to a reasonable amount. The default is 110,000, which is fine for a big fancy high rise, but for a local gas station it's a little unreasonable.
    Pollution at Center / Radii : Ignore for now.
    Power / Water Consumed : Ignore for now.
    Wealth : This is an easy lot killer, as if you mess this up, your lot will crash the game. For a Cs$ lot, it is low (1), Cs$ is medium (2), and Cs$ it is High (3). Make sure this matches what lot wealth you have picked. This was the final bug for me to figure out, and a simple one to overlook.

    Now you can save this file (hit enter), and we are on to building the lot.

    Part 3: Building the lot

    Before building your lot, it is a good idea to clean out your plugin directory. Temporarily move any down loaded lots, mods, and the like to a "storage" folder, only keeping those with props or textures you REALLY want to use on your lot. There are two benefits to doing this


    1) The Lot Editor will load faster, and the lists of props will be much shorter and more concise.
    2) The props you use won't be from a lot that someone else may not have, which is what is referred to as a "dependency" . Those props depend on another file being present on everyone's system. Open the lot editor, and choose any Landmark lot, which will begin with the letters "LM". The Sphinx lot is a good one to use, as it has very few things on it to remove. Under the lot tab, increase the lot size to accommodate the building you have created. If in doubt, or you building doesn't show up later, make it bigger. You can always make it smaller once you building is on it. Under the building tab, click replace building, and navigate to the one you want.

    For simplicity sake, remove all the props, overlay textures, and base textures, by deleting them. For the best results, start with a blank slate and add things to it. Make it a practice to always delete an overlay or base texture before applying a new one. On occasion, the one "underneath" may not get deleted, and may show through in game. Add whatever props, textures, flora, etc you want to get the desired affects.

    Once you have set the lot up the way you like it, do a "Save As", and rename your lot. I am going to stress again using a naming convention; the lot name should be very similar to your model and desc file names. This makes organization much neater and easier. For my lot, the model was SG_ToysRUs_xxx.sc4model , the desc file SG_ToysRUs_LM_xxx.sc4desc, and the lot file SG_ToysRUS_xxx.SC4lot . The xxx are the numbers Maxis assigns while creating the file. There are many benefits to doing this from the first lot on; just trust those of us who have learned the hard way. You may also want to include the lot size in the name, for quick reference. I have taken to doing this recently, ie : SG_2x3_ToysRUs_xxx.Sc4Lot
    Now is also a good time to make another copy of this lot, in case you mess up the conversion, and need to start over. Do another "Save As", and add "Backup" to the end of the name. If at any time you need to start over, you can delete the faulty copy, and make a new one quickly from your back up. Exit the lot editor after this.

    Now, Test your lot in game. It will not be functional yet, but it should show up as a landmark. You are not testing for the affects of this lot, but just for appearances. Test it under day and night conditions. If you want to go back and change anything, now is the time. Do not progress to the modding stage until you are happy with it. After it has been modded, sometimes the lot editor will have problems reading it. Also, if you go back and do another save from the lot editor, you may lose some or all of the modded content, and it is not always obvious what is or is not missing. I learned this the hard way also.

    Now, once you have the lot looking the way you want it, it is time to build a growable version. If you don't plan on releasing or using it, make it very simple : add the building only to the same size lot and do a save as. You'll need some of the values from this file to get the plop to work better.

    To make a growable lot, open the Lot Editor, and scroll to any file that begins with "Cs$". This will be a growable, low wealth commercial services lot. Note that medium or high wealth look very similar, they just have more dollar signs. Be careful to choose a lot from the correct lot wealth, and make sure it is an "s" (services) lot, and not an "o" (Office). The numbers after that describe that actual lot, but it doesn't matter which one you pick, as you will change everything. Open it up, and edit everything just like the Landmark you did. Then go back to the main "lot" tab before saving.

    Now before doing a "Save As", look at some of the informations here. The two main things are the lot sizes, and the growth stage. You want to use those when naming this file. The game won't care what you name it, but it makes things a whole lot easier for yourself and the community at large to maintain the naming convention that Maxis started. This way, it's easy to tell at a glance that this is a growable lot, and what growth stage it will appear at.
    Name your file as such : "Cs$" + the growth stage number then the width x depth, then your tag, then the lot name. It should look something like this : Cs$2_3x4_SG_ToysRUs . This tells us at a glance what type of lot this is. It will also make a lot of us happier when we download your lot, that you payed attention!

    Part 4: Modding your Lot
    This is where we will use the Reader program, available from Ilive.

    Ok, now open the Reader program. Open the file for your lot, and you will get a list of different file types. Click on one of the Exemplars, there are usually two. One is a Lot Configuration file ,the other is the Building file.. You can easily tell which is which by the second property "Exemplar Type". The Building exemplar will look like this:


    ,




    Note : The very first property is the Parent Cohort. In the past we edited this field, to make the lot behave as the other similar Maxis lots. We have since learned that this is not necessary, and can actually cause problems. The original list of Parent Cohorts used actually also ties this lot to a building family. This resulted in you building occasionally showing up on the wrong lot! Also, when these values were first determined, we did not have access to the Plugin Manager. With that program, the need to change this field has become redundant. Leave it alone; there is no need to edit anything here.


    Let's do one minor house keeping thing first. Change the property "Exemplar Name". Right now, we are actually working on a copy of the LM desc file we made, copied into this lot file by the Lot Editor. Since this lot will no longer be a Landmark lot, we should change that suffix from "_LM" to "_Plop". This way, if we use the Lot Editor to make another lot with the landmark desc file, we can be sure which version we are using. It can be confusing in the Lot Editor, as if you opened it up again right now, and went to the change buildings tab, there will be two listings for this building! One is the desc file, the other the lot. Unless you know the Instance numbers, you can't tell them apart. Actually, if you won't be making another Landmark lot with this building, it is best to now delete that desc file. It serves no further purpose.


    Now we begin the editing process. There are numerous properties on a Landmark lot, that are not necessary, or not wanted, on a functional commercial lot. There are also numerous with values different from our growable, and we want them to match. So what we will do is delete a bunch of properties, and then copy and paste them from the growable desc file. This is much simpler than adding them one at a time, or editing them each, and reduces the possibilities of entering the wrong values.


    Please note that almost all values shown for the properties in Reader are in Hex format. That is why they look weird. You don't need to understand that format to use it, as Reader will translate any new data to Hex, if you do it right. Basically, any time you need to manually enter a number, do it one of two ways:


    1) Enter it decimal format. When you hit apply, the Reader will change it to Hex.
    2) Enter the full hex number, starting with "0x". This is what to do if you are making a minor tweak to an existing number.

    First, let's delete the unwanted properties. Select the first property to delete; "Pollution at Center". Now, while holding down the Ctrl key, very carefully click on each of the following properties, as shown in this picture :








    Now, very carefully, right click over any of those properties, and select "Delete Property". If you have difficulty Deleting these as a group, it can be done one at a time; it's just a little more tedious.







    You will be asked to confirm. Do so, and they are gone!

    Now we need to add in the correct values. We can do this one of two ways. If you right click over the properties area, you can select "add property", and add properties as necessary. Then you add what you want, as well as the values you need. For what we want to do here, there is an easier way. We will copy the properties we want from the growable desc file we created earlier.


    Open the growable desc file, and select the exemplar file. Don't worry, Reader can have several files open at once, and they are all listed down the left side. We want to select several properties in this file, and copy them to the lot file. First select the Exemplar file, then select the properties; do this by clicking on one of them, then while holding the Ctrl button down, select the rest as well. Select the properties as shown here:








    These are the properties, and a brief description of what they do :




    1) Purpose : Describes the type of lot this is. In our case "Services".
    2) Capacity Satisfied : The number of occupants (jobs or residents) this lot holds, in each wealth category.
    3) Pollution at Center : Pollution types. Easier to copy than enter manually!
    4) Power Consumed : Again easier to copy
    5) Flamability : ditto
    6) Query Exemplar GUID : The type of query this lot uses in game. This is the default commercial query in our case.
    7) Construction Time : Optional. Use if you want this lot to appear under construction when plopped.
    MaxFireStage : Again, copying is easier.
    9) Pollution radii : Ditto.
    10) Worth : The lot worth. For use in case it is destroyed by a disaster.
    11) Occupant Types : Types of Sims that work here. Ties to Capacity Satisfied, and Occupant Groups.
    12) SFX: Query Sound : The sound that plays when the lot is clicked on.
    13) Crane Hints : Related to Construction time.
    14) Water Consumed : Another one to copy.
    15) Building Value : The value of the building, for calculating taxes.

    Once they are selected, right click over one of them, and select "copy properties". This is a real handy tool, which helps keep everything neat and simple, and reduce errors.








    Then go back to the lot file, select the "Building" exemplar, right click over the properties area, and "Paste Properties" into your lot. This is the easier way. Again, you could add these properties in one at a time, but this way reduces chances of errors.


    Now there are just a few clean up things to do. First, lets look at the "OccupantGroups" Property









    For Landmark lots, there should be three values here. The second two are not necessary, and we want to add a new one. Double click on this property and a window opens up with the details. Select the second and third values, and click on remove.



    Now open it again, click on add, and type in the value "0x00013110". Click the first apply button , and you should see two values in the top and the bottom. Hit the bottom apply button, and this window closes and the changes take affect.

    What this does, is add the property "Building:Cs$" to the Occupant groups. I got the value for this from the field directly above the OccupantGroups one : OccupantTypes. The very last value here (in this case, there is one, but for higher wealth lots there are more) is 0x00003110. To get the corresponding occupant group, add a 1 to the fourth position, making it 0x00013110. This field is a minor detail; to my knowledge it only affects the way the in game My Sims function, but it may have other affects as well not understood. It is done in the Growable desc file this way, so I do it this way here as well.



    The last item to look at is the "Item Order". This could be skipped, but is worthy of a note. This property sets up where the lot will appear on the landmark menu. All Maxis lots will have a value of "0", and custom lots default to "1". There is a thread on the SimTrop forums by BigRedFish that explains how to use this value; I would suggest reading it. Here is a link to it : Item Order Exemplar. I use a unique value here myself, and all my lots should group together on the menu. As long as no one else picks my value, it will stay that way. Most custom lots on the STEX maintain that "1" value, and are mixed together.


    The very last step is the most important : SAVE. None of these changes will take effect unless you save the file before exiting.


    Now we will make a couple minor edits to the Lot Config exemplar. These changes allow the lot to function a little better in game, and also prevent this lot from trying to grow. By modding the landmark lot into a functional plop, we have made it very similar to a growable lot. On occasion, the game will forget the difference, and try to make this lot grow. We can fix that by editing a couple fields.

    First open the Lot Config Exemplar: (Note this section has been added, so new files were used for the pics. The values are not the same as the above lot)





    Depending on the size of your lot, and the number of props used, your version probably has a lot more of the "LotConfigPropertyLotObject" properties.

    We need to directly edit three values, and optionally add a fourth. The first value is the "Growth Stage". It defaults to "0x01", which is stage one. Although this lot shouldn't grow at all, we can guarantee it won't grow by changing this. Double click on this property, and in the bottom box, change this to "0xff". Hit the top apply button to change it, and the bottom apply button to exit. This changes the growth stage to decimal value 255, which doesn't exist, so the lot cannot grow.

    The next two values to change are : LotConfigPropertyWealthTypes & LotConfigPropertyPurposeTypes. For a landmark lot, these are usually left blank. For our purposes, we want to have these the same as the growable version of the lot we made. Open that lot, and get the values from there to change these two properties. In this case they are "0x01" and "0x02".

    The last field is the optional one. If you want this lot to appear to go through the construction phase when plopped, you need to add one property here : LotConfigPropertyDoConstruction. Add this by right clicking on the properties side, and select "Add Property". Then use the scroll down list at the top until you find this property. At the bottom box, enter "0x01", and hit the two apply buttons.



    Time to save again, you should be done!

    Once you have saved, you can exit and try your lot out in game. Don't forget to move all your lots in storage back into the plugins directory.



    If your game crashes while using this lot, especially after clicking on it, you probably missed or messed up one of two things : The Capacity Satisfied fields / Lot Wealth relationship, or the query. If the lot wealth doesn't match the types of jobs assigned, the lot may crash, or show "0/0" for jobs. If you have the wrong type of query selected, the game might look for information to fill in this query which this lot doesn't have, and crash.


    You are now done converting your lot. There are many more custom things you can do, but that is not in the realm of this tutorial.
    One quick and easy custom thing to do is add a custom menu icon. You can do this easily if you are good at editing pictures. Open the lot with LEProp, and "save" the menu icon at the bottom of the screen. You can then edit it in a graphics program. MsPaint that comes with Windows can do a fair job for something simple like this. Once you are done, you can "import" your new icon back in, in LEProp again. Also, in LEProp, you can edit the description and name of the lot. One quirk of LeProp; if you save the file from this program without adding text to these fields, It may save blanks here. Actually, it creates text files with these values to use instead of the name and description you added in the PM.
    LEProp can also add other basic custom content as well. Play around with it, and you can change what menu the lot appears in, the descriptions, query sounds and other things. I would suggest just experimenting a bit to see where it goes.


    Credits
    Thanks to Cerulean, Deadwoods and Vlakhaas for help with the original version of this tutorial. For the updates to it, the information was learned mostly from GrampaAl, with a few points from Swamper77 as well. Actually, a comment from Swamper77 started the whole process of "re-learning" this process. Thanks to all!

    enjoy!
  7. CT14 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.
  8. CT14 liked an article by nihonkaranws, Simple Industrial BAT Techniques   
    This tutorial is aimed at teaching anyone competent with Gmax or 3DSmax techniques for making simple industrial BATs. Please note that this is not a tutorial for a beginner, you must understand the basics of BATting prior to following this tutorial. These are techniques that I use for my industrial BATs, and my thoughts on them, so it is not necessary to follow each section through to the end.

    In the tutorial, you will learn to use mesh to your advantage, as well as specific settings to simple objects, and the manipulation of them through all viewports.


    Part I: Modeling a chemical tank

    In the first part, I will teach you the basic modeling of a chemical tank. You may be looking at real life examples, and thinking 'this seems impossible!'. Well, don't fret, it isn't. ;-) All you need is a bit of practice, and enough time on your hands to follow this tutorial.

    Our goal is to make a detailed and well-textured chemical tank, like so:



    ----->>> So, lets start off. In the top viewport, create a cylinder. We will use different setting than default to attain what we want.
    Give the cylinder the settings: radius: 7, height: 32, height segments: 9, cap segments: 1, sides: 40.



    Now we will turn it into into a tank. Start by switching to front viewport, and choosing the 'Edit Mesh' modifier in the righthand panel.
    Make sure your cylinder is selected when you do this.




    Now click on the expand button to the left of the 'Edit Mesh' modifier, and choose 'vertex'.
    Next you should select all the vertices on the very top of the cylinder, and scale them down with the 'select and scale' tool.






    Continue to adjust each level until you get a nice shape, similar to that of a chemical tank. If you don't get it right the first time, you may always adjust it until it looks okay.
    Then move the levels up or down to make the shape like the following:




    Now that we have the basic shape, let's go on to the details. We will start by adding some rings to keep it nice and sturdy.
    In the top viewport, create a tube directly above our tank, with the following settings: radius 1: 7.2, radies 2: 6.8, height: 0.5, height segments: 1, cap segments: 1, sides: 40.




    Now duplicate the tube and move up by 4m. Keep doing this until you get to the the taper beginning.




    Now, create a box in the top viewport, with the following settings. Then position it so that it is at the edge of the cylinder (as shown), and between the top and bottom rings.




    Now duplicate the new tall box, and move it to the opposite side of the cylinder. Select the two (hold ctrl to select multible objects at once), and duplicate through rotating from the top viewport, and rotate 90 degrees. Now select all of the tall boxes, and duplicate by rotation and rotate 45 degrees. Now select them all once more, and rotate duplicating half of 45 degrees (22.5).
    It should now look like this:



    You may now want to choose a nice concrete or metal texture for these beams. Don't texture the main cylinder yet, though.
    Let's go on to the railings. In the top viewport, create a cylinder, with a small radius (for a railing) and about 1.5m tall. Use the same ration duplication method as you used for the support beams, to create a circular railing for the top. Move one of the original tubes up to create a rim forop. Then create a torus to finish it off:



    You may use the same techniques that you have just learned to make a nozzle/spout for the tank, or leave it as it is.
    Now, to end this part of the tutorial, we will texture the tank.

    Find a nice texture. I like to use leaky concrete textures, since I think they look okay. For now, let's use this texture here:



    Apply this new texture to your tank, and go modifiers > UV coordinates > UVW map, and choose cylindrical. Now edit the 'Gizmo', and use your move and scale tools to adjust the position and size of your texture.




    There we have it! Our tank is mostly done. You may want to add a bit more, but everything concerning the tanks can be made nicely with the methods used and applied in this tutorial.
    Make a nice render of your tank, and you are finished!




    Be sure to check back soon for the next part in the series!
  9. CT14 liked an article by dedgren, Tutorial - How To Build A Land Bridge   
    Please PM STomnibus if you have any questions about this tutorial.

    In this tutorial we will learn how to build a land bridge, that is a bridge that is built anywhere above sea level, on land.

    This tutorial was originally published in my Three Rivers Region CJ, in the summer of 2006.

    To sucessfully build a land bridge you will need to download and intstall the "Rain Mod" or "Extra Terrain Tools 2" which can be downloaded <a href="http://www.simtropolis.com/forum/files/file/21531-teirusu-rain-tool-additional-god-mode-terrain-tools-2/"><strong class="bbc">here</strong></a>


    We will build our land bridge in this valley, made with the Mayor Mode valley tool.






    The valley looks good but now we'll make it look even better.



    Select the Roads tool, or better yet, press the [ R ] key.






    Look at the valley carefully, trying to identify the lowest places along its floor....





    ...and start laying short stretches of road on them. Things'll begin to look like this...






    ...and ultimately this.






    Now, we'll select the Demolish tool (and I've been calling it the Bulldoze tool all along- shows you what I know) by clicking on the bulldozer icon or by pressing the [ B ] key, then click-and-drag the tool over an area that covers all the roads just put down.








    Release the mouse button and...






    ...BLAMMO!



    ...sorry, couldn't resist...I'm such a moron...



    Our valley now looks like this. Only a subtle change from before, but the "road" step makes a world of difference when the surface water is laid down.






    The next step is to grade the (real) road out to where we want the bridge abutments.



    I'll note here that many of my roads drop down just a bit into the valley, especially when crossing over larger rivers. Here, to keep things simple, we'll make the bridge deck level with the grade of the surrounding plain.



    Place the roads tool next to an end of the existing road...





    ...and lay a line of single, unconnected road tiles out to where the abutment will be. We'll do this as well on the other side..






    Then we'll drop down several meters (I usually just eyeball about 10-15 game meters) and lay another line of road tiles between where the abutments will be.





    Then, as before...



    fingers in your ears?



    ...blow the whole thing...







    ...




    ...hmmm...must be those new silent explosives...



    Now, before we do anything else, we're going to press [ Ctrl ] [ S ] and...







    ...save the game (I know you've been doing this all along- don't get me started).




    Now once again, select the Roads tool and lay a road tile on the floor of the valley next to the embankment we just created.







    Make a cut through the embankment by laying unconnected road tiles. I've placed a short strip of road at the end of the cut to blend the valley floor level with that beyond the bridge area.






    OK, you know the drill...Demolish tool...fire in the hole!








    When the smoke clears, we'll just drag our road across the valley...right?







    Not!



    Simply dragging a road across just doen't work. We''ll just have to do something about that.



    We'll first select the Mayor Mode Gouge Valleys tool once again.






    Now, position the tool centered over one of the corners of the grid square that is the lowest point directly under the path of our bridge...





    ...and press [ Ctrl ] [ 2 ] to make the tool effect circle (the white circle) very small. Center the circle over the grid square corner...






    ...and ever so quickly left-click the mouse so that the area affected by the tool lowers just a little. You might have to do this a few times to get the hang. It's not an exact task. It's also best to press [ Ctrl ] [ S ] before you do it the first time. That way if you accidentally drill to China (or, if you live in China, to wherever you folks drill deep holes to over there), you can exit the city and start right from where you were.






    Now I hope we have all got the rain mod installed cos, now we are gonna need it... if you haven't go back and do it... go on off you go... the link is at the top of the page...



    Once you install the Rain Mod in your plugins folder and restart the game you will see additional choices in the Level Terrain submenu under the God Mode Terraform icon. Remember, you need to use the God Mode Cheat (press [ Ctrl ] [Alt ] [ Shift ] and left-click on the "Sun" icon while all menus are minimized)








    Now, click on the brand new shiny Rain Tool icon that appears on the submenu...






    ...and...whoa...that's Noah's Ark territory...






    We need a small, localized shower, not the deluge.



    Ahhh, [ Shift ] [ 4 ] makes it all better. Position the tool effect circle over the small depression we just created, and...





    ...let it rain! If you've been successful at doing all this, you'll see some "game" water (yes, it is in fact game water- looks like it, acts like it- it is game water) appear in the area around the depression..






    Now, I'm not going to go off on a discourse about the water created by the Rain Mod. You should check it out for yourself. You can make nifty lakes and other features that are level by nature. There are two very limiting rules, though.



    1. Game water created by the Rain Mod, just like all other game water, will not flow downhill (or uphill, for that matter, but that's just one of Newton's laws at work, I can't remember which one).




    2. Game water created by the Rain Mod, unlike other game water, will disappear when you close your city. Gone. Vanished. Vamoosed. It. Will. Not. Be. There. Next. Time. Sorry, but that's just the way things are.



    But we now have game water under where we plan to put our bridge.







    ...Does that have anything to do with how we make game bridges over land, you ask, perceptively...



    Hoo boy yah it does! Let's drag a road...







    Oh, man, that's cool.



    You even, if the bridge is big enough, get the "game" bridge choice menu.








    How 'bout this one?







    Interesting, but nope...this one?






    Ee-yew! I hate that bridge about 99% of the time, anyway. Another?








    Doesn't toast my biscuits. How about...







    Ohhhh, yeah. That bridge was made for right there. A click of the "Accept" button, and you too have joined the teeming millions that will now also be creating "game" land bridges everywhere in your cities, because it's so easy, and the secret is out.




    A heartbreaker of a rule, though. Just like the game bridges that are automatically created over game "water table" water, you can't place any transportation network (street, road, rail, etc.) under the bridge. That is just so frickin' limiting. In fact, it stinks, and if I could do one thing and one thing only to change SC4 tomorrow, that would be the capability I'd add.



    ...then the next day, of course, I'd add diagonal tunnels, and then the next day...



    So here's what we have.








    Stepping back, a "no grid" view.













    That's it folks. Take care 'til next time.



    Enjoy!




    David