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CorinaMarie

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

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

    Windows Task Manager can give you the appropriate name.

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

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

    Interview with Dirk, Founder of Simtropolis.com
    - Interview conducted by Thunderman

    So Dirk, when and how was the idea born which began the Simtropolis site?

    I guess it was November, 2002 on a dark and stormy night... Conspiring with my cohorts from the SimGolf community, we started a SimCity 4 forum with the colourful name of "Simcity-4.net"!

    At the time, with months before the actual release of Simcity 4, 95% of the chatter on the forum belonged to the five of us. It was kinda silly but really fun.

    Simtropolis eventually emerged from just a forum to an information site, with a little luck and some help from others, we started making some ripples in the SimCity community. I won't forget how back in our early days, big sites like SimGothia helped us make a name for ourselves.

    Which part of simtropolis do you like the most?

    Forums! Naturally, to me they are the most involved, the most interesting and the most engaging part of the site. Our community *was* our forums, this was before any "ST Exchange" was ever built. I still think it's true today. Forums are where I met all my closest online buddies. Forums are the root of everything at Simtropolis, it's where the greatest minds of Simcity met, and together, formed some of the greatest modding groups ever seen in the entire history of the internet! Ok, so forgive me for hyperbolizing, but I'm really proud of our forum community!

    What are your best memories and/or events that you've seen on this site during all those years?

    The Simtropolis Star is by far a highlight. Some of the Moderators and Admins conspired one Christmas to officially register with the International Star Registry, a star called "Simtropolis". That was pretty sweet.

    When Maxis flew Rybolton and I down to visit them in their Oakland office was a good time. Not only did I get to meet Rybo himself, but we got to hang with the development team and sit and chat with the father of SimCity himself, Will Wright. We came back with photos, stories, screenshots the first previews of Rush Hour for the community. Also, being able to meet the webmaster of SimGothia in person was pretty cool too. The three of us drove around San Francisco all night, which was a blast.

    Do you have any idea on how this site has become so popular, looking at a listing of 100.000(!) members?

    Build it and they will come! They come for the great collection of user-created lots, buildings, maps and mods of course! Thankfully, a lot of people love building stuff for other people to download, and there are a lot of people who love downloading! Of course, our forums are still thriving, with a few hundred regular members and lurkers logged on daily.

    What is the worst thing you've seen happen with or on the Simtropolis site?

    Sure, we get some high-drama on here from certain characters, but they are just part of the ebb and flow of virtual life, and it's easy to deal with it. The scary day when we had our bandwidth plug pulled was a pretty grim one. So I guess anything that brings us close to inexistence is pretty lousy.

    Have you ever made a City journal by yourself? And if not, are you planning to make one?

    Nope, never made a City Journal. I get a kick out of seeing how other people build their cities. The truth is, I feel wholly under qualified to post a City Journal!

    What do you do in real life besides web mastering Simtropolis?

    For work, I am the art director for an interactive media company. I'm a big gamer, I'm on Xbox Live, if anyone wants to buddy up some time, just PM me!

    How much time do you spend working on the Simtropolis site?

    I get a lot of help from the other Admins, Moderators, and Chat Ops on day to day maintenance, and it's usually minimal, and we typically have a lot of fun, though some of the tasks are pretty thankless, I'm really grateful for the staff for their daily work.

    Simtropolis is almost going into it's fourth year, do you have any new ideas or big plans for the site for the upcoming year?

    Oh yes, as has always been the case, each year comes another major revision and/or redesign. When exactly, I can't say (I just don't know, not trying to be mysterious) but you can expect a point-five update to the site in the coming weeks.

    What do you find more important in life? Your work, or Simtropolis?

    Well, work pays the bills and keeps me fed and sheltered and financially stable so that is somewhat important. I'm usually never far from Simtropolis, regardless of what's happening in life. As I've said before, Simtropolis has turned into my own version of a Simcity game.

    If you were to be stranded on a desert island with 5 ST members, who would they be and why?

    Let's see, my closest online friends, Skigeek, Rybolton, RalphaelNinja, Aronion and Samantha! Maybe being stranded on a deserted island with them would be kinda fun... and if the numbers 4,8,15,16,23,42 appeared that would be doubly interesting!

    If you'd compare all the Simcity editions that Maxis have produced so far, which edition('s) do you like the most and why?

    For the sake of nostalgia, my favourite edition would be Simcity 2000. I have fond memories of skipping school to stay home and build roads and lay down water pipes!

    Do you read some of the City Journals, and if so, which one(s) do/did you liked the most???

    In the early days, I read almost every one. I don't have as much time, but I do have a few I read. The ones I enjoy the most are those with a unique presentation, with insane level of detail that I always appreciate. I like the ones where the author creates newspapers, ads, drama, and all the little extras that go beyond the game itself. City Journals with high humour are also my favourites.

    Which BATS/LOTS do you like in particurly? And why?

    I like recreations of real-world buildings. I'd like to eventually have almost every major world structure BATted and in our STEX!

    And final question: Would you like to take this opportunity to say/comment anything to the Simtropolis Community?

    What can I say? Thanks for making this community great and fun! Thanks to all the contributors who give us something new on a daily basis. Thanks to all the donors who help keep this little city of ours operating! And thank YOU for reading this, as I'm sure there could have been a dozen other better things worth doing!

    Cheers!

    Thank You Dirk, for taking your precious time for this interview, we all hope that this site may live long and prosper!

  4. CorinaMarie liked an article by Dirktator, Demand, Desirability, and Abandonment   
    Understanding Demand, Desirability and Abandonment


    or "What the heck do they want, how do I give it to them, and why did they leave!?"



    In SimCity 4, demand is your sims’ desire for certain buildings, not so much for certain zones. Zoning will satisfy demand, but you still need to control what type of buildings are built in the zones. Knowing the desirability of the area will help you predict what will likely emerge. Each building that emerges will satisfy part of your demand, and reduce one of your RCI bars. Let’s look at each of the RCI’s.



    1.) Residential Demand
    2.) Commercial & Industrial Demand
    3.) Controlling Demand
    4.) Demand Cap
    5.) Dynamics of Desirability and Demand
    6.) Raising Desirability
    7.) Negative Demand and Abandonment



    Residential Demand



    Residential demand means there is a need for a workforce population in your city, i.e. your C’s and I’s need people to work there. Satisfy residential demand by zoning residential. A common misconception is that players often mistake the three kinds of residential density for the three kinds of residential wealths.



    As a quick aside to clear this up: When you zone residential, you have a choice of Low-, Medium- or High-Density. This does not mean that only low-wealth, medium-wealth, or high-wealth sims will move into low medium or high density zones. You can have a high-wealth sim living in a low-density zone (such as a large Mansion and lots of luxury props). You can have low-wealth sim living in a high-density zone (such as tenements or apartment buildings). You can, to an extent, predict and control what level of wealth sim will move into your zone, by referring to desirability of the area. More on that a little later.



    So, residential demand essentially means you need a workforce. Now take a look at the C and I graphs. If you see demand for IA (agriculture) or ID (dirty industry) or CS§ (commercial service, low-wealth), you know that low-wealth residents are needed. IA and ID only require low-wealth sims to work there (they do not need medium- or high-wealth sims) so, zone some residential in an area that is most desirable to low-wealth sims; i.e., almost anywhere.



    Say you have demand for Co§§ (Commercial office, medium-wealth). It is important to note that anything other than IA or ID or CS§, requires a mix of low-, medium- and high-wealth sims. In the case of Co§§, you need some low-wealth sims, a lot of medium-wealth sims, and some high-wealth sims to satisfy that particular demand. Just be mindful that anything higher than IA, ID or CS§ requires more than one wealth-type of sim.



    So how do you know if R§ or R§§ or R§§§ will show up when you zone residential? Use the desirability data view, check to see where the brightest green spots are for R§§ and R§§§ and zone there. (R§ will pretty much live anywhere.) Should you zone low medium or high density? That’s something you need to judge. If you need a lot of a particular sim, zone high density - if you can afford it. If not, zone medium or lots of low.



    Also, level of wealth is directly correlated to level of education. In other words, the more rich the sim, the smarter he tends to be when he starts out (his EQ is higher). Use education to increase your sim’s EQ rating so they can qualify for higher ranking jobs and move up on the wealth scale. Even if you move completely away from ID, IA or CS§, you still need a small proportion of R§ low-wealth sims for your Commercial offices or High-tech industries (think of them as janitors or secretaries, every business needs them).



    Commercial & Industrial Demand

    Commercial and industrial demand is the need of your sims to have employment. When C or I is high, it means sims need jobs in those sectors. Satisfy your sims’ desire for jobs by zoning the appropriate C or I. Again, as for residential, you can only zone for different densities, not for different types. If there is demand for Co§§ (Commercial office, medium wealth), look to your desirability data view to find the best spots for Co§§ and zone there. As demand for business increases, so will demand for residents. The cyclic nature of RCI is important to grasp. As more jobs are needed, more residents will be required, and as more residents arrive, more jobs will be needed. Also, non-RCI buildings such as (museums, hotels, city hall, etc) will also affect your demand by providing jobs and increasing the demand for more workforce.

    Controlling Demand



    There are several ways to control and curb demand, the most prominent and direct way is through taxes. Shrewd adjusting of tax rates will help you encourage or discourage the demand types. Punish dirty industry by raising taxes for Industrial § for example (although agriculture falls in the category of Industrial §, it never pays taxes so its demand is not directly affected). Keep in mind that raising taxes to discourage demand will continue to have a negative impact on that demand type for several months, even if you lower taxes immediately. Any negative effect will last a minimum of 3 months.



    You can indirectly control demand by providing or not providing the necessary facilities for your sims to evolve, such as health or education. Remember, everything is connected; good health coverage increases desirability which entices richer sims to move in. Educated sims will want to move up to more sophisticated and better paying jobs. If you don’t have the educated workers, you won’t have much more than demand for just ID, IA or Cs§ jobs. Ordinances also affect demand. Clean Air Act, Tourism Promotion, Water Conservation, etc, will have some affect, read about each ordinance to find out how they affect each type of demand.



    Demand Caps



    A demand cap is an upper limit on demand that you will hit once you reach a certain population level. You may be doing all you can to encourage growth, but there just isn’t any demand. To alleviate this cap, make connections to neighbors, place parks and other recreation for your sims. Airports and seaports help raise demand caps for commercial and industry.

    Dynamics of Desirability and Demand



    Areas of land can be desirable to more than one type of developer when you zone. Which one emerges there depends on the current demand. If you have high demand for IHT (industrial high tech), if you zone without much forethought, you may not see any high tech emerge but dirty industry or manufacturing instead. The reason for this is likely desirability; you’ve zoned in an undesirable location for high-tech, possibly too near to pollution, to far from residential in a low land-value area.



    Checking desirable areas for High Tech industries

    The following factors are considered when desirability is calculated: pollution levels, crime, commute or freight times, garbage, health coverage, education coverage, slopes, radiation, traffic volume, and land value (land value increases on higher ground and/or near water or trees). Again, always refer to your desirability data view when zoning for a specific type of demand.



    Raising Desirability



    Residential desirability is fairly straight-forward, they want things any living sim would want. Good education and health coverage (shown in green in your data view), low pollution, low commute times to work, low crime, and low garbage levels. Being near a positive influence structure, such as a beach, mayor’s statue, or park will also increase the desirability of that plot of land. Conversely, negative structures such as landfills and army bases will make it less desirable.

    Commercial desirability can differ depending on the commercial type. For instance, Cs (Commercial service) likes to be near residential, so proximity to a residential area is taken into account when desirability is calculated. Co (Commercial office) however, does not care too much about being near residential, but prefers to be near other commercial offices. Both Cs and Co like to be near residential sims and other commercial offices of the same wealth levels, respectively. The distances to residential or other commercial offices affect the desirability of the lots they are on; so the further away a Commercial service is to a residential area, the lower the desirability.



    Industry has an altogether different set of desirability factors. ID (dirty industry), doesn’t care too much about being near pollution as it generates plenty on its own. ID most importantly cares for short freight trip times and flat land. IM (manufacturing industry) also mainly care for short freight trips and flat land to build on, but, unlike ID, IM dislikes pollution. IHT (High tech industry) cannot tolerate any air pollution at all, so they’ll never likely build next to your dirty industries. IHT have similar desirability requirements as Commercial office and residential; they like parks, low pollution, and short trip lengths to airports or seaports or a neighbor connection. IA (agriculture) will mainly want clean air, low traffic and flat land to develop happily, so keep them in remote clean areas of your map; it not only keeps them happy, it keeps their water pollution - of which they generate plenty - from creeping into your sim’s taps.



    Negative Demand and Abandonment



    Try to avoid getting a negative demand for any of the RCI types, this is shown by a bar dropping beneath the equilibrium line. Negative demand means there is an abundance of that developer type, R, C, or I. Though completely avoiding negative demand for the entire life of your city may be nearly impossible, it will happen at one time or another, you’ll need to understand why it has happened so you can go about remedying the problem, or avoiding it in the future.


    Negative commercial and industrial demand;
    there are more jobs than sims



    There are numerous situations that can arise that can send one of your RCI’s plunging. For example, if you have high commercial demand one moment (sims need more jobs in the commercial sector), and you start zoning for commercial, and then something happens to your residential demand, the result will be insufficient workers to fulfill the new commercial openings. Your commercial will dry up, and buildings will become abandoned.


    Abandoned buildings due to lack of power for extended length of time.




    As an aside: Abandoned buildings are not only an eye-sore, they are highly flammable, have increased crime and don’t pay taxes. Other reasons for abandonment other than negative demand are lack of utilities, water and power, lack of jobs or road access. If a building lacks any of these for a length of time, their occupants will vacate.



    Inversely, if you have high residential demand (commercial or industry requiring more workers) and you zone more residential and then your industry bottoms out, you’ll end up with more workers than jobs. The result is that excess sims move out of your city (something you do not want to happen!), and demand balance will gradually be restored.



    Be careful when developing new sectors, over-development could hurt you. Try to under-develop, don’t zone more than you need to keep demand from plummeting into the negative.



    We’ve only looked at the surface of two of the many factors that affect a sim city, demand and desirability. Remember, that everything is inter-related somehow, and to try to describe one thing without touching on another is nearly impossible for full comprehension.



    Understanding demand and how demand is satisfied is a key concept in beginning to understand how your city works, which in turn, helps you develop the kind of city you want. The more you understand, the more sense of control you have over the destiny of your city, and the less you feel like sitting in the passenger seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

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

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

     
    And here is a comparison shot, to give you an example of how these changes affect your slopes. Each of the networks in this picture are transitioning from a 15m high hill. Even with the slope mod by BRF, the street network takes only three tiles or 48m to descend by 15m. For math aficionados, that's a slope of around 1:3. This is pretty steep, but probably not completely unrealistic in some places. The road takes 4 tiles or 60m by comparison, which is 1:4. As you can see, I've cunningly laid these out from bottom to top, in the order of the slopes gradients. From steepest, to the shallowest slope. If you are still wondering why you need a slope mod, this picture should hopefully show you how much nicer your slopes can be.
     
    Note: I've used Rail stubs to indicate the first three tiles that are at ground level for each network. I've also used PedMalls to help see the slopes better. As you can see, rail has the most restrictive slope of all, so much so, even with my fairly reasonable grades, it doesn't fit in the screenshot.
     
    Using your slope mods more flexibly
     
    Whilst you could have multiple slope mods for a number of different situations, that's quite a complex setup and requires you to close SC4 and move files about. Let's say I want a road to have a slope similar to that of the El-Rail network shown above. Rather than switch to a slope mod permanently with those settings, there is an easier way. Just use the El-Rail tool to draw the slope first, delete it and drag the road down your nice new slope. Using the above picture as reference, you can do this for any network which appears lower down the screenshot, than the slope you require. To put that another way, if you made a slope using the Avenue tool, but then wanted to use it for the Rail network, this would not work. Since the rail network is more restrictive. Using this setup though, you can have quite a bit of flexibility for a number of networks. Note how the Rail networks, including Monorail and Elevated Rail, have the most restrictive slopes of all. That makes a lot of sense when you think about it, since in real life, the gradients they are able to support are much less than cars and other traffic are able to deal with.
     
    Some final hints and tips
    Sim City 4 can be unforgiving at times, it's all too easy when making other changes, for your hard work creating slopes to become unravelled. Just as I have shown above, using PedMalls next to the slope, will lock-in the slope, making it impossible for development and other networks to alter them further.
    Of course, if you wanted a junction halfway down the slope, that now be impossible too. Here's where some planning really comes in handy. Using the four steps shown on the right, you can easily form intersections as part of your slopes.
    Drag the initial slope, here I am using the El-Rail tool for the slope. I have placed pedmalls and used a rail stub to completely flatten the tile where the junction will be. Now you can continue to drag your slope, in this case in two directions, from the stub. I've placed the pedmalls here before I built the road. As you can see, the slopes are working very well. Lastly, I've dragged the street tool, anything with a less restrictive slope would do, parallel to the new road. This makes the surrounding tiles match the slope used for the road. This is useful if you want to zone next to the road, or sometimes for blending into the terrain better. Note: I have not dragged next to the road junction, a gap of one tile must be left here. Because I've used pedmall to lock-in the slope, there would be no danger of messing up our hard work. But if the pedmalls were not present, dragging either of the parallel streets closer to each other, might mean you'd have to start over.
    Another useful thing to know, when zoning next to slopes, the game can actually alter the slope of the transit network. Either when zoning or when buildings develop. Often this is quite undesirable, but there is a way to avoid it. By holding the CTRL key when zoning, the game knows not to change the slopes in either scenario. It does require some thinking about how you zone each area, but is a very handy way to stop the game messing up all our hard work, to keep slopes looking good.
    If you make a partial slope, you can then level off areas using "stubs" as required. Stubs are made by clicking only once with the network tools, such as the Street, Road or Rail, in each tile. As opposed to connecting or drawing them in a line. I prefer to use rail stubs myself, because they do not feature auto-connect. This can catch you out on occasion, causing problems, especially when using the RHW or Streets tool.
    Leave these stubs in place whilst you are building your slopes, to incorporate many different things, that might otherwise look undesirable on uneven terrain. This can be especially useful for incorporating WRC's, TE connections and many other possibilities into your slopes.
  7. CorinaMarie liked an article by Birdin, Config.bmp: How to Make it Yours   
    Making a basic config.bmp that works is really simple, and probably not even worthy of an article in the Omnibus. In fact it's easier than I make it sound just below, but I wanted to be thorough for the engineering types who want to understand every detail. But I figure it's a good place to start before I get to the more fun part of the article.
    First, there's really only one rule regarding how a region is divided into cities: that each city is a square of 1km, 2km, or 4km on a side (aligning to a 1km grid) and the cities can't overlap. For simplicity, most people make their regions so that the cities fill a rectangle (often 16km x 16km) but this isn't completely necessary, as we'll see later.
    Anyway, the config.bmp file is a standard Windows (or OS/2) Bitmap file. The color depth should always be 24 bits (true color) and the width and height in pixels should equal the east-west extent and north-south extent of the region in kilometers, respectively.
    Each pixel represents one square kilometer in the region, and the color of the pixel is determined by the size of the city covering that square. Red (RGB=255,0,0) is for small (1km) cities, green (RGB=0,255,0) for medium (2km), and blue (RGB=0,0,255) for large (4km) cities. For example, a 9x7km region might be divided like this:
    And the config.bmp (enlarged 4x here for clarity) would look like this:
    While I'm at it, I'll note that the dimensions of the greyscale heightmap image can be obtained by multiplying the dimensions of config.bmp by 64 and adding 1. So a 9 by 7 kilometer region would need a greyscale heightmap image of size 577 by 449 pixels.
    All of this so far is just about common knowledge. So far.
    The first "secret" I'm going to tell is how SimCity interprets the colors in config.bmp. Each pixel doesn't have to be one of pure red, green, or blue. In fact, *any* color can theoretically be used in a config.bmp file.
    When SimCity looks at a pixel in config.bmp, all it really cares about is whether or not each channel of the color is 255. Any other value from 0 to 254 might as well be zero. Now any pixel where the red value is 255 and the other two values are not 255, the pixel is considered to be red. Similarly, any color where the red and blue values are 254 or less and the green value is 255 is considered to be green, and any pixel with a blue value of 255 while the red and green values are both not 255, is considered blue. On top of that, any pixel where *no* channel has a value of 255, or if more than one channel has a value of 255, the pixel is considered "other."
    What does SimCity do with "other" pixels? It leaves that part of the region empty. In this way, one can create a region with an irregular shape, even holes or "islands" that aren't connected (even by ocean) to other parts of the region.
    This can actually be useful in reducing import times for custom regions, as SimCity won't take the time to process parts of the region that aren't covered by cities. If a large section of a region is ocean, those parts of the region can be left not covered by cities, and only the playable cities will need time to import.
    One last secret. If possible, SimCity will reduce config.bmp to the smallest possible rectangle containing its red, green, and blue pixels, eliminating "other" pixels on the bottom (south) and right (east) edges.
    Note, SimCity will not crop out pixels that actually represent cities, only empty areas. It will then look for a greyscale heightmap in the *new* dimensions calculated based on the cropped config.bmp.
    This means that theoretically, one can take a 640x480 (or larger) digital photograph, make sure none of the pixels are lighter than (254,254,254) and then place a proper config.bmp in or near the upper-left corner. I wouldn't suggest doing this on Simtropolis's Map Exchange, however, because a .bmp file at that size would be ridiculously large to download, and your map will probably be deleted from the STEX.
    It can be fun, though, to put a nice frame around your config.bmp (leaving extra space in your greyscale image on the top and left sides for the frame, since SimCity won't crop on those sides) or play around with the colors inside the map itself as long as care is taken to make sure you don't change how a pixel will be interpreted by SimCity. Here's an example.
    A simple application of this is Fertile Coast in the STEX There, the colors between the cities are varied a little bit so different cities can be distinguished by a human viewer. Phil's Country and Columbus* show some more advanced techniques. There are endless ways in which people can personalize their config.bmp files. Please use good taste.
    * Columbus was not yet uploaded at the time of this writing, but an enlargement of its config.bmp can be found in the City Journals forum.