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Haljackey

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  1. Jeffy965 liked an article by Haljackey, Bullet Train FAQ   


    There are 5 BTM files in total:


    -BTM version 1 and 2.  Install one of these mods.  (Required)

    -BTM train textures 500în and 800în. Install one of these mods to replace the default monorail train with a custom bullet train.  (Suggested)


    -BTM HSR patch.  Only install this if you want to use the BTM with the HSR mod.  (Optional)



    Screenshots of the BTM shown with other networks:




    Version 1 with the 800în train



    Version 2 with the 500în train






    BTM used with HSR with and without the BTM HSR patch


    (Version 1 on the left, version 2 on the right)

        

     





  2. Haljackey liked an article by SimCoug, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with Tarkus   

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

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

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

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

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

    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    mrbisonm: I was not the first to make BATs, but those which were made by others inspired me of doing some of my own, since I was at my 150th or so LOT and slowly was running out of ideas. So I gave it a shot and surprisingly it came out well, encouraged by myself and a good friend of mine from Simtropolis, GranPa Al, to start BATting myself.

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

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

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

    ST: I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others. What do you consider your least favorite part of the BATing process? Your favorite?
    mrbisonm: My favorite part of BATting is to let my soul wander on its own and create just models as I see them. I have more than 5000 models made, of which most are not finished or not uploaded. My favourite BATting models at the moment are the ones that I am working on for more than 2 years, the MFP1 set, Modern Farm Props, which will have approximately 600 to 700 big models and will change SC4 to SCFarming. It should be ready before summer 2015. The models and modeling can be seen on SC4Devotion.com under...

    The FrankU and Nexis CO-OP

    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Is it exciting to see your models used in the CJs of others?
    mrbisonm: Yes, somewhat it pleases me that others use my LOTs and BATs in their CJs. Comments of others also keep me going and encourage me to continue BATting. I make all these for others to use in their play of course, some are for me and personal use though, for my CJs. BTW, I will start another CJ here on Simtropolis as soon as I finish my farming sets. It will be innovative again and surely something new and interesting. Look out for Tymbactou, my world.

    ST: You released your first file in 2003. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    mrbisonm: I will be proud of the set that I am working on right now. FrankU is fully involved and he will be doing the first lots with my BATs. The MFP 1 should change a lot how we see and play the farming community of SC4.

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

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

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

    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
    mrbisonm: I do not really have the time to look at todays CJs a lot, but sometimes I peak into any random one showed on the highlighted starting page and slowly go through them, sometimes seeing some really good concepts and excellent stories. No preferences though. My favourite scenes differ a lot, I like to look at roadworks, city lines , downtowns, nature, farms and even just landscapes terraformed by our members and players, and anything that SC4 and the Players can come up with. So many possibilities. Like I always say, the limit is your imagination, which sometimes can become mammoth-sized.

    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    mrbisonm: Again, I do not have that much time to look much into other BATters works, but I enjoy anyone who is BATting decently enough. There are some Legends out there, really good ones, some still quite active.

    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    mrbisonm: No, I am not surprised that SC4 is still going strong, along with the site. Both are one today and will continue for long time to come. And yes, there will still be uploads in 12 years from now... hey... I am planning to do an MFP2 set later........

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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