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sq13610

SC4 Terraformer Files - Request

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Is it possible to allow the .SC4M files created using the recently available and excellent SC4 Terraformer to be uploaded to STEX instead of just the .jpgs?

The files are a bit larger (630K vs 190K for a 1281x897 map) but do allow a region to be presented after using the in-game and terraformer tools to fine tune parts of the landscape. Particularly this avoids the auto-smooth/auto-erode that (imo) ruin my custom regions.

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  • Original Poster
  • The .SC4M files are created by the SC4 terraformer tool (Global Tools/Prepare Export).

    To generate a region you would import the SC4M file into Wouanagaine's terraforer tool and the save the region.

    Advantages:

    1 Takes a tiny fraction of the time that the game takes to generate a region**

    2 No auto-smooth/auto-erode therefore preserving those intricately designed coastlines/rivers (I am a bit of a Slartibartfast when it comes to coastlines).

    ** Just done a quick test and SC4 terraformer to 18 seconds to generate a 1281x897 region with 70 cities. The in game engine took 9 minutes!! (Athlon 64 3500+ 2GB RAM)

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    You need to use SC4Terraformer ( links in my sig )

    Using a jpeg and no special import mod you can't do anything bigger than 600m as I recall, with a resolution of 2.4 m, with my tool you can do things that can range from 0m to 6000m with any precision, and exporting the region will be done with a precision of 0.1m (hence the bigger size )

    here a quick example

    foski6mq.jpg

    this mountains can't be done with a jpeg

    The latest version ( updated today ), can create region from scratch outside the game, and using the .SC4M file it will take only a few second instead of hours when done in SC4

    edit : was writing this when you posted sq13610 4.gif

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    ok I will contact Ynterboy, he's hosting the file

    in the meantime here it is :

    edit : removed The link in the SC4Terraformer thread is now ok ( link in my sig )

    Take care

    PS : I need to go with RL, I hope some testers can tackle with your questions in the meantime 4.gif

    I will reply tomorrow in any case.

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    none 4.gif

    Just press free, than you have a time counter, when the counter come to 0, enter the text display in the image then press download

    PS : I need to go with RL stuff, I hope everything will be ok for you vlakhaas. I asked testers to reply in the SC4Terraformer thread in the meantime

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  • Original Poster
  • Why I love the terraformer and want to be able to upload/download .SC4M files.

    The top image of each pair is the result of an SC4M file being imported into the game and is how I want the region to look. The bottom image of each pair is the result of hitting ctrl+alt+shift+r, importing a .bmp/jpg directly into the game and is, to put it politely, a less than ideal outcome.

    Coastline

    erode.jpg

    River

    erode1.jpg

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    Hello,  Skigeek.

    I am a beta tester for wouanagaine on SC4Terraformer.  wouanagaine has asked me

    to explain a little better about SC4Terraformer.

    Here's a little rundown of the program first, if you are not familiar.  What this program does is allow you to terraform a whole region at once before openning it in SC4.  I will post a couple of pictures of what I have done myself in testing at the end of this post to give you an idea.  This program provides all the essential tools to building a region and more will be added in the future since it is still in beta testing.  Right now in SC4Terraformer graphic settings are low due to being in beta testing but will be upgraded in later versions.  When you are finished terraforming your region in SC4Terraformer you have 2 saving options:

         A you can save it directly to SC4 and then go in load and save each city tile and build your city.

         B you can export your region to a *.SC4M filewouanagaine made the .SC4M file to hold that data that .SC4(city tile files) needs to build the elevations..  For more information goto the

    This *.SC4M file is bigger than a jpeg file.  For a 4x4 large tile region I tested the file size was 956kb.  The reason these files are bigger but better are as follows.  A jpeg in elevation is able to provide a range of 600m at a 2.4m precision level.  A *.SC4M file takes the elevation values for the whole region in 32-bit(how SC4 reads it) code then compresses it to a 16-bit file and then zips the file to make it even smaller, the main benefit to this is that you are able to save the region to a 0.1m precision level and provides range of 6000m instead of 600mAnother huge benefit is time saved.  When you are loading a *.SC4M you dont load it into SC4 you load it into SC4Terraformer which is almost instant and then you save to the region you want it to overwrite which takes about 30 seconds and last but not least you go into SC4 all region tiles will come up as water but when you go into each city tile and start playing your terraformed land will load in the same amount of time that it takes you to load a city normally and you can start playing.  You do not have to Load all city tiles at once you can start playing on one and then go and load the other ones when you are ready to load them instead of waiting 30mins or an hour or even longer when importing a jpeg file.

    I hope this helps explain things a little better.

    SC4Terraformer thread http://www.simtropolis.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=40&threadid=76881&enterthread=y&STARTPAGE=13#last

    This first picture here is a view of SC4Terraformer photoshopped to enhance the color a bit:

    lakehamanoptracopy8ly.jpg

    This second picture is a view of the region in SC4 showing how the region will be shown in SC4:

    lakehamanoptrasc4copy6kp.jpg

    JPlumbley

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    So, let me get this straight...

    As it stands now we have to download a .jpg file from the STEX and wait minutes or hours for the game to render a region...

    With the method you are suggesting we can download these .SC4M files from the STEX...then, open it in the SC4Terraformer Tool and save it as a region...then, go in to the game and open the region and in a matter of 30 seconds I can have a perfectly terraformed city rendered in-game??

    This is awesome!!  It certainly shows a huge flaw from the designers...they never bothered to explore alternate possibilities...you have now done that wouanagaine and provided us with a way to bypass the lengthy process that the game uses to render a custom map...

    SkiGeek - I place my vote for being able to upload these .SC4M files to the STEX as well as the old way of doing it (for those who like the old way or don't have the terraformer tool)...anyone else want to second my motion??  9.gif  2.gif

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    Well it takes 30 seconds in SC4Terraformer to render then it shows up as water in the region view until you go into each city tile and save it the first time but you dont have to load them all at once succesivly like a jpeg does and it is just as fast as loading a city whenever you go to play it.

    Here is a unedited picture of SC4Terreformer:

    insc429mu.jpg

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    makes me wish I hadn't already started a new (and HUGE) region 15.gif I'm considering to do a few city squares in terraformer and drop them in indiviudally, but it would be a pain.

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  • Original Poster
  • Even with the terraformer I think a .bmp/.jpg is still the best way to start. I created a pretty damn fine region with 80 cities in a few hours. Without the terraformer it would have taken days.

    Step 1.

    pallette.png

    I use this 256 colour pallette in Paint Shop Pro to roughly outline the contours of the region ending up with something like this...

    terraincolour.png

    As you can see, the countours are quite widely spaced.

    Step 2.

    Then I use the magic wand tool to select water (Click the water with the tool then go to Selections/Modify/Select Similar).

    Then I invert the selection (Selections/Invert) so that only the land is selected and load a greyscale pallette making sure to tick the "Maintain Indexes" box.

    I can no apply an average blur to the selected area - effectively smoothing the terrain and I end up with something like this .....

    terraingreyscale.png

    Step 3

    This is where the terraformer comes into it's own. I use the terraformer to smooth out the remaining ridgey areas paying careful attention to the city boundaries and add some other  large features in certain areas. The terraformer tools are far more powerful than the in-game tools and can span city boundaries thereby avoiding those annoying reconciled edge problems.

    terraformer.png

    Step 4

    Then I save the city using the terraformer and open up the game for some fine tuning and creating very small features such as the cragginess of the coasts, little ridges, smoothness of river banks etc.

    gameimage.jpg

    Step 5

    When I am happy with the micro detail I can then open the region using the terraformer and export the terrain to an *.SC4M file and share it with everyone EXACTLY as I designed it.

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    SC4Terraformer has another GREAT feature that can't be overlooked. It is an auxilliary program called CONVERTISO that will take a CONTOUR MAP (which you must draw yourself.. but

    I"d MUCH rather do this and get the LAY OF THE LAND into terraformer where I can do sort of a "feature terraform" on "focus areas" to generate what I would move into SC4 for play/occasional tool work for buldings etc..

    Some samples of the countour map usage is contained in the main SC4Terraformer thread HERE. The tool is called ConvertIso and is downloadable from the same download site as SC4Terraformer. You can rough out your ENTIRE MAP to levels as fine as you like (I usually only divide the map into about 8-10 levels but you can get about as fine as you like.. I do the finer work in SC4Terraformer. I'm not very big in regions with HUGE RANGES of altitude, but rather on ranges of say 1000M top to bottom other than a rare mountain range not intended for building on.) This works GREAT on the BROAD PICTURE and is a perfect feed to SC4Terraformer's more "feature oriented" tool set.

    Its a great tool.. try it if you have familiarity with making /editing maps. It has a bit of a learning curve, but is very intuitive to people with map making/forming experience. It also is in beta and is ongoing in testing and development, but is darn mature for a new tool...

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    I have discussed this with SkiGeek, and she agreed to speak with Dirk about providing a place on the STEX for these uploads as soon as the tool is ready for mass consumption, we don't want to confuse the new membership with these file types at the moment and cause future issues if the program changes file types or proceedures between now and the final release date, I would also ask how best do you think these files should be presented on the STEX, were you thinking maybe a Mod Map section, were you could upload a zip of the .sc4m file with a readme, and possibly a Pic and description on the main D/L page?

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    Thank you for replying so quickly greyveil

    On STEX we would like to post as a MAP, with pictures and a description of course. I dont think that a new section needs to be created on STEX, just add the file type of .SC4M to the list of file types for the MAP section. I myself see this a just like any other file you can find on STEX the only real differenece is you HAVE to have the SC4Terrformer to install the map... Kinda like The Reader or SC4Tool for modding lots you might want to change. As of right now .SC4M is and will be the main form of distribution although jpegs and other forms of distribution work with this program aswell.

    I hope this answered your inqueries, any other questions dont hesitate to ask me or wouanagaine.

    JPlumbley

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