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A Trixies Interview with Prophet42

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Great interview!  I always look forward to @Prophet42 popping into a forum discussion or game with clever comments and helpful advice.  A wealth of knowledge with great wit and fantastic taste in music too!  Thanks for the recommendations, btw.  :)

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    • By Hamish

      Trixie Winners Announced - 

      The Llamas have finally been herded, the nominations finally counted, and the medals finally polished. 
      Please join us in congratulating the Trixie winners for 2015 and 2016!

      The Trixies are a celebration of all types of community contributions, ranging from STEX uploads, CJ entries, all the way to forum posts. It's the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the amazing content shared over the past two years, and give a special 'thanks' to your fellow members.
      Nominations were held earlier this year, and since then we've been busy behind the scenes getting this reveal ready. The past two years have flown by, and we are fortunate enough to have an event which we can celebrate community content produced during this time. A big congratulations go out to all winners and nominees for the past two years, and also to everyone who took part in the awards. Whether coming up with ideas or making one or many nominations, the Trixies wouldn't be possible without you all.
      Winners Revealed Below
      Browse through the next two posts which will reveal who has won Trixies each year. We then welcome all recipients to take the stage and say a few words, meanwhile we also encourage everyone to take join in the festivities congratulating the winners and discussing the content.
      2015 Trixie Winners
      City Journal Awards
      Custom Content Awards
      Forum Awards
      Community Awards

      2016 Trixie Winners
      City Journal Awards
      Custom Content Awards
      Forum Awards
      Community Awards

      Click each of the above links to navigate to a specific section, or just keep on reading on...
      Without further adieu, the Trixie winners for 2015 and 2016! 
    • By Dirktator
      Interview with Karoliina Korppoo, lead designer of Cities: Skylines.
      Cities Skylines has sold over 3.5 million copies. Considering the success of Cities Skylines and the intense interest in the launch of SimCity 2013, why do you think the city building genre has so few games?
      Simulation games were until recently seen as slightly outdated and oldfashioned. Simulation, aside from city-builders, has usually been a niche market and not very interesting to the general public. I believe lots of city-builders will emerge is the next couple of years, but the mobile and console trend had previously made them almost obsolete. We have seen in the last few years a sort of “old school revival”, with many developers making games inspired by or based on old classics.
      Both the SimCity series and Cities Skylines have been critiqued by players for flaws in their depth of simulation. Do you think we will have to wait until the advent of human level artificial intelligence before a city building game could have the simulation depth players want?
      When players talk of simulation games, they very often bring realism into the discussion. Realism is important to any simulation game, in allowing the user to have an understanding of the consequences of their actions. Still, realism is usually not a very good direction for a game. Flight Simulators are ultra realistic, but have lost a lot of their game likeness in going for a 1 to 1 simulation of reality. In city-builders, the real building of a city is not very fun and takes a long time. When people pick up a city-builder game, they usually wish to be god-like beings ruling over the whole city, so that they can take actions which have consequences in the game simulation.
      Often when a player asks for more realism or deeper simulation, what they are really talking about is more challenge, or that a certain game feature feels off. This is very valuable feedback, but more often than not is not actual lack of simulation, but rather an usability issue or something to do with balancing. It is very easy to think that if a simulation game feels “off”, it is because of the lack of realism or depth, but from a game developers perspective, we have to be really careful to make sure we understand what the players are really talking about. Making simulation more detailed can have its cost in the game being less fun.
      There are technical limitations to the algorithms we use, and surely they could be improved to make the game world seem even more alive. Currently the level is enough for a very enticing simulation with realistic cities and believable citizens you can relate to.

      Read the full interview at the source.
    • By Hamish
      As part of the upcoming Trixie Season, the Staff team have been interviewing various prominent members of the community and asking them about their favorite STEX files and City Journals over the past two years, inspriation and creative workflow, along with life outside of Simtropolis. So without further ado, please welcome our next guest:
      An Interview with Takingyouthere
      Hi @Takingyouthere,  how are you?
      I'm doing great, thanks for asking.  
      We all have our own unique Simtropolis story. How did you first discover this community?
      I can't recall the specifics as it's been 12 years and 9 months since I joined the site, but I'm pretty sure I found Simtropolis through a link on the maxis simcity 4 site. Back then there were quite a few more active sites than today but Simtropolis has always stood out as one of the best.
      How was it that you first came across the SimCity franchise?
      The first Sim City I played was the original on the Nintendo platform. Even though I was just a little kid who didn't know the first thing about real world city building I somehow became completely enthralled with a game about city building. I still remember building up the old island map from the game over and over again, each time trying to set a new high mark in population;image credit; http://www.simcity.com/en_US/blog/article/Data-Maps-in-SimCity-Part-1

      What have been some of your favourite Simtropolis moments?
      As a highway aficionado the NAM releases are always a big deal for me and release 34 with it's additional flexfly pieces was probably the most exciting release. On a personal note entry 25 of my CJ published last Jan 4th was quite the watershed moment for me, I couldn't believe the community response at that time which was a great source of motivation going forward. As well as when I finally released the HD versions from that niche project of mine, the Towers of Steel(fyi the supertalls are coming!)
      How would you introduce your work to anybody who's new to it?
      The easiest and quickest way would be to take a look at my city journal. If I had to narrow it down I would recommend entries 32, 34, 35, 40 & 41 each one of which shows examples of; my urban city building from close up and afar, transportation networks, industry and landscape work. For a really quick introduction here's three pictures which sums it up best;

      What are the steps in your creative process?
      The creative process for me begins at the regional level. The first step is to figure out a rough estimation of the paths the road and railway networks will take as they meander across the landscape. I don't like simple grid patterns and instead I build my networks more organically and have them 'follow the terrain'. Next I determine the type of development which will be built in specific areas, starting off with large scale infrastructure projects such as power plants and continuing down what types of zoning will be built in each city tile.

      When I start an individual city tile the process is more or less the same. Determine the optimal routing for highways, roadways, railways and other kinds of networks like hydro corridors, this all comes first. After that is done I place all the institutional buildings which are necessary to help the city grow and function properly eg. hospitals, schools, police, etc. This is then followed by the zoning itself. I've really never been interested in intentionally making it difficult for my cities to grow. I like them to build as easily as possible and not have buildings abandon afterwards. The problem that I'm most interested in solving is figuring out how to get people from point A to point B. Unfortunately Sim City 4 is rather limited in realistically simulating real world travel patterns. Some areas end up being overbuild and some underbuilt in regards to the traffic they should have in game. From then on I continue to make adjustments to each network while trying to do everything I can to get sims to use what is available to them. Aside from mmp placement almost everything I do in game serves a functional purpose. I don't want to build a city that is just eye candy alone, it has to be a living and breathing functional entry. At the same time though building placement is very important to me from an aesthetic perspective as well. I'll let things grow organically for a while and see what pops up, but it's rare that I'm ever satisfied with the 'look' of whats been grown. In fact most of my commercial and industrial areas are predominately plopped and I would do the same for residential development if only sims could travel in and out of them. I prefer to be entirely in control of all developments much in the same way as how a real world city council or planning department approves and rejects what kinds of development and what density can be built in any particular location. This comes from being a architectural aficionado and in fact before I switched careers I had want to be an architect. It's only once all the functional aspects of the city are complete that I'll focus on the last step which is beautifying it with mmp's.

      You usually create metropolitan style CJs, what other members are creating similar CJs to yours? How does this competition in your genre help develop your own work? And which piece of their work has inspired you in the past two years?
      There are quite a few other members who also build similar types of urban environments. I think I've probably taken ques & inspiration from nearly all of them at one time or another. I could easily name a dozen or more but in the interest of brevity I'll limit my answer to three examples which focus on what are my favorite types of things to create in game; mmp work, industrial zones & transportation networks. I guess that was kind of obvious for anyone who follows my work  

      I've taken a lot of inspiration last year from @Akallan's R.C.D & Phoenix Project when it comes to landscaping and mmp usage. His work in the genre is simply fantastic and just as great is his willingness to help others in creating their own meticulously landscaped scene. There's many examples of his superb work which I could link to but the one that I think which best highlights his creative ingenuity is Eréphore - Pt. I 

      @Ln X's My SC4 CJ scrapbook has been an invaluable source when its come to creating large-scale industrial zones especially in the earlier days of my CJ when I didn't have the best understanding of scale. Broadsville's Industry part 1 & 2 for instance really opened my eyes up to what was possible with industry; 

      For transportation I highly recommend taking a look at @kingofsimcity's Exploring Onyx. For members who are trying to create more realistic highway networks look no further than Arcadia Metro I & II - that is what it should look like. Also his prodigious use of angled roads continues to inspires me to incorporate more in my own work.

      What advice would you give to a custom content newcomer, who was planning on creating their first item?
      In regards to BATing, I would recommend using 3ds max from the get go. Gmax is easier to use and render your work with but it generally doesn't produce the level of quality that SC4 players expect from custom models today. 3ds has a much longer learning curve but if your having difficulties I would recommend starting a BAT thread, you'll be amazed at how supportive other members of simtropolis can be.
      Tell us one of your favourite pieces from the STEX in 2015 and 2016 and explain what it is about and why this is your favourite piece?
      There are a number of very high quality BAT's that have been released over that time which makes this a difficult question to answer. My favorite would probably be Solar das Paineiras by @JP Schriefer 

      image credit; JP Schriefer
      It's not a well-known building but I choose it for two reasons. First the model and textures used are incredibly detailed. For instance you can clearly see the detailed brickwork on the facade of the building. Secondly, as a art-deco & postmodernism aficionado this type of building style really appeals to me, that is buildings that make use of set backs, solid building surfaces i.e brick & stone and a combination of well integrated and varied building elements, all of which appeals to me which is also why I'm particularly fond of most of JP's releases.
      What's a quality piece of work from the last two years which you think has been overlooked?
      I'll go with a @Simmer2 creation here, some of which haven't gotten as much screen time as they deserve. In particular the SM2 Gogar Tram Depot really stands out with an excellent combination of textures and models laid out over a realistically sized lot(real world).  

      Who is an up-and-coming member that we should look out for next year?
      A few members that haven't been too active on the site yet but who's work shown so far has been excellent are @Mańkowsky, @Artimus, @antsel & @Krisman. 
      You've had a successful year as an entrant in the Simtropolis Challenges, has there been images from other members which have just stunned you? Has there been images which are so different to your usual play style which you think you just couldn't recreate if you tired? 
      I haven't been following some of the more recent competitions but here's one from a little while back which fascinated me; 

      Plantation Metropolis Regional Night View by @pcwhiz24

      On top of being a well designed and great looking road & highway network I'm still in awe of how he got the highways to light up just perfectly like that. 
      Finally, if you had to choose,  would you rather fight a one horse sized duck,  or a hundred duck sized horses?
      I first read that as one house sized duck!!
      But even still a horse is pretty damn big. As long as there's no time limit, I'll take the one hundred duck sized horses please!
      I know I wouldn’t want to face a house sized duck, thats for sure!  
      Thanks for your time, can't wait for the trixies!

      Likewise and thanks again for having me 
    • By Cyclone Boom

      General Feedback Thread - 

      To help pass the time until the Awards Ceremony, here's a place to share your experiences of the new Trixies format. 
      What went well, and how can they be improved for next year? 

      As you're likely aware, this Trixies introduced various changes. Not only being the first time multiple years (2015 & 2016) were combined, but notably nominations were accepted in a special forum, allowing you to post and edit them in private. Based on your ideas, the Default Awards List was also created, and intended to provide a suitable baseline to cover the wide range of site contributions.
      In summary, here's a few possible possible topics of discussion:
      Award Categories
        Total available default awards: 101 Custom Content: 34 City Journals: 40 Community: 27
        Too little?  Just right?  Too many? Spread between categories. Coverage of types/themes? Any confusion or conflicting awards? Did the descriptions help or hinder?

        Nomination Process
        How did you find it compared to years gone by? Were the instructions clear and easy to follow? Was it helpful to edit and view your nominations? Any issues along the way?
        Duration of nomination period: 23 days (including the 2 day extension). Too short?  Just right?  Too long?

        Trixies Build-up
        Interviews To what extent were they helpful / enlightening? Types of questions asked? Format / presentation. More for next year?
        Content lists (2015 / 2016) Did they help with your decision making? Were they a useful reference? Should all content have been included in the lists? Grouping per author or per category?
        Community discussion How could this work better in future?
        Anything else which could be done in build-up?

        Trixies Promotion
        Too sparse?  Just right?  Too excessive? When did you first become aware of the Trixies this time? How useful was the info banner at the top?  Should anything else have been included? Were the countdown timers helpful? Visibility of the Trixies forum. Should any other banners have been added? Homepage features -- were they useful or too repetitive?

        Anything else?
        Post away!  
      We're always looking to improve the Trixies, and this was really a learning experience for everyone. Hopefully it worked well as a comeback after being absent for such a long time. But like anything, there's always room for improvement going forward.
      So if you've any comments or suggestions (even not on the above list), big or small, please post below and we'll take them into consideration. Feel free to post multiple times in this thread to your heart's content.
      And of course, you don't have to answer all the above questions -- they're just pointers.
    • By Hamish
      As part of the upcoming Trixie Season, the Staff team have been interviewing various prominent members of the community and asking them about their favourite STEX files and City Journals over the past two years, inspiration and creative workflow, along with life outside of Simtropolis. So without further adieu, please welcome our next guest @simmaster07, which many of you will seen around the forums, or you may have downloaded one of his many mods.
      An Interview with Simmaster07
      Hi Simmaster07, how are you?
      Fairly busy but otherwise pretty well, thanks for asking!
      What is your earliest memory of the SimCity?
      Oh jeez, I was tiny back then, maybe six years old. I think I was walking through Target or some sort of department store and I was bored, so I dragged my dad to the video games section while my mom did some shopping. For some reason SimCity 3000 was the game that caught my attention, and I guess my parents had no issue with it since it was pretty innocuous.
      Of course as soon as I found the disaster menu I spent a good amount of time spawning locusts and toxic clouds. So much for learning about city planning — though I did manage to get SimCity 4 not long afterward, and that was a pretty good long-term investment.
      Has this game helped inspire you at all in real life endeavours?
      Not directly, but I did learn a lot from Simtropolis after finding it through the SimCity BBS. A lot of aspects of modding tied into my interest in programming in some way, and some of my early content was making tools for things like creating NAM packages for Mac installations or automating city backups. In retrospect a lot of the code was absolutely awful, and that content is deleted now since I didn't feel confident that it would function properly now. Still, that was a big part of the process in allowing me to learn more about programming and create the more advanced mods I've made recently.
      Recently you've been pushing the boundaries of what mods can bring to the game, specifically around features which were left out of the game. What inspires you to create these mods? How much time and effort goes into researching and developing these files?
      The effort to get DLLs capable of modding the game to work has been an effort that dates back to over six years ago. I was in way over my head but heard that Paul Pedriana was the one of the development leads for SimCity and figured I'd email him about how to implement DLLs like the extra cheats mod.

      To my complete and utter surprise, after a bit of back and forth, he did respond with some source code. It was incomplete, but Paul said that it should've been enough to pull it off. My main motivation, up until I got something working, was trying to decipher how to take this code and and get a working program. It took years upon years of accumulating knowledge about programming and debugging to figure it out, and it definitely seems to have been worth it.
      Perhaps most helpful was the community's prior efforts to learn about the game's internals, and I stumbled upon a post from GoaSkinmentioning how the PowerPC Mac port of the game had a lot of debugging information left in the final version. Because of how the game's architecture was modeled, this was actually incredibly helpful in learning about the Windows version and the generic APIs, so I'm extremely grateful that the community documented their findings as well.
      You also created a patch for SimCity, a game more than ten years old,  which fixes a substantial issue that was only found after significant modding. What amount of work goes into finding a fix for such a frustrating crash which so many of us experience?
      Again, it takes a lot of cumulative knowledge from both personal experience and the community. SC4Fix requires some understanding of how assembly language works and how to debug a program without any reference code before you can start to build it. Once you have that, it's not a terrible amount of work to build that patch — especially since the TE lot crash is pretty isolated from the rest of the program — but it's still a good amount of work to get to that point.
      How rewarding is it when you have this idea and toil away until you eventually get the patch working?
      The very first thing I did when I got SC4Fix working, even in a primitive and virtually unreleasable form, was post on the forum, because I was incredibly excited about the prospect of fixing one of the biggest remaining issues with the game and sharing that with as many people as I could, so it was very rewarding to say the least. Even now, over a year after having released it, it still comes up in other threads with people hailing it as a must-have mod now, which is pretty heartwarming.  
      Your work is a source of inspiration for many.  Who's work inspires you?
      Insofar as SC4 modding goes, I've always been inspired by the work of some of my friends and fellow modders here — @Wahrheit, @meister1235, @z1 are a few that come to mind, as well as and especially the NAM Team, which has been here iterating on their work for as long as I've been here, if not longer. They and many other people here piqued my interest in modding the game, and even though I haven't been able to get into BATing or network modding I am glad I've been able to carve out my own niche and contribute that way.
      More broadly, I've been inspired by entrepreneurs like Bill Gates who managed to lead revolutions in how we live and have given back to the global community after achieving that kind of success, as well as programmers like Dennis Ritchie and Linus Torvalds who haven't made billions of dollars but have still contributed with their code and their openness to and advocacy for sharing information.
      (I couldn’t find a way to @ mention bill gates  )
      A lot of the work on mods happens behind the scenes, who has been someone that's helped you the most during development in the past two years?
      I only know of one other person who's tried to pull off DLL modding, and they acted independently for the most part, so I can't say there's anyone or anything in the past two years specifically that has helped me. Unfortunately most resources I used go even further back, especially the forum threads that I used for reference.
      Do you get to sit down and actually play the game very much anymore?
      Sometimes on really long plane rides, but I find myself more fascinated by the game's internals than by the game itself now and so I don't ever really play the game so much as I have it running in the background while I use a debugger and a code editor to dig deeper.
      I used to have a huge Plugins folder with over ten gigabytes of content, but looking at it now it seems I just have the NAM, a few lots, and the extra cheats DLL, which is probably a good analogy for how much I play the game properly now.
      What's a quality piece of work from the last two years which you think has been overlooked?
      I wish I could answer this but I haven't been watching the forums or the STEX closely at all. Generally speaking I notice @CorinaMarie and @rsc204 contributing regularly and probably deserve some recognition, but I might also be just a tad biased since they've tagged me at least a couple of times and their posts usually give me an excuse to investigate some part of the game internals I hadn't considered looking at before. 
      Has here been a STEX file review/comment from the past two years which you absolutely love, or find incredibly funny?
      Not particularly, but it is also generally nice to see people like @T Wrecks consistently offering positive and constructive comments.
      Lastly, what would be your perfect Sunday?
      A good Sunday would probably just be doing something new with my friends.
      Thank you for joining us! We can’t wait for the opening of the nominations which is now just a couple of days away 
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