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Hopefully this is the correct spot for this post..........But I recently learned about how SC4 actually uses a load order with its files.

Ive tried reading up on this but I end up getting overwhelmed with screenshots of folder setups and technical lingo.

So, in general, how does one know how to "order" there plugin folders correctly if the provided readme for downloaded files doesn't state anything?

Questions like:

1. Should dependency, prop, and texture folders go at the top or bottom?

2. what about gameplay mods such as slope mods, sidewalk mods, traffic light replacers etc?

My plugins mainly consists of CAM (and every additional CAMeLot that goes with it) NAM, different lot files for R,CO,and IND, a dependency folder with everything I can cram in it, slope mod, some parks and eye candy and such.

Finding and installing everything for the CAM was very time consuming, and I just want to make sure that everything I downloaded is actually being used and shown correctly.

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I cant answer for CAM but  'dependencies' can load in any order. Since a file such as a model file can be a dependency for other lots, it is a false distinction to make, as sometimes that model file will be a particular building and sometimes a 'dependency' for another lot.

You can keep 'prop packs' separate and the same with textures, but im not aware of any advantage of doing so other than your organisation / preference.

There was a 'show us how you organise your plugins' topic here somewhere but i am browsing on a phone with a bad connection so i can't find / link it. It is probably worth a search for some ideas.

Usually mods that require a specific load order will tell you in the readme or on the page you download them from. I imagine this is less for buildings and such and more for things that modify the game at a higher level. Usually creators who post such things are quite clear on specific load orders if required. 

Edit:

Examples

- things that need to load after NAM (network textures, t21 mods etc)

- Slope mods

- Diagonal bridge enabler (shouldnt be in plugins unless actually building a diagonal bridge)

- Terrain mods

- Day / night mods

- Light replacement mod (although i think this is in the category of t21 mod mentioned above)

- Maxis blockers

//edit


  Edited by MissVanleider  

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Wrong approach. It isn't a question of type of content.

2 hours ago, fleuryfury said:

1. Should dependency, prop, and texture folders go at the top or bottom?

Depends. For most props and textures it doesn't matter. But some textures or props override partially other stuff.

Let me do an example: there is a nice park set. There is a pathway and gras and trees and so on. The grass is a texture and the pathway is another texture.

Now someone makes an alternative pathway for this park set.

This means - the new texture has to overwrite the old one. From the original set still the gras and the props are needed but the pathway texture must be overwritten. So the old texture has to be loaded first and the new one second.

So it's impossible to say this kind of content has to be always top this kind of content has to be always down.

On most of the content it doesn't matter. There are only specific circumstances where load order matters.

Mostly this is on mods that do similar things but alternate (partially) an older setting with a newer one. You want to override some of the older functions with newer ones but still have some older functions untouched. So you load the old mod first and then the new one that partially overrides the old.

2 hours ago, fleuryfury said:

2. what about gameplay mods such as slope mods, sidewalk mods, traffic light replacers etc?

No general answer possible. Slope mods: doesn't matter - mostly. But ... the NAM has a built in slope mod for the additional networks (most slope mods cover only the maxis networks). Now it depends - do you want to override them with another one? So the slope mod would be loaded after the NAM.

Sidewalk mod: you want to override the base game - so it doesn't matter. BUT the NAM overrides the base game too. So if you put the sidewalk mod in between the base game and the NAM - last word is on NAM and your sidewalk mod will be overridden by the NAM. So it would be a very last thing to load. So always think: what touches the same thing and which one needs the higher priority. This is to be loaded last.

Traffic light replacers: after the traffic stuff - as 'replace' means the same as overriding. So: loading after the NAM.

Most of the time you can guess it by yourself - just asking: what is replaced what is alternated. Most of the custom content is 'adding'. Adding don't need a specific load order. Only 'replacing'.

 

A good example is the CAM and the NAM.

Both alternate the games traffic system - f.e. the CAM adjusts the network capacities as this is needed with the much larger buildings. Otherwise the CAM would cause traffic colapse. But the NAM does the same.

Now it is not possible to remove this from the CAM as the CAM should work also standalone, without the NAM.

So now load order becomes relevant on this two. As the NAM does partially what the CAM does and vice versa. Now: CAM overriding NAM causes problems to the NAM. NAM overriding CAM doesn't cause problems to the CAM. So first to load CAM. Then to load NAM

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  • Original Poster
  • 38 minutes ago, Fantozzi said:

    No general answer possible. Slope mods: doesn't matter - mostly. But ... the NAM has a built in slope mod for the additional networks (most slope mods cover only the maxis networks). Now it depends - do you want to override them with another one? So the slope mod would be loaded after the NAM.

    Sidewalk mod: you want to override the base game - so it doesn't matter. BUT the NAM overrides the base game too. So if you put the sidewalk mod in between the base game and the NAM - last word is on NAM and your sidewalk mod will be overridden by the NAM. So it would be a very last thing to load. So always think: what touches the same thing and which one needs the higher priority. This is to be loaded last.

    Traffic light replacers: after the traffic stuff - as 'replace' means the same as overriding. So: loading after the NAM.

    Most of the time you can guess it by yourself - just asking: what is replaced what is alternated. Most of the custom content is 'adding'. Adding don't need a specific load order. Only 'replacing'.

     

    A good example is the CAM and the NAM.

    Both alternate the games traffic system - f.e. the CAM adjusts the network capacities as this is needed with the much larger buildings. Otherwise the CAM would cause traffic colapse. But the NAM does the same.

    Now it is not possible to remove this from the CAM as the CAM should work also standalone, without the NAM.

    So now load order becomes relevant on this two. As the NAM does partially what the CAM does and vice versa. Now: CAM overriding NAM causes problems to the NAM. NAM overriding CAM doesn't cause problems to the CAM. So first to load CAM. Then to load NAM

    Perfect! That puts it very clear!

    Now I know what to organize and what not to!

    Thanks again everyone!

     

    P.s. youll probably see my name popping up more and more on the forums because I am now officially trying to get really "deep" into SC4 and the mods. So im not a noob, just more determined : )

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    If I can recommend the SC4Data Node by rivit here, to get a detailed idea, how the files are loaded. This tool is for analysing and scans of the plugins folder the way, the game will load the plugins. And you can find broken and faulty files, missing or broken dependencies, everything that messes around in the plugins folder. Once you get to know how to use it, you can optimize your specific loading order in any kind of way. That reduces the loading time as well. And even more, if you use a Datpacker tool. You'll find the SC4 Data Node tool here:

    And the Datpacker 2008 here:

    http://sc4devotion.com/csxlex/lex_filedesc.php?lotGET=26

     

    Kind regards!

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  • Original Poster
  • On ‎4‎/‎7‎/‎2017 at 4:31 PM, fleuryfury said:

    So now load order becomes relevant on this two. As the NAM does partially what the CAM does and vice versa. Now: CAM overriding NAM causes problems to the NAM. NAM overriding CAM doesn't cause problems to the CAM. So first to load CAM. Then to load NAM

    Oops I misread that at first which leaves me with another question. You say NAM overriding CAM doesn't cause problems but then you say to load CAM first?

    My assumption was that the folder above another overrides whatever is under it?

    So does the CAM or NAM folder belong at the top?

    13 hours ago, markussaage said:

    If I can recommend the SC4Data Node by rivit here, to get a detailed idea, how the files are loaded.

    Yea tried that thing once. My head spun for a little bit while using it lol

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    On 10/04/2017 at 2:11 PM, fleuryfury said:

    So does the CAM or NAM folder belong at the top?

    Define top? In practise the CAM needs only to load after the base game for it's changes to take effect. Therefore it doesn't need any special load order. That's another way of saying that conflicting mods should load after it, such as the NAM. When I say conflicting, in this case it's simply the changes to the traffic simulator. If somehow the CAM one loads after the NAM, you won't be getting the full advantages of more recent changes in the NAM. Some of which were inspired by the original changes in CAM.

    In practise that means using a folder like aCAM is probably best, making it one of the first folders to load for most setups.

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  • Original Poster
  • 17 hours ago, rsc204 said:

    Define top?

    Meaning that the folder is above another folder when viewing by "name" on windows.

    Such as how I have them named:

    01_NetworkAddonMod

    02_CAM

    etc

    etc

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    On 10.4.2017 at 2:11 PM, fleuryfury said:

    Oops I misread that at first which leaves me with another question. You say NAM overriding CAM doesn't cause problems but then you say to load CAM first?

    Formula: What has the highest priority comes last in load order.

    So:

    01_CAM

    ...

    Z___NAM

    Z____MeImOverridingNAMTextures

     

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    20 minutes ago, fleuryfury said:

    Meaning that the folder is above another folder when viewing by "name" on windows.

    That logic may cause you to have problems. Because you shouldn't focus on where Windows places them, SC4 can load things differently.

    21 minutes ago, fleuryfury said:

    01_NetworkAddonMod

    02_CAM

    So CAM is loading after the NAM with this setup, this should not be the case. One piece of advice, don't alter the default folder names of most large mods. For everyday downloads such as buildings/lots/dependencies, it doesn't matter where they are. But for big mods it's imperative that things play nicely together. Thus Network Addon Mod and z___NAM especially should be left well alone. CAM I would use aCAM as previously mentioned. The simple fact is, if you don't alter the defaults, it will all work without you having to think about it. Not all mods are so well planned, but many are. The #1 reason why people have problems with my texture mods? Against all advice, they alter the folder name it installs to by default.

    Bear in mind the underscore is one of the last characters SC4 sees in terms of load order.

     

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  • Original Poster
  • Ok this is starting to make much more sense now and explains slight things ive noticed in game. I naturally thought something labeled with say "01" would load first and have priority, but my logic stopped there lol

    I have a couple mods that were saved with default folder names, usually using "z" at the beginning, but I still always questioned it. Because, how can I know that its loading correctly when there are other folders named with "z" in them? Because I don't expect the developer of one mod to know exactly how it should load/conflict with all the other mods out there. Theres just so many for one to test against! lol

    So that being said, the most important mods should be labeled so that they "appear" at the bottom when alphabetically and numerically organizing correct?

    such as.....

    z_CAM

    zz_Network Addon Mod

    zzz_zNAM

    When I installed NAM it gave me the 2 folders shown above.

    Perhaps I can snap a screenshot of my folder setup and post it up tomorrow for you guys to help me out for good??????

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    It might be a good idea to sort out any major mods to the root of your plugins folder before asking any advice. Obviously anything in a subfolder needs to be in the correct subfolder. as @rsc204 mentioned, buildings, parks, landmarks, stuff like that can go in any order really. There was surely a thread round here somewhere where people discussed such things?

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  • 1 hour ago, MissVanleider said:

    It might be a good idea to sort out any major mods to the root of your plugins folder before asking any advice.

    That's what im asking about. These folders are in the main plugins folder. Same place they would be if I just kept clicking "next" in the installers they came with. Im just trying to make sure they are loading in the correct orders in relation to the way there named.

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    1 hour ago, MissVanleider said:

    There was surely a thread round here somewhere where people discussed such things?

    It's one of those things that comes up, but finding old posts can be exhausting sometimes, otherwise I'd link back to one. (25 pages of my posts takes me all the way back too... January... Eeek!!). Perhaps this post helps a bit...

    1 hour ago, fleuryfury said:

    I have a couple mods that were saved with default folder names, usually using "z" at the beginning, but I still always questioned it. Because, how can I know that its loading correctly when there are other folders named with "z" in them? Because I don't expect the developer of one mod to know exactly how it should load/conflict with all the other mods out there.

    It depends on many factors. In many cases I've designed my stuff to work alongside other popular content, but that's because I use those other mods myself. You are correct that most creations simply can't make their stuff work with everything. But there are a few rules to follow, based on knowing what a mod will need to override.

    If a mod needs to override/alter something in the NAM, it needs to go into a folder with a z and a minimum of four underscores, i.e. z____ to ensure it is loading later. However, Windows will show more underscores higher up than less underscores, but SC4 treats them the opposite way around. But in essence we're talking texture mods that alter NAM content, T21s and the like.

    After that you are looking at mods that override other mods. Because unless two are trying to alter similar content, simply loading them after NAM will be sufficient. A bit of trial and error can work wonders here, I had to do that with some Japanese mods, where deciphering it otherwise would have been next to impossible.

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    That's why I am still recommending the use of the SC4DataNode tool, so that everybody can check the loading order the way, it'll be loaded by SC4. You're going to be surprised, how SC4 actually handles the file loading. It got me to the spot, to reorganize my whole plugins folder the most efficient way the files are going to be loaded by the game. And it helped me find broken files, that were causing problems like CtDs in the game.

    Kind regards!

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    Most things that use an installer will be just fine. It is more of a case if you packaged some big 'change everything' mod in one of the subfolders manually for some reason, but i think this is unlikely unless you got very ambitious.

    I would carefully read the posts of @rsc204 first and use that approach, since it is clearly explained and will work well. If you have trouble please ask, but i would say the answers you need are pretty much all there in the thread now, and you seem to have a grasp of how things fit together, so i would dive in and come back if you hit a brick wall

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    19 hours ago, fleuryfury said:

    Perhaps ill give it another shot :thumb:

    You should... *:thumb: it's THE tool for auditing and finding all the problems. And it comes with a manual. You'll find it in the installation folder under "C:\Program Files (x86)\Braimscrambler\SC4DataNode". It also make an error text file in your user account "Username\documents\SC4DataNote" and you can use that to correct faulty files in your plugins with iLives's Reader as an example. It takes time to get into this tool, but it's really worth it.

    Kind regards!

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