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Simcity 4 Devotion

Brian (B22rian) – Well I wouldn’t quite go that far, just simply look to 3RR and you quite clearly find the largest scope project in the community. I am just working towards a long distance target through a series of achievable goals. No matter how far away the finish line is I still feel like I am achieving things on a weekly basis.

Connor – Well that weekend’s update was delayed as I will explain below. I am glad that you like the alternative history bits, there will be more of those to come in the future.

Gjermund (Kwakelaar) – Yeah well, I can imagine that in a suddenly politically weakened Normandy, counter invasion would have been a very sound political move for Harold II as it offered a unified cause to quell and distract from any continued dissent regarding his instatement over Harthacanute.

976 – Thank you for your kind word.

CSGdesign – Oh yes I intend to show the city/region, eventually. I just thought that I would chart the progress of me getting to that point as part of the project.

Simtropolis Forum

Larks2242 – Thank you for your praise.

Censing the Journalist III

Firstly, I owe you guys an apology; I have neglected this thread for precisely one month. I have recently changed jobs and have found my routine rather hectic, it was a conscious decision to miss four updates. Those four updates have been reshuffled into the schedule further along and so we continue our merry dance in no short order. Thankfully my timetable has somewhat stabilised and I will be returning to one update every week. Of course I may throw in the odd extra update when I have a little more time.

Secondly I need to present Computer Guy with his medal for being the 100th poster on Simtropolis. It turns out that globally (amalgamation of all sites) we have just passed 250 replies and are rapidly approaching 10 000 views.


Well without further ado we can move onto the graphical data representation.



Obviously from the views and replies data you can still clearly see that the majority of my traffic comes from SC4D. In fact in every update published there have been more responses on SC4D than on both sections of Simtropolis combined. Essentially I believe that many people have become disenchanted with the multiple options for city journal hosting on the same site, and this reduces traffic flow to both sections. At this point I will repeat that I would like others to volunteer similar information to verify my findings, or in fact disprove them. I am entirely open to modifications of my hypothesis and more data can never be a bad thing.

And finally as we have hit 250 global replies, here is a graph showing you the people that made them. Well ok it is a graph of everyone who has posted more than once. But these guys account for the majority of my responses and I feel contribute to the project as a whole.


So as you can see Korot and Battlecat have commented on every single update. I am eternally grateful to them for their enduring support and I would also like to especially thank Kwakelaar, for providing me with some much desired architectural challenge.

That finished up this Census entry, see you next time.

John Bottomley






Simcity 4 Devotion

Jordan(Canyonjumper) – I will warn you now, it could be quite some time before you see any implementation.

Tomas Neto – all of those shows have fantastic writing, I take that as very high praise indeed.

Battlecat – when you are dealing with such large quantities of information structured organisation is paramount, as I am sure David (dedgren) or Fred (mrbisonm) will testify.

Simtropolis Forum

Aleking – high praise from a city Journalling master; welcome to The Iron Coast.

Aldender – welcome to The Iron Coast, the terrain will be used to the best of my ability in due course.

Roger51 – changes to the time can be good but the long term implications have an equally high chance of turning out very badly. We will just have to wait and see.

Simtropolis City Journal Section

Crushedcar – the diagram is very much incomplete, but when it is nearing a closer state of readiness and visual interest I may well show it to you.

Censing the Journalist II

Presenting this months update on the stats for The Iron Coast. As you can clearly see the addition of updates in the city journal section on Simtropolis is starting to have an impact in the view total but has yet to emerge as a major factor in the replies. Note these are gauged by update, not by date, so some may have unnaturally few replies; my previous entry to this one being a prime example.



Expect a significant update at the weekend.




Simcity 4 Devotion

Shadeslayer – I understand that, yeah the total area covered is initially 420 large tiles broken up into three separate regions. I only have that banner, if you have another one I’d be more than happy to use it.

Tomas Neto – thank you for your high praise and I am thrilled you like what you see.

Ethan(Ecoba) – when all is said and done I do intend to formalise many of the tutorials you will see in this diary over the coming months. I am glad you enjoy the demonstrations and it really is pretty simple when you get used to it.

Battlecat – thanks.

Sumwonyuno – thanks, but there is a long way to go on that particular map.

Gjermund(kwakelaar) – yeah I really want this structure to dominate its skyline, and the St Paul’s reference just leapt into my head. Secondly, it really is the easiest way I have found of smoothing gradients in a greyscale map.

Connor – well this may well turn out  better than the Vagrant Peninsula, if it is a marked improvement I may well go back and update certain elements of the original.

Joan(Jmouse) – well terraforming in this sense is unbridled creativity, it always has been an art form. Although really its geoscaping rather than terraforming as there is no atmospheric manipulation involved here, just sculpting of terrain. I will  squeeze this update in just before the final whistle, and will endeavour to set up a contents page in the first updates post if it is possible could I get a pinned contents stapled to the top of every page, like in various NAM threads.

Simtropolis Forum

CG – congrats on taking me to 100 replies here on Simtropolis. I have tried to keep the scenery varied to allow for many possibilities, but also challenges to the city planners and to me as a player, I want to face aspects of gaming in Simcity that I have deliberately avoided up until now.

Ded – welcome to The Iron Coast, I am pleased I have you as a follower and I think you can never put too much detail into a project. Furthermore if that is my credo, why not share it with everyone.

Roger51 – that map is far from finished but I am glad you like it.

Korot - as I said above, it is merely where the map stood at the end of that update, there is at least another 20-25 hours of work to go into it.

Tostartpressanykey – thank you for the quote, I hope so XD.

Benedict – I am thrilled you like the name of the area, and as to the title not standing out enough, I tried various borders but all made it stand out too much. I felt that this was the nicest overall composition.

Will(Penguin007) – thanks for your kind words, there will be more of all of those things later on.

After nearly 2000 words of responses for two updates on the trot, under 500 here seems like a blessing, although it did worry me a little bit, Setting the Water II was my most replied to update and this is third from bottom. I am confident things will pick up again soon. Anyway on with the update.

A little bit of history II.

Last time I showed you some of the work I was doing behind the scenes conjuring up the back story of The Iron Coast. I want to elaborate at this point on what this is trying to achieve.

Alternative history is a sub-genre of fiction that consists of prose set in worlds not unlike our own but where history has diverged to a greater or lesser degree from the actual history of the world. It can variously be described as a child of literary fiction, science fiction or historical fiction. Works of historical fiction may contain devices or common themes from any or all of these genre. Alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a subgenre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate history works may use tropes or devices from any or all of these genres.

Initial works in early alternative history primarily involved some form of parallel universe or time travel. This cross time awareness thus invoked a clear character or situation based reason for the distinctions in the literary timeline. While effective and clearly understandable to a fresh audience; it lacked artistry and became rapidly repetitive. This is also why virtually all early allohistories where seen as science fiction.

 As the genre grew in size and age, other approaches to the theme were adopted, the great “What if?” Craze followed with many, many titles being released in this new and exciting refreshed genre. This second stage led to subtler changes to history leading to further reaching changes in the timeline. This was finally compounded and reaffirmed with the popularisation of the butterfly effect.

This basically takes us to where we are now, succinct and seemingly insignificant changes 1000 years ago leading to a drastically different reality in the present. I want The Iron Coast to be that subtle. So what changes have I made to the timeline you ask, some of the core ideas are charted below.

1.   Climate Sphere, The overall global climate is around 4-5 degrees centigrade warmer than our world. While this means that the Polar Regions are smaller and more inhabitable land exists at higher latitude it does mean that the deserts at the equator are somewhat larger. However this increased temperature does not lead to higher sea levels as the remaining moisture is stored in the atmosphere offering globally higher levels of humidity and rainfall.

2.   Geological Sphere, obviously The Iron Coast has had to be supplanted onto the British Columbia coastline, and the Kingdom of Aetheria added to the Siberian coast; other than that there are minor changes to small island chains around the world.

3.   The English Sphere, Ælfgifu of Northampton succeeds King Canute, son of Swein as ruler of England through her son of Canute Harold Harefoot, who acts as Regent of England in the absence of his younger half brother Harthacanute (son of Canute and his chosen queen, Emma of Normandy). This is not different from historical events and Harold was made King of England in light of the continued delays of his younger sibling.

a.   My change is that in 1040 Harold I does not die, but instead lives and subsequently repels the invasion of Danes from his half brother. This is the key authored change.

b.   This repulsion of the rightful King of the Empire cuts confidence in Harthacanute among the Thanes and raises the profile of Harold I. This is Interpolation.

c.   In 1062 Harold I is killed by Norman assassins and his son Harold II (not Harold Godwinson) rules in England. In reality Harold II was unrelated to Harold I and ruled after Edward the Confessor to die at Hastings in 1066.

d.   In 1066 Harold II proves his worth by repelling the Norman invasion and Duke William II of Normandy dies in battle. This is the key resultant change in the English sphere of influence.

e.   Following talks with Wales, Scotland & Ireland, Britain is united and forwards Harold II as King of the Empire to rule over Norway and Denmark also. This victory at Hastings was not expected and the Thanes vote to Depose Harthacanute in favour of Harold II. Harold II goes on to conquer much of Normandy and gains lands in northern France. This is Extrapolation.

f.   This is the first instance of an English Empire, date 26th March 1067.

That last part (Point 3) is the first of a series of Spheres of Influence that act like giant cogs in my narrative machine. Once all the cogs are in place, I simply crank the handle and the story writes itself. This sphere can be summed up in two points; firstly, the key authored change (KAC): Harold I survived past 1040; and the key resultant change (KRC): the result of the battle of Hastings is reversed. The former causes the latter. Everything else in that sphere is just logical interpolation and subsequent extrapolation of those two points.

So far I have charted maybe 20 spheres and bar 1 & 2 all are minor changes such as 3 that have far reaching implications. The master timeline passed four hundred entries as of writing, but there is still a myriad of things to chart and describe. Here are a couple of out of context examples.

“Veny Sainvillaird, captain of the Tapageuse, founds the French trade Embassy in Ho Chi Minh”

“Jasper Huxley III, marries Frances Riddington in the Kensington Monastery of Order of Moral Flagellents”

And one more...

“Iano Sandoario, leads the Revuelta Honesto, 8000 people march through Gibralta protesting anti-Semitism”, leaders are executed many hundreds injured”






Debussymanwelcome to The Iron Coast, of all the people’s input on this project I could have had at this moment I would have wished for yours. I am just throwing ideas around at the minute to try and envisage how a modern (20th century) steampunk cathedral would look. Although steampunk primarily affects science its effects on architecture are seen universally, so a cathedral would be built in a slightly different manner. These differences are what I am trying to cipher. 200m was merely a ranging shot, I have no idea where to size this thing from 50m long to 500m. I do understand the implications of all of those scales, but I want it to be as iconic as say Old St Pauls Cathedral [linkie] or even the contemporary Abraj al Bait [linkie].

I have done plenty of research into cathedral architecture from all over Western Europe, as well as common themes in fantasy cathedrals that have been imagined by others. Verticality is important to me in this design, and for the gothic side of things I tend toward German & French cathedrals, although I would not be influenced as far as to have an ambulatory. I do not intend to render this in HD, I was merely testing both options with the same stone. With your more complex projects do you break down the overall design into sever X-ref scenes or do you just plough on through with the one?

Brian(b22rian)that sprawling suburbia is in fact Antimonycat’s. It seems you didn’t quite read all the surrounding text. Thank you for your kind words and I am glad to keep you interested.

BattlecatI have a sketchbook full of bits that I will show over the time I am Journalling. Thank you for your continued support.

Tomas NetoI hope the projects will turn out fantastic too. I am pleased you enjoyed the presentation.

Jordan(Canyonjumper)thank you for your support.

Marshyour kind words are most appreciated.

Joan(Jmouse)Indeed the sketchbook is my way of keeping track of the data and ideas that I myself have forgotten I had created. Without it I would have fallen apart long before I started. I too am ecstatic that I have attracted just the attention I wanted. I know that Simcity started out as just a game, but there is so much scope for development and management beyond its face value that we are still here developing new ideas seven years after its release, think another year and computers will be 4x the power they were when the game was released. As for reading like a novel, well you wait till the storytelling starts!

CSGdesigngetting BAT4MAX to work is like a right of passage, it always has been. I will have to trawl through the hard disks and see what models I can now export/remaster and export. I intend to apply virtually every skill I have to this diary, withholding my physical ones anyway.

Gjermund(Kwakelaar)great ambition doesn’t come into it, I failed miserably at trying to design a dystopian church before; without doing much research at all lets just say I abandoned the project pretty quickly. Here is a picture of as far as I got [linkie]. Design is something that fascinates me, and trying to translate my visions and ideas into characterful but appropriate design elements takes some doing. I hope open minds will be used when I start showing progress on the model, as certain key features I want to maintain.

The design is meant to be a dominant feature in the skyline of its encompassing city so verticality and scale need to be on the larger side of normal. I am in no rush to finish this particular BAT as I feel it shouldn’t be and in fact couldn’t be. I fear it would only suffer as a consequence. I think I have answered your further concerns in my response to Debussyman. Thank you for dropping by and leaving your input.

ShadeslayerI was honestly not expecting to see you again, welcome to The Iron Coast, I am glad you like what you see, and you shall forever be a part of its history. I hope you stick around and keep watching.

Daniel(Shadow Assassin)welcome to The Iron Coast, I was wondering when you would stop lurking. It seems you have read my mind, yes I do intend to include some art deco elements into my work for some of the “later” developments.

Simtropolis Forum

KorotI started using Jeronij’s blue transparent plop water but it was too high off the ground, so I swapped to Pegasus’ Tahoe plop water after image two. I feel a 40-60m expanse of bush is not uncommon; however I will review the area next time I have that tile open and see if I can improve on the existing scene. I am glad you like the eye candy shots. I know it seems like a tall order to detail every stream in the region to this level of detail, but I am in no rush, and it means I never run out of things to do.

Thank you for your feedback on the following update, as you can see I really am just brainstorming at this point. As far as I am aware there is only one barrel-arched roof church in the world that has been at least reasonably photographed. That is St Thomas’s church in Diu, Gujarat, India. I intend to find as much information as possible on the roof structure of this church to give me ideas of how to handle it in my own project.

TostartpressanykeyI would love for you to send me a copy of the report by PM so could have a read. If not perhaps you could post a couple of relevant passages here when you see fit. Thank you for your continued support.

Roger51I feel I would not be doing myself justice if I did not have a good stab at doing something of my own for this region.

Benedict thank you for your kind words, and I am happy you like what you see here.

Simtropolis City Journal Section

Docrorlachwelcome to The Iron Coast. You give me high praise, but you are correct in part. I do intend to produce a number of models for the project and by not rushing and taking my time with the journal it will allow me adequate time to create them. I hope to see you here more often in the future. Plus I just dug up your old city journal; it is fantastic have you ever thought about a resurrection. It is Easter soon after all.

Crushedcarwelcome to The Iron Coast, the overlay is just a vector graphic I mixed up in photoshop.

Well it seems as if more than a thousand words are needed for replies every update. That tells me people are contributing and that I have to respond. Fantastic now lets see if you can push me to the two thousand word barrier.

Setting the Water III

You May wish to refresh yourself with the previous entry found here [linkie].


We left The Crown Shores like this previously. It is the second of three regions I will need to create for this city journal. It sits directly to the North of The Vagrant Peninsula (North on all my regions is right to left). Now we can continue with the terraforming process by beginning to blend the various cells together.

First begin by using the magic wand tool to select one of the cells, typically the highest/lightest one. While maintaining that selection, use a feathered brush set to lighten with a lighter heightgrey such as RGB 92 as the primary colour. Give this innermost contour band some basic peak shapes and graduate the heightgrey used for variation. If you repeat this for the next contour down ensure the heightgrey used as primary lighten colour does not exceed the base colour of the next higher contour. Graduate the next contour down.


As you can see I am still left with a couple of pesky outlines from the magic wand selection. These are easy to fix.


Note the outlines of the contours still clearly visible in this area. Set your lighten brush to the exact primary colour of the lighter heightgrey at the boundary. Trace the relevant boundary with this brush. I have highlighted the relevant boundaries in my example below, note that there are two boundaries highlighted and require different heightgrey settings.



Here you can now see that most of my outlines in raised areas have been cleaned up. However let’s look now at some of the estuary islands to the right of the image. Using identical techniques to those described above you can begin to build up the islands. Below is a before and after followed by a comparison with the original trace outline.




At this point the region stands very rough, the key shapes are in place but there is little to no detail added. Below is a final sequence of four images showing firstly the region as it stood at the end of this tutorial, and its mapper counterpart, then after a bit of noise reduction and cleaning up. In the simplest of terms the final image shows a playable region, however I refuse to stop until it is suitably detailed.





And that is how for now. Next time we delve back into the history books to see how my quest for historical plausibility is going.





Ethan(Ecoba)as far as I am aware, David(Dedgren) plopped his flora wherever he wished. Thank you for the kind words and I do believe I will adopt this technique region wide.

DeathtopumpkinsI just showed you how I do it! Thank you and welcome back.

Connorthanks, if you have any suggestions don’t hesitate to blurt them out though.

CSGdesignall in all it was about two hours work on the sections you see in the previous update. I’m glad I inspire you.

Jordan(Canyonjumper)thank you for your continued support.

Tomas Neto I hope you found that update useful.

Battlecatit was as much an experiment as a tutorial, I will see how it plays out in other areas. Thank you for your tenth comment.

Joan(Jmouse)as I mentioned to you previously, immersion is a vital part of what I am trying to achieve, and I am ecstatic that I have hooked at least one fan, I would love to think you are correct about the others too, but I feel they may take more convincing. As to the stream and available plops, I think people are too determined to use just one set and call it a day, I think that a mixture of all available content is the only way to achieve high levels of realism.

Marshthank you and I will try my best to maintain the standard of my work.

Sumwonyunothank you for your kind words.

Haljackeythanks my friend, and when are we going to see GTR 3.0 eh?

Lora(ldvger)welcome back, I did notice the lack of turbulence and rapids in my stream; this is yet another thing I have little to no experience in so I need to do some experimentation before I start using it effectively. I did spot your thread over in the mapping room, and I watch with interest as you progress down your route simultaneously with me and mine. I will continue to monitor and will interdict as and when I feel I can be useful. If however I haven’t dropped by and you are stumped do not hesitate to leave me a reminder and brief overview of the issue here. I am always willing to help if I can.

Gjermund(Kwakelaar)your continuing contribution honours & enthrals me, I quite look forward to your responses. Thank you for your kind words regarding The Iron Coast achieving Of Special Interest This Month, and also for your comments regarding my nature work. Now to business, having further researched Flemish gothic architecture (a subgenre I did not know about), I agree it is perhaps a better definition of the influence. The exaggeration of many revival styles was a somewhat deliberate choice. While not the best example of medieval architecture it does demonstrate many elements typical of a classic late gothic construction in a very profound and obvious way. To the casual reader it was therefore quite appropriate; however it seems I got caught telling “lies to children” [linkie].

By no means was I suggesting that taxation was the sole motivation for the technique, but many people in real life have asked me why it was so prolific in more urban environments, I plan to implement a similar tax within my MD so was trying to cut corners again. It is true that this image is not the best example of a cathedral built in stages throughout the period; it is an example that clearly displays the dichotomy of design between the stages to even the passing observer. It is fantastic that you would challenge my choices and there are a couple more updates on the way that I think will definitely tantalise your obvious passion for architecture.

Swesimwelcome to The Iron Coast, I am elated that you like the terraforming and I am pleased the steampunk sparks your interest. I just hope I can satisfy that curiosity of yours.

976 - welcome to The Iron Coast, thank you for your kind words.

Antimonycat - thank you for your words, the stream actually stay pretty small maybe doubling in size downstream when it merges with another. It exits into a relatively narrow channel between an island and the mainland.

Simtropolis Forum

Benedictthank you my friend.

Tostartpressanykey - Cheesy

Skimbowelcome to The Iron Coast, I am glad you like what you see.

Korotit appears as though you  allowed adequate loading times, are you sure you allowed adequate loading time as there were a veritable plethora of images on that page. I look forward to your comments and thank you for your responses.

CGthank you for your kind words.

Roger51welcome to The Iron Coast, it will be some time before that stream gets close to civilisation so do not be worried just yet.

TmiguelTI just did, didn’t I. Or are we guilty of only looking at the pictures.

Simtropolis City Journal Section

Maxcormierthanks and welcome to The Iron Coast.

Boon1234thanks and welcome to The Iron Coast. I am thrilled to be among your favourites and I am very relieved that so many are happy with the style of journal I am producing. I also like the fact you have an interest in steampunk. Good show.

Roger51 – thank you for your additional comment.

Jamonbreadthanks and welcome to The Iron Coast. This project is not going to be a short one, but I am prepared for that, it means I am not rushing for updates. I can show what I want when I want, and people seem to be happy with that.

Irvingtwosmokes - thanks and welcome to The Iron Coast. I hope to see you back again in the future then.

Harishnathanks and welcome to The Iron Coast. The trees you speak of are made by Simfox, just search for him. They are made by Simfox, just search for him on the STEX.

From the Sketchbook

This update has taken far longer to create than it will to show. My main achievement was getting something to render from 3dsmax for the first time in nearly two years. Once this had been achieved I decided to start researching exactly what I want to make for The Iron Coast. So here I present to you, what I have been up to.





Now I hope I have your attention, and that you suddenly realise the possibilities that I now have in front of me. No major promises just yet but I am sure I can come up with something. From now on all replies will be shown in all locations, that way any useful tips in one are not missed in the others.

See you soon.



Working for Gaea

So welcome back to frantic February. This, the third update of the month, follows on directly from Update VIII, Playing God. As I continue to battle with custom content with the aim to creating an aesthetically pleasing stream. If you remember I said I was looking for an iterative process that would be relatively straightforward to duplicate, as there could well be many of streams in the region. I happened to stumble blindly into the method I’m showing you today. It was all because I was fawning over Cycledogg’s terrain textures.

Well I was thinking that there is a veritable treasure trove of detail and even flora represented in the terrain textures that make up the Meadowshire terrain mod that I am using. I thought why not use that as my guide for the ploppable flora. So I parked the spring of the river right on top of a natural rocky outcrop. Cleared the surrounding tree-controller trees and set about making my barebones water trail a bona fide stream.


In this first image you can see I have used a combination of Pegasus’ plop rocks from his plop stream kit, and some of the maxis rocks re-modded by Chrisadams3997. Around the edges is a smattering of Aubrac rocks from Orange O that are available on the LEX. Notice the various elements of the Meadowshire terrain mod in just this small expanse of land. You have yellow, white, orange & pink flowers, strewn rocks & detritus, scrub bushes and mossy rocks. All of these things we have a corresponding ploppable available.


Using the various ploppables available to me you can see how I have begun to fill in the landscape, matching ploppable to texture as closely as possible for now. I did however notice that Jeronij’s transparent ploppable water sits very high off the ground and that Pegasus’ plop rocks and shoreline pieces don’t sit on top of it. I decided that I should sacrifice the transparency for the sake of river shape and switched over to Pegasus’ water also. It turns out that this water matches my water mod better anyway.

I found that if you are using Ennedi’s HD sandstone brown rock mod like I am, Pegasus’ sand brush helps with cliff blending quite well. This is especially useful considering most of the rocks from the set are very mossy and need some form of interface for them to sit comfortably adjacent to a different rock tone.


As you can see I am just steadily adding bits a small amount at a time. Unfortunately you have to do this and also save often; as when working at this level of detail the fact that the bulldoze tool has to demolish whole tiles can come and bite you hard in the rear. Patiently filling in gaps one by one I begin filling up the open areas, at this altitude you would not have open forest but clumps of trees, with a much larger percentage of bush.

After all the major elements are complete I begin a final pass with the two weed brushes in the rural renewal kit flora, and then the green rye grass. Now obviously you have eyes, if anything looks out of place, you can go back and edit it, but I was pretty happy with the result.


This small area is largely complete now.  The following images show the same technique used with varying degrees of human override. This next pair shows the immediately downstream segment of water that is on a far steeper gradient between two cliffs. Obviously I wanted a rockier stream bordering on rapids; however I thought that excessive for such a small body of H2O. I used the mayor mode sub-arctic tree controller for the major flora in this area.



The next section downstream is a wider gentler slope and I wanted to attempt some form of weaving in the river. I laid out the basic weave first before beginning my flora plopping. It is a tough process getting the balance between too much interest and too little interest in any particular scene. I like to think I am getting better at it but I am by no means the best.



Just to round off this update I have a couple of shots of the area as it currently stands. Now I may have done these three little sections of this one stream but the surrounding hills remain untouched at the time of writing. But there you have it, that is how I am making my streams.



See you soon.






CG - thanks, camping would be a great idea, but as of yet this area of the world has not been discovered, so kodiak bears may be an issue.

Toki.s - the terrain did turn out unimaginably better than i had hoped, i just hope that i can recreate that level of quality in the future.

Benedict - thankyou, now hopefully this is a collaborative project that you could take part in.

Marsh - thankyou my friend.

Korot - that crane was merely an example of my work that i had to hand. Remember that the edges of the plopwater tiles are somewhat jagged until you use shoreline props to smooth them out. If you look carefully you will also see that I use the road and rail tool to make some form of ditch, this also ensures the river never flows downhill; and at the same time prevents exageration of any ditch by using the sometimes unweildly God Mode tools. I am glad you spotted what is awry with the second meadow pic, i acheived that orientation by simply horizontally flipping an normal sc4 screenshot. unfortunately you lose any sense of reference without significant vertical elements present. There are no plants on the riverbed, that is the raw terrain texture, and that tree is dead, but i see your point.

Tostartpressanykey - hah, these shots are during the nature construction phase, and still lack the majority of the flora. I do however worry about conservationists invading my PC and trying to charge me with the destruction of non-literal existential nature.

Mayorm - thankyou and welcome.

DCmetro34 - well not much is happening as such at the minute, but i am glad you are finding the setup interesting.

TmiguelT - I will try not too, but some collateral damage is unavoidable.

Penguin007 - thankyou and welcome.

Petrovar Ambassador - welcome to the Iron Coast, and there is plenty more on the way.

Censing the Journalist

The city journal census project is something me and CSGdesign have been talking about behind closed doors for many weeks now. The overall idea is to perform and record data on City Journal Regions, and on the Journals themselves, once a month. Obviously he and I are going to lead the way on this with a first post. It is sheer luck that we both end up in the OSITM on SC4D together. So as much of a trial run, I present to you the first Census Report (January 2010) from the Iron Coast. At this stage it is just data on the Journal itself, and the format is far from final. Any and All feedback is most welcome.



Now we also get to celebrate a somewhat special occasion. The Iron Coast has reached 100 replies on SC4D, to commemorate this milestone I have made the first Iron Coast Badge of Merit. Congratulations Joelyboy911 and thank you to everyone who has contributed thus far.


Now I wonder who will be number 100 here.



Playing God

Here we are, the first totally in game update, still not storytelling by any stretch, however, I will be sharing with you some of the natural development occurring on this somewhat barren terrain. Don’t get too excited it is still only my first attempt at “plop-water” rivers. There is only one picture of my very first attempt and that is below. I tried to follow the contours of the valley and gradually make my way downhill. This didn’t work out to well as I ended up following the grid for a significant portion of the route. I also forgot to put down any form of riverbed first.


Second time round I decided to try to learn from my mistakes and improve my technique. Taking a leaf out of 3RR’s book, I decided to try and pursue realism more vehemently; I used the road and rail tools to smooth out a path for my stream. Note that although this is more realistic than just following the contours, it is nowhere near the realism David achieves as my gradients are far too steep for such a tranquil stream.



My next task was to trace along this route, in a very lazy and haphazard manner. You will need to select an appropriate riverbed texture; I chose Chris Adams’ marsh texture from the RRP. Don’t worry at all about straying off course a little, however, major deviations may lead to uphill streams, so you may need to go back and modify the terrain with the road and rail tools again.


Next, follow your riverbed down the slope roughly again with the plop water tool of your choice; I used Jeronij transparent blue & the half tile size for the upper stream and the whole tile for the wider, lower sections. By minimising the amount of plop-water tiles you use you in fact allow more space for riverside plops such as trees and bushes.


At this stage the visual modifications such as rock, water, beach, terrain, plop water & even the techniques I am using are still very much flexible, so at this stage I will leave this here. A lot of the things I am having to do a large number of times, I have only done once or twice before, so this is all pretty new to me as well. Either way I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into playing god.


This is the same area in region view, at the time of writing this entry. As you can see there is much work to be done. I leave you today with two pictures of meadows that I found knocking around. All of the eye candy shots I keep posting are merely experiments in plop flora. It is all practice though and gradually meadow by meadow this region is coming to life.



See you later



Now lets get to some nitty gritty, so what is steampunk exactly, and what kind of plugins are you going to see in the Iron Coast...

Stylist required

Essentially I want to talk about my motivations and ideas when it comes to the architectural style in the Iron Coast.

Architectural integrity is important to me, as I think it can bind a region’s settlements together to compound their obvious direct relation into a more rounded national identity. Not to look as if all the buildings were constructed at once, but more to look like there is some form of design progression, this implies a history to your cities making them feel all the more authentic and believable.

My original intention was to follow a steampunk theme in light of Antimonycat’s, romantic, industrial, shambling, parisienne city. If we analyse one of his photos we can see below, that there is in fact more industry in the picture than residential and commercial put together. Architecturally we have Industrial brick construction harking memories of the industrial revolution, but also some half timbered buildings near the top. Half-timbered construction was a technique that rose to fame through the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. The remainder of the buildings being industrial metalwork, this image of overly complicated yet somehow old fashioned machinery is archetypal of the steampunk ideology.


Also note the custom ferry sign and automata that have been edited postgame in photoshop, these touches help complete the images identity and leave no anachronisms to distract the viewer.

Steampunk itself is a sub genre of scifi/fantasy, with one of the key requisites being the prolonged use of steam beyond the advent of the internal combustion engine. The theme is stylistically Victorian although modern inventions are often shoe horned in as if they were invented at an earlier date, such as steam cars, airships, computers(digital or Babbage like mechanical) and on top of that inventions and theme that approach Vernian and Orwellian levels respectively. Often closely associated with cyberpunk, with its generally dystopian feeling and the ever presence of heavy industry, steampunk however can be utopian in nature.


Names of people & places are normally overindulgent and representative of the base country subculture you superimpose your steampunk onto, although picking names from between 100-500 years ago usually is the benchmark. Technical terms are flamboyant to say the least. Just try to imagine you were an inventor in 1780 and had just invented an Amerific Lodestone Reactioning Vessel (nuclear reactor to you and me). You can see the progression. As for dating things, general convention from what I’ve seen is that you call the date whatever the date is today and wind it back one hundred and fifty to two hundred years, this gives your the appropriate scope of the early Victorian period while still giving you scope to move into the future.

In light of that brief introduction to the genre, I’m now going to talk about some of the style decision I have made. When selecting my plugins I decided to go for a British subculture, in a similar fashion to Antimonycat, however unlike my inspiration I intend to have Germanic influences on that and try my best to steer clear of that parisienne romanticism. I want city to be tangibly grittier, darker and push that dystopian edge.

There is I should mention a third option, you can do steampunk with art deco and neoclassicism as your architectural base. This can be done extremely well and Mr. Glamazon made a couple of releases in this neoclassical steampunk style. See below for a more elaborate artistic impression.


Anyway back to me, Tudor, Gothic and Elizabethan architecture for the most part, with some medieval Germanic extras thrown in. At this stage I am merely selecting rural plugins, and so I have picked up every non-American/non-Mediterranean farm I could find and blocked maxis agriculture. I picked up the RRP plop paths, culverts & fences, as well as the aubrac stone walls, some half timbered cottages by tag_one, the full Manchou set, (French I know but very rural and with HD models looks superb up close) some Tudorbethan Revival houses from mattb325, and well you get my drift.


To be honest with you the real struggle to pull the architectural theme together will begin when I run out of gothic buildings in the bigger cities and duplicates pop up everywhere but this is something I hope to address. I have been known to don some tools and make the occasional BAT in the past, not that I’ve been able to successfully export any of them. However with the super duper new BAT4MAX released by Simfox, maybe that will change. Below just to get you more into the feel of things are a few shots of buildings in the styles that I will be looking to replicate or emulate.


This is an example of decorative gothic design. Key features of this particular style are the crenulated roof sills and the tracery in the windows along with the equilateral peaks. All these features date this structure to between 1300 and 1350, however some of the embellishments above the main entrance on the right are clearly orthodox in suggestion and inspiration. If I were to replicate this design, those particular features would be left off. This structure is in fact Gothic Revival and constructed much later. Nevertheless it is a fantastic example of the style.


This is a brilliant and exceptionally large example of Half-timbered construction located in London is great for showing that older architectural styles can still achieve the kinds of urban densities required for a large city to function in Simcity 4. Furthermore note the Jetty floors (the top three floors are all cantilevered in series). The structure was built this way as your council tax was based on your land coverage on the ground floor, thus by jettying the upper floors you gained additional space for no extra fee.


Here you can see where the cathedral was built in stages throughout the gothic period the traceries on the tower are far more decorative and ornate than the rest of the establishment. The centre tower was actually constructed nearly 40 years after the completion of the main monasteric body. As construction methods improved, many cathedrals were extended upward in the form of additional towers & spires.

Anyway, this has been the first part delving into the world of architectural style, if not relatively lightly. Do not panic, although the “Stylist Required” feature will be back, it won’t pop up very often, so see you next week with something entirely different again.



Setting the Water II

Right lets get to it shall we, this week we start a more in depth run at terraforming from a hand drawn map. This time round the region is 14x10 large tiles in a landscape configuration so the greyscale image has to be (56,40)×64+x+y=(3585,2561).

Now crop your photographed map and expand the correct portion to fill the canvas.


Next I lassoed and deleted any unnecessary text & drawings in the water areas of the map; this makes it easier to see for future stages.



Start tracing in a narrow black brush all coastlines and water bodies, do this on a separate layer. This is also your last opportunity to make any significant changes to the map without making things much more difficult later on. As you can see I edited the river mouth on the right hand side of the image.


Once you are happy, create a new plain black layer and sandwich it between your trace and your photo layers. Then invert the colours of the trace layer.



Go back to the photographic layer by making the plain black (greyscale) layer invisible; next trace any major contour boundaries you feel like. I chose two more, the bottom of the treeline for Meadowshire tree controller, & the snowline. For reference, shoreline is at RGB 12, treeline at RGB32-RGB35, snowline at RGB54-RGB57.


In theory if all your lines are continuous and run to the edge of the map, you should be able to use the magic wand tool to select all the areas that will be at shoreline to treeline altitude in your trace layer. Swap to your greyscale layer and bucket fill RGB12.



Rinse and repeat for the other contours until you have what looks like a very basic cell shaded map on your greyscale layer.


Save the whole collection of layers as “[name of region] working map”; then delete all but the greyscale layer. Flatten the image so the layer becomes background, finally please check that the file is a 16bit greyscale, save as a copy, a PNG file named “[name of region] test one”. Do not save changes to original file when exiting photoshop, otherwise you will lose the other two layers which are still handy for reference.


If you want, at this stage you can boot up the mapper and create a region from your current test file. This is not the exact method I used in the first region, this is a more streamlined version I hope. My result in the mapper shows considerable noise, this is from chopping and changing between the best options for import into the mapper.


Well as you can see all the various elements are there. In a few updates time we will come back and look at some detailing techniques. Next time we are going to be looking at steampunk as a genre, and the stylistic direction I wish to take the regions architecture in (i.e. what plugins I will be picking). Finally as per requirement we have the fundamentally key teaser image, this is one of my favourites so far. Enjoy.


Anyway, I hope this has shown that going from hand drawn map to sc4 map is not quite as impossible as it first looks. See you soon.



Anyway, there is a big warning sticker attached to this update, it is a pretty heavy read but i hope you find it interesting never the less.

A Little Bit of History

Well, I am lying. There is a lot of history. For me this whole project transcends Simcity, it is as much about a literary interpretation of my imagined nation as it is about the visual tools I have used to portray it. This is something that I find makes it easier to know where I am going. As I intend to do this as a natural growth style journal (thanks CSG for coining the term), I thought it would make sense if I at least knew where and when each of the towns and villages were founded.

That is where I was at the map stage, since then it has kind off spiralled out of control. I take notes on everything Dedgren does in 3RR, and if I knew how I’m sure I would create a wiki for all the information I intend to throw at you. As it stands you can expect timelines, family trees, treatise; letters from soldiers, sailors and fathers to their daughters; bank notes, wedding invites, newspapers and flyers. All accompanied by full narrative written by me.

I thought I would show you some of the things I have been working on behind the scenes, getting ready for the commencement of storytelling. (Told you it would be the story of the story) First up is something I wrote back in March, it is the first part of a biography of Sir Arthur Lock I, Founder of The Iron Coast.


As you can see it is brief and far from complete. It was meant to be a pilot almost. I think it is suitable, and have since built up the picture to ensure this piece is still accurate to the canon*. I think that to portray a realistic history you have to have the good with the bad, so I do warn you, some parts of the history you will be exposed to are grim and sometimes unpleasant but that is part of the rich tapestry of life I am trying to put across.

The key to longevity in journals it seems is to be prepared for the long haul, early on. Thus I have started spreadsheets recording just about every possible bit of data there is on The Iron Coast; Replies per member, views per reply and all manner of such statistics. These I will share with you once sufficient data has been collected. Here is a shot of some of the excel work that I have going on currently.


As I mentioned earlier, Endora is another one of my influences, and my primary consult for steampunk in the SC4 medium. On this line of thought I decided to try my hand at one of his fantastic collages. Made up of many parts of many images and then put together in photoshop to look like a particular scene. This is my first attempt and I don’t particularly think it’s very good. I have posted an original Antimonycat collage first to demonstrate the concept.



I know that city looks somewhat advanced for 1762, but that will be explained in a couple of updates. As you can see I am not even close to the level of finesse that my inspiration demonstrates. But I intend to produce many more of these style images to show some of the key moments in The Iron Coast’s history.

To show you something more up to date, here is another excerpt from the Biography of Sir Arthur Lock I:

“On the ninth of February, 1482, Sir Arthur married Lady Elizabeth Huxley. This marriage was by arrangement of Victor Grosmont Huxley, First Duke of Lancaster. His daughter was not the most abiding of potential wives and the Duke took rather a risk to ensure his daughter was married prior to her 25th birthday. However lowly this marriage seemed for the Huxley family, the rise in status it brought to the Lock’s echoed round the chambers and lodges of England, and many otherwise disinterested businessmen began to look at The Iron Coast as a potential investment. The marriage turned out to be such a success that Lady Elizabeth’s niece married her son in 1507.”

As you can see, now it is somewhat more detailed, and includes more culture than the previous representation. This also gives you an idea of the scope of the project, there are five people mentioned in this brief passage, each in need of a biography, so the threads of history can be woven into a wonderful work of multimedia art. I don’t wish to get too romantic so I will call this an end here. Further reading below is available for those who wish to but today’s teaser is here.


*here comes a really nerdy bit. Canon refers to literary universes, and is used to describe the nature of additional media, and to define what is to be held as true within that universe and what is deemed fan fiction. The opposing term is Apocryphal, where everything on the subject counts, no matter the author, its just sources from points of view and the reader has to make up his own mind. Below find an essay I wrote for a website associated with Warhammer 40,000, a tabletop battle game that has a massive fictional universe with much fan fiction around also. This ended up in their equivalent of the Omnibus.

Games Workshop needs a clearly-defined policy stating which books are “official background material” and which are not. Some works, particularly older ones, should not be considered official.

To start I wish to clarify a few definitions.

The term Canon/Canonical denotes fictional material that is "genuine", i.e. created by the original creator/s of the fiction. This material is taken to be absolute truth and any contradictions in supplementary fiction are considered incorrect.

The term Expanded Universe denotes the 'extension' of a media franchise with other forms of media such as comics and original novels. This typically simply involves new plot arcs for existing characters within the franchise; however in some cases entirely new characters and additional themes are introduced.

The term Apocrypha/Apocryphal denotes fictional material that is created by a source other than the original creator/s. This material is taken to be valid exempting contradictions to Canon, although not to be treated as absolute truth. It may or may not be endorsed by the original creator/s and may or may not become Canonical at later stage.

From a business perspective there are several points to be considered. If a company adopts a Canonical/Apocryphal distinction then they can significantly constrain themselves and reduce interest and sales in the franchise. Primarily this distinction turns enclosed novels into enclosed fact, any mystery or speculation on a plot & its implications become somewhat pointless as unless clarified at a later date in Canon, any consensual conclusions drawn by the fan community are entirely worthless. This can rapidly lead to stagnation and a decrease in community interaction, leading to alienation and eventually to a reduction in consumer base and general sales. This also imposes incredibly stringent constraints on everything that the creator/s publish, as any internal contradiction totally undermines the entire corporate stance on Canon.

In a non canonical system, all material created that is enclosed by the expanded universe, by any author is equally valid. This is a direct parallel to reality; WWII only occurred 60 years ago and even today massive debates rage across the historical community arguing over specifics based on the evidence of any source they can find. What gets printed in the history books is just the general consensus among those same historians. As fans of a franchise in a totally apocryphal expanded universe we are the historians, archivists, reporters and even the characters. Our battles take place, we can write about events we witnessed (even if that witnessing is only implied by authorship) and we the community decide what really happened because that is our obligation, we have to make that decision. It is this debate and ciphering of sources that keeps the community alive, it is what keeps up lying awake at night dreaming of epic battles implied but not detailed. It is that sense of perpetual ignorance that keeps us buying the books, and posting in the forums. We want to garner every morsel of information from the new sources that are released. And it is this free advertising that keeps the Franchise afloat.

To compound this initial argument I will quote Marc Gascoigne, a publisher at the Black Library, don’t worry I wont use the whole quote, just the relevant bit:

“Keep in mind Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are worlds where half truths, lies, propaganda, politics, legends and myths exist. The absolute truth which is implied when you talk about "canonical background" will never be known because of this. Everything we know about these worlds is from the viewpoints of people in them which are as a result incomplete and even sometimes incorrect. The truth is mutable, debatable and lost as the victors write the history... “

So Games Workshop don’t particularly want to adopt a Canonical/Apocryphal approach, because it is simply unrealistic. Remember newer versions of the same sources exist in real life and are treated as separate sources; this is because they were written at different times with different influences and with different intended implications. An article written in Rogue Trader era about space marines describes them the way he understood them to be, what he felt they were like. The same article written now may describe them in a totally different way and even flatly contradict the first source, but it was written by a different author. This author may be the same person, but his influences and intentions will have changed and that is why it is a separate source. Even real life quotes get misquoted down the ages, and how many versions of the bible are there, denominations of Christianity, interpreting the same sources differently.


Now for the second half I want to talk about why I don’t want Games workshop to adopt a Canonical/Apocryphal approach. I love the Iron Warriors; I love their persona, their attitudes and their methods. There are codex entries, there are rogue trader references, there are novels, and all these sources are pieces of a puzzle, for me to assemble, to create a consistent portrait elaborately integrated with the rest of the expanded universe. There are massive voids in the literature though, and I feel as a fan it is my responsibility to try and fill them. I went to find more sources; I searched my White Dwarf collection, and then various other articles written about them by official creators. Then I went to the other historians, looked at the sources they had created based on their interpretation of the available evidence. I had looked through the primary sources and the secondary sources.

All that was left was for me to pull all these resources together into on continuous, tangible thread of potential truth. There was no way that all the sources could be true so I deferred to consensus, just like a real world historian. I began to fill in the gaps with my own logical reasoning: “for event A to occur, condition B had to be true, which implied case C”, as this continues that thread slowly became an expanding tapestry of history. A history that is just as valid as any other, published or as yet unwritten. If the general consensus agree with parts of my tapestry it becomes accepted, but parts will not and they become new secondary sources, ready for the next historian to interpret.

Also as a hobbyist I want to convert models from both my own range of miniatures as well as some of those from other factions. Now in a Canonical/Apocryphal system there is no place for this. These new vehicle variants that I have created are in actuality wrong; they don’t exist and have no place in the universe. This is an absurd notion to me, why should my creation be branded eternally as implausible fluff, apocrypha that looks pretty but has no background, and no point. My Ram-raider is a siege tank used by some Iron Warrior forces, just because there have only been one or two sighting’s does not mean it exists. In WWII, to flog an analogous parallel to death, there are examples of vehicles that never made it off the drawing board, or vehicles that only one or two prototypes were ever made, and even some vehicles that were hastily converted in the field, lashed together to try and make the most of what they had. Flak emplacements were welded to the top of artillery tractors because a commander needed mobile air support.

As much as the Adeptus Mechanicus would disapprove I am sure many a guard general has ordered similar retrofits to vehicles under his command in desperate or unusual circumstances. Sometimes it is these lash together individuals that later go on to create a fully fledged variant. For those who don’t know that is exactly how the Predator Annihilator came into existence, prior to one particular engagement only Destructors were built. It may have taken hundreds of years of testing and augury to acquire the blessings of the Machine God, but they were gained eventually and now no decent anti armour formation is without them. Even the Adeptus Mechanicus, a fanatically ritualized organization learnt to accept apocrypha into their canon, so why should we as open, inquisitive and imaginative historians deny it?

A Canonical/Apocryphal system, if adopted by Games Workshop would be unrealistic, difficult to implement, detrimental to sales and community participation. I do not wish to deny that to an extent there is a canon. The rules Games Workshop publish in codex and rulebook are Canonical. Homegrown rules are very much Apocryphal. However, to the broiling clouded expanding universe that is the 41st millennium and the other forty that passed before it, that’s history, which is very much open to interpretation.

Now, for those familiar with the game that probably made a lot of sense, but for those not versed, I hope the message I was trying to portray got through. There will come a point where I may ask some of you to take part in The Iron Coast, either writing fictional pieces or helping decide the history. Any and all fan art, fiction, ideas, I will try to incorporate to the best of my abilities.

Further to this, you may have noticed the ever changing banners at the top of each post. This is because in March a member called shadeslayer created a joke banner for me. In honour of this his banner was used in the first update. This updates banner is brought to you by Benedict. Any other submissions, no matter how silly will most certainly be used at some point.

Anyway enough for this week, peace.



Well here we are with another Update, this update may seem rushed but that is a perfect dichotomy to the amount of work put into this mammoth project for just the pictures you see here. well lets get to it shall we.


Well I said I’d show you why I had bitten off more than I thought I could chew. So this update will not be as verbose as the majority of the others, I’ll simply leave you to enjoy a series of pictures taken over the course of 36 hours work terraforming the region. There were ups and downs, which I will talk about at the end. But till you get to the bottom enjoy…

PLEASE NOTE: that each numbered map image has been reduced from 2591 pixels wide to 400 so the quality here does not reflect full image quality.











Firstly, I thought I was having issues with height. You can see in maps 3 and 4 that I had grossly underestimated the contrast required for mountain, then again in 5 & 6. By 9 & 10 I realised something must be amiss. It seems in the SC4mapper I was importing 16bit PNG greyscale images as 8bit greyscales, which meant the terrain was being greatly compressed. 11 & 12, and 13 & 14, were mainly tonal correction work to bring the terrain back into kilter, now that I was importing via the 16bit button. The final tile I consider to be over correction so the region as it stands is map 13.

However some final alterations and changes are required in game so although I have the map, its not ready for release or upload yet and probably won’t be for some time. I have not yet opened every tile, although am in the process. To round off this rather shallow and picture heavy update I present some mid terraforming test eye candy. These images are all very raw and don’t represent how I envisage the final product looking.






Anyway see you next week for a very much longer post XD


This update has been written and rewritten about four times, trying to decide which bits to put in which update. This particular method of mapmaking is as far as i'm aware never been done to the scale at which i have. so while the first of this series of posts gives you a taster, the followers will go into quite some detail. Plus i wanted to sneak another update in before the years end, so here i present to you my third update....

Setting the water

Welcome back, I know a lot of you are probably wondering how I can get on with such a large map. I decided that being that the full map was not a nice rectangle that could be converted easily into a useable region, I would have to play the area as three separate regions in game with the same plugins, and do any mosaic stitching as necessary. Simply because it is my favourite map and it has the most variety the Vagrant Peninsula will be the first of the three maps to get converted.

Now that we have our hand drawn map scanned/photographed nicely into my computer next was to try and translate that into Simcity 4. There is really only one method to convert hand sketches into maps, and it’s essentially tracing. The way I chose to do this is not the simplest. You will need a good photo editing suite such as Photoshop, the mapper, the terraformer, patience and some spare time. Here is a brief rundown of the steps.

You need to know your config.bmp size, you need to multiply these dimensions by 64 then add one to each. This gives you the size of your grayscale canvas. So for me it was:


Next I needed to figure out what heights corresponded to which colour grey so I booted up the terraformer, created a gradient from ground level down to the bottom of the sea, and exported it as a grayscale image.


Load this up in Photoshop along with your canvas, which you should fill with 100% black and edit the image type to 16bit grayscale. Paste in your scanned/photographed map as a new layer and resize to exactly fit your canvas to the pixel. Using the lasso tool carefully cut round the majority of your landmass; alternatively use the magic wand tool, dependant on whichever seems to be having the best results. 


Once it is all selected, hide that layer and bucket fill the selection with a grey that you know to be above sea level. Try to use the grey closest to that level to give you more flexibility later. You can flit back and forth between terraformer and photoshop if necessary to get the right heightgray (new word, you all get the meaning right).


Invert the selection and pick a large feathered brush with a lower, darker heightgrey, border your landmass to give some basic shallows. Save this file as your working map, then delete all layers apart from your canvas, save this file as a PNG file, this is your first test region. Boot up the mapper and then create region using this PNG. My result was:


Go back to the working file in Photoshop and select a lighter heightgrey than your land grey, using a large feathered brush gently apply some low hills. Start experimenting after about 120 minutes I had got what was starting to be some semblance of my original map or so I thought.


Next time we will come back to Photoshop where I learnt some hard lessons in how I had bitten off significantly more than I could chew. Although again I haven’t really shown you anything particularly exciting so here is one last shot showing that the terraformer can make beautiful pictures….


Have a happy new year, although shadow assassin & csgdesign are already well into 2010.



2 - Why the Story of the Story?

I want to talk to you about why I am doing this city journal, and why unlike my previous failed attempts it may in fact succeed, beyond update number ten. City Journalling is something I have always wanted to be good at, however it is always something I have as yet not been able to find the right formula for.

My first ever CJ attempt was on a large fantasy map called Macedon and was done with primarily vanilla stuff. Unfortunately no pictures still exist from this journal, unless they are buried deep in the ST archive. Following this failure I soon realised that I had a fixation with massive cities, it was just finding a project that I could commit enough focus to allow me to get to that stage.



This is a good example of my early work, I was still heavily maxis based but I was starting to add mod’s to my setup. These images were uploaded in October 2006. This is post Macedon, and was my first experiments with no maxis in commercial and residential areas. It was over the next six month’s that I got a taste for alternative histories and decided to get away from maxis as much as I physically could.


My next brainwave was to go mad for custom lotting and make an oriental themed city based entirely on my own produce. This incorporated my own sidewalk mod (my first release on the STEX) and was a pipe dream to the extreme. I quickly moved on. I delved into interchange theory and transit manipulation for a while, and also went through a period of 3D modelling. When beta testing for the CAM came round in August 2007 I jumped back on the bandwagon.


This is a shot of the beta, playing with only maxis structures but modified terrain, an idea I also played around with for a while. I went back to the 3D modelling and started teaching myself some of the more intermediate render techniques, for application in Simcity four. And for another long period I had Journalling aspirations.


New NAM came out along with the SAM, and then the GRV project was started by mrbisonm after the demise of Nexis of Genesis, one of the greatest CJ’s of all time. I decided to take part, and got to about update 8 before I faltered, I was at university and things just kept coming up, although I honed some of my techniques during my time, and it was the first time I played with ploppable nature items, and the first time I ever attempted to deal with coastlines realistically.


I then had a series of stand alone cities that I didn’t journal about but just created eye candy with. This is one such example, back on the no maxis train firmly for good, I was trying to create realistic urban gradients and reduce the steeping of the transition between skyscraper and suburb. This particular picture is from around May 2008. From here on in I felt I was now merely polishing my skills as a Simcity player and that I had mastered most of the basic and intermediate techniques.




Late in 2008 GRV II was launched and I decided to have another go at it. I lasted 5 updates, hah, but to this day that journal attempt still contains some of my best work. My nature work was improving with each passing month, and my appreciation of the subtleties of plugin selection and urban flora was greatly increased. It was at this point that wide radius curves started appearing everywhere.

I wobbled off the scene over Christmas 2008, and reappeared in March with some silly idea about a hand drawn map. Oh and again courtesy of the Journalling code of conduct, another teaser for you. I hope you agree that there is clear progression in my work and that I think there is still room for improvement.


As you were.



Hey, well this is a new project from me, but as to what it is, I’m not sure myself. Allow me to explain, earlier on in the year I was really impressed with a city journal by Antimonycat. It was called Endora and is sinking down the archives over at SC4D, regardless it was a really impressive representation of a steampunk environment that I have never seen done before and I don't think had. This really inspired me, although I have had a lot of false starts with cities for public display. Either way I diligently started preparing a region, a story and all that associated gubbins that comes with being part of a city journal. It was at this point I hit a snag.

There just didn’t seem to be the right map out there for me that hadn’t already been snapped up by other journalists. This probably shouldn’t have been an issue but for my ego and pride’s sake it was. I took the decision to create my own. Considering I had done no terraforming whatsoever, this seemed an unnecessarily complicated way of doing things but, what the heck aye? It was at this point I procured some squared paper and started sketching out my map.

A few days later I had not one map but three.Each map consisted of a coastline, mountainous areas scribble shaded, large settlements all marked, along with major motorways and rail links. Also marked were rivers that would have to be done with ploppable water. Again something I have virtually never experimented with. Although I had high hopes for the maps, I doubted my own terraforming ability could match up to these somewhat complex design ideas.


This peninsula had all the craggy, hilly coastlines that I wanted to nestle towns in between, while still allowing for some sizeable settlement on its more planar northern flanks. A large river and small islands provided scope for bridging too. I felt this map gave me all the variety a city builder could ever want.


The second map had a more flowing coastline with a much larger river inlet. That would form some approximation to a mudflat delta with a myriad of islands and sandbars to decorate in game. Along the banks I envisaged a huge sprawling coastal metropolis. Further east in the region there are some uplands and a raised lake. A slighty simpler map to create but not as much fun.


This final map, is mountainous for the most part with mountain lakes and streams aplenty. It also boast two large bays, and a river running up what I’d like to imagine as a glacial valley. This map with its high level of ploppable rivers and mountainous terrain intimidated me a lot but on the other hand was a sizeable project to get my teeth into and really learn the techniques.

I really couldn’t decide which one I liked most, so well I may have made them into one large region. Ok the three image above are actually the modified versions of the three maps, tailored to piece together in a large jigsaw puzzle, but the thematic elements are largely unchanged. This presents itself as a beautiful section of shoreline, known to me as the The Iron Coast. A combination of virtually every type of terrain possible in a swathe of land encompassing a staggering 6720km2, this presents problems in itself.


It was at this stage in April that I got a new job that took up a lot of my time, and as many before this project got pushed to the back burner. Strangely though the region just wouldn’t stop nagging at me, it was something I refused not to finish… so 6 months later I dug out all the files and well started the enormous ball rolling again.And it is the story of me trying to tell this story that presents itself to you. You with me?

EDIT:- It seems that i have to post some form of evidence of results, the cj content guide i the forum says that to merely state ones intention with the first post will alienate potential clients/viewers/knaves so here is a picture from an update somewhere in the future.


Either way i hope this sparks a few interested minds....

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