Our next interviewee calls Norway his home. Glenni has brought us all a taste of the world'S finest and most interesting buildings and BATs, with a list of downloads ranging from brutalist W2Ws to tunnel entrances/exits. There are design o' plenty to fit just about any playing style, so we feel confident in assuming that you probably have at least one of his works in your plugins folder. And if you don't, why not give his work a look? Glenni has made us all plenty of good stuff. Now let's take this chance to get to know him a bit better...
ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
Glenni: I bought the game around 2002, or thereabouts. I had already played SimCity 3000 World Edition, and SimCity 2000 before Simcity 4, so I was by then used to the series. My first thoughts were, “Oh my god, this is SO difficult compared to the previous!” For those of you who never played SimCity 4 without any expansions, let me just tell you, it was absoletely brutal! Everything was hard. The best I managed to get, before moving on to Rush Hour Expansion pack was 110 000 people in a city. And just that one growable high rise - that one high rise alone felt like a proper acchievement.
Another thing I noticed was just how smooth the animations were. And the street life, wow. With SimCity 3000 I was used to cars moving at a choppy pace. Pedestrians were there, but didn't do much but walk awkwardly. Suddenly we had cars driving, stopping, going around bends and pedestrians standing, sitting at tables, walking, doing tasks and chores, people in pools, kids on trampolines. It was quite the sight for me back then.
ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
Glenni: I don't remember much of them specifically, but i found EA's now defunct SimcCity 4 website. Simcity.ea.com I think it was? It used to have a lot exchange. I downloaded the standard EA landmarks and then tried the exchange. I just remember that one of the first I installed was some office called MSNBC. It was basically just the wren insurance, with a huge logo saying MSNBC slapped on the side. The problem is that with the official exchange, you had no way of telling what exactly it installed. So it installed that building, and a few custom versions of existing lots, with that sign popping up everywhere in my cities.
...We're off to a great start! One the plus side I did find Mikeseith's ( the automata dude) earlier work there, that was some of the best I found find there at the time.
ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
Glenni: Having finally had enough of simcity.ea.com's rambunctiousness I began looking for other sites.
After some googling for Simcity 4 mods, I found Simtropolis. It was amazing. Wow, good buildings, wow, cathedrals, wow, new cars! Where have I ended up?!
I think one of the first mods I downloaded was one of Xannepan's JENX cathedrals, and some Simgoober hotels.
ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
Glenni: It wasn't as much the BATs and mods, as it was the people. I started at Simtropolis as a lurker, but eventually I started hanging out at the chatroom. From there I got help to get started, Ill Tonkso, N747 and NintendoMaster128 were some of the guys that inspired me and helped me get up and going. They helped me with textures, they shared some of theirs, taught me how to start with scale, etc.
ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
Glenni: Oh lawdy. Well, what confused me with Gmax/BAT at first, was that I was used to BAP/Ba+ from SimCity 3000, BAT's predecessor. So I thought that all I had to was make a basic shape, and then texture that. Boy was I wrong. I learned the hard way that Simcity 4 had some simple, but rigid design rules:
- Detail the building.
- Maintain a general 4 metre floor height.
- Exagerate the vertical scale.
- Exaggerate the scale of ornaments
- Textures are what make and break the models.
My first attempts were truly dreadful, but here's a shot of one of them:
ST: You have a very wide range of buildings in your list of BATs. What is the thought process behind choosing what to create?
Glenni: For most part it's the desire to create realistic, and non descript buildings. The stuff people tend to forget about, the non-shiny or glassy every day buildings. High rise 1960s residentials, down and out tenements, etc. But of course, I have made some non-grungy stuff too. Another reason was to create more Norwegian and Scandinavian content in general, content that there isn't all that much of.
ST: Many of your BATs have been released under the BLaM and NDEX banners. For those of us (including myself) who may not know much about BLaM or NDEX, can you elaborate on what you guys were about/how you were organized and what your role with them was?
Glenni: BLaM and NDEX were, and are two teams devoted to creating content under a common banner for SImcity 4. In the past, NDEX and BSC were the two main teams - you could say rivals if you wanted, but I never saw it that way. NDEX has a special interest in big, bold, and spectacular skyscrapers, made by people like Dusktrooper, Eburess, N747, Superstar, and in later years me, Ill TOnkso, and Dragonanime, whereas BSC focused more on game beautification, mansions, chateaus, vinyards, that sort of thing.
BLaM was founded by Mike Dixon Kennedy, alias Onlyplace4, who sadly is no longer with us. (God rest his soul.) He was a very good, competant leader for the team. I forgot the exact names on some of the other founding members, as I lost contact with most of them, but Mightygoose and I held somewhat central positions in the team.
In both BLaM and NDEX, I was and am just the BATter, all though I did and do for most part my own lotting, because I have more of an actual interest in it, whereas other BATters just wanted the damn things out, and not have to worry about it.
ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Is it exciting to see your models used in the CJs of others?
Glenni: For most part I just like sharing, and knowing that someone actually has a use for something you create does feel nice sometimes. Comments are generally not a neccesity, I don't need comments just to keep on making and releasing stuff, although I should admit, that If I've had a bad day, and see rude or nasty comments, it does of course affect me a bit.
ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
Glenni: They haven't had all that much of an influence other than making it easier for me to step into the modding community for other games, such as GTA, Mafia, Cities XL, and SecondLife. Those games are where I have dabbled since.
ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
Glenni: Start simple. Don't go for the tallest, most detailed, and most spectacular skyscraper you can find. Aim low. Make a small house, or a store. Maintain a general height of 4 meters per floor. Detail it with air condition vents, pipes, and chimneys, etc on the roof. Model the actual window frames, set them back in the walls like in most buildings real life. Make the walls 0.3 m thick at the minimum. But first and foremost, have fun, and enjoy what you are creating!
ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
Glenni: I must admit that I haven't had a very close watch on the latest CJs, but the ones that I remember, and particularely liked were as follows:
Thames by Frogface: A little piece of the UK, the first serious attempt at a proper British CJ, and boy was it good!
An old CJ made by the Swedish member SAS: I forgot the name, but some oldtimers might remember it. Wooded hills, huge bridges spanning gorges, impressive lot work, etc!
BurroDiablo's Sakhaliyan Peoples Republic: This one was a killer, dark dinghy soviet style, with his neat photoshop skills made this a fun CJ to look at, it made you want to pop some anti depressants just looking at it, and that's a good thing!
Ilikihotdogsalot's World CJ: This was a CJ, where he would recreate one city per post, and then move on to the next one. Some of them got freakishly close to the originals!
There were a few others, but it's hard to remember the exact titles of the CJs and the members behind them.
ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
Glenni: Yep, most of my favourites are the ones that did good down to earth buildings, Odd From Sweden, Erdmoebel, Ferox, Ill tonkso, Jestarr, Simhottody, Jasoncw to name a few.
I haven't played simcity since 2011, and therefore have not downloaded any buildings, but I plan to go back to this. I really want to get myself a desktop for it, though. Laptops are a bit awkward and jerky to play Simcity 4 on.
ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
Glenni: I am a little bit surprised, yes. The fact that new buildings get uploaded every week even after the game was released 12 years ago is actually pretty amazing. Part of the success is because of the blatant failure that SimCity Societies and SimCity 13 were, though. If anything, it just brought even more fans to SimCity 4. The reason for the success I'd wager would be the wide variety of stuff you can find for this game, just the STEX alone has 14 000~ uploads. And then there's SC4Devotion, and several other sites that add their own content to the game. One good example would be toutsimcities.com if you are interested in French buildings and mods. I ventured a bit into simcity.cn, too, a Chinese SimCity fansite. I managed to find some gems there, too, that are not found anywhere else. I'm pretty confident that this game still has a lot going for it, but if it will be around in another 12 years we'll never know. But at this point it doesn't seem too unlikely. Grand Theft Auto 3 was released over 13 years ago, and that's also going strong in its mod community.
ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
Glenni: I play a few games, like Garry's mod, Cities XL, S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Shadow of Chernobyl, Grand Theft Auto V, Mafia II, and Tropico 4 is what I play the most. I don't have many hobbies, I sometimes enjoy hiking, photography of urban landscapes - and I recently picked up an interest in making some models devoted to Secondlife.
Interview questions by SimCoug and NMUSpidey (but mostly SimCoug), MandelSoft interview conducted by NMUSpidey