Please note: This Tutorial is currently a WIP (Work in Progress). Please bear with me whilst I get things fully completed.
RHD and LHD Explained
I figure before getting into this, it might be useful to explain just what the heck we're talking about, eh?
RHD - Right Hand Drive
Where traffic drives on the right hand side of the road.
Usually this is the default setting for users in the US, Canada, Continental Europe and most of the world.
LHD - Left Hand Drive
Where traffic drives on the left hand side of the road.
This setup is suitable for the UK, Japan, Australia and other countries where drivers use the left side of the road.
Wait a minute, aren't cars with steering wheels on the right side, or RHD as used in the car industry, those that drive on the left side of the road and vice-versa?
Yes, the car industry terms for which "hand drive" relates not to the side you drive upon, but the side which the steering wheel is located on the car.
If you think about it, since someone might use a LHD car in a non LHD country, it wouldn't make much sense to refer to the side of the road. For example, if I ordered a part in Germany, a RHD country, for my RHD (UK) car. I wouldn't want that part to fit a LHD vehicle such as those most common here.
Hence in the car industry, it always refers to the side the steering wheel is upon. Therefore if like me, you are familiar with such terms, you need to get used to the SC4 community using these terms to mean the opposite of what you expect. Given this is how things have been for 13 years, trying to change it now would just result in mass confusion for everyone.
How to Switch Driving Side for SC4
- Choose US English during install for a RHD Game
- Choose UK English during install for a LHD Game
Note: If you do not have these options (not all discs support all regions), you may want to try the alternate method below.
Digital Versions (Alternate Method for CD users also):
Switching from RHD to LHD:
Find the install directory, where you should have a subfolder "English". Make a copy of this folder, then rename it to "UKEnglsh".
Note: there is no typo here, you need to omit the "i" in English.
Then find your SC4 Shortcut, right click, select properties and add the following to the end of the target line "-l:"UK English".
Switching from LHD to RHD:
Find the install directory, where you should have a subfolder "UKEnglsh". Make a copy of this folder, then rename it to "English".
Then find your SC4 Shortcut, right click, select properties and add the following to the end of the target line "-l:"English".
Important Info for Steam/Origin Users:
To find the shortcut for Steam versions, you must alter this in the Steam Client as follows:
- Find SC4 in your Steam Library.
- Right click and select properties.
- Click "Set Launch Options".
To alter the shortcut for Origin versions:
<To be updated>
What if I don't have either an English or UKEnglsh Folder?
This is totally possible and not a problem. What exactly is inside these folders? Simply just locale files, i.e. the localised or translated text of your installation choices. So if you have a folder for example Spanish, you can still copy that to another named either English or UKEnglsh, this procedure will still work and you'll even still see the Spanish text in game.
In short, if you install a country that is supported, which uses either LHD or RHD, the game will mirror that. So if you installed a Japanese version of SC4, it would already be LHD. But if you want to change it, SC4 needs to see a locale file in a directory it expects to find. Therefore I've used English and UKEnglsh here as examples. But others will work too. The key point is that the folder exists with a locale file present that supports your choice of RHD or LHD play. Whichever language locale file you install in this folder, will be the language the game displays.
For directories other than English or UKEnglsh to work, the target switch must be altered from "-l:"English", to the equivalent language. For details of other available languages, see here.
Bear in mind here, not all versions include all locale files. So you may wish to play with Japanese Text, but without the locale file, you won't have the Japanese translation to do so. The disc versions had at least 5 SKUs which were intended for different regions. Some digital versions include more than one locale option, others only work based on the location you purchased it from.
Can't you change this using Windows Registry too?
Technically yes, but why mess about with the registry, when it's so simple to do it with the other two methods outlined above? As such, I won't be going into this here.
How to Switch Driving Side for the NAM (Network Addon Mod)
If you switch the driving side for SC4, you must also update the NAM to reflect this change. This will require running the installer once more for NAM. The reason is because the installations for RHD/LHD are completely different, so you need a LHD specific controller, which can not be simply switched on the fly.
It's painless enough however, run the installer, select the custom installation option. The look under "driving side", make sure the NAM has correctly detected your changes. If not, you can override the default setting here:
If you don't want/need any further changes to your previous NAM configuration, you can continue to install NAM with your new driving side selected at this point.
I want to go LHD, what limitations/problems will I encounter?
Speaking as a predominantly LHD user and NAM Developer, I can tell you LHD has been an uphill battle for me. Support for LHD in the NAM can sometimes be a little flaky, mostly stop lines on the wrong side of the road, paths that don't have LHD variants and very occasionally, features with no LHD support at all. Things are improving though, not to mention, most of what the NAM doesn't cover can be rectified by using some additional mods.
Stop Lines / Textures
It would probably help if I explain how LHD works in practise within the NAM/SC4. Typically for textures, you need a special set, although the defaults are mostly neutral without stop lines, so it's not the biggest problem. Not to mention, some pieces don't support mirroring, this means if you drag a diagonal from top to bottom over a road for example, the stop lines will be one way. But dragging from bottom to top over the road, the stop lines reverse instead. This is an issue that affect both RHD and LHD installs, so it's not strictly a LHD problem. Most pieces however do flip correctly, so provided you have LHD textures, they display fine.
If you use my TGN (Terrain Grass NAM) and SWN (Sidewalk NAM)* mods, I've tried my best to fully include LHD support:
* = Currently unreleased - However the SEN (Sandstone Euro NAM) mod it's based upon can be found on the STEX.
Alternately, you can use the preview version of my Automated Sidewalk Mod (SWN), which can be found here.
Of course these are big changes, but together you will get a very compatible LHD setup.
TGN only makes sense if you use one of the four supported HD Terrain Mods.
SEN only works with Paeng's Sandstone Sidewalks and EU textures currently. But when SWN is released, many more sidewalks will be supported, in addition to US textures also. SWN will additionally allow anyone to create a custom version, using automation. As such, it's theoretically possible to support any custom sidewalk.
The next problem you'll likely encounter is with paths. Typically, SC4 knows you are using LHD and simply reverses the paths automatically. However, rail-based networks were never supported by Maxis, these require dedicated paths for LHD. So any piece with Rail, El-Rail or Monorail as part of it can be affected, including overrides like HSR and GLR.
This is a minor issue within the NAM, but there are gaps. Actually, if you find one, just let me know about it, I'll either have patched it or I'd happily do so. The paths don't break anything, it just stops automata or UDI from acting normally, the former of which I dislike intensely and am only to happy to fix.
I am slowly pushing all these fixes into the NAM, so the more problems that get reported, the better LHD support will become.
You might ask what the hell is a T21? Well you know when you connect two roads in a 4-way intersection, you'll see traffic lights? The props that display In such situations are handled by T21s. By default all stop lights are on the wrong side of the road, but this fantastic mod by Maarten fixes that:
The other thing that's on the wrong side, are the crossing barriers on Rail/GLR Crossings. Again, simply fixed by this fantastic mod by Jondor.
Not to mention that both these mods look so much better than the default props too. There are other T21s out there, but few where LHD/RHD matters, things like placement of trees really don't need to be LHD specific.
Custom TE Lots
A TE is lot is a lot that allows transit networks to pass through them. This includes any station where you drag the network through it. When modded correctly, these should almost always support LHD, but sadly not all are. Some have complex custom paths, in which case if the modder does not include LHD variants, it won't work.
However, it's a two second job to switch paths directions if you know what you are doing. So again if you do come unstuck, feel free to ask for help.
I really hope this whole raft of potential pitfalls does not put anyone off LHD. I wanted to explain the issues, but show that there are many solutions to them. When I started playing, I considered ditching both EU Textures and LHD for the longest time, because I was frustrated with their coverage. Instead of doing that, I dedicated myself to fixing the problems instead. As a result, I'm confident that these days things are nowhere like as bad. It does take a little more work to setup, but both EU and LHD are so intrinsic to the style of my cities, I'm glad I didn't ignore them.
With the exception of TE Lots / NAM networks, there is no content out there that won't work with LHD. Since those are the only things that require LHD support.