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    Basics and Technical Issues

    A1.01: Basics and Technical Issues

    "One small step for Mayor, One giant leap for Sims-Kind."

    -- Sim Mayor.

    A1.01.1: Query the Hottest Keys

    The query option is one of the most important tools in the game. Use it to determine a whole host of information. You can also use it to click on any building and then change the name of it. Although that does not make the building historical or unalterable. It can still be destroyed by the computer when redeveloping.

    And if you want to follow a MySims or a car or change the traffic lights, simply do this:

    [Query] + [shift] + [click on object]

    You can check out the list of hot keys at the back of the provided manual although most of them seem quite useless and superfluous to me and seems only to appear there to fill up the back of the manual. For example there is a hot key of obliterating the city. I do not know how you play your city but this is not C&C, there is little violence and you would definitely not need a hot key for obliteration.

    The following are the more useful hot keys, the hottest of the hot.

    1) Home & End: Turn the building around for placement.

    2) Shift: Turns off auto roads. Simply press shift after dragging the zone but before releasing the mouse button.

    3) Esc: Undo. Sort of. Cancels zones, roads, etc, only if you have not released the mouse button.

    4) G: Shows the grid. Great for counting and planning.

    5) /: Query. Use with bulldoze to prevent accidental demolition.

    6) B: Bulldoze / Demolish.

    7) Ctrl S: Save City

    1) (Home or End)

    Turn the building around for placement.

    2) (Shift)

    Turns off auto roads. Simply press shift after dragging the zone but before releasing the mouse button. Make sure that you have the patch installed.

    3) (Alt)

    Switch the layout of the zoning before laying it.

    4) (Esc)

    Undo, sort of. Cancels zones, roads, etc, only if you have not released the mouse button.

    5) (G)

    Shows the grid. This is great for counting and planning.

    6) (/)

    Query. Use it with bulldoze to prevent accidental demolition.

    7) (B)

    Bulldoze / Demolish.

    8)(Control) (F)

    Dispatch fire fighters.

    9) (Control) (P)

    Dispatch police.

    10) (Control) + (Shift) + (S)

    Takes a picture of your city as it is appearing on the screen at this moment. This is a very useful hot key as it allows pictures which may not be possible if you went through the clicking on all picture button process.

    11) (Spacebar)

    Centre on Cursor.

    12) (Control) + (Shift) + ©

    Toggle terrain contours.

    13) (Control) + (S)

    Save City.

    14) (F12)


    15) (Control) + (Shift) + (Alt) + ®

    This is to record a clip of your city.

    16) (Control) + (Shift) + (O)

    Just in case you are wondering, this is the obliterate hotkey.

    A1.01.2: Multiple City Save Games and file locations

    1) Save Games

    For those of you who complain about the lack of save games slots, you could always just copy the region to another folder. Go to:

    MyDocuments > SimCity 4 > Regions

    This is also the place to put any cities you download. You have to place the city in the region in want it to be.

    2) File locations

    A) Album:

    MyDocuments > SimCity 4 > Album

    B) Bug Report:

    MyDocuments > SimCity 4 > Exception Reports

    C) Recorded Animation:

    MyDocuments > SimCity 4 > Recorded Animation

    D) Original Regions:

    C:\(or wherever you installed the game) SimCity 4 > Regions

    This is for if you messed up the original regions and want the original back.

    E) Music for the game / Custom Tunes:

    SimCity 4> Radio > Stations > Region > Music

    SimCity 4> Radio > Stations > Mayor > Music

    A1.01.3: Custom Tunes & Animation

    1) Tunes

    You can play your own music simply by placing the music (MP3) into this


    For Region Music:

    SimCity 4> Radio > Stations > Region > Music

    For City Music:

    SimCity 4> Radio > Stations > Mayor > Music

    Then when you play the game open up the Audio Option and select the custom tunes.

    2) Animation

    Simply hit (Control) + (Shift) + (O) to begin. Enter in the various information such as file name, rate, time, output and frame count. The clip will be stored in your Recorded Animation folder.

    A1.01.4: Technical Issues

    Firstly, I should state that I am NOT a technical expert or even a technical person at all. However, these problems occurred frequent enough for me to pick some things up.1) Game Requirements:

    You can easily check the requirements on the box although the game really requires a lot of power such that even if you are above the recommended your cities if they are huge may encounter lag.

    There is a good test program to test your computer systems vis-à-vis the game requirements. It is found in the game folder itself:

    SimCity4 > Support > SimCity 4_EZ.exe

    2) GDriverWindow--DirectX Error (1)

    This is one of the most common problems I see. The error you will most

    probably see is "The configuration file (Graphics Rules.sgr) cannot be

    parsed using built-in rules."

    There are two plugin folders. The one I am talking about is the one in your MyDocuments folder.

    MyDocuments > SimCity 4 > Plugins

    Do not place any of the downloaded things into this folder if not the game will not start. I suggest that after installation of the game and the patch you go and check this folder out to see what should remain in there. Nothing.

    The reason why an uninstall does not work is because the game does not delete the SimCity 4 folder under MyDocuments unless you actively specify it. Delete what ever you have placed there.

    3) GDriverWindow--DirectX Error (2)

    However, there is another more drastic method. Since I am not well-versed in computers, I am unsure as to whether is this message a generic type for multiple problems or not. If above solution does not work then you may attempt to try this but do it at your own risk and discretion.

    A) Uninstall SimCity 4 including the SimCity 4 folder in MyDocuments.

    B) Reinstall:

    After that do the following:

    i) Double-click on My Computer.

    ii) Double-click on C: drive (also labelled local disk)

    iii) Double-click on Program Files.

    iv) Double-click on Maxis.

    v) Double-click on Sim City 4.

    vi) Double-click on Apps.

    C) Open SimCity 4.ini file

    i) Right-click on the SimCity 4.ini file and a menu will appear. Select

    "open" and left-click to open the file. The found is found in:

    C:\(or wherever you installed the game) > Apps

    ii) You will now see notepad open the file up. It will look similar to this:

    [code][Directories] Data=..\ PlugIn=..\Plugins\ [Graphics Drivers] OpenGL =SimGLRef.dll, C4554841 Software=SimGLSoft.dll, 7ACA35C6 D3D7 =SimGLDx7.dll, BADB6906 [Current Graphics Driver] ;Driver = C4554841 ;OpenGL Hardware ;Driver = 7ACA35C6 ;GRPoly Software Driver = BADB6906 ;DX7 Hardware D) Editing You will need to make edits to the [Graphics Drivers] and [Current Graphics Driver] sections so that they appear as follows: [Directories] Data=..\ PlugIn=..\Plugins\ [Graphics Drivers] ;OpenGL =SimGLRef.dll, C4554841 Software=SimGLSoft.dll, 7ACA35C6 ;D3D7 =SimGLDx7.dll, BADB6906 [Current Graphics Driver] ;Driver = C4554841 ;OpenGL Hardware Driver = 7ACA35C6 ;GRPoly Software ;Driver = BADB6906 ;DX7 Hardware [/code]

    E) Hopefully that will help you but I make no promises.

    4) Graphics options

    As usual there is a trade-off between speed of the game and quality of it. Patch 2 will automatically set the options rather low, at least in my opinion. So if the graphics look bad, simply change the quality and determine if you can stand the lag in the game.

    5) EA Technical help

    If you have problem operating the game simply send them a message. It is under their technical support, Ask a question tab. You do not need actually need to know their address. This is their main support site.

    Although it should be noted that, often your first reply will be an automated one but do not despair and persist. I did once think of sending in multiple mails just to determine the various sets of automated response and trigger words but I think that sort of would be frowned upon.

    6) Permanent Green Highlight Bug

    If, you see your hospitals or education highlighted as green even if they are not selected, do not worry. Simply go to the data view, and select the respective health, education, etc view. Then after selected, click on the all off. They will no longer have the green glow.

    A1.01.5: Registration

    The registration process I recalled was quite complicated. If I remember it correctly, this is the process:

    1) Register once on your computer by filling up the form after installation, which will then send a signal to the main site. Or go to the Support folder and click on SimCity 4_eReg.exe to register.

    2) Then you have to register a second time also with the same key, which is at the back of your CD case at their official site.

    3) Failure to do the first registration before the second will give you a error or invalid key message

    4) Enter your email correctly and make sure it does not get directed to your junk folder. Click on the activation and you are done.

    Again if you have problems send an message to them. They solved, my problem within hours.


    This I must say is one of the most complicated registration process ever. However, it is a good effort against piracy. So if you see anyone or if anyone asks you for your key, do NOT give away your key. And also report all piracy regarding the game to this EA email address:


    For online piracy email contact:


    A1.01.6: Updates

    1) Check all files updated

    The patch update is problematic. Whether you patch automatically or do it manually, make sure you check that all the relevant files are indeed updated. The list of files can be found on the patch page. Although, I personally seem to have a problem with the ’dbghelp.dll’ file as it not only did not take the 2003 stamp date but it seems to have taken a 2001 stamp date.

    2) Patch Log

    You will have a patch log called:


    It is found in the same folder as the patch file you downloaded if you used the automatic patch. Not too sure where it would be if it was done

    automatically. This lists what files were patched and whether was it

    successful at the patch.

    3) Region Identification

    The second problem is for those who has problem with the automatic patch and have to do it manually. Make sure your region is correct. The problematic is the Asian edition. Just because, you live in Asia and bought the game there does not mean that the game is an Asian edition one. If it is English, there is a high chance that your edition could be the North America one. I do not think there is a way to actually determine your region by looking at the files or game itself.

    The things that could your is an American edition are: (i) Right hand drive and (ii) American spelling. However with regards to American spelling, I am unsure whether is it similar for all the English games. If it is not then look for words such as "harbor" v "harbour" or "color" v "colour." The spelling without the "u" is the American spelling. These words will sometimes appear as park of the message in the news ticker.

    4) Failed patch

    Finally, if you game did not patch properly as in the files were not fully updated, the only way to resolve it is to reinstall everything.

    A1.01.7: Online Play: SimCityScape

    You can find more information at the site but this is a brief overview. This online gameplay is available at the official website:

    1) Requirements

    Microsoft’s Internet Explorer version 6 or better.



    Registered user

    Game updated with Patch 2

    2) 9 Regions Available

    Amarica (Large City size: 20 Cities)

    Discovered in 2003, Amarica is the new world.

    Griffinland (Large City size: 42 Cities)

    In a world where water reigns, Griffinland springs to life.

    Dan’s Grove (Small City Size: 43 Cities)

    Farmer Dan ran a pistachio orchard on this soil, until approached by a developer. The region has been growing ever since.

    Emlee Valley (Medium City Size: 18 Cities)

    Pioneered by Maxoids, additional settlers have been moving in ever since.

    Molon Island (Small City Size: 47 Cities)

    Islands rise from the oceans forming this vast archipelago.

    Sea Shaw (Medium City Size: 47 Cities)

    With recent development interest, Sea Shaw promises to undergo a real estate boom.

    Lake Lucky (Medium City Size: 41 Cities)

    Formed by a giant asteroid 3 million years ago, Lake Lucky is now a vacation haven.

    Big Ben Basi (Medium City Size: 47 Cities)

    The lands have been shifting beneath these shallow waters, making it prime realestate for developers.

    Wee Burg (Small City Size: 45 Cities)

    In the wee county of Wee Burg, little cities populate the quaint countryside.

    Cook County (Large City Size: 24 Cities)

    The wind sweeps across vast stretches of plains, as if whispering “develop me.”

    Templinton (Medium City Size: 18 Cities)

    Civilizations have always grown from the fertile river valleys, Templinton is no exception.

    Annarondacks (Large City Size: 15 Cities)

    Lakes, forests, and numerous winter sports resorts, attract many tourists, and was once the site of the 1964 Winter SimOlympics.

    Spider Mountain (Medium City Size: 38 Cities)

    Once inhabited by a spider so large, no one dared move into the area. Nowadays the spider has taken up a career in a travelling sideshow act, leaving the region spider free.

    3) Game Play concept

    It is quite simple. You get to pick one region and you have up to 5 days to play with it and to end your turn. You may upload it and make as many changes as you want. But after 5 days or if you choose to end your turn early your turn is up then another person can take over. You may not play the same city consecutively although you may play a city multiple times. After certain amount of time, Maxis will reset the region and the good ones I suppose will get into their hall of fame.

    4) Download Region

    You can download their "premade region configuration folder" and place it at My Documents\SimCity 4\Regions\ to extract and create your city. It is a 2k zip file. Yes, 2k I did not have a typing error. It is small. This is not required for playing the online game and download it only if you want to duplicate their region for your own play.

    A1.01.8: Simtropolis Patch

    This is not an official patch at all. It is put together by fans of the game. It is located at the Simtropolis site:


    The following is one of the official words by Maxis on it:

    ’Users install, run and download those "mods" from Simtropolis completely at their own risk. Maxis is NOT responsible for ANY errors, crashes, problems or any other issue that you may have if you have downloaded and applied any unofficially supported mod files to your game. Nor is Maxis required to help anyone who has altered their game with any patches/mods/downloads that are not from Maxis themself. Players should also expect that any future patches and/or expansion packs and SimCityscape "may" NOT function properly with the game if you have downloaded any unofficial mods/patches/files and applied them to your game.’

    A1.01.9: City Size

    There are three city size that you can select. And each tile is 16 by 16 metres.

    A) Small: 64 by 64 tiles = 1024 metres / 1Km

    B) Medium: 128 by 128 tiles = 2048 metres / 2Km

    C) Large: 256 by 256 tiles = 4096 metres / 4km

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    User Feedback

    Two items in the keyboard shortcuts list have me baffled.  What is the key © and what is the key ® ?  Generally they are used for copywrite and registered and are accessed through the character map, which hardly makes them shortcuts.



    12) (Control) + (Shift) + ©

    Toggle terrain contours.


    15) (Control) + (Shift) + (Alt) + ®

    This is to record a clip of your city.

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