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About MandelSoft

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    Simtrop Enthusiast

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    Praha, Czech Republic
  • Interests
    Euro Truck Simulator 2, SimCity 4 (of course!), Cities: Skylines, composing music, writing, drawing and civil engineering
  • City-building game(s)
    SimCity 4
    Cities: Skylines

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  1. 1933-1934 - Wheels of Progress

    January 30th, 1933 "Those pesky townspeople! They just want too much in too little time!" Greg Bresky wasn't too thrilled about the latest town expansions. Day by day, he sees his estate shrink. One year ago, he could look all the way to the Pedigo river from his house, but now, his view is blocked by all the new houses they've built in the past year. His view, ruined forever by the wheels of progress. Did he left his motherland Poland for this all these years ago? No. All he wanted was some peace and quiet, far away from the war that had ruined his homeland. Out here, he thought he had all space to do his own business, to start a farm and live a quiet life. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be. "Greg, what's wrong?", a female voice said. It was his wife, Francis. Unlike Greg, she came from around here. They found each other years ago in the local bar. She helped him to settle in across the other side of the Atlantic and they have now been married for ten years. "This new railway station will bring nothing but trouble to this town," Greg said. "It's a gateway for lazy scum and corrupt capitalists to come here and destroy our town." "I think you're exaggerating, honey." "Am I? Look around. It has already begun! We are slowly being surrounded by strangers. And it will be especially bad when Tree-ET comes to town." "Tree-ET? Sorry, I don't follow..." "Never heard of Tree-ET? They are the big company that's going to come here and cut down our lovely forest! They destroy our landscape just to line their pockets!" "Frankly, my dear, I think there are quite some people welcoming them in town. It has been hard for people to find a job here. For some, Tree-ET can feel like a blessing from above." "I don't stand by doing nothing! I'll stand my ground and fight to the very end to protect our forests here!" Francis sighed. She was witnessing one of her husband's tantrums again. Fortunately, it was not against her. But still, these conversations were something she wanted to get over with as soon as possible. "Well honey, are you done now? The curly kale stew is ready to be served." "Ah, splendid, dear! At least there are some things that never change, for the better." The two of them took a seat at the dinner table and enjoyed Francis' stew. Dinner was the best way to calm Greg down. For now... _______________________________ It has been a while, but I finally got around making a second update of Telegraph Road. In the previous post, the city has started expanding and we planned out a few things. Now I'm still trying to find my ground in the Natural Growth method, but I found that construction time in Cities:Skylines goes way too fast. Now I played this update for one in-game year, but it feels like two years or even more has passed. So as of now, 1 in-game year equals 2 story-years. I probably have to slow down, playing sessions of 6 in-game months at the time. So, here's what happened in Nordale in 1933 and 1934. First, we'll take a look in the old town center. Yup, things are still going swell... Now, one of the plans of last update was to build some extra capacity for electricity; this has now been completed with a second gas unit But the biggest plan has also been realised: building a railway station for the town. As you can see, we have a new (and cute!) railway station. And with all the new people coming in from the trains, a new station neighbourhood arose, hosting businesses and our newest residents. On the southern side, the town has grown again, but right now, the ressidential demand has leveled. At this point, all three demand groups are low and the town has found an equilibrium. But there's an opportunity around the corner: we have a lot of natural resources we can gather, and the SimNation has some interest to get some. The easiest resource to get to is lumber, so preparations have been made to set up lumber industry here. We'll see more of it soon! To conclude this update, let's have an areal shot: Just some more data: Population: 1250 Budget: Current bank balance: +$5 500 (no loans) Current weekly cashflow: +$400 - +$600 Demand: Ressidential: low Commercial: low Industry: low Water: Precise Demand and supply unknown Supply is way over capacity even with minimal facilities. Electricity: Current Supply: 30 MW Current demand: 22 MW Civil Facilities: 1 primary school 1 small police station 1 small fire station 1 clinic 1 community church 1 railway station That's it for today! See you next time and keep those suggestions coming! -- Maarten (MandelSoft)
  2. SimCity 4 turns 15!

    15 years already? Dang... I may not play it anymore, but I still see people still play the game and custom content is still being churned out. It looks like it's here to stay. We might as well call it ... ... SimCity4ever!
  3. 1932 - Humble beginnings

    July 1st, 1932 Sheriff Walter Grayes took a look around in his office. It was Friday evening and he had just completed this week's administration, all stored neatly marked in folders in his desk. Grayes’s administration was one to admire for its organisation. Like everything in his office, it was all neatly sorted, so you could find any record with ease. It was almost an obsession for him to organise everything; his ash tray, his furniture, bookshelves and even the stacks of files, every square inch seemed meticulously planned, as he had aligned everything with a ruler (some people rumoured that he actually did that). In front of Grayes was an empty chair. For years, out of pure necessity, he had to do this town’s law enforcement on his own. At least, officially. The community helped him out to keep an eye on anything suspicious. And fortunately for him, this small town didn’t have much criminal activity. But still, working alone was never a long-term solution. Today he'd receive new assistance. And although it wasn’t the first time that he had received a new deputy, it still made him a bit nervous. Grayes' police station. Grayes was about to light up another cigarette, when the door of his office opened. A young lad stepped into the room. The contrast between the two men couldn’t hardly bigger. Grayes was a somewhat short middle-aged man, his hair and mustache all grey and dressed in the traditional uniform. The other was a tall brown-haired man in his twenties, much more casually dressed and – unlike Grayes – full of energy. But as he saw the sheriff and his office, he tried to restrain himself, hoping not to make a bad impression. “Sheriff Grayes, I presume?”, he said. “The one and only,” Grayes answered. “So you must be the new deputy, mister …” “Winterton, sir. Nathan Winterton.” “Right, mr. Winterton. Take a seat.” Winterton sat down on the chair Grayes already set up for him. Grayes got is pack of cigarettes from his pocket. “Care for a smoke?” “No thank you, I don’t smoke.” “Suit yourself then.” Grayes lit up his cigarette and puffed out a small grey smoke cloud before continuing with his story. “So, I’ve heard you came here all the way from Ellismere. That must’ve been quite a long journey to here.” “It sure was, sir. I travelled all day by train. This town is so remote! I was lucky that the train even stopped here. You don’t seem to have any train station here.” “No. We never had the money to build one. And neither the railway company nor the government wants to fund it. We are lucky they do let trains stop here, people just have to get out on the grass and dirt.” “Yeah, that wasn’t very nice…” “If only we had the money to get us a decent station. Maybe more people would come to visit our town. Especially new businesses.” “What kind of businesses?” “Well, look around! We have mountains, we have forests and some people say that there’s quite some coal and all kinds of ores in the ground. We have all kinds of riches nature has to offer. But the industrial giants don’t seem to be interested in our town. Too remote for them. Not worth the investment. And no workforce on site. Almost everyone here works again. It seems that we got over the big crash of ‘29…” “I see. Well, this is a whole lot different than the big city I came from.” “Get used to it, kid. Here in this community, everyone pretty much knows everyone else.” “Any oddballs I should keep an eye on?” “Well, there’s William Rudd from Felix Street, or Blue Bill as we call him. Don’t be surprised to see him walking around the streets drunk in the evening. The man has a serious drinking problem. Oh, and there’s Greg Bresky… yeah, he’s a special type of man…” “What’s so special then?” “Well, the guy is actually from Poland, he moved in here twelve years ago. Everyone calls him Greg because his real Polish name is quite hard to remember… or pronounce. Wait, let me get his file.” Effortlessly, Grayes picked out Greg’s file from one of the stacks and opened it up at the page. “Right, his real name is Gre- … Grze... Grzego-… err… you better read it for yourself.” He turned the page so Winterton could read it. Winterton could clearly understand why everyone had trouble with his name as he read what it actually was: Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz. “He has seen some pretty disturbing stuff in the Great War,” Grayes continued. “He never wanted to face the horrors of war again, so he moved here to escape it all. He’s quite a stubborn man. His privacy and his farm estate are both a big deal to him and he doesn’t like people telling him what to do. I’ve had a problem with him several times.” “I can imagine. But I’d still like to meet everyone here, even those special characters.” “Sure. Even people like Greg will start to grow on you when you know them long enough. You know what, you can meet most people on Sunday in church. I hope you city boys go to church at Sundays.” “Not every week, but I’m willing to adapt here. Helps me settling in here.” “Right. Well, that’s all you have to know right now. Come. I’ll close up this place for today. Let’s grab a beer at Eric’s… of course, if you want to.” “Sure, sir.” “Call me Walt.” Bresky Estate. _______________________________ Welcome to the first update of Telegraph Road. In the previous post, I've explained how we are going to build this city. This update is mainly a demonstration of the gameplay. For this demo, I only progressed time half a year instead of a full year. So, here's what happened in Nordale in the second half of 1932. We had a large ressidential demand. A logical step to increase the town's income to invest in new projects is to fulfill this ressidential demand. A few dirt streets are quickly constructed in a few weeks. Although, it quickly turned out that there was demand for more, so an extra street has been constructed. The expansion is not done yet in this new district of Nordale, called Bellton. There's plenty of room for expansion, though mr. Bresky has expressed his concerns already... Meanwhile, the city has invested in preparations for some big projects you suggested. It was clear that a station was necessary for this town. The area has been cleared for construction, but it won't be completed until the end of 1933. Construction has also begun on the capacity expansion of the small gas power plant. The project should be completed in a few months and will provide the city for many years to come. The current power plant is running over its usual capacity and the expansion is mainly to prevent all the machinery to wear off too quickly. In short, this year has not been so eventful, but the new railway station could bring in a boost of activity in the coming years. Some data about the city, as of January 1st, 1933, just in case you want to help with some decisions: Population: 865 Budget: Current bank balance: +$24 100 (no loans) Current weekly cashflow: +$700 - +$1100 Money reserved for new facilities: Expansion power plant capacity: $5000 Railway station: $20 000 Demand: Ressidential: high Commercial: medium Industry: low Water: Precise Demand and supply unknown Supply is way over capacity even with minimal facilities. Electricity: Current Supply: 16 MW Planned Supply: 24 MW Current demand: 12-15 MW (and growing). Civil Facilities: 1 primary school 1 small police station 1 small fire station 1 clinic 1 community church So as you can see, these big projects take a huge chunk out of the available budget. But on the other hand there is a lot of money flowing in, so the town shouldn't worry that much about its investments. Most facilities are sufficient for the town as it is now. That's it for today. Due to the holidays, I don't know if I have an update for you ready next week, but Telegraph Road will return. I will take note of your suggestions. Take care and see you next time! -- Maarten (MandelSoft)
  4. Introduction - What is this all about?

    I'm afraid we don't have the funds for that yet, and it will probably drain all profit from the city. We're on a low budget at this point ____________________________________ That would've been a sufficient solution... if it weren't 1932. The tech is not up to that point yet. That would mean I have to knock down some buildings. This is exactly what makes Natural Growth difficult: you can't just demolish buildings, because you have to sell out their owners, people will protest and it's often an expensive solution for project developers. So as long as there's no need for it, or the demand isn't high enough to gather enough support, that plan is off. ____________________________________ Right, I'll be doing some writing for the first "episode" and then I'll lay out the first developments in this CJ. Stay tuned!
  5. The Leaving / Returning Thread

    So, after three years of abscence, even missing out my ten-year anniversary on this website, I'm finally back, but probably not as active as I used to be. Pfew, a lot has changed on my side! The main reason I left here was that ProMods - a community mod for Euro Truck Simulator 2 - was demanding so much time that I came here less and less, and eventually even that stopped. But while SimCity 4 changed my course of education and seeded the love for civil engineering, Euro Truck Simulator 2 impacted my life in a whole different way. I'm one of the three team leaders in the ProMods team, so a lot of management jobs are in my hand on this hobby project, and this ain't much fun sometimes... But it gets even crazier: after I finished my master's degree back in March 2016, I started looking for a job, without much success. During the summer, I had the crazy idea to visit Prague on a short holiday and en passant visit SCS Software, the company who created Euro Truck Simulator 2 (and American Truck Simulator). After some e-mail exchanges, they said it was OK to visit, so I showed them the work we done in our mod. A few months later, the France DLC came out, but the old areas of France still looked the same and that was a clash of different styles, kind of awkward. So I showed them that with a few tweaks, the old areas could be updated without much effort and still looking a ton better. This caught them their attention and they called me. I was still looking for a job and they were actually willing to offer me one! There was only one catch: I had to move to Prague. I considered my options, seeing if there was a possibility to stay back in the Netherlands. I had never lived on my own, let alone abroad! But after investigating the alternatives, it actually turned out that surprisingly, moving abroad was the least complicated option. It was kind of scary at first, probably the biggest challenge I've faced in my life. And on the first day, I was kind of scared about the whole idea. But after a week or two, I actually felt home in the city. It's surprising how quickly these things become so mundane. Even the fact that everyone around you speaks in a language you don't understand (still working on that, but man, Czech is hard!). Right now, I'm working at SCS Software for over a year as a map designer and I've delivered a great contribution to the Italy map DLC. I'm still involved in ProMods, so I'm also representing the link between the company and the modding community. It has been quite an exciting year and I feel like I've grown a lot. So, how did I came back? Well, noahclem from the SC4D community invited me over at their SimCity 4 Discord server, and eventually I learned that SimTropolis had a Discord server too, so I joined. Discord is the main communication channel between ProMods members, so it was convenient to join. And I love to see all of your faces again. The community seems to be a bit quieter nowadays, but it ain't dead yet. The thing is, I actually found out that I fell out of love with SimCity 4; I find it easier to get back into Cities:Skylines again. Now, due to my modding work and my day job, I may not have a lot of time to completely fine-tune a city, but that gave me another idea. What if I play the game in a completely different way? And so, I'm now trying to embrace the Natural Growth method. The actual playing time for this method is quite limited per week, but I can make a lot of interesting fluff around it. I've done a lot of fiction writing in the time that I wasn't here and I think I got better at that, so expect that I fill in my latest project with some stories. So, I'm back in action. Maybe in a different way this time. But as you can see, everything is fine and dandy with me. I missed you guys! Best regards from your friendly neighbourhood pegasus, Maarten (MandelSoft)
  6. "A long time ago came a man on a track Walking thirty miles with a sack on his back And he put down his load where he thought it was the best He made a home in the wilderness He built a cabin and a winter store And he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore And the other travellers came walking down the track And they never went further, no, they never went back Then came the churches, then came the schools Then came the lawyers, then came the rules Then came the trains and the trucks with their load And the dirty old track was the Telegraph Road" - Telegraph Road, Dire Straits _________________________________________________________________________ Welcome to Telegraph Road, a City Journal that will play by the rules of Natural Growth. A city with an ongoing story and history as it grows. You're obviously familiar with most people play Cities:Skylines; they have a plan how they want to build their city and they are in control of everything. They oversee their cities in every way. But does this happen in real life? Not really. This is where Natural Growth comes in. Instead of seeing it all, you'll look at your city from different perspectives and place yourself in the shoes of project managers, entrepeneurs and citizens. This is an imperfect, but a pretty interesting approach to build a city. I've never done this before, as I used to build pretty well planned in SimCity 4 and Cities:Skylines. But I'm not afraid to take a challenge. But how does it work? Let me explain... _________________________________________________________________________ How does it work? The major inspiration for this CJ comes from the Natural Growth playing style, as described by CSGdesign. However, a different game plays by different rules, but basically, the playing style will be the following: Plan small and only on the short term. You need to think from the perspective of all actors. You will be looking at this from a low-level perspective. Sure, you can plan an estate in the hills because it offers a nice view or avoid a forest because the national government designated the area as a protected area. But you don't lay out entire districts according to a strict plan or entire infrastructure complexes. Want to build a highway? You'll have to evaluate each and every interchange you're going to build and you probably won't end up building the entire thing at once, but in parts. You're on a budget Governing is deciding how to divide limited resources. And money is an important limited resource. You can only build what you can afford. The cashflow, as well as the city's available budget needs to be evaluated for every decision and will be a limiting factor for every choice and you can't get everything you wish for. Don't think as a mayor. Think as a project developer You may want a lot, but at the end of the day, someone has to build it. And since budget plays a role, they will decide what's the most cost-effective measure. After all, you can only spend your money once and your contractors still need to get a profit out of it. Everything takes time to build Need a hospital or fire station immediately? Tough luck. It will take a year to build one of those. Build a highway? That will take a few years before it's done. Decisions don't take immediate effect and will take time to complete. So you do need to plan ahead a bit and see problems coming, because otherwise it may be too late to take countermeasures. Supply and demand The main driving factor of growth is demand. You only build things when there is a demand for it and don't build more than you need. If you can avoid over-capacity to save money, do it. Don't build for instance a wide bridge over a river because "it might be useful in the future". You build based on the demand you have now. Everything begins small and it will grow bigger and more advanced as time goes on. This will also mean that some necessary upgrades will only happen when the demand grows high enough, or they even may be long overdue. It's not paradise Be prepared to face the fact you can't serve all citizens at the highest live standards. The city may grow faster than you can build facilities. After all, you have your budget and your priorities. There will be poor, uneducated as well as rich people in your city. All decisons influence the people who live there, and they will influence the city's decisions Some decisions will make their lives better. They will encourage that. But don't forget that even buildings that make people's lives better may not be great to have in your back yard. NIMBY will play a great role here; citizens have a voice and they may take legal action to block certain plans from the city council. This is a democracy, not an authoritatian regime Play slow and small Each update only covers one game year. This means that there will probably not much progression in each update. But this leaves enough time to make decisions for each year and get all parties involved in the process. I'm planning to do one year a week, but I can't guarantee there will be an update every week This set of rules will require a slow and patient gameplay. But it offers some great opportunities: The slow pacing offers a great opportunity to tell a story about the city. Not only the city will grow in each update, but so does its history. The end result is a complete mystery for all parties involved. Since we can only look a few years ahead, we have no idea how the city will evolve in the long term. Past mistakes may be a huge pain in the ass later on, or maybe the development takes an unexpected turn. It's all a surprise! Don't you like surprises? Perfection is boring. The most interesting characters in stories are the ones with identifyable flaws. So why not having a city with flaws? I think it's going to be interesting when things actually go wrong or something unexpected happens. Who knows, maybe someone comes with a good idea that changes everything. Surprise me! You, the reader, can also join in and play a role of a citizen or project manager in this city, voicing your opinion about decisions. With enough comments, we can make this CJ interactive. The role-play could give some weight to certain decisions and that's great material to make this city feel more alive! And who knows, maybe a street in the city will be named after you. So come in and join the fun! So now that we've set the rules, let's have a look at where all of this takes place: _________________________________________________________________________ Welcome to Nordale! Nordale is a remote small town somewhere along the east coast of North America. The town is surrounded by forests and mountains in the north, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. The town is located near the mouth of a river. In brief, you can say, the city is in an idyllic location. The map I used is a modified version of the excellent looking Aurora Borealis map by Colorax257. I massively downgraded the main infrastructure on the map to one dirt road from east to west. After all, we have to start small. I've prepared a small town here as a starting poing of our development... Our story starts in July 1932. From this point, the Natural Growth rules will apply, so this is where the real fun starts. So, what do we have? There are 750 people living in this town right now. The main road leading out of the town, highway 42, is just a dirt road. There's no funding yet to upgrade to an asphalted road, as the town can't afford its maintenance. There is a railway next to the town, but trains won't stop here, as there is no station yet. There are some basic facilities for the citizens. There is a small police station and fire station, as well as a elementary school, a clinic and a graveyard. The water supply is plentyful, though dirty water is... well... just dumped out in the open. There are no funds yet for proper water treatment. There is a small gas power plant. It can barely keep up with the demand, so it may require some new facilities to be built here... There is a waste dump present with plenty of space. In the town center, there is a church. The people in this town hold this place very dear and people gather around here weekly on Sundays. The church is at this point over 75 years old. There's plenty of demand for new homes and some demand for new commecial activities. The current budget of the city is $12 500, with a weekly income of around $400 And just to wrap it up, here are some areal shots to get an idea of the current geography The stage has been set. Let's see where it will take us next time.So, what do you think we should do? Any suggestions are welcome. Take a seat in the city council and let your voice be heard! Take care and see you next time! -- Maarten (MandelSoft)
  7. Well guys, finally got back in this community with a new project. I hope it will be a success ;)

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Haljackey
    3. TekindusT


      So great to see you back!!

    4. T Wrecks

      T Wrecks

      Hi there, Maarten! It sure feels good to see your name (and pony!) pop up again. *:golly: