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Author Topic: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout  (Read 690 times)

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Offline nathkel

REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« on: May 17, 2017, 09:30:43 AM »
I'm hoping this Feature Request is in the right place, as i think this can best be addressed in the NAM installation....


Getting around the Road Network menu is extremely clunky, and i'm constantly having to go in and out of different menu items, i feel, unnecessarily. Perhaps a bit of streamlining is in order.

It seems to me that menu items should be separated not by road direction but road type. That is, instead of a menu item with only curves, diagonals or FARs, menu items should be separated by network type Road, Street, Avenue, etc. Since the user is usually working on one NETWORK type at a time, he shouldn't have to go digging into submenus for the right direction.

For example, if i'm creating a non-sidewalk country road along a mountainside, right now i have to go to the SAM menu to find the right SAM starter, Gravel Road. Plop once.
Then i have to go to the Streets submenu to choose the Street draggable item, or use the shortcut, Alt-R. Drag the street from the starter piece until i get to my curve.
I then must go the Curves submenu, and Tab thru to the Street no wait, it's not this one, we must go to the OTHER Streets submenu, where i can find the Gravel Roads curves; scroll down the menu to find that one and Tab thru for the right curve (it's actually easier to Shift-Tab thru the list). Plop once.
Since the other side of this curve reverts to a standard street, i need to choose the SAM Gravel Road Starter on the opposite side of the new curve and cycle thru AGAIN. &ops

What would be quicker is to group the submenus by network TYPE rather than pieces or direction, so that roadways of the same type require as few menu clicks as possible.
So then we would have one Submenu for SAM Country Roads (which are streets without the sidewalk), which has the starter, fillers (orth & diag), curves, and maybe future FAR puzzle pieces.

So here's how we could modify the Roads menu for more efficient use.

Roads (standard black asphalt, two lanes in opposite directions)
    Starter (shortcut is R)
    Curves ortho & diag (Tab thru for different radiuses)
    Cosmetic pieces & Fillers
    FAR (Tab thru for various curves and intersections)
    Transitions (Tab thru for transition types, such as NRD-4, TLA-3, etc)
    Overpasses (Tab thru for overpass network type)
One-way (standard black asphalt, two lanes in one direction)
    Starters (Tab thru for higher lane counts)
    Curves ortho & diag (Tab thru for different radiuses)
    Cosmetic pieces & Fillers
    FAR pieces (Tab thru for various curves and intersections)
    Transitions (Tab thru for transition types)
    Overpasses (Tab thru for overpass network type)
Streets (standard gray paving, two lanes in opposite directions)
    Starter (shortcut is Alt-R)
    Curves ortho & diag (Tab thru for different radiuses), plus diagonals
    Cosmetic pieces & Fillers, incl. SAM blockers
SAM X Streets (where X is each SAM type  Parking Lot, Dirt Road, Gravel Road, etc, all are two-lanes in opposite directions)
    Starter
    Curves ortho & diag (Tab thru for different radiuses)
    Cosmetic pieces & Fillers
    Transitions (Tab thru for transition types, or blockers for other SAM networks)
Avenues (standard black asphalt, four lanes, pairs in opposite directions)
    Starter (shortcut is Ctrl-R)
    Curves ortho & diag (Tab thru for different radiuses)
    Cosmetic pieces & Fillers
    Roundabouts (Tab thru for different roundabout setups)
    Transitions (Tab thru for transition types, such as NRD-4, TLA-3, etc)
    Overpasses (Tab thru for overpass network type)
Pedestrian Walkways (Malls)
    Fillers (Tab thru various Ped Mall types)
    Overpasses (Tab thru various overpass network type)

Similar methods can be used for the RHW/NAM menu.

Now since some people don't like change, no matter how inefficiently they must do things, i think any new menu re-organization should be opted out at installation.

Is too much of the Roadways menus hardcoded to get this done? Would love feedback on this...

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REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« on: May 17, 2017, 09:30:43 AM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Andreas

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 09:47:14 AM »
Now while this is thought through nicely, the big obstacle is that we cannot modify the existing transit menu items. We can add menu buttons and arrange various puzzle pieces there, which means that with your suggestion, the roads menu will have at least 30 menu buttons, making it at least as hard to use as it is now. That's really one of big downsides of the game, the menus are way too inflexible for the sheer amount of custom content that has been created over all those years.

As you might have noticed, the NAM Team is trying to reduce the number of puzzle pieces slowly, making more stuff draggable, and using "FLEX" items that can be created with a certain draw pattern for getting roads with various curve radii etc. This works pretty good with the RHW and the RRW already, and I presume the next NAM release will feature a lot more of those items for other transit networks. Re-arranging the menu items for the various pieces is a good idea, though, maybe something like that could be achieved on a small scale alright. :)

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 09:47:14 AM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline mgb204

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 07:14:39 PM »
The other argument I'd give here is that's what's good for you, may not be good for everyone. One of the biggest conundrums a developer has is change, whatever you do, people overwhelmingly don't like it. For those used to the current system, there would inevitably be some complaints if we changed everything.

For the most part, the draggable/flex solutions are the NAM teams effort to remove the need to dip into the menus as often. Allowing you to use patterns to create all those pieces from simply one network tool. Take the RHW for example, you can now make ramps, WRCs and all sorts of things without ever needing to open the highways menu. Similarly, with the road tool you can make WRCs, FAR networks with ease. The drawback being, now you need to remember a bunch of patterns to place these items.

The number of tab-rings and their organisation has been a continual source of complaints over the years. But the truth is, there is no perfect system that everyone would be happy with.

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 07:14:39 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline nathkel

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 12:03:06 PM »
True, but i'm opting here for a little more logic to the whole matter... ;)

And while i like the idea of draggable networks, i don't think all puzzle pieces are going to (or should) go away, in case the user want to override the default behavior. For example, i hope one day to finish my project on Tangential Curves, which will allow for roads to come off curves cleanly. As an example if i have a Road that curves at a 90-deg angle in one tile, but i want a Street to come off the curve (continuing on in the same direction), the current construction would have me create a T-intersection, with a traffic light for the curving Road, which is not the desired effect.

Since puzzle pieces will always be necessary for some setups, let's begin now to apply a logic based on how players work and create, rather than how devs organize the data structures. That's all i was going for...

And i know not everyone wants a new menu setup, which is why i mentioned the opt-out during installation. Consensus might be called for if you're truly considered about player acceptability.

I kind of thought some of the menu placement might be HC'd, but i still think we can do better than what we have. Someone had to make the decision to make it how it is now. I think we should just revisit it. Especially if there are plans in the pipeline to expand NAM or SAM.

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 12:03:06 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Tarkus

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 06:19:15 PM »
And while i like the idea of draggable networks, i don't think all puzzle pieces are going to (or should) go away, in case the user want to override the default behavior. For example, i hope one day to finish my project on Tangential Curves, which will allow for roads to come off curves cleanly. As an example if i have a Road that curves at a 90-deg angle in one tile, but i want a Street to come off the curve (continuing on in the same direction), the current construction would have me create a T-intersection, with a traffic light for the curving Road, which is not the desired effect.

The official stance (or at least, the closest thing to one) is that while existing static puzzle pieces will be kept essentially in tact, the majority of them are planned to be classified as "legacy/deprecated" items, as soon as FLEX and/or draggable equivalents with an equal amount of functionality are developed.  There's been a de facto freeze on the creation of any new static puzzle piece items since late 2014.

The idea behind the FLEX/draggable stuff we're currently doing is indeed overriding default behavior, and unlike static puzzle pieces, which are "stuck" in a given configuration, FLEX/draggable items generally support further overrides. 

Say, for instance, with the Tangential Curve example, you decided you wanted to replace the Road with an NWM network, or the Street with a SAM network.  Perhaps, even, you wanted to have an option for turn lanes.  With a static puzzle piece, that Road x Street setup is stuck as a Road x Street setup.  If you want to add support for TLA-3 x Street, you'd have to create another static puzzle piece.  Road x SAM Set 2?  Another static puzzle piece.  With all the crosslink options, you very quickly get to the point of drowning in puzzle pieces.  That's the main reason we stopped making them.  Paradoxically, users were simultaneously complaining about how difficult it was to navigate all those puzzle pieces, and requesting new features.  Fulfilling those requests would have only added to the navigation difficulty, unless we did something different.  Static puzzle pieces just weren't efficient or conducive to what we needed to do to move NAM development forward. 

A FLEX piece can be plopped just like a puzzle piece.  However, since it is overridable, Road x Street, TLA-3 x Street, Road x SAM Set 2, and even hooking in the new FLEX Turn Lanes can be accomplished with just a single FLEX piece for a given base configuration.  If one is clever enough with the implementation, it's potentially possible to do even more, and since just about everything in a FLEX piece is treated just as it is a draggable item, it can actually be added onto any larger setup with ease (which is how the in-development QuickChange Xpress system works for the RHW).

The fact that we still have a mixture of FLEX/draggable items and soon-to-be-deprecated static puzzle items has left our menu system for many components in an awkward transitional state.  That's mainly because of the scope of the endeavor, and because we're still determining just how much we can condense things down once we've gotten things to a relatively stable spot in that process.  I do think your proposal has some merit, certainly.

-Alex

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 06:19:15 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline ChiefZDN

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2017, 08:23:50 PM »
I think, context menu-based additional menu solves this problem. When a user click a network, it will show its additional menu (this menu is called flow additional menu, not to be confused with Fractionally-angled Networks). Some network have 'optional' additional menu (called non-flow additional menu) so if the user click it, it will immediately show the default network and the user can change the default by right-clicking it. The challenge is the dependencies. If we use DLL to accomplish this, it can't be embedded on NAM. And, the DLL & Lua documentation aren't much. The menu structure is like below:
- Roads & streets
  - Road
    * NFAM: Rural street and its PP, road PP, and road-NWMs (like NRD-4) and its PP
  - Street
    * NFAM: SAM and its PP and street PP (including diag street PP)
  - Ave
    * NFAM: Ave-NWMs (like AVE-8) and its PP
  - OWR
    * NFAM: OWR-NWMs and its PP
- Highways
   - Maxis Highway
   - RealHighway
      * FAM: RHWs and theirs PP
   - Interchange
      * FAM: MH Interchanges and RHW interchanges
      * TAB: Interchange switch (not highway-type switch)
...

All networks in the future are including elevated-version of the network (except for ferries) and all networks include TAB-triggered elevation switcher. Also, for PP, tab clicks aren't just for changing the elevation. They also change the pieces. FLUPs are seperate network (but, they are compatible with any networks). So, it's on Misc Networks menu. Also pedmall also on Misc Network menu.

And, the network are GENERATED on-the-fly with Lua scripts. So, elevations and more features aren't problems again.

Sorry if I can't explain detaily (this is might be typo).

Thank you.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 08:37:47 PM by ChiefZDN »
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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2017, 08:23:50 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Tarkus

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2017, 04:14:23 AM »
If we use DLL to accomplish this, it can't be embedded on NAM. And, the DLL & Lua documentation aren't much.

Including a DLL in the NAM would actually be no different than including a DAT file--a file is a file.  The main issue is that one would have to be created that would actually add the submenus, and there's only one individual with heavy RL who is capable of making DLL miracles.

And, the network are GENERATED on-the-fly with Lua scripts. So, elevations and more features aren't problems again.

memo's MetaRUL system accomplished a similar feat, albeit he used Scala to design it.  That's actually what made the FLEXFly revamp from NAM 33 possible.  He had started on a MetaRUL solution for the RHW and NWM, but hasn't been active since mid-2015.  I've been able to salvage part of the RHW work that, in its current form, is an improvement over the existing setup (the RHW x RHW crossings portion), so it's possible that at least the existing networks could see some significant improvements.  But expanding upon his work in its existing form in Scala is above my pay grade--I've tried.

While SC4 does have some LUA scripts included within it, there's no known spot for the LUAs to actually hook into the transit networks in any meaningful way.  They're very limited in their modding potential, and are mostly used for automata spawning and news ticker items.  (That said, daeley's DAMN menu system has a LUA basis, exploiting news ticker items, and droric did do a NAM DAMN setup some time ago.)

-Alex

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2017, 04:14:23 AM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Wiimeiser

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2017, 06:01:53 AM »
Isn't there also the fact that DLLs only work if placed in the base folders, not subfolders? Shouldn't affect a NAM DLL in any way, though.

One menu change I'd like to see is separating the deprecated RHW ramps from the non-deprecated ramps, though I'm not sure how easy that would be... (On the subject of FLEX versions of those pieces, I could see the construction tile for the RHW-6C splitter occupying either the RHW-2 stub or the median stub, though there's the fact you'd need 8C compatibility and RHW-3 and (potential) draggable WRHW-2 support...)
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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2017, 06:01:53 AM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Kitsune

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2017, 09:30:43 AM »
Some of the ramps labelled depreciated actually have no known flex (ie the the RHW-2 wyes).... if we could just get those moved to the front like the others that would be nice.

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2017, 09:30:43 AM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Tarkus

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2017, 04:33:46 PM »
Some of the ramps labelled depreciated actually have no known flex (ie the the RHW-2 wyes).... if we could just get those moved to the front like the others that would be nice.

The RHW-2 Wyes do indeed lack a FLEX form, but they're being labeled as deprecated is still largely accurate, due to the fact that there are draggable versions of all of them (and a few more that never existed in puzzle form).  That said, it wouldn't be too much difficulty to move them up the order on the old TAB Loop.

Isn't there also the fact that DLLs only work if placed in the base folders, not subfolders? Shouldn't affect a NAM DLL in any way, though.

That is true, but given all the stuff the NAM installer does, making it such that it'd install any hypothetical DLL in the root plugins folder would be a piece of cake.

One menu change I'd like to see is separating the deprecated RHW ramps from the non-deprecated ramps, though I'm not sure how easy that would be... (On the subject of FLEX versions of those pieces, I could see the construction tile for the RHW-6C splitter occupying either the RHW-2 stub or the median stub, though there's the fact you'd need 8C compatibility and RHW-3 and (potential) draggable WRHW-2 support...)

You've hit upon one of the awkward transitional situations I described earlier.  The goal is to make FLEX and/or draggable versions of everything under the puzzle-based ramps button, so all of the existing puzzle ramps will end up being deprecated at some point down the line.  The non-deprecated ones are mostly more specialized setups that involve some sort of C-to-S transition as part of the design, so it may end up that they share some overrides with the FLEX Width Transitions.  I'm hoping to dust those off at some point soon.

-Alex

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2017, 04:33:46 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Kitsune

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2017, 05:57:45 PM »
There's a dragable rhw-2 wye (as in it splits into two opposite RHW-1's?) The namdoc does not have the pattern... hmm.

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2017, 05:57:45 PM »

Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout

Offline Tarkus

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2017, 07:50:16 PM »
It's escaped our documentation, but all the patterns are in one of GDO29Anagram's teaser videos for NAM 33:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/b2PeDUDlwvw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/b2PeDUDlwvw</a>

-Alex

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Re: REQUEST: New NAM/Roads Menu layout
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2017, 07:50:16 PM »

 


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