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Author Topic: Arden Tree Controller Help Desk  (Read 154816 times)

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Offline Battlecat

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #120 on: July 03, 2012, 10:12:33 AM »
Congratulations on being selected for OSITM! 

Vortext's Virtual Playground actually sound pretty good if you ask me.  Have to say, I've got no complaints about you working on non-street related items!  The results are pretty spectacular!

Offline Framly

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #121 on: July 03, 2012, 03:47:46 PM »
Congratulations on being selected for OSITM!   :)

-klick-1st Anniversary Video-klick-
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Offline noahclem

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #122 on: July 03, 2012, 05:51:48 PM »
Lovely picture  &apls  What have you done to your water? Lovely and unique. More importantly, the flora looks great.

I'll see what I can think up for the competition....

Offline RickD

Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #123 on: July 04, 2012, 02:47:48 AM »
Very promising picture.  &apls

I didn't think Vortext's Virtual Playground sounded cheesy. But I am no native english speaker so I might be missing something.
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Offline FrankU

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #124 on: July 04, 2012, 08:25:58 AM »
The Vortex Singularity Point

It doesn't say anything about your activities, but it sounds.... well.... I'd take a look immediately if I saw a name like this.

Offline vortext

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #125 on: July 04, 2012, 02:20:23 PM »
@Battlecat, thanks and glad you like it.

@Framly, thank you.

@Noah, nothing. . It's the teal version from ShockTherapy's HD Brigatine mod in combination with the HD riverside beach mod. However both the water and beach texture seem to benefit from the tiling factor set in Lowkee's Appalachian mod. Notice the size of the 'pebbles' at the beach, they're way bigger than they would be with the use of an ordinary terrain mod, i.e. non-HD mod. Plus it's extremely shallow water so all the textures blend together rather nice indeed.

@Raphael, neither am I so maybe I completely misconstrued the concept of cheesy-ness  :D. Either way, this was the first name that came to mind but then I thought it would be fun to turn it into something participatory.

@FrankU, now this I like because sometimes I do wonder what would happen if all these and future mod projects of mine were completed to the utmost perfection and actually implemented in the largest possible region where not a single 16x16 meter tile would have gone unnoticed? Well that would be kinda of a simcity singularity and just like the real deal, everything would probably break down at that point. Just think of the size of that plugin folder . .   ;D

So let me write this entry down first and remind you folks, surely you can come up with something even better!  No offense to you Frank ;)

Now I was thinking what else to show you this month. And since it's unlikely I'll start a MD anytime soon, why not share some pictures from an actual city? Because I do play the game, every once in a while that is. This one is taken some time ago at the outskirts of my biggest and imho best city thusfar, Enseade. I've turned the 'table gathering' and other props that came with one of Jmeyer's farms (?, not sure about this) into a MMP for some window dressing. The 'courtyard' you're looking at has given way to a church since. Enjoy.






« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 04:03:22 PM by vortext »
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Offline noahclem

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #126 on: July 04, 2012, 02:39:38 PM »
Lovely picture  &apls  Really a thorough and creative combination of a number of MMPs, lots, etc into an attractive area.

Also, I vote for sooner rather than later on starting the MD  ;D

Offline Kergelen

Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #127 on: July 04, 2012, 03:57:43 PM »
What a pleasing picture! Very special feeling. It seem from the old times &apls
Are you using some Stockholm buildings by OddfromSweden?


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Offline kelis

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #128 on: July 04, 2012, 04:41:20 PM »
Congratulations for the OSITM my friend ! Well deserved you are doing a fantastic job  &apls &apls
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Offline bat

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #129 on: July 05, 2012, 11:17:26 AM »
Congrats on the OSITM-award! And nice work! :thumbsup:

Offline art128

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #130 on: July 05, 2012, 11:22:19 AM »
Lovely picture, Vortext! Nice work with the MMPs.

Looking forward for more.
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Offline vortext

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #131 on: July 08, 2012, 08:27:03 AM »
@Noah, you'll be glad to know my MD is in the making. . as it has been for the past two years  :D

@Kergelen, do I use some Stockholm buildings by OddfromSweden? How about all of them?!  ;)  And many more of his BATs as they make for great R$ neighbourhoods.

@kelis, bat & art128, thank you.

Originally I wanted todays update to be about the tree controllers and give you all a little behind the scenes tour, so to speak. However while I was preparing this I came to wonder, why did I put this tree over there? Wouldn't it be better if those flowers were moved up and how in the world did I forget to put that item in?! Long story short, I kinda got distracted from finishing the update. So instead today I'll show you what probably will become my very first contribution to the community and without further ado, let me present you with DaveN's half-timberframed houses, lotted by yours truly.

*Click pics for full size!*






The set consists of 56 lots and as is my lotting practice, no Maxis props or textures whatsoever were used. Well apart from a fruit picker but that's an animation  ;D

Instead I used a bunch of HD props, as DaveN's houses are as welll, from Namspopof and WMP, in addition to seasonal flora and crops from CP vol2 and PEG's SPAM respectively. From the latter I've also used a number of textures, the overlays predominantly in combination with textures from BSC texture pack vol 2. All in all there're 7 dependencies, which I thought was a reasonable number especially since half of them are quit common. At the moment the set is being scrutineerd. And though I've no idea how long this typically takes, you can expect these to be available on a LEX near you soon.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 02:40:09 PM by vortext »
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Offline Girafe

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #132 on: July 08, 2012, 09:20:33 AM »
Hard work of lotting, a little bit far for appreciating HD but no doubt is well realized  &apls &apls
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Offline RickD

Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #133 on: July 09, 2012, 04:09:24 AM »
Wow, 56 lots. That's a lot. (pun intended) Great to hear you are still working on that tree controller.
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Visit my MD: Empire Bay (My old MD: Santa Barbara County)

Offline bat

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #134 on: July 09, 2012, 09:54:17 AM »
56 wonderful lots there! Nice work.

Offline noahclem

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #135 on: July 09, 2012, 10:44:31 AM »
These lots really look great (as do the BATS occupying them of course)  &apls   It's really awesome to have more options for working in Z6/HD and very nice to have someone doing more lotting to make that look great.

Building on rickD's reply, I'm thinking about calling your thread "vortext does a-lot"  :D

Offline vortext

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #136 on: July 12, 2012, 03:40:28 PM »
@Girafe, no doubt it took a while to finish but I actually like lotting, it's so much easier compared to modding.

@Raphael, thanks.

@bat, thank you

@Noah, yeah I'm kinda all over the place from time to time. ::) Your suggestion has been written down.

~
As I went along writing stuff down, this update kept expanding. In fact it became so extensive I decided to break it down in order not to bore you too much.

So today the first in a series of tree controller related posts. As stated before, it'll be sort of a making of. This installment details what goes into making a brush and what problems one typically encounters. Part 2 will look at the bigger picture, where it turns out things aren't as straightforward as they appeared to be. Finally part 3 deals with a number of miscellaneous issues. But lets get some terminology down first of all.

Flora item - three seperate SC4models, one for each season, held together via the Resource Key Type4 in an exampler file. Most flora items are taken from seasonal MMPs, though I've compiled a few fantasy items myself as well, most notably for grasslands.

Brush - a bunch of flora items strung together via the Cluster Type property. Think of this as your typical MMP, apart from a few properties. Just less properties actually.

Spread - refers to the spacing between individual flora items, as well as the behaviour of the brush in general. This is controlled with 5 variables and without doubt the harderst and most time consuming part. More on this later on.

With that out of the way, it's time to go ingame and make a nice selection of flora items. In this example I'm going to make a brush for what eventually will become the River controller (shown previously). As far as I know there's no limit to the number of items a brush can hold, though around 8 to 12 seems to work best.




Looks allright to me. The taller trees will complement the poplars, while the autumn colours will take the edge of the bright yellow SFBT birches. Or that's the theory behind it at least. Either way lets grab pencil and paper and write down these items. It should be noted I'm also going to include an item from CP vol2 which isn't shown here since it isn't included in any of the MMPs.




Erm. . on second thought, I don't like this 'hard' green on the cottonwoods. Luckily most CP items also have a spring model so lets also scribble down a reminder to use those instead of proper summer models.


All right, now for the brush itself. It works best to go from small to large items, whereby height doesn't matter as much as the diameter of each item does. Since I've selected 12 flora items, I'm going to need as many exemplar files. The way to do this is first create a template file and clone it using the Reader. Below a breakdown of said template.


There's seemingly very little to it, looks can be deceiving though.

Exemplar ID, the very first thing to set correctly, IDs are taken from my personal range. If you ever plan on making a tree controller (not recommended btw  $%Grinno$%) be sure to first request a range over here otherwise conflicts may arise with normal MMPs.

Exemplar Name and Resource Key Type 4, for each item both are simply taken from its respective MMP. I've put all items along with their RKT4s in a large database for convenience.

Flora: Cluster Type, refers to the next flora item via its Exemplar ID. The last item in a brush doesn't have this property.

kSC4FloraPreferencesProperty determines brush placement. It works in a similar fashion as the terrain texture .ini table, for those who know what I'm talking about. Otherwise wait for part 2 where it's discussed at more lenght. 

KSC4FloraParametersProperty, the juicy bit as it's responsible for making seasons work in the first place. In addition rep8 controls the slope, while rep11 and rep13 control the spread for each item.

Flora: Cluster Max Radius, the amount of space, surrounding an item, in which it is allowed to jump to the next. Works in close relationship with rep11 and rep13.

Flora: Cluster Max Height, similar to the radius, except it doesn't seem to have much of an influence.

All in all it's pretty easy to set up a brush as it copy-paste for the most part. The hardest and most time consuming part is make it behave properly. Reps 11 and 13, in relation to the Cluster Radius are the three most important variables in this respect and each needs to be specified for every item. The two reps determine the amount of space each item occupies and can be compared to the occupant size for props. In fact I used to use the occupant size for each item though stopped doing so because it's not quite the same concept after all. For instance, with rep13 an item can be set miles apart from itself while retaining the ability to place other items in between and cluster to the next, as determined with rep11 and Cluster Radius.

There're no hard and fast rules what values will or will not work. I used to set rep 13 first for each individual item to determine the minimum space it required, before linking all items together. Quite a laborious process. Moreover, once linked together there's considerable interaction between items, a ripple effect so to speak, which can cause quite the headache. Typical problems are;

Undershoot - the brush doesn't show all items but instead gets stuck on an item half-way. Usually solved by increasing the Cluster Radius for that particular item.

Overshoot - the brush goes through items too quickly and only the last two or three show. Usually solved by decreasing the Cluster Radius for the first few items since they give way too quickly.

Gridlock - the brush does show all items like it's supposed to, however, items seem to get in each others way and pretty soon there isn't any room left to cluster. No matter how many times one goes over the area with the brush, nothing happens anymore.

This last issue may not seem like much of a problem since all items are present. However I'm trying to find the 'sweet spot' for every brush. That is, adjust the settings in such a manner the brush has a decent spread while retaining the ability to cluster endlessly. Or at least make sure it doesn't gridlock too soon. And if you don't mind I say so myself, but I've become pretty good at guesstimating the settings at first instance and manage to steer clear of these pitfalls most of the time nowadays. That said it still puzzles me from time to time why one brush will and another one won't work while both have similar items and settings. And vice versa, why two brushes behave similar while their settings differ wildly.


So enough with the talk, lets see how things turned out ingame.


Not too bad I guess.



Note the softer green from the spring models. Much better as far as I'm concerned.

While all models show there're some issues here - of course there are! For one the JENX Quai tree needs more space around it and it needs to be placed further apart from itself. Secondly the small locus tree from CP shows way too often, while the larger trees could be more present. So lets go back to the Reader and tweak some numbers. Usually it hinges on decimals. Once that's done, go back ingame and check again. Not satisfied yet? Exit, tweak some more, go ingame once again, etc, etc.

So there you have it. There's relative little that goes into making a brush, except going back-and-forth a number of times. Usually it takes me an evening (±2h) to make one or two brushes, depending on the number of items involved and wether or not I screw up ::). However, one brush doesn't make for an entire controller! Stick around for parts 2 and 3.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 02:36:52 PM by vortext »
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Offline noahclem

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #137 on: July 16, 2012, 01:29:00 AM »
Very interesting look inside the making of these controllers, and very nice result  &apls  That going back and forth between modding and gaming can definitely be frustrating and time consuming but the basics of creating these isn't quite as intimidating as I imagined it. I'll definitely follow you advice though and not try to make this kind of controller  :D

Look forward to seeing more!

Offline FrankU

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #138 on: July 16, 2012, 08:33:31 AM »
Indeed very interesting.
And lets my admiration increase highly of those who do this kind of work voluntarily!  &apls to you Vortex!

I am happy yo are doing it, so that I can do some lotting in the meantime.

Offline vortext

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Re: Street Geekery
« Reply #139 on: July 16, 2012, 01:58:51 PM »
@Noah, glad you enjoyed it. And you're right it isn't very complicated or anything, it just takes some patience (not exactly my strong point  ;D ). Parts 2 & 3 are under construction. Spoiler alert; lots of back-and-forth going around.  ;)

@Frank, thank you for your kind words. Don't sell yourself short though, your farm lots will make a great addition as well. In fact I'm already looking forward to reclaim large stretches of seasonal forest to make way for farmland!  ;)

~

Today another city picture. I've posted this a while back in the 'Show us your night pics' thread but guess what?!
 
It didn't elicit a single response. Nothing, nada, zip. Don't get me wrong,  I wasn't angry or anything, just a tad disappointed.  ;)

Though on the brightside, it did provide me a reminder not to be such a chronic lurker myself, besides an opportunity to post the pic again.

The picture is from Enseade, taken around the same time as the previous pic. In fact you can see the 'courtyard' once again at the top. Furthermore you see the outer left part of Porto Borealis, which stretches the lenght of the bay Enseade itself encompasses. 

Some street geek info; the palm trees are still around because I'm slowly working my way up towards an entire T21 mod for the city instead of tackling it all at once. In this case I had finally figured out how to do nightlights for T21s. In addition there's one really weird texture visible which I forgot to take out. Still a mystery why it showed up in the first place since I haven't been able to replicate it.

Enjoy!

*click pic for full size*

« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 02:02:42 PM by vortext »
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