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Station Highlighting and Queries

Started by z, May 14, 2009, 03:31:58 AM

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Did you ever wonder where all your transit stations were, and which types were where?  The Modified Traffic Volume View, which comes bundles with Simulator Z and is available for other traffic simulators on the LEX, highlights those transit stations that have main buildings.  Unfortunately, none of the RTMT stations have main buildings - they're all props.  So we've created a way for you to see, in the Modified Traffic Volume View, which RTMT stations are where and what they do.  It's actually superior to the standard station highlighting in two ways:  1) The sign shows the station's function, and 2) the signs are never obscured by buildings.  This feature will be available in the RTMT V3.60 release.  Here's a sample of what it looks like in the Modified Traffic Volume View:

Generally, due to the colored grid of streets superimposed over the city, it's easy to see where the stations lie. And you can use the query and route query tools on the sign, because it's technically part of the station.  But to see the main station's location exactly, simply hover the bulldoze tool over the station's sign.  The station itself will turn bright red.  Bulldozing the sign then bulldozes the station.  It's a great way of getting rid of bus stations that you could never reach without tearing down half a neighborhood.  And one of the best features is that this highlighting will apply to already built RTMT stations.


thats a very novel idea, how did you do it?

Copperminds and Cuddleswarms


Cogeo deserves all the credit for the initial idea.  He created a building which was essentially a horizontal plane 128x128, using an RKT0 and and alpha mask to show the RTMT logo in green letters, 16m above the stations.  We later agreed that a vertical plane showed up better, and I moved it to 1000m by editing the S3D file, so that it would never be obscured by buildings.  Due to the perspective of the game, it appears always to be directly over the station when there are no intervening buildings.  I also changed it to an RKT3 so this effect was maintained across all zooms; it required editing the individual SC3D files.  Finally, the game displays station highlighting in a solid green color, which overlays on top of everything else.  Using this knowledge, I was able to create the colors you see and specify the travel types; for example, the SUB color is actually pure red, but when combined with pure green it produces the pure yellow that is similar to what the game uses for subway queries.  Different stations have different signs based on their station type.


and they only appear in the traffic volume view? how did you do that?...sorry if you already answered that one.. :D

Copperminds and Cuddleswarms


I added the property "Dataview: Highlight Mode" to the Traffic Volume View, and gave it a value of 9, which is for transit stations.


Copperminds and Cuddleswarms


This is a real gem of a find here Z!!!

Don't forget the SC4D Podcast is back and live on Saturdays @ 12 noon CST!! -- The Podcast soon to Return Here Linkie


The first version of RTMT station highlighting is now complete; it will appear as described below in the upcoming V3.60 release.  It takes what was shown above and builds on it.  Here are some pictures showing exactly how it works.  The pictures first show the basic feature at various zooms, and then show some of the new things that can be done with this feature.  The first picture is at Zoom 3, the same scale as used in the picture at the top of this thread.  The view is of the same city, in approximately the same place as in the top picture:

The most obvious difference between the above picture and the one at the top of the thread is the sheer number of RTMT stations, which is simply a result of the fact that the highlighting feature has now been completed for all of the station types.  (Virtually every station type has a unique sign.)  As mentioned earlier, this means that this feature will work on cities already containing RTMT stations; no bulldozing is necessary.  The reason for the large number of stations in the city is that it was built almost two years ago, and with the traffic simulator I was using at the time, it was necessary to have that many stations for optimal performance.  If I were building this city today, I would be able to get optimal performance with about a quarter of these stations.  Nevertheless, it is useful to see that even with such a large number of stations, the signs don't obscure much of the city.  And of course, they only show up with the city's buildings when one of the the Traffic Volume Views is selected.  Finally, though the signs are the same size as the ones in the picture at the top of this thread, I have managed to make them a bit clearer and sharper.

So this works quite well for Zoom 3, which is a level that many people use for working on their cities at various times.  What about Zoom 2?  The following picture answers that question:

The signs are much smaller and definitely more difficult to read, but reading them is generally possible, at least for the transportation type(s), which is the most important part of the sign.  And even for those signs that are difficult to read, the colors for the transportation types are quite unique, and it's possible to tell what they are rather unambiguously at this level.

Now let's take a look at Zoom 1:

The signs are now definitely too small to read, but once again, the colors let you see unambiguously what type of station is present.  And the mere presence of the signs and the layout of the stations they represent is useful information at this level.

Let's now go back with the higher zoom levels, starting with Zoom 4:

Here, everything about the signs is crystal clear, and you can easily see how they're laid out.  The game's highlighting feature always sets the green component of the sign colors to maximum, so the spectrum available for signs is limited from yellow to cyan.  Here I use the green for background information on the top and bottom of the signs; there's a version of the RTMT logo on top, and the bottom specifies on what type of roadway the station is located.  If the station is more than one square long, its length will be specified after this roadway type, as in "ROAD 2."  The green fields are always in a smaller font than the station fields, and tend to fade into the background in the lower zooms.

The station fields are colored as closely as possible to the standard colors used in the game, given the restrictions I mentioned.  White is used for GLR (tram) stations, to make it easily distinguishable from subway and el rail stations; in the game, the GLR tracks usually run on a background that is at least somewhat white, which is one correspondence that makes this easy to remember.

You may also notice on a road that has GLR stations, sometimes where the "GLR" would appear in white, instead there is a smaller "=GLR=" in green.  This indicates that the station has GLR tracks running  through it, but there is no GLR stop there.  The same convention is used for el rail over road or street RTMT stations.

The signs indicate exactly where the stations are, in the same way that the traffic volume colors indicate where the networks are.  If you were to cut away the part of the buildings directly behind the signs, and keep cutting in a way so that the hole was always directly behind the sign, you would eventually reach the station to which the sign refers.  That's why at the bottom of the first picture in this post, the signs are visible directly over the stations that are not blocked by buildings.

The final picture of the Traffic Volume View is at Zoom 5:

There's not much different here, but you can see where a GLR-in-Avenue becomes visible between buildings, and the two types of stations mentioned above - one with a GLR stop, and one without.  I haven't shown Zoom 6, because it looks essentially like Zoom 5, just with everything bigger.  The letters retain their crispness and clarity at the highest zoom.

That concludes the display of the signs in the Traffic Volume View.  However, they have some other important uses elsewhere.  For example, in the normal view, if you use the query tool, then by moving it around your city, the station signs will light up as you pass over the stations.  Once again, the signs will light up even if there are buildings between you and the stations.  The following picture is an example of this; the cursor is not seen because it is not captured by the Print Screen command.  And whereas the highlighting in the Traffic Volume View sets the green component of all the colors at maximum, the highlighting caused by the query tool sets the blue component to maximum instead.  This also is seen in the following picture.

The query tool is sitting above a station that is located on a one-way road, part of which can be seen in the open higher up in the picture.  The mini-query also appears, containing essentially the same information as the sign.  But the mini-query could not appear without the sign's existence, as otherwise the building blocks access to the station.

What is so useful about being able to see the station's sign in the normal view like this?  The benefit is that you can query the station by querying the sign, even when the station itself cannot be seen.  (This is also true in the Traffic Volume View.)  For example, the following picture shows what would happen when you clicked the query tool when the sign in the previous picture was visible:

A query box appears in the upper left of your screen, containing all the standard information about the station.  But for this new version of RTMT, there's more.  Beneath the first separator line, there's information about each travel type and network used in this particular station.  This information can be very useful in determining not only how well the current station is working, but how it compares to similar stations in the rest of your city, and how well these forms of mass transit are serving your city.  As with the station signs, these new queries work with all existing RTMT stations, as well as any new ones that are constructed.

What else can the station signs do?  They can help you get rid of pesky stations that are hard to find.  For example, let's go back to the previous station, and instead of using the query tool, we'll use the bulldoze tool.  Like the query tool, the bulldoze tool causes individual signs to light up as you pass over them.  However, instead of setting the green or blue components of the sign colors to maximum, the bulldoze tool sets the red to maximum.  This can be seen in the following picture.  Once again, the bulldoze tool itself is not seen because it is a cursor, which is not captured by the Print Screen command.

How do you know that you have the bulldoze tool positioned properly?  This is obviously a very important question, as the Sims will be very upset if you bulldoze one of their skyscrapers by mistake.  Fortunately, the answer is very simple.  If you can see the station sign and the red square underneath it that represents the exact location of the station, as shown in the above picture, that is what will be bulldozed.  The "§80" to the left of the sign is additional confirmation, as it's the bulldoze cost of a transit station, not a skyscraper.

Here's what happens if you click on the bulldoze tool at this point:

The red square immediately disappears; the station is gone.  Since there is no longer any station, the bulldoze tool is now hovering over the building in back of the sign.  As a result, the building turns red, and the bulldoze cost of the building (§3,091) appears.  The red square at the bottom is the base of the building.  Meanwhile, the extra red is no longer added to the sign, which is now seen in its original colors.  (This is the only time when you can see it that way.)  For some reason, the sign hovers motionless for about ten seconds, and then begins to disintegrate, just like a bulldozed building.  This picture was taken in the early stages of disintegration.  The sign continues to disintegrate and fall, until its pieces vanish into thin air.

Now what are we left with?  Let's go to the new Zones view and take a look:

As you can see, there's a hole in the ground where there used to be a station, just two squares away from a still-existing station.  But even though the road is gone, the subway still runs through.  The reason for this is that we demolished the station in the normal view, where subways aren't visible.  If we demolished one of the stations in this new Zones view, the subway piece would be demolished as well, since it's visible.

As a side note, you can see that in the new Zones view, RTMT stations that contain subway stations are visible, and their signs are displayed.  These stations can be bulldozed from this view as well.  But transit stations that don't contain subway stations don't show up in the new Zones view, nor do their signs (although their props are visible).  As a result, they can't be bulldozed from here.  And if they can't be seen in the normal view due to being surrounded by high buildings, the only way to get rid of such stations without tearing down multiple buildings to get to them would be through the use of the new station signs.

You can see that in the new Zones view, all the networks show up, and if you wanted to connect up the one-way road where the station used to be, you could do it here.  But it's not necessary to go into the Zones view to do that.  Let's go back to the normal view for the last picture:

Suppose that we have just finished bulldozing the station, as we did above, and just want to pave over the broken road.  We know it was a one-way road from the (now-vanished) station description, and we can see which direction it went by looking at the actual road that is visible higher up in the picture.  So all we have to do is take the one-way road tool, put it approximately where the station was, and drag it in the direction of the road.  If we guess the position wrong, then either the game will tell us that the position we're trying to pave is already occupied, or else a building that would be demolished would turn red.  At that point, we could abort the paving operation.  But here we happen to have guessed right, and you can see a faint yellow band where I've dragged the one-way road tool.  Once again, the cost that is displayed (in this case, §5) is an excellent indication that I'm just building a road, and not demolishing a building.

So that's it.  All the features shown here will be present in the RTMT V3.60 Add-on Pack, which will be coming out... soon.  Meanwhile, some of you may be wondering, "Well, those signs are great for all of you native English speakers, but what about the rest of us?"  (Although if you're wondering that, you're probably wondering it in a different language.)  This is a point that we take very seriously at RTMT.  We are currently planning to have an alternate set of signs that will use icons instead of words, although it's not clear exactly when that will be ready.  But a lot of people like the signs with words, so we would like to translate them into other languages as well.  Unfortunately, a lot more is involved than with the simple LTEXT translations that are used in other places.  If you would like to help with the translation effort, and have either Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, please send me a PM telling me what language you would like to create signs for, and I'll send you complete instructions, including the necessary base files.

Finally, as you may gather, these signs and queries can be used for stations other than RTMT stations.  After this RTMT release is complete, I'll be making all the tools needed to do this available on the LEX.


I only have one question: dowload link, please? :D
Ok, I bet I will have to wait until half of the next month but, since I will not use the DAMN menu anyway (because I already know which stations I'm gonna to use and which I will disable in advance), can I have access to the beta version currently in use?


Right now, there is no single beta version, and there won't be for a while.  There are beta versions of the individual pieces of V3.60, which haven't been hooked up yet.  I'll explain more when I reply to your PM in the next day or two.


I might try translating those signs into German, but my free time has become scarce yet again (I just remembered that there's still a couple of LTEXT files that need to be translated). I have Photoshop, so that shouldn't be a problem.


Steve, it's amazing what you've done! &apls
Definitely worth a karma point!

Quote from: z on July 22, 2009, 01:31:50 AM
But a lot of people like the signs with words, so we would like to translate them into other languages as well.

I think most people would be satisified with the English words.
"BUS" and "SUB" are simple enough to understand and are so much shorter than e.g. "TUNNELBANA", which would be subway in Swedish or "LINJA-AUTO", which would be bus in Finnish...

I hope the LTEXT files will be translated into most available languages though. ;)
I'll send out some PM's to people who've helped us before and direct them to the translations request.


That was well worth the wait! Like I was saying before , I can see a lot of other possibilities with this technique!



Wonderful write-up...   :thumbsup:  You've certainly been busy...    &apls


Quote from: RippleJet on July 22, 2009, 04:13:13 AM
I think most people would be satisfied with the English words.
"BUS" and "SUB" are simple enough to understand and are so much shorter than e.g. "TUNNELBANA", which would be subway in Swedish or "LINJA-AUTO", which would be bus in Finnish...

That's a very good point, and one I've been thinking about since you posted.  To keep the signs a reasonable size, the width needs to be constant (128 pixels), and you're right, something like "TUNNELBANA" or "LINJA-AUTO" just won't make it.  For the travel type, five or six letters is about the maximum.  (For example, I've got some signs with "TRAIN" for Underground Rail, but they use a narrower font.)  So I see three possibilities here:

  • If people speaking a given language are happy with the English words, we can just use the standard signs.
  • If people want signs in their own language, and they have words or abbreviations that fit, we can use them.
  • We can use a mixture of English and non-English words for the remaining cases, if people think that would be helpful.

A lot of this comes down to what we hear from people, so to a large extent, it will be "let the players decide."

I hope the LTEXT files will be translated into most available languages though. ;)
I'll send out some PM's to people who've helped us before and direct them to the translations request.

Thanks!  We definitely want to translate the LTEXT files into as many languages as possible.

Quote from: Andreas on July 22, 2009, 03:23:55 AM
I might try translating those signs into German, but my free time has become scarce yet again (I just remembered that there's still a couple of LTEXT files that need to be translated). I have Photoshop, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Excellent!  Once I get the latest changes finished up and off to our beta testers, I'll put together the package I promised.