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Names and descriptions of buildings and props

Started by RippleJet, February 23, 2007, 03:03:23 PM

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RippleJet

Names and descriptions of buildings and props

Which options should I use?

By RippleJet

Credit for some of the findings included in this thread goes to hjanfield and drew0718

These guidelines are intended for anybody who has used the Plugin Manager. No modding experience is required, although it would be an advantage if you have used iLive's LEProp. More experienced modders might find some useful information as well.

Content

     A.  Different Naming Properties
     B.  Building Names
     C.  Building Descriptions
     D.  Prop Names

Appendices
     LText files, Definition and Tutorial
     LText files, How to make multilingual buildings and queries


RippleJet

#1

A. Different Naming Properties

To illustrate how buildings and props get their names and descriptions, I'm showing how to create a growable building, a ploppable building and a prop in the Plugin Manager.

Growable buildings

Growable buildings created in the Plugin Manager get named by a property called Exemplar Name. The default Exemplar Name is always the name of the SC4Model file. In the example below, a batted SC4Model called "Bat for Testing", contained in the file "Your Bat Model.SC4Model" has been used to create a Low Wealth Commercial Service building. As can be seen, the Exemplar Name is the same as the name of the SC4Model file:

If the name given to the SC4Model file when exporting the bat from GMax isn't appropriate, this is where you should correct it. Only a careless building creator would publish a building called "Your Bat Model", or any other strange name given when creating the SC4Model file.

This is also the stage where you must check and correct the values for Pollution at center. The third value (underlined in red), 16 in this example, is the garbage. All buildings that Maxis made for the game have garbage pollution values between 0 and 15. Despite that the size of the "building" used in the example above is as small as a streetlight, Plugin Manager suggests a garbage pollution value higher than any of the skyscrapers included in the game. Also the value for Water Consumed is often too high.

Ploppable buildings

Ploppable buildings created in the Plugin Manager will get both the Exemplar Name and an Item Name. In this case the name of the building in the game will be the text given in Item Name. The Exemplar Name, which will not be shown in the game as long as there is an Item Name, is created in the same way as for growable buildings. Ploppable buildings created in the Plugin Manager will also get an Item Description, which is the description seen under the name when hovering with the mouse over the icon in the menu:

The default Item Name is "Custom Ploppable" as seen in the example above and the default Item Description is "Insert ploppable description here.". Only a careless building creator would leave the Item Name and the Item Description unchanged:

Please note, that the lot shown in the picture above, has been modified by me, solely for this tutorial. The original building is very well modded and does not contain an unchanged building name or description.

Props

Props created in the Plugin Manager will only get the Exemplar Name. Once again, the default Exemplar Name is the name of the SC4Model file:

Once again, only a careless prop creator would publish a prop called "Your Bat Model".

More options

In addition to the Exemplar Name and Item Name given by the Plugin Manager, there is one more way of naming buildings and props. A property called User Visible Name Key can be used to point to an LText file containing the name of a building or prop. Likewise, a property called Item Description Key can be used to point to an LText file containing the description for a ploppable building.

If you edit the name of a lot in LEProp, a User Visible Name Key will be added, pointing to an LText file containing the name of the building. Likewise, if you edit the description of a lot in LEProp, an Item Description Key will be added, pointing to an LText file containing the description. Any existing Item Name property will be discarded by LEProp.

If you want more information on LText files and Key Properties, you should read LText Files, Definition and Tutorial.

If you want to make multilingual LText files, you should read LText Files, How to create multilingual buildings and queries.

So, why are there so many different ways of naming a building, and which is the correct one to use? These are the questions I will try to answer below.


RippleJet

#2

B. Building Names

The name of a building can be given in three ways:

1. Item Name
2. User Visible Name Key (pointing to an LText file)
3. Exemplar Name

They take precedence over each other in that order, Item Name being the first and most significant one.

Depending on which way you name your buildings, you will have the following additional effects:

1. Item Name

This is the default naming procedure for ploppable buildings created by Plugin Manager.

You may change the name of any building in game and that change will affect every instance of that building in the game, including the name of the building in the menu. If the building is a civic building or a landmark with an associated monthly cost, that changed name will also be the name shown in the budget panel. However, all changes are valid only for the current game session. Whenever you exit and restart, all buildings in the city, the menu item and the line in the budget panel will be reverted to the original name (given in Item Name).

2. User Visible Name Key

(Points to a valid LText file and Item Name is missing)
This is the naming procedure Maxis has used for all buildings (growable and ploppable) included in the game. This is also the naming procedure for buildings edited by LEProp.

You may individually change the names of all such buildings in game by editing the title in the query window and the changes will be saved with the game. If the building is a civic building or a landmark with an associated monthly cost, you will see the original name given in the LText file in the budget panel. That name in the budget panel will never change if you change the name of some (or all) such buildings in your game. The use of LText files also allows several languages to be present at the same time.

3. Exemplar Name

(Item Name is missing and User Visible Name Key = 0,0,0 or missing)
This is the default naming procedure for growable buildings created by Plugin Manager.

You may individually change the names of all such buildings in game by editing the title in the query window and the changes will be saved with the game. However, if the building is a civic building or a landmark with an associated monthly cost, you will only see the word "Building" in the budget panel.

Conclusion

For growable buildings, the name given by Exemplar Name is enough (unless you want to make multilingual building names).

For ploppable buildings with a monthly maintenance cost, you should never use only the Exemplar Name. You may use the Item Name. However, if you want users to be able to individually change the names of multiple instances they build using your building, you should use the User Visible Name Key.

The easiest way to add a User Visible Name Key is to use LEProp. Note that the Item Name is not considered if you edit a lot in LEProp. LEProp only shows the content of the LText file pointed to by the User Visible Name Key, if available, otherwise the Exemplar Name. Editing the building name in LEProp will create/edit the LText file. Any Item Name will be deleted by LEProp.


RippleJet

#3

C. Building Descriptions

The description of a ploppable building can be given in two ways:

1. Item Description Key (pointing to an LText file)
2. Item Description

They take precedence over each other in that order, Item Description Key being the first and most significant one.

Depending on which way you describe your buildings, you will have the following advantages/disadvantages:

1. Item Description Key

This is the procedure Maxis has used for adding descriptions to all ploppable buildings included in the game. This is also the procedure for adding descriptions in LEProp.

The use of LText files allows several languages to be present at the same time. It allows the use of special characters and line breaks. It also allows the use of LUA Tokens, which can be seen as variables fetching values for the building, such as plop cost or monthly maintenance cost.

2. Item Description

(Item Description Key = 0,0,0 or missing)
This is the default procedure for adding descriptions to ploppable buildings created by Plugin Manager.

An Item Description can not contain any special characters, not even the § sign. It is also restricted to 1024 characters. If you enter longer descriptions than that, Reader will not be able to open the Building Exemplar anymore, instead you will get a Crash To the Desktop.

Conclusion

Since you probably want to create pleasingly looking descriptions, containing a description and lot information, separated by line breaks, I strongly recommend using LEProp for adding an Item Description Key pointing to an LText file. Besides, if the Item Description Key is given and points to a valid LText file, you may use the Item Description for additional information that will not be visible in the game, ie. Batted by Ripple, modded by Jet.

Note also, that if both the Item Description and the Item Description Key would be missing, the Building Name (as discussed above) will be shown instead. Thus, both the title and the description would be the same when hovering over the icon in the menu. This should be avoided, so do not remove the description completely.

It should also be noted that the Item Description will not be needed (nor used) in a growable building.


RippleJet

#4

D. Prop Names

The name of a prop can be given in the same three ways as a building:

1. Item Name
2. User Visible Name Key (pointing to an LText file)
3. Exemplar Name

They take precedence over each other in that order, Item Name being the first and most significant one. However, the User Visible Name Key also has a very special purpose.

Whenever you click on a prop, you will always get the query window belonging to the building on the lot. However, when you hover above a prop, the hover query window is dependant on another property, which is significant for props; the Query as main building. The value contained in that property is taken into account only if there is a User Visible Name Key present. The Query as main building can be set in Plugin Manager, under Advanced:

Depending on which way you name your props and the setting of the Query as main building, you will have the following effects:

1. User Visible Name Key is missing

This is the default naming procedure for props created by Plugin Manager.

Hovering above the prop, you will see the hover query for the lot beneath the building (the same as you would see hovering over an empty part of the lot containing only textures).

2. Query as main building = True

(User Visible Name Key = 0,0,0 or any other address)

Hovering above the prop, you will see the hover query for the building on the lot (the same as you would see hovering over the building).

3. Item Name

(The User Visible Name Key = 0,0,0 or any other address, and Query as main building = False)

Hovering above the prop, you will see the name given by Item Name.

4. User Visible Name Key

(Points to a valid LText file and Query as main building = False, Item Name is missing)
This is the naming procedure Maxis has used for most props included in the game.

Hovering above the prop, you will see the name contained in the LText file. The use of LText files allows several languages to be present at the same time.

5. Exemplar Name

(User Visible Name Key = 0,0,0 and Query as main building = False, Item Name is missing)

Hovering above the prop, you will see the name given by Exemplar Name.

Conclusion

A prop exemplar should always contain a User Visible Name Key. If the name of the prop contains special characters or line breaks, you should add an LText file and point the User Visible Name Key to it. If the name given in the Exemplar Name is sufficient, the User Visible Name Key should be set to 0,0,0. If you want the prop to hover query as the building, set the property Query as main building to True.

Editing the prop exemplar requires the use of iLive's Reader. I recommend checking LText Files - Definition and Tutorial for more information on that.